Geeking out (and loving it) with predictive spreadsheets, what stats are worth a deeper dive, and the most inspirational quote from Shirley Chisholm…. Read on and get to know what success really means for this visionary Florida CEO.
Name: Kate Meghji
Member of The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement since: 2014
Title & Organization: CEO, Humane Society of Vero Beach & Indian River County
Q&A with Kate Meghji
The Association: Describe yourself in 3 words.
Kate Meghji: Evidence-based compassion.
The Association: Describe Humane Society of Vero Beach & Indian River County in 3 words.
Kate Meghji: So. Much. Potential.
The Association: We’ve heard you’re a data junkie. Tell us more! What stats are you most focused on?
Kate Meghji: Honestly, it depends on the day. We’ve moved as an industry beyond typical metrics like live release rates and length of stay (but they’re still important!), and so now a lot of my focus is looking outside the shelter walls to analyze other things, like measuring community impact and pet retention programs, looking at stray animal data and maps to also keep them out of the shelter, and mapping intakes, disease, and other services provided in the community to ensure our programs are laser-focused on the most impactful programs.
Another thing I am excited about is creating predictive models for shelter inventory versus capacity to help us proactively determine when we can commit to transferring in animals from higher volume shelters, plan adoption promotions and ensure adequate (exceptional) capacity for care.
Yeah, I’m a data junkie. But I love being able to see, visually, the stories that the data tells us.
The Association: What does success at HSVBIRC look like to you?
Kate Meghji: Success, for me, is more than just the number of lives saved. It’s lives changed, both human and animal. It’s being an engaged and impactful member of our community. It’s actively participating in programs and services that improve human lives in the community because we know that animals’ lives will undoubtedly be improved as a result. Our organization has the opportunity to rewrite the role of “animal shelter” that moves beyond simply sheltering animals into proactively preventing their homelessness. It’s leading the charge to improve laws and policies to make it easier for people to stay with their pets for the long haul, and finally, it’s investing in animal welfare staff to ensure the next generation of professionals are able to achieve even more.
The Association: Share one small victory you had this week—personally or professionally.
Kate Meghji: This is embarrassing. I built a really cool predictive spreadsheet that I can use to model everything from staffing levels and inputs/outputs to shelter inventory. It’s very pretty. And my favorite part is you can choose which variables to use: shelter capacity, length of stay, number of staff, etc. I’ve honestly been working on versions of this since about 2006.
The Association: What’s one thing you’ve done to stay healthy and resilient this past year?
Kate Meghji: I’ve implemented a pretty serious work-life balance. It’s not something I’m good at (I’m typing this at 9pm!) but with a young child at home and also living someplace so beautiful I am doing a much better job of turning off “work me” after hours and on the weekends. Plus, I’m asking my team to do the same and I’m trying to model that as well. Work hard, self care hard.
The Association: Looking back at 2020, what’s one thing you started doing, either personally or professionally, that you plan to carry over into 2021 and beyond? What’s one thing you wouldn’t miss doing?
Kate Meghji: I do not like working from home. Not even a little. I don’t mind those days where I need to be at home and I keep up on emails and phone calls, but I am so much more efficient and effective when I am at work. I like being surrounded by the day-to-day of shelter life, of being able to bounce ideas off my team face-to-face (masked) and being able to truly focus on whatever project I’m working on.
The Association: In light of your work on the DEI Committee, what’s the hardest question you’ve had to ask, either yourself or someone else, regarding DEI?
Kate Meghji: This is a little tough. Being on the DEI committee is something I’ve wanted for a long time, and I’m so thrilled The Association is doing the work it is, because it’s seriously needed. The hardest question I’ve asked myself is why haven’t I done a better job of speaking up and out about the inequalities and inequities in our industry? I’ve definitely seen it for many years, but I still struggle with the right words to describe it. It is, of course, challenging to try and address these issues when we still don’t have very much diversity in the industry. I am very hopeful that this will change in the near future.
The Association: What’s the last movie you saw or book you read?
Kate Meghji: We watched Luca this weekend and I loved it! Beautiful story, animation, and soundtrack. I also just reread all the Hitchhiker’s Guide books because they’re amazing.
The Association: What’s your favorite one-sentence leadership or inspirational tip?
Kate Meghji: Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.
– Shirley Chisholm