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How I Got Here: Sarah Javier

November 6, 2023, The Association

Welcome to another 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 Animal Protective Association of Missouri’s Sarah Javier, who shares how serendipity—and a smart recruiter—landed her in her current role.

The Association: Describe yourself in three words.
Sarah Javier: Authentic. Collaborative. Courageous.

The Association: Describe your current role as President/CEO at Animal Protective Association of Missouri. What are some of your day-to-day responsibilities?
Sarah Javier: At the APA, everything we do is centered on relationships. As the CEO, my focus is on building and maintaining relationships with the community, donors, Board members, and partners. I also have a responsibility to support the work of our employees, whether it is acting as a soundboard for new, innovative approaches, removing barriers so they can be successful, or securing the resources needed to do their very best work.

The Association: Please describe the trajectory of your career. How did you grow your skills?
Sarah Javier: I’ve always been a curious person who loves to learn and try new things, and that has been extremely beneficial in my career. Before joining the APA, most of my career had been in healthcare, both as a clinician and administrator. I am always looking for opportunities to innovate, improve, or grow myself at whatever I am doing at the time. I’ve been fortunate to have some extraordinary mentors throughout my career, and those individuals challenged me and helped me grow as both a professional and a human. In addition, I often seek out feedback and professional development opportunities to help me learn new skills and build on what I already know and do well.

The Association: How did you find your way to animal welfare and APA?
Sarah Javier: It was a very serendipitous opportunity that found me at just the right time. I had been working in healthcare as a VP of development and advocacy, which meant I was the relationship builder and person who worked on legislative issues. The organization I was with at the time experienced some changes, including a merger, and it no longer aligned with what was important to me. As a result, I was in limbo. Then, as if the universe were listening, I received an email from a recruiter who had been hired to find the next ED for the APA. Fortunately for me, the skillset they prioritized was an expertise in leadership, fundraising, and the ability to build relationships. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Association: Favorite professional development resource or tip?
Sarah Javier: Find a great mentor. Throughout my career I have sought mentors and people to learn from as I refined my skills and moved into different roles. Never be afraid to ask someone to grab a cup of coffee so you can ask them questions and learn from them.

The Association: Please share a hidden (or not-so-hidden) talent.
Sarah Javier: I love the outdoors and am great at camping, kayaking, hiking, cycling, and anything else that allows me to connect with nature.

The Association: Tell us about one small victory, personal or professional, you had this week.
Sarah Javier: I just finished the Association’s DEI Ambassador training, and it was such a great experience! I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from experts in DEI, as well as from my fellow classmates whom I was fortunate to learn alongside. DEI is such a critical need in animal welfare, and I’m proud to be part of the change that is currently underway.

The Association: Last question. Name one of your professional goals for the year ahead.
Sarah Javier: The last few years have been full of ambitious and exciting milestones and accomplishments at the APA, which has meant growing and evolving as an organization. In the year ahead I intend to work on further growing and evolving my leadership skills so I can continue to be the leader my team and the APA need to continue our extraordinary success.

Learn More

Article: “Sarah Javier Named a ‘Most Influential Business Woman’ by St. Louis Business Journal”
APA Adoption Center
Connect with Sarah Javier on LinkedIn

About The Association
The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement is a cohort of leaders on a mission to champion, advance, and unify the animal welfare profession.

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