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Member Spotlight: Get to Know Kathy Powelson

April 8, 2024, The Association

This month we check in with the founder of the small but mighty British Columbia-based Paws for Hope. Catch her in May at Humane Canada’s Summit for Animals.

Name & Title: Kathy Powelson, Founder & Executive Director, Paws for Hope Animal Foundation
Member of The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement since:  2017

The Association: Describe yourself in three words.
Kathy Powelson: Intense, empathetic, impatient.

The Association: Describe Paws for Hope in three words.
Kathy Powelson: Unique, nimble, growing.

The Association: What does a typical day look like for the ED of Paws for Hope?
Kathy Powelson: We are a virtual organization, so I work from home, and most of my day is spent at my desk (or doing laundry!).  Paws for Hope is very much in a growth phase, and I suppose we have been for the past decade really. Much of my workday is spent supporting our two staff who manage our two main service programs, managing grant project activities, and working with our two contractors to build and manage our fund development work and visioning. 

I like to try to allow myself time to dream. We are a small organization with a big and bold vision, and there is so much work that needs to be done. 

The Association: What’s one thing, industry-related or not, you learned in the last month?
Kathy Powelson: A reminder that we do not know what we don’t know, and it is so important to remain open, curious and humble when creating and implementing community support programs.

The Association: You founded Paws for Hope in 2011—congratulations on all you’ve done. What changes have you seen in the field? What accomplishment means the most to you?
Kathy Powelson: One of the things that I am most proud of is our early advocacy work to ban the retail sale of cats, dogs, and rabbits. It took us eight years, but our efforts resulted in bans in the six major cities in our province of BC. With respect to what changes I have seen, I would say one of the most concerning issues we have seen is such a massive increase in individuals and “organizations” that have set themselves up to rescue.  And without any forms of regulation, we have seen quite a lot of harm done as a result of unethical rescue practices.

The Association: We hear you’re going to be on a panel at the Summit for Animals about partnering with indigenous communities in Canada to improve veterinary access. Can you share a little about what you’ll be discussing? How has this work been going?
Kathy Powelson: We have been working with the Huu-ay-aht first nation in Anacla. It is an incredible experience, and we are learning so much. We’ve worked with the community for almost a year, and have provided two wellness clinics and a spay-and-neuter clinic. Still, there is much relationship building required—that has been the biggest lesson. With any major outreach effort, consider how much time and effort you think is needed to build relationships, and multiply it by 10!

The Association: Last question: You can invite 5 people from all of history to dinner.  Who’s at the table, and what are you eating?
Kathy Powelson: Martin Luther King, Malcom X, Cleopatra, Robin Williams, and Billie Holiday. Dinner is a chocolate buffet!

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.
  1. I appreciate your mission for animal welfare worldwide.
    Would you like to let me know whether there are opportunities for support in form of grant for stray animals (it doesn’t mean support for shelter, but another type for example awareness campaigns, dog parks etc.). My second question is whether North Macedonia us eligible country for your grant opportunities
    With love for animals

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