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Letter From the President: Let’s Be Thankful Every Day

November 23, 2022, Jim Tedford

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I suppose it’s nice that we officially set aside one day a year to be thankful.  I am inclined, however, to offer up an alternative. 

Let’s be thankful every day.  And, not just for the roofs over our heads and the meals on our tables.  Not just for our families and friends.  Not just for the comforts that place most of us among the wealthiest people on Planet Earth.

Let’s also be thankful for each other.  That could easily be passed off as a greeting card phrase, but let’s be more actively thankful for each other.  For the past couple of years, through The Association’s DEI Committee, I have had the privilege of working alongside an amazing group of animal welfare professionals and consulting partners to help our field become more diverse, equitable and inclusive.  Together we have conducted benchmarking studies to gather data that helps inform our work.  We have had difficult conversations and we will have many more.  We have laughed together and cried together and, through it all, we have built a community of leaders who will make Animal Welfare a better profession.  We have built a strategic plan to make The Association a stronger organization and to move our entire field in a positive direction for EVERYONE.

I am grateful to the indigenous people upon whose land I sit as I write this – in my case the Tsalaguwetiyi (Cherokee, East) people.  And, I’m thankful for the patience and grace of my friends and colleagues as I continue to learn from them and grow in their light.

As you gather with those closest to you – friends, family (including the non-human variety) and perhaps with some friends you haven’t yet met—take a moment to recognize the great value and strength in being inclusive in all that we do.  As we continue our lifesaving, life-affirming missions the more people we have carrying the load, the lighter the burden.

We can all be grateful for the remarkable progress our profession has driven when it comes to the well-being of animals.  In my career thus far, I have had the great blessing of being a witness to seed change in our field.  While we still have plenty of work to do to make sure animals are treated with kindness EVERYWHERE, we now have the opportunity to focus some of our considerable energy on making things better for people who work in our field and for the people in communities long neglected.

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I have had to serve alongside so many of you for more than 38 years.  I look forward to continuing this work together as we open our minds and hearts to all people, all philosophies and points of view.  May we all find strength in our diversity and great comfort in the community of care we have established.

We still have lots of problems to solve in our field and in our communities, but we have proven that, as a unified front, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.  We can, and we will, improve equitable access to affordable veterinary care, solve the veterinarian shortage challenge, reduce pet overpopulation in those regions still impacted by it, and reduce suffering and cruelty.

On behalf of my amazing board of directors, my small but mighty staff team, and our countless committed volunteers, please accept our humble gratitude for what you have done and will continue to do to provide support to your communities—animals and people alike—across the globe.

Thank you.

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

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