“By having SPCA staff members gather information focused on people and not just the animals in our care, we see more of the challenges and barriers that pet owners face in our community. »
~Sarah Streeper ’14
Sarah Streeper ’14, who is director of advancement at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Wake County, North Carolina, received the Triangle Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” award.
“I was on vacation when the price was announced – my boss called twice in a row for me to answer,” Streeper said with a laugh. “She had the whole office for me. It was wonderful.”
Her support team is just one thing Streeper appreciates about the Wake County SPCA, where she has spent the past five years in a variety of roles including events assistant, project coordinator and Events, and Grants and Impact Manager. In her current role as Director, she oversees the day-to-day operations of SPCA Wake’s donor care team, develops case statements for fund development, and provides data-driven strategic leadership for the advancement of the fund. ‘organization.
Although she has worked on a myriad of initiatives during her tenure, Streeper’s most rewarding project to date is the Helpline – a resource born out of the pandemic that was a major factor in her appointment. at the “40 Under 40” price.
Many are familiar with the hordes of people adopting animals during stay-at-home orders, but there was also a less publicized situation: those who feared being forced to give up their animals due to the hardships of the pandemic. From 2018 to 2020, the organization received a 300% increase in calls asking for help.
To manage the influx of calls covering a diverse set of needs, Streeper and his team developed and launched a staff-supported hotline. The hotline — which offers callers answers to animal-related questions, as well as connects them with the SPCA and community programs or national resources — aims to keep pets in homes and out of shelters . It is the first of its kind in the region.
“By having staff members collect information focused on people and not just the animals in our care, we see more of the challenges and barriers facing pet owners in our community,” he said. she declared. “It helps us be better equipped to provide targeted solutions with the mindset of how we can keep animals where they are already loved and not have to entrust them to our care because of these circumstances.”
Streeper, who majored in psychology, cites professors Bob Stewart, Karla Murdock and Julie Woodzicka as major influences in her professional life, noting that it’s been “just over eight years [since graduation]and I still hear their advice and support in my head.
She added that her stint in the psychology department was instrumental in how she approaches issues at SPCA Wake.
“You can have thoughts or hypotheses about what you think is going on in the world, but you have to go out and talk to people, collect data and test what you think you know before you do anything about it. ‘other,’ she said. “It’s key to the idea behind the helpline to gather more information about the problems people are facing so that we can then build solutions around them.”
After graduating, Streeper worked two part-time nonprofit jobs and volunteered at a local animal shelter. It was through this volunteer experience that she discovered her passion for animal welfare organizations.
In 2016, she began a Masters of Public Administration program at North Carolina State University and began volunteering at SPCA Wake. When Streeper needed an internship to fulfill a graduation requirement, she contacted the SPCA Wake about an opportunity. The nonprofit did not have a vacancy, but based on the skills and dedication she showed as a volunteer, she created one for herself.
For W&L students hoping to work in the nonprofit sector, Streeper’s biggest tip is to start as a volunteer to get your foot in the door and see if it’s right for you.
“Plus, it proves that you’ll show up on time and do what’s asked of you,” she said. “It also makes those network connections, so when you’re trying to move up the ladder, people already know you — they already know what you’re capable of and what you’re looking to do.”
Streeper lives in North Carolina with his partner and two dogs, Callie and Leia, both adopted by the SPCA Wake. For more information about the nonprofit, visit spcawake.org.
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