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Keeping Up With COVID-19: 5 Leadership Lessons from Sharon Harvey

April 3, 2020, The Association

On the adoptions floor, at the front desk, doing a daily walk-through … that’s usually where you’d find Sharon Harvey, Cleveland APL’s dynamic President & CEO and the epitome of a hands-on, compassionate leader. But as a great leader must adapt to change, today she’s running things from behind a computer. The Association’s Katherine Shenar recently checked in with Harvey about this new way of working. “I have to admit I’m struggling with it,” says Harvey. Read on for her juicy advice and practical tips for others learning the skills needed to lead from home.

Listen when your team tells you to go home

Not only is Harvey working from home — so are other members of her strategic team. “We looked at the need to divide leadership this way,” she explains. “This ensures that some folks are away from things in the event someone gets sick.” 

Don’t skip that weekly All-Staff 

The entire Cleveland APL staff connects via Zoom every Thursday at 10 am. “This lets us see faces, provide updates and, most importantly, give each other moral support,” says Harvey.

Hands up—and step away from the desk!

When asked to share advice for friends and colleagues on self-care, Harvey says, “We have to figure out when and how we’re going to pause.” And then…PAUSE. For Harvey, that means making a commitment to get out with her dog for an hour of fresh air. 

Keep laughing

“I would never want anyone to think I’m making light of this situation,” says Harvey, who also knows that laughter is a huge stress buster —both short-and long-term. Find your funny every day, if possible.

Start planning for the future

As a visionary leader, Harvey is already thinking about ways that the lessons the field has learned over the past several weeks may result in “a whole new paradigm for how shelters work.” The field has seen big shifts thanks to open adoptions, for example, but what’s unfolding now “could lead us to a much greater advancement.” Keeping some processes virtual and curbside? Yes, please!

Watch the complete video below. And if you’ve got a leadership tip to share, leave a comment on this blog or email us at

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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