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Letter From the President: Be Thankful For Each Other

November 21, 2023, Jim Tedford

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

We are fresh on the heels of The 2023 Annual Conference, and what a conference it was!  We had the largest attendance in our 53-year history and, in my humble opinion, the strongest educational program we’ve ever had.  Not only were the sessions inspiring, but the outstanding presenter lineup represented diversity across race, sexual orientation, gender and thought leadership.  As a lifelong learner, this year’s event was a Thanksgiving feast for the mind! 

And, as always, while I learned a great deal from our presenters, I also learned from you.  The time spent with other animal welfare professionals is always such a gift.  This Thanksgiving season as I reflect upon the year with gratitude, my time with each of you ranks near the top of my list.  I am in awe at all you accomplish in your communities, and am inspired to do all I can to be sure The Association continues to support you in that work.

There is much for which we can all be thankful this year:

  • Our sponsors stepped up in a big way this year and enabled us to provide top notch leadership training.  From webinars, roundtable discussions and online coursework to the virtual and in-person conferences, our sponsors helped us bring you what you needed to stay abreast of the latest developments in animal welfare leadership.
  • Our team is made up of the hardest working people in the profession. They work diligently throughout the year to bring you solid professional development and networking opportunities and to keep you up-to-date on the latest developments from the field.  And they do it all with a positive, progressive attitude, the likes of which I’ve never seen on any team.
  • Our volunteers are amazing. The Board of Directors governs our organization skillfully with a 20,000-foot view of the industry and our impact upon it. They show up when we need them and always support our efforts and our innovations. We have many volunteers engaged in Committee and Action Team work helping with everything from our finances and improving access to veterinary care to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The Conference Committee works hard year-round to make sure we’re bringing you the most relevant and thought-provoking content.

As the year winds down and many of us get a well-deserved break from the daily grind, I remind you to be thankful for each other. Unless your Thanksgiving table is much different than mine, there will likely be disagreements amongst family and friends. But at the end of the day when we curl up on the sofa in a food coma to watch football or “It’s a Wonderful Life,” we’ll know in our souls that we love and care for each other. Animal welfare is much like a family. We may not always agree, and we may occasionally bicker, but at the end of the day, we’re all in this for the same reasons and we are all equally passionate about making the world a better place for animals and people. Let’s always be thankful for that.

Thank you.

About Jim Tedford
Jim Tedford, CAWA, is President and CEO of The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement.