Robin Ganzert

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President and CEO Robin Ganzert, Ph.D., Shares Thoughts With American Humane Association Staff and Board Members

It is hard to put into words my excitement and optimism for the years ahead. You all have worked so hard and done so much to improve the lives of millions of children and animals, to help build the foundation for humane communities across this nation.

We have many opportunities and face many challenges. But my confidence in American Humane Association underscores my decision to join you. Together, we will grow our institution to become endeared as the nation’s preeminent voice for the protection of children and animals.

I promise that with your support, the path to a new vibrancy for American Humane Association begins today.

I place great importance on dialogue to build a true team environment, one where everyone shares the aspirations of our mission and knows what needs to be done to achieve our goals. We will talk often as an organization and my door will always be open.

Let me begin by addressing several specific questions that I’ve been asked by members of our board, program directors and staff:

Q: Why are you leaving Pew Charitable Trusts to lead American Humane Association?

As you know, I served for the last several years as a senior executive with Pew Charitable Trusts. During that time I came to know literally hundreds of not-for-profit organizations. I saw firsthand the value they create for our nation and the world.

American Humane Association stood apart from all of them. What I saw was a true change-maker, a national leader that, for the past 133 years, has been at the forefront of every major advancement in protecting children and animals from cruelty, abuse and neglect.

I have been given an opportunity to help this historically powerful organization renew the tenor of its vast mission, combining research, advocacy and outreach. What also made this organization compelling is that it has a standard of programmatic excellence, of creating measurable success in both child and animal welfare.

The commitment to making a difference is not something I have to instill at American Humane Association. It is already part of our culture. A new chief executive couldn’t ask for a better starting point to a tremendous exciting future.

That’s why I was honored to be asked to lead this organization, and why I am so excited about what we are all going to accomplish together.

Q: Are there any similarities between Pew and American Humane Association?

Absolutely. Both organizations are built on the same three core values that are the foundation for achieving their respective missions.

Pew and American Humane Association both place great emphasis on creating rigorous and insightful research on complex issues that are critically important for us to understand. Both institutions provide the platforms for engaging dialogues with integrated civic, government, business and consumer stakeholders. And both organizations are committed to a reasoned, collaborative advocacy at the federal, state and local levels.

Q: What initial impressions do you have about American Humane Association’s programs?

Across the board, American Humane Association’s approach to program implementation is outstanding. From the quality of the research, to the ability to convene all levels of leadership on critical issues, to the flexibility in directing advocacy toward an achievable legislative agenda — these and other attributes help American Humane Association have a hugely valuable impact in our communities.

Even more so, the opportunities to expand our programmatic agenda nationally and internationally are indeed exciting. I look forward to learning much more about the programs from members of the board of directors and advisory committees, program leaders, outside advisors and, most importantly, our staff.

Again, everyone at American Humane Association should be proud of what this organization has accomplished. There is much more to come.

Q: What are your priorities as you take the helm at American Humane Association?

My first priority is to listen! I want to get to know each of you and to learn more about your ideas for the future of the organization. My “listening tour” has officially begun, and I look forward to meeting with you soon.

My second priority is, quite simply, to secure the financial future of American Humane Association so that we can continue doing our important work for generations to come. As president and CEO, I expect to spend considerable time on the road, identifying new partners and investors. It is essential that we expand our network of funding partners, in our hometown of Denver and around the country.

Q: Your background is in strategic philanthropy. Do you also consider yourself an advocate?

I am here for one reason: Because I am committed to American Humane Association’s mission to protect children and animals from cruelty, abuse and neglect. Am I an advocate for our cause? Absolutely.

In my first fundraising letter, I stressed that our nation faces severe demands to protect those most vulnerable to abuse: children, pets, working animals and billions of farm animals. I believe that we desperately need a new social contract, one that institutionalizes the tenets of compassion into our nation’s very fabric -- from how we protect families, to how we are entertained, to how we put food on the table.

Americans are good people. They are principled and ethical. I will be a loud, proud advocate to show that American Humane Association is the heart of mainstream American values, the shared belief that we all can support humane causes without accepting extreme ideas purported by those who argue that families shouldn’t be involved in decisions about their children, or that people have no right to raise animals for food.

Be it the rise in child abuse cases or the inhumane farming practices that contributed to the massive egg recall, I plan to lead American Humane Association’s advocacy toward making a positive difference in a way that empowers our stakeholders -- not by telling them they’re morally wrong.

Q: What should we be doing in our respective positions?

Two things. One, keep striving to do excellent work every day. We are a program-driven organization, and everything is focused on the outcomes we achieve.

Two, let me know what’s going on. Tell me where we’re succeeding and where we’re missing the mark. I will be meeting all of you during my “listening tour” and I am a huge fan of straight talk.

Q: Any final thoughts?

I want to congratulate the board for its selection of George Casey as the interim president and CEO. George stepped in to a challenging situation, and he has been absolutely an outstanding leader. I am grateful for his wise counsel in this transition. Thank you, George!

And, finally, the mission of American Humane Association, the nation’s voice for the protection of children and animals, is absolutely compelling. I know that, together, we can make a difference for society’s most vulnerable. Now is the time for decisive action -- and results!

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Q&A with Our Staff

R. Ganzert, Ph.D
President & Chief Executive Officer

Amy McCullough
National Director, Humane Research & Therapy

Patricia N. Olson, D.V.M.
Chief Veterinary Advisor, Animal Welfare Research Institute