Al-Van Humane Society in South Haven Welcomes New Executive Director

Story from Michigan Pet Fund Alliance

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Al-Van Humane Society in South Haven welcomes new Executive Director Will Anzenberger, who is replacing Cathy Thaler. Al-Van received Michigan Pet Fund Alliance’s  Most Improved Open Admission Shelter award for 2012 with a save rate of 63.23%, an exemplary increase from 2011’s Save Rate of 18.41%.

In September 2013, Thaler announced her retirement. Al-Van’s Board of Directors embarked on a 4-month search for her replacement. Based on their strategic plan, which encompasses a no kill commitment and includes a significant expansion to the shelter, they were searching for a candidate with a strong and proven development background. 

Nine candidates applied from across the United States. The selection committee, comprised of Board of Directors members, reviewed, interviewed and vetted potential candidates. The final decision was a unanimous vote by the Board of Directors: Will Anzenberger.

Anzenberger agreed to an email interview with MPFA.

MPFA: How did you find out about the opening? Anzenberger: I found the ad on animalsheltering.org  

MPFA: What attracted you to apply for and/or accept the position?   Anzenberger: I have held two key positions at two well-known animal welfare organizations:  Director of Law & Advocacy at San Francisco SPCA and Development Director at Kauai Humane Society.  I had success at both positions, and I wanted to apply my diverse skillset to lead an organization to financial and mission sustainability.

MPFA: What challenges are you facing at Al-Van?   Anzenberger: A modest financial reserve and a big goal to achieve at least a 90% save rate at a shelter that needs to expand its capacity to shelter animals.

MPFA: Any specific plans for Al-Van to continue to improve your Save Rate?

Anzenberger:  Expand our foster program, work on pet retention programs and services, partner with area animal control agencies and other shelters, and, ultimately, undergo a capital campaign to provide a larger, more modern facility to serve the communities of Allegan and Van Buren counties.

MPFA: Did you most recently live in Hawaii?  How’s the Michigan winter affecting you?

Anzenberger:  Yes, I was the Development Director for the Kauai Humane Society.  Since I went to grad school at the University of Wisconsin to get my JD/MBA, I actually remember the Midwest as having tougher winters.  I know it has been awhile since SW Michigan has had this type of winter, but the last time I was in the Upper Midwest, it was -93 degrees with the wind-chill.  I did get a bit of shock with my first heating (electric) bill, though.

MPFA: Looks like Dexter (pictured here with Anzenberger) may have made the trip from

Hawaii with you; what does HE think of Michigan winter?  Did any other cats or dogs make the trip?

Anzenberger: Dexter, a rescue French bulldog, has known only California and Hawaii weather.  At first, he was loving playing in the snow, but he, like lots of other companion animals and people, is looking forward to warmer weather for sure.  Dexter is one of those dogs that really wants to be the sole animal in the house, so I will respect his wishes.  While I was on the mainland, I did help transport over a dozen animals from Kauai Humane to the East Bay SPCA .

Al-Van’s Board President Lisa Galdikas indicates that they are delighted to have Anzenberger as part of their team and that he is committed to continuing their no kill efforts.  MPFA wishes Al-Van great success, and encourages readers to follow them on facebook.

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One thought on “Al-Van Humane Society in South Haven Welcomes New Executive Director

  1. Ksr January 4, 2015 at 3:53 am Reply

    Kauai hasn’t had a positive fiscal operation since 2008. When did you work at Kauai?

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