Randi Cohen, NEAS’ inspirational leader, passed away peacefully at the age of 75


It is with tears in our eyes that we write this message to all our friends.  Our beloved Randi is gone. 

Randi passed away peacefully on April 26th of complications from a recently discovered heart condition.

Randi earned her degree in early childhood education from Lasell College before she attended and graduated from Syracuse University. The above video was taken a few years ago as part of Lasell College’s effort to inspire its students by interviewing alumni who had made notable contributions to society. 

When asked how her career path had veered from early childhood education to a long career as a national advocate for animal welfare and rescue, Randi explained that children and animals both required patience and needed someone who would be their advocate.

For her first job, Randi decided to teach in an underserved school district in Lynn. Later on she and her husband Gerry opened a travel agency in Salem. After Gerry’s death, Randi started volunteering at our Shelter, helping her sister Cindi Shapiro, who founded NEAS in 1976. Randi took on a variety of responsibilities before eventually becoming NEAS’ Executive Director.

As a lifelong animal lover, Randi became the driving force at NEAS. She often worked well past dinner time, just because she wanted to. She helped expand our Shelter’s national advocacy for rescuing homeless animals who were unwanted and under the threat of being euthanized. When she received an urgent appeal during the Hurricane Isaac evacuation in Florida, she welcomed dozens of homeless dogs and then issued her own local appeal to residents. “We’re in crisis mode and need families to save these dogs,” she wrote on our website. 

As a persuasive and impassioned advocate of helping homeless animals, Randi became the face of Northeast Animal Shelter.  She was delighted when people she didn’t know would recognize her on the street after reading one of her carefully written fundraising appeals or seeing her on TV. Randi was so proud of the work done by NEAS, seeing the number of rescued pets grow to over 130,000, with 80 to 120 homeless pets being placed each week in loving homes throughout New England.  She happily showed visitors around our Shelter, beaming with joy as she walked from room to room.  She especially enjoyed showing children around and explaining to them how important it is to treat animals with love and compassion.  

Here’s how Randi’s friends and family describe her:

“Randi loved life. Most of all, she loved her family. She encouraged them to work hard and find their own road to success.”

“She was a mom of moms – always there for her family.”

“She was one of the great listeners, an angel to many people and tens of thousands of rescued animals.”

“She touched everyone with her positive attitude, ever-present smile, and ability to never let obstacles stand in her way.”

“She was the sweetest, most caring, compassionate woman, leader, and matriarch, that anyone could ever ask for.”

“Her kind words, positive attitude, and endless love were sprinkled everywhere and left an indelible mark on everyone that was fortunate enough to be in her presence.”

“She will be forever missed, but forever remembered!”

“Randi had such a presence, and her compassion was evident. She was the engine that made Northeast Animal Shelter run.”

“Randi’s three sons were everything to her, and her three grandchildren were the light of her life. She was happiest when surrounded by family.”

And, if you are wondering about Randi’s dog, Annie is being adopted by her wonderful dog walker, who adores her.

If you wish to make a donation in memory of Randi, click here.