Pull up a chair and get comfy! We’re talking jelly beans, DEI strategies and inspo for potential CAWAs.
Name: Beth Brookhouser, CAWA
Member of The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement since: 2010
Organization: The SPCA for Monterey County
Title: Vice President, Marketing & Communications
Q&A with Beth Brookhouser
The Association: Describe yourself in 3 words.
Beth Brookhouser: Curious, Caring, Happy
The Asssociation: Describe SPCA for Monterey County in 3 words.
Beth Brookhouser: Compassionate, Comprehensive, Dependable
The Association: Share one small victory you’ve had recently—personally or professionally.
Beth Brookhouser: I posted a simple story on Facebook about a rescued baby hummingbird, using the description “jelly bean” to give scale to the nestling’s size. That little word resonated with our supporters and the post made the rounds on our local media, ultimately becoming a popular story on People.com Pets.
The Association: How have you benefited from your involvement with The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement?
Beth Brookhouser: Making connections with other compassionate people in our field has made such a difference. We all work so hard, and we can work a lot more efficiently when we share ideas and work through problems together. When I bump up against a problem I can’t solve, or just need to run ideas past someone, I have so many friends I can reach out to who will take my call and help. And I love to pay that forward to others, too.
The Association: Thank you for being a part of the Spring Conference committee. Can you tell us a little about the Finance & Strategy track? Who should check it out, and why?
Beth Brookhouser: Honestly, I think anyone in the animal welfare field would benefit from this track! I came at it from an Outreach/Marketing perspective, and worked with an amazing team of people from all different positions and all over the map. That varied perspective helped us create a track that is useful to everyone in our field. We also focused on making the sessions useful to people who were new to their positions and folks who have decades of experience. I can’t thank our team enough—they are all incredible.
The Association: Do you have any advice for those studying for the CAWA exam?
Beth Brookhouser: Take a deep breath and relax. The Exam Committee isn’t ‘out to get you,’ they want to nurture, support, and celebrate you and all you do for the animals who depend on us. Read the materials and practice your test-taking skills. Reach out to other CAWAs for advice. And get a good night’s sleep before the exam.
The Association: This year’s conference’s theme is inclusion—with a pretty broad definition in order to be, well, inclusive. In that spirit, in what ways have you expanded your thinking or communications at SPCA for Monterey County to include ideas or practices you hadn’t considered before?
Beth Brookhouser: Our staff-led DEI Committee formed last year and has been working toward positive improvements on all we’ve built together so far. We’ve greatly increased our bilingual forms, webpages, and signage. And during this time, with so many people working remotely and staff from various departments not seeing each other as much as we used to, our HR department is really focusing on team-building, resilience, and making everyone feel included, valued, and appreciated.
The Association: What’s one thing you’ve done to stay healthy and resilient this past year?
Beth Brookhouser: I have two small boys—5 and 7—so we really focused on finding safe experiences for them to get away from screens and see the world. Camping, hiking, swimming, and just playing in the dirt with them has kept me, well, grounded! It’s so easy in our field to never ‘turn off.’ There’s always an animal who needs help or a social media post to respond to. This past year our team also rescued over 1,400 animals from three major fires in our county—and evacuated our own shelter for the first time in our 115-year history—all during the pandemic. It can be so hard to give myself permission to walk away from screens, but I need to remind myself that turning off the screen is healthy, important, and makes me more ready to respond the next day.
The Association: What’s the last movie you saw?
Beth Brookhouser: Since I have little ones, we watch a lot of kid’s movies! We just finished The Mitchells vs. the Machines, a hilarious, charming, and heartwarming family movie about our dependence on technology. It definitely fits my previous answer. And to tie it all together, there’s a pretty cute dog in it, too.