Member Spotlight: Get To Know Jill Tucker

As Jill approaches her one-year anniversary with the recently formed California Association for Animal Welfare, we caught up with her to ask some questions about her experiences as an animal welfare professional (and her hidden talents!).

Name: Jill Tucker, CAWA, CEO, California Animal Welfare Association
Member of The Association since: 2010

The Association: Tell us about your organization.
Jill Tucker: The California Animal Welfare Association (CalAnimals) was formed in 2018 through a merger between California’s two statewide animal-welfare associations:  California Animal Control Directors Association (CACDA) and State Humane Association of California (SHAC). The latter was founded in 1909 to represent local humane organizations with matters of concern to all. CACDA was founded in 1976 to represent California’s animal care and control professionals. Together, as one organization, we unite California’s animal welfare community and
support the success of animal welfare and sheltering organizations in meeting the needs of animals and people in their communities.

The Association: What is the most important part of your job?
JT: Fostering a sense of connection among our animal welfare colleagues, so they can support one another in their work. I really do love our people—all of them!—even when they don’t agree. Animal sheltering is hard in so many ways, and the people who work in this field are heroes; especially those willing to take on the challenges of leadership roles. It’s tough to stick your neck out and it can be “lonely at the top,” but what I see are people who get up and show up every day, no matter how hard things get, and do the very best that they can.

The Association: What’s the biggest issue facing professionals in our industry right now?
JT: I think it’s fear. It stops people from trying new things and it hinders innovation. Fear can make us stuck, defensive, and critical of others, while putting us in a place where we keep arguing for our limitations. I think that progress comes from trying new things and being willing to fail. The more we can support one another in this work, the better chance we’ll have of fostering a collaborative, solution-oriented environment where everyone can succeed.

The Association: What’s one thing—either industry-related or not—you learned in the last month?
JT: I learned that California has a hotline for poachers and people who abuse wildlife. I received a complaint about people drowning foxes, and they responded immediately and sent someone out. I’ve learned a lot of new things in this role, as I get calls on all sorts of animal-related issues.

The Association: What’s the last book you read?
JT: Dare to Lead by Brene Brown

The Association: Name one very special skill and talent you have that only your closest friends know about you.
JT: I’m not sure if singing to my dogs counts, but my life is pretty much a musical when I think no one’s listening!

The Association: Yes, that absolutely counts! What else keeps you healthy and resilient?
JT: Animals! (I know…surprise, surprise.) I love the companionship of my dogs, but I think it’s the horses who really keep me healthy and sane. I’ve been horse-obsessed my whole life, and I ride almost every day. It’s a ton of work to take care of them and the dogs, and I love every minute we spend outside doing it.

The Association: How have you benefited from your involvement with The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement?
JT: I would not be where I am without The Association! When I think back to all I didn’t know when I ran my first shelter in Vermont, to the financial turnarounds, capital campaigns, and you-name-it over the years, I don’t see how any of it would have been possible without the connections I made through the Association. I have learned so much from my colleagues. So often we don’t know what we don’t know, and connecting with others so we can ask questions and share information allows us to grow together.

The Association: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to who you were ten years ago?
JT: Show up, be happy, do your best, and surrender the outcome. Trust that things will always work out, even if not exactly as planned.

The Association: If you could choose anyone as a mentor, who would that be, and why?
JT: Jim Tedford! This was an easy answer for me, now that I am learning to run an effective association.

The Association: Wow! Excellent answer–haha!! One final question—what advice do you have for someone considering membership in The Association?
JT: Join, learn, and connect. With our animals and communities counting on us, no one should be doing this work without access to information, best practices, and support.

Connect with Jill on LinkedIn


The Association is the only international society of leaders actively leading and managing community animal shelters/animal control agencies.


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