How I Got Here: Allison Waldvogel
Welcome to the latest installment of one of our newest features, “How I Got Here,” that digs into the career trajectory of an animal welfare professional and member of The Association. Meet Allison Waldvogel, who shares how she got her start at Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region (sneak preview: it wasn’t in the role she has today).
The Association: Describe your current role as Admissions Manager at Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region. What are some of your day-to-day responsibilities?
Allison Waldvogel: My role as Admissions Manager involves overseeing our intake area, animal processing, and TNR. Through intake, we are bringing in stray animals and owner surrenders, reuniting animals back with their families, and supporting patrons during end-of-life services. Ultimately, we are assisting people on some of their worst days, and my focus is on providing the best experience that we possibly can during these difficult moments, and not making a hard day even worse.
Our Animal Processing Team works to ensure that animals are receiving standard vaccines and intake exams, alerting our medical and behavior teams of any concerns. This team also serves as a safeguard to catching anything that got missed at the intake desk (i.e. strays with microchips, etc.). Our TNR Coordinator is a rockstar, and is dedicated to serving our feral cat population and the community that loves them. In a nutshell, my primary responsibility is to support and guide these functions daily.
The Association: What experiences and professional development helped to shape your career path?
Allison Waldvogel: Every single one of them have, even the bad ones. When I was freshly 22 years old, I was promoted to Center Director for an early childhood education facility. Directing a staff of 30+, and providing services to 150+ families was something I often wonder how I was even remotely prepared to take on, especially with a boss who offered very little in the way of coaching or guidance. I learned a lot from that job – most important was how to take accountability for my actions and decisions. I created unwavering relationships and friendships and gained lessons that will last a lifetime. The stress of that job and change in mission led me to step out of it after three years. However, it was the role that helped me to discover how much I love being in leadership and what it means to be seen as a great leader.
The Association: How did you find your way to animal welfare and Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region?
Allison Waldvogel: Oddly, my career in early childhood started as a summer job. Ten years and a degree later, I seemed pretty committed. However, I was one of those folks who said they wanted to be a veterinarian in kindergarten and my love of animals has never wavered. I began volunteering at HSPPR back in 2008 and was ready to sign up for vet tech school shortly after as I realized that it is, indeed, my calling. I took a part-time position with HSPPR as the Volunteer Programs Trainer in 2010 (if I could teach children, I could certainly teach adults!).
I fell in love with the work of animal welfare and decided to forgo vet tech school. I wanted to find where I best fit in so that I could have the most impact for animals in our community. I spent 11 years in Volunteer Services, the past two as the Animal Care/Logistics Manager, and recently just started as the Admissions Manager. Regardless of where I ultimately land, I know that I am meant for service for animals, their people, and our community.
The Association: Favorite professional development tip?
Allison Waldvogel: Be open-minded. I have learned so much about the industry, along with myself, by not being stuck in one way of thinking. The opinions, values, and philosophies I had 15 years when first entering the industry vastly differ from what they are today. You never know where the path may take you, so at least learn from the ride.
The Association: What advice do you have for someone who wants to move up the ranks in animal welfare from within the industry?
Allison Waldvogel: Learn, learn, learn! I don’t just mean in the professional development arena either. Learn from your colleagues; find a mentor who you look up to and trust; keep up on trends. Learn how to do things outside your realm of expertise – for example, if you work in customer service, learn how to clean kennels. If you work in behavior, learn what happens in the adoption process. Demonstrate core values that are important to you and your organization. Don’t ever be above doing a menial task. Make yourself invaluable and a source of knowledge.
The Association: What about advice for someone from outside the industry?
Allison Waldvogel: The best thing that I can, and have suggested, is to get involved with an organization as a volunteer. It’s a great foot in the door but is also an incredible introduction to the industry, even if it’s just a small dosing.
The Association: Tell us about one small victory, personal or professional, you had this week.
Allison Waldvogel: My tiny 10-week-old foster puppy *finally* hit two pounds, so now she can be spayed and go to her new home!
The Association: Last question. Name one of your professional goals for the year ahead.
Allison Waldvogel: Obtaining my CAWA credential. I missed passing it this fall by ONE point. Ugh! I am determined to not let it defeat me. Ha, ha!
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