“I love storytelling,” says Kelly Bauer, Executive Director at The Center for Animal Health & Welfare in Easton, PA. That would come as no surprise to supporters and fans of her Pawfee Talk Facebook live sessions, when she shares an insider look at animal shelters. “And I have to brag a little,” she continues, “and say that Toni Morrison told me I have a gift for words. It’s truly one of the greatest compliments I could receive.” Whoa. We agree. Read on for more on what motivates this dynamic leader.
Name: Kelly Bauer
Member of The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement since: 2017
Title & Organization: Executive Director, The Center for Animal Health & Welfare
Q&A with Kelly Bauer
The Association: Describe yourself in 3 words.
Kelly Bauer: Spontaneous. Charismatic. Innovative.
The Association: Describe The Center for Animal Health & Welfare in 3 words.
Kelly Bauer: Progressive. Community-Driven. Inspiring.
The Association: What does success at The Center look like for you?
Kelly Bauer: Being able to support our community through adoptions, social programs and low-cost veterinary care.
The Association: Share one small victory you had this week—personally or professionally.
Kelly Bauer: On October 24 last year, my son was in an accident that could have taken his life. He suffered a traumatic brain injury while at school in Johnstown, PA. I spent an entire month living in a hotel in Pittsburgh, working from his room in the ICU. This week, we celebrated his life.
The Association: What’s one thing you’ve done to stay healthy and resilient this past year and a half?
Kelly Bauer: As for many others, this past year and a half has been incredibly challenging. In addition to my son’s accident, I was the primary care giver for my father, who had terminal cancer. He unfortunately passed away in July at just 63 years old, but not before we executed a truly incredible bucket list of adventures!!! We LIVED from April 2020 to July 2021. More than ever, I had to appreciate the small wins, the subtle victories, but most importantly practicing gratitude. Finding the good in a bad situation isn’t easy, but I wouldn’t have been able to make it through if I hadn’t.
The Association: In addition to animal welfare, you’re also very involved in politics. What opportunities and challenges do you find where the two overlap?
Kelly Bauer: Activism is very important to me. Whether it is my two- or four-legged friends, I have never been one to shy away from speaking up for those without a voice. Politics and animal welfare are more connected than most people realize. Animal welfare laws are lacking, to say the least. It is up to us to fight for animal rights, electing lawmakers that will be a voice for animals. It’s not about political affiliation, it’s about doing the right thing for humanity.
I believe that all shelters and rescues should be politically active. We are their voice. We must fight from our community all the way to Pennsylvania Avenue, to ensure that animals are protected. I am thankful to have friends in Senate, Congress, the House of Representatives, and the judicial courts who share my passion for animal welfare. Together, we are working to strengthen laws and stiffen penalties for those who abuse animals. I believe that my political affiliation has helped our community and will continue to do so. Recently, I was asked to speak during a legislative hearing regarding fireworks in the State of Pennsylvania. My political activism has given me a platform to make a difference in the lives of our furry friends, and for that I am grateful.
The Association: Can you tell us a little about your Facebook Live Pawfee Talks, and any new direction you’ll take them in?
Kelly Bauer: Pawfee Talk came about on a night when I couldn’t sleep. I was dealing with a situation that I couldn’t make a difference in, a reality so many in animal welfare deal with every day. I realized that the public doesn’t often see “behind the curtain.” They could never really understand how sadness, anger, stress, hope and love is a daily combination that inspires us just as much as it hurts us. This is not a job, it’s a mission. I wanted to have a platform that would allow people to see what shelter life is really like. To open the curtain and allow people to be part of the movement. To empower them to be the change they wish to see in the world. It has been amazing experiment in humanity. Transparency has always been important to me.
My father’s death was devastating. The last few months have been incredibly difficult, and it was hard to embrace Pawfee Talk when all I really wanted to do was hide from the world. It was then that I decided to take a break and visualize a new Pawfee Talk. I am forever changed by the 15 months I spent caring for my father, and am more determined than ever to be the change and manifest a life that leaves the world a better place. I want Pawfee Talk to embrace that philosophy while giving our community a bird’s eye view of shelter life. My Pawfee Talk Tribe (as they call themselves) has been a bright spot in a dark time, and they deserve the best version of me. I look forward to this new leg of my journey
The Association: What’s the last movie you saw or book you read?
Kelly Bauer: I Take My Coffee Black by Tyler Merritt. A must-read for those hoping to increase their awareness of social issues.
The Association: What’s your favorite one-sentence leadership or inspirational tip?
Kelly Bauer: Be the change you wish to see in the world.