Meet The Team
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Jim Tedford, CAWA

President & CEO

Jim Tedford accepted his dream job when he joined The Association as President & CEO in June of 2015.  But Jim is no stranger to the organization.  He has been a member for nearly 30 years and served as our Board Chairman some twenty years ago.  Jim has been actively engaged in the animal welfare movement for more than 34 years having served as CEO for animal sheltering organizations in New York, Louisiana and Tennessee.  He served as a regional director for The Humane Society of the United States and then spent six years providing direct response marketing services to animal welfare organizations. Jim presents frequently at national and regional conferences on various animal welfare issues, organizational development and not-for-profit management.
Jim and his wife Ann operate an unofficial convalescent home for aging animals including three Labrador retrievers (all over the age of 13), a 28-year-old quarter horse and an immortal macaw. Avid lovers of the outdoors, Jim and Ann spend as much time as possible on the hiking trails or camping in their Casita (fiberglass “egg”), often accompanied by Henry Bergh Tedford, their six-year old Jack Russell (adopted from the Asheville (NC) Humane Society). 

Katherine McGowan Shenar, CAWA

Executive Vice President

Katherine McGowan Shenar brings 25 years of experience to her role as executive vice president for The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement. She is frequently invited to speak at national conferences produced by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Best Friends Animal Society, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and [then] the Society for Animal Welfare Administrators (SAWA) on topics including leadership development, organization culture, coalition building, marketing communications, fundraising, and emerging trends in animal welfare.
Shenar began her career working in the media and transitioned to an advertising agency before realizing her animal welfare calling. Her advocacy work started in 1996 when she led the public relations and marketing department for the Humane Society of Missouri. She has served as the executive director for the Animal Protective Association of Missouri, the animal welfare issues consultant for The Humane Society of the United States, president and CEO of Asheville Humane Society, and executive vice president for San Diego Humane Society. She is the author of the book Coalition Building for Animal Care Organizations, a how-to guide for animal advocates to work collaboratively in communities and has written numerous articles for Animal Sheltering magazine. Shenar holds a Masters of Arts in media communications and served as an adjunct professor for the School of Communications at Webster University. She resides in Florida with her husband, three dogs, two cats, and an endless stream of foster kittens. Connect with Katherine on LinkedIn.

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Kelly Cunningham

Director of Engagement

Kelly Cunningham brings more than a decade of animal welfare experience to her role as Director of Engagement for The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement. In this role, Kelly is responsible for helping our members further succeed in their animal welfare careers by communicating and marketing membership services and programs including continuing education and professional development opportunities. Her role is also critical in providing resources, information, and support to members through recommendations and counsel on animal welfare issues. She focuses on bolstering the membership experience for The Association.
Prior to joining The Association, Kelly worked for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) overseeing programs/projects and community relations for outcomes such as animal shelter operations, adoption and behavior, corporate partnership, and internal communications programming. Most recently Kelly served as a consultant in the digital marketing space, conducting digital marketing review, developing targeted email campaigns, auditing existing marketing strategies and developing new ones. 

Kelly resides in Vermont with her husband, two daughters, two dogs (Winston and Murphy) and one elderly and adorable cat (Jake). Connect with Kelly on Facebook or LinkedIn


Valerie S. Sheppard

Director of Professional Development and Credentialing

Valerie Sheppard has spent more than 16 years helping professionalize animal welfare staff, first as the head of HSUS' Humane Society University and then leading the ASPCA's elearning and webinar program. She has a Bachelors degree in Theatre from Smith College and a Masters in Career Counseling from Johns Hopkins University. After-hours, Valerie relaxes with her teen-aged son, two herding dogs, a turtle and a gaggle of fish. She kayaks and is learning, very slowly, how to ski.


Kelly Weitz-Anderson

Operations Manager

With a background in product management and a degree in information technology, Kelly brings a wide range of knowledge and experience to The Association while working for such companies as Disney, Dell, Sprinklr and YourMembership with over 15 years experience. Because of her varied background and willingness to take on any challenge, she has an expansive list of responsibilities at The Association. Kelly is in charge of web development (including the launch of the mobile app for the conferences), conference planning, technical documentation, sponsor logistics, and much more.

Susannah Poe

Administrative Assistant

Susannah Poe has worked for The Association since November 2015, but has been an Administrative Assistant for over 12 years.  Prior to her Administrative Assistant career, she was an Account Manager for Coca-Cola Enterprises which gave her a wealth of knowledge in customer service and just enough computer skills (and caffeine) to make her dangerous. She then changed paths and became a realtor in order to help her father only to quickly realize that she was not cut out for sales; however, it led her to pursue a career as an Administrative Assistant in a real estate office which was a much nicer fit. She enjoys helping people, and that is what she does for The Association. She also loves animals, so knowing that what she is doing contributes to making a difference in the world of animal welfare is the icing on the cake.

Susannah treasures spending time with her husband, Kerry, and son, Oliver. Together, they enjoy camping, hiking, and playing outdoors with their three dogs: two of which (both terrier mixes) were given to them by neighbors that could no longer care for them, and the other (their giant, goofy Rottweiler/Labrador mix) was found at their local humane society.


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