Cathy Overfield, Mountain West regional specialist
Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming
At a very young age, I watched a documentary by the legendary Jane Goodall and was instantly struck by the concept that you could help animals by getting people to understand and relate to them. This inspiration and vision were to play an intricate role in my career path and approach, though it took me until my early 20s before I discovered what that path would actually be.
I grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and like many of you, I wanted to be friends with every animal I met, and through observation and reading, I was fascinated with learning how they communicate. I volunteered at the zoo, worked summers at a boarding facility during my high school years, and spent a little time as a tech assistant.
It was not until I started work at an animal shelter in Norfolk that the light bulb went off. My first day on the job, I was placed in a room with another new person, told to take the dogs outside into the play yards in rounds in order to clean their kennels, and to be done by a certain time. When that time came, our manager looked at us, said “good luck,” and opened a door. A large number of people came barreling in, interested in meeting and learning about the animals. I had no training, knew none of their personalities outside of what I had learned that morning, didn’t even know the adoption process, but I just went for it. I went home that day loving every second of it and knowing I wanted to learn every role and knowing this was my path and these people were my tribe.
I started my career working at a private closed-admissions shelter and moved up from kennel tech to intake coordinator to enrichment and behavior specialist. Wanting to do more for the community, I took a job as shelter manager at an open-admissions municipal shelter in Norfolk. Some of my greatest accomplishments were achieved in those years and some of my greatest heartaches, which ultimately led me to Best Friends.
I started working for Best Friends in Kanab in 2010. I was again struck by that feeling of finding my tribe. I spent five magical and inspiring years at the Sanctuary, working in both Cat World and Dogtown. Those years provided me with the healing and skill set I needed to leave Kanab and go back into community-based programs. I started working for Best Friends in Salt Lake City in 2016 and wore many hats, such as adoptions specialist, volunteer coordinator and foster coordinator, ending as shelter outreach coordinator for Utah at the end of 2018.
I am now thrilled to serve as the Mountain West regional specialist working every day with such amazing and inspiring partners. This is a full-circle moment for me, and I hope to provide each partner with the best of my abilities along with all my incredible and talented colleagues. I am already overcome and inspired by the work you do every day. I truly have the best job on the planet!
I currently reside in Salt Lake City, Utah, with my amazing partner, Rhett, four dogs (Pezoe, Shorty, Aurora, Chalupa Batman) and two cats (Kahuna, Nico).