Q&A: Nancy Taylor, Bideawee President and CEOPublished December 14, 2012
Bideawee is a leading animal shelter in the New York metropolitan area dedicated to cultivating and supporting the life-long relationship between pets and the people who love them. Recently, Petside had the chance to sit down with Bideawee's President and CEO, Nancy Taylor, to talk about how she started at the shelter, what working for an animal shelter is like, and her personal love for animals.
How did you get involved with Bideawee?
I was living and working in the Washington D.C. area when I was contacted by an executive search firm regarding a position at Bideawee. After spending a few days in New York, visiting all three Bideawee properties and familiarizing myself with the organization's century-old legacy, I knew it was a rare and special place that I wanted to have the opportunity to lead.
What are some of your responsibilities as the President and CEO of one of the country's oldest animal shelters? What's a typical day like?
The beauty of my job is that there's no such thing as a typical day. Every one is unique and never totally routine. On any given day I might be conferring with key team members, attending Board or committee meetings, responding to emails, meeting or talking with donors and/or attending external events. I keep offices at two different sites and frequently travel to the third to meet with staff. And one of the best perks of my job is that I can always take a break and snuggle with a cat or a dog if I need to lower my stress level.
How was Bideawee affected by Hurricane Sandy?
Fortunately, we learned a lot from previous storms and evacuated the animals from our Manhattan facility ensuring their safety. Although all three of our properties sustained some damage, our facility in Manhattan, adjacent to the East River, was most affected when several feet of water overcame the lower floor, knocking out the elevator, fouling stored bedding, pet food and staff uniforms and permanently damaging washers, dryers and electrical outlets. At our Wantagh facility on Long Island where the majority of our animals were temporarily located, we were without power for 16 days and our generator failed after running continuously for 11 days and nights. Our staff performed heroically under extreme conditions keeping our cats and dogs safe, warm and well cared for.
Do you have pets of your own? Do you have to fight the temptation to adopt a mini-zoo working at Bideawee as you do?
I have two five-month old kittens at home adopted from Bideawee that keep us laughing, and I also have a Bideawee cat in my Manhattan office still awaiting her forever home after four years of waiting (although I think she may be under the impression I've already adopted her). My husband is the only thing standing between a home zoo and me!
Where do you see Bideawee in 10 years?
As an organization committed to accompanying pets and people on their lifetime journey together my hope is that Bideawee will be nimble enough to respond to their changing needs and will have established a sufficient financial base to secure its long-term future.
What is the most challenging part of your job? The most rewarding?
Although I enjoy fundraising it's a daunting task to raise millions of dollars annually.
Rewarding? That's the easiest question! The most rewarding thing for any staff member at Bideawee is to hear stories from new pet parents that a perfect adoption match was made and their new cat or dog quickly has quickly become a much beloved member of their family.
How do you see social media tools helping animal welfare groups, like Bideawee? And how has pet adoption benefited from this digital engagement?
In a relatively brief period social media tools have become an invaluable asset to raise organizational awareness while engaging constituents in an ongoing dialogue about mutual issues of concern or interest. With the growth of websites like Petfinder we've seen the pool of potential adopters expand exponentially. Prior to that, most pets at Bideawee went to homes in the Tri-State area. Just last week we all shed tears when a long-stay dog made the trip to Toronto and others before her have gone to Michigan, Indiana, Florida and many more states in between.
Lastly, what do you think of Tard, the Grumpy Cat?
Despite her dour puss that makes me laugh, she looks like the perfect lap cat.
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