Animal welfare

Trendsetter to know: Alessandra Navidad, President and CEO of the Arizona Animal Welfare League

City in which you live: Phoenix

A typical day in my life includes… gym, taking the kids to school or scuba diving practice and walking the kennels. I go to work around 8 am and take advantage of this time to walk in the kennels. By then our animal care team (who are usually on site by 6am) have already walked and fed the animals and cleaned their kennels. It’s usually much quieter and less hectic in the morning, allowing me to clear my head, plan the day, and prioritize what needs to be done that day or week. This precious time with few distractions allows me to think about big things, like how to reduce the stress level of cats and improve their housing, or how to reduce the length of stay of animals, which is a huge priority when you are there. operation of a shelter. The goal is to ensure that the animals are healthy, vaccinated and sterilized so that we can find them their homes as quickly as possible. But often they may have more serious medical issues that need to be addressed or more complicated surgeries that need to be scheduled, which means they end up staying at the shelter for longer periods of time. In these cases, we try to find foster families to look after the animals in the family environment where they are less stressed.

I was born… in Miami, Florida.

My favorite thing about Arizona… Being able to hike in Phoenix and ski in Flagstaff on the same winter day.

I listen… Doja Cat’s planet her album.

My family…is big and noisy. We are seven in the house. Four teenagers aged 14-17, my husband, myself, my mother-in-law, plus the two dogs, so sometimes it can get a bit hectic at breakfast and dinner times. I guess that’s why I like to go to bed early and get up early – it’s my quiet time.

If I could have dinner with anyone it would be… Allison Cardona, California State Director, Koret Shelter Medicine Program. They founded the first veterinary residency program for shelter medicine programs and led the way in best practices on how to operate shelters in innovative, progressive and transformative ways. More importantly, however, she has over 20 years of experience in the animal welfare world and is Latina, which is inspirational to me because there aren’t many women of color who work in animal services or shelter medicine. She is the daughter of Colombian immigrants; I am the daughter of Brazilian-Argentinian immigrants, and she is deeply committed to racial justice and equity work, and so am I. I would love to spend an evening reflecting on what she has learned over the years in her career when it comes to leading teams and serving marginalized pet owners of color with limited access to services and pet resources.

One thing I can’t live without… Peanut Butter.

When I was younger, I wanted to be… A vet. Twenty years ago, I quit my job as a reporter for the Miami Herald to pursue my dream of going to vet school. While taking my prerequisite science classes, I was hired as a vet assistant at a vet clinic in Miami, where pit bull dogfights were rampant, despite a 1989 ban on owning them that made more harm than good. I have treated hundreds of dogs who have been abused and abused, who have come into our clinic with deep wounds and broken bones. Most of the time they never made it over the weekend. Since then, I have been a rescue mother of pit bulls. My new role as CEO and President of AAWL allows me to embrace my love pit bull (I’ve adopted three over the years).

I am inspired by… Jyothi V. Robertson, who is a shelter medicine veterinarian who leads diversity, equity and inclusion work with shelters across the country. She has this amazing side project called Journey You Own, which is a podcast where she profiles women of color doing impactful social justice and animal welfare work. Her passion and commitment to building more inclusive shelters is inspiring on many levels and I love that she is homeschooling her children so she can travel with them overseas.

The only person who motivates me is… my mother. She passed away five years ago when she was just 65 and I know she wants me to be the best mother, wife, mentor and leader I can be.

If I could change one thing in the world, it would be…the university would be free for any student wishing to enroll.

The ideal day would be…go to bed at 8 p.m. every day 😊

My first job was… when I was 15. I got a job at the local newspaper, the Miami Herald, where I wrote a column on homeowners associations. Lots of HOA drama to cover. I had no idea how controversial these meetings could be.

My favorite getaway… any place where there is an ocean.

My life…is full of humility, gratitude and a lot of intellectual curiosity. I will never stop learning.

I am currently working on…our five-year strategic plan for the future of our shelter. Trying to figure out how to raise more money to fund four initiatives to find adoptable homes for animals, keep families and pets together, provide affordable and accessible veterinary care to underserved pet owners, and to retain and recruit a diverse and talented workforce.

Still…take the time to listen…really listen to your children, your staff, your partner.

Never…consider the growing number of pet owners who in recent times (due to housing and economic issues) have had to make the difficult decision, sometimes through no fault of their own, to return their pets. It’s up to all of us – our government, our local non-profits, our community of animal lovers and shelters to help each other and support our beloved pets and do what we can to keep them completely out of the refuge system.

Favorite quote… If you stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small, barely perceptible things, these things can become unexpectedly large and immeasurable. Rainer Maria Rilke

Biggest dream…win the lottery and go to vet school.

My pet peeve(s)…people throwing trash out of their car window.

Bio-about yourself/company: The Arizona Animal Welfare League is a nonprofit shelter located in downtown Phoenix that provides a full range of services to animals and pet owners, including low-cost adoptions, behavior, and veterinary care. The AAWL community includes people from all walks of life who save the lives of animals every day by volunteering, adopting, encouraging, and donating to our shelter. In our shelter, people and animals help each other to thrive. We have rescued over 100,000 animals in our first 50 years and are working with community members to solve pet overpopulation issues and continue our mission to save dogs and cats. Over the next five years, as part of our strategic initiatives, we are working to keep families together by providing pet owners with support services to prevent owners from giving up and by providing affordable and accessible veterinary care. to pet owners who otherwise would not be able to afford care. .

Alessandra Navidad joined AAWL in March 2021 after serving as executive director of a nonprofit legal defense organization in Phoenix, Arizona. She is the proud mom of two- and four-legged children, sharing a home in South Phoenix with her husband, Alex, their four aged children (14, 14 (twins), 16 and 17) and two fur-babies, a piteous rescue named, Charli, and Olie, their cattle dog rescue. Alessandra graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and an MBA from Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona. She was born and raised in Miami, Florida to immigrant parents from Brazil and Argentina and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.