The Cambrian

HART shelter, longtime leader Diana Duncan part ways

Longtime Homeless Animal Rescue Team manager and former president Diana Duncan is no longer with the organization, a member of the nonprofit organization’s board of directors said Monday, April 19.

The decision was made by the board at a meeting Friday, April 16, Susan Barghini, board president, said.

“Current board members are reaching out to all current and former volunteers to help us ensure that the shelter is henceforth run more accountably, is an involved and valued part of the community and is a wonderful place to spend volunteer time,” according to a statement released by the HART board. “We would love to return HART to the largely volunteer-run effort it has been in the past and hope the citizens of Cambria (and beyond) will join us in our ongoing mission of providing a safe haven for animals and finding them their forever home.”

Citing employee confidentiality, Barghini declined to discuss reasons for Duncan’s departure.

“We want to provide a safe refuge for animals, primarily cats,” Barghini said. “That hasn’t changed.”

According to HART’s 2007 filing with the Internal Revenue Service, the most recent available, Duncan was paid $27,600 a year. Her compensation was approximately the same more recently, Barghini confirmed.

“I am extremely proud of all the hard work I’ve done over my 19 years with HART, because I know I’ve helped to make a huge difference in the animal world and the kill rate in this county,” Duncan, a Morro Bay resident, wrote in an e-mail to The Cambrian. “My visions of a no-kill shelter where the animals roam freely came alive when I was able to buy that property 10 years ago and it became the place for visitors to play, and the model shelter for others to copy from.”

She also said she has been offered a position managing another nonprofit rescue group.

Duncan holds about a one-third interest in the shelter property, Barghini said, and the nonprofit is currently in lease negotiations with the principle owner.

According to Duncan, the property owners are also hoping to sell the property. “I will need the finances to buy a home of my own this time,” she wrote, “instead of one for the cats. Ideally, HART or another cat group needs to buy it.”

HART was founded in 1983. Duncan has been part of the organization since the early 1990s.

In 2005, information submitted by the organization to The Tribune said it had more than 50 volunteers and an annual operating budget of $93,000.

Duncan has also written the monthly “Pet Topics” column in The Cambrian since 2001.

The nonprofit group’s board currently has three members: Barghini, a 35-year Cambria resident, former high school teacher and bookkeeper and one of the first volunteers at the HART shelter at 1500 Main St.; Denise Newbarr, a part-time Cambria resident for 22 years, member of many nonprofit boards through the years and four-year HART volunteer; and Claire Hawkins, a tutor at UC Santa Barbara where she worked with the DAWG humane organization, and also a HART volunteer.

For more information, call the HART shelter at 927-7377 or go to its website,