About The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement

Our Shared Vision

The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement envisions a strong, unified profession that enriches the interconnected lives of animals and people.

Our Mission

The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement’s mission is to champion, advance, and unify the animal welfare profession.

Our Shared Values

The core principles that guide and direct The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement and its culture are:

  • Excellence
  • Diversity
  • Connection
  • Integrity
  • Courage
  • Impact
  • Inclusion


To achieve an equitable profession, diversity must be respected and embraced. The road to a just and fair animal welfare field is an ongoing process that requires an interminable, sustained effort and continuous learning. As a collective of people with diverse backgrounds and lived experiences, we will provide thoughtful suggestions and practical ways to further engage in advancing animal welfare organizations’ diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. In doing this work we acknowledge animal welfare has historically and predominantly been created and carried out by white people; we commit to lead intentionally by naming and calling out racism in the structures, systems, and culture of animal welfare. Successful DEI work in animal welfare requires internal organizational development as well as external facing strategies that impact society at-large. Both shifts are important, and one cannot occur genuinely and effectively without the other.


In 1970, directors of humane organizations throughout the country met at various regional meetings, legislative hearings, and national conferences to discuss shared concerns. Those in attendance talked about holding periodic gatherings, where concerns and ideas could be openly shared and discussed. As a result, the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators (SAWA) was formally organized on April 25, 1970.

Attending that historic first meeting in New York City were: Ronald Lambert, Seattle, WA; Charles Marsh, Oakland, CA; Bill Virden, San Diego, CA; Ken McGovern, Miami, FL; Archie Fiddler, Tacoma, WA, and Frank Andrews, Detroit, MI. The Association’s first president was Lambert, with Donald Anthony appointed vice president, Andrews as secretary, and Robert Hudson as treasurer.

The first formal meeting was held prior to the September 1970 American Humane Association annual convention in St. Louis. One of the organization’s first goals was to develop and maintain positive relations with national organizations, such as the American Humane Association and The Humane Society of the United States. Membership has since expanded to include executives in related fields, as well as others who impact the animal welfare industry.

One of the first projects to serve the profession completed by the founding members was a nationwide Compensation and Benefits Survey. This survey continues to be conducted every other year. We also began hosting annual conferences. These events are designed to stimulate thought on a wide variety of subjects, such as leadership, timely industry issues, development, and human resources.

The name was changed from the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators to The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement in 2018, to reflect a more inclusive, professional direction, including an openness to new ideas and methodologies for delivering services to the people, animals, and communities we serve.

We celebrated our 50th anniversary in 2020.