Proven Strategies

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The Best Friends Podcast Episode 122

The Rachael Ray Save Them All Grants
August 4th, 2022

Since 2017, the partnership between The Rachael Ray Foundation and Best Friends has supported Best Friends Network Partners through millions of dollars in grants to help reduce shelter deaths in communities across the country.

The funded projects over the years have varied. Some focused on increasing lifesaving within one shelter. Others used the grant to fund programs to help other communities beyond their own. But they have all shared the same goal of impactful, innovative, and inclusive programming that is helping us get to No-Kill 2025.

The grant cycle opens on September 1st, 2022, so this week, we're taking a closer look at the Rachael Ray grants program. What grants are available, who is eligible to receive funding, and what types of programs have received funding in the past?

We spoke with Bethany Heins, the director of strategy and network operations for Best Friends, to learn more about the basics, and we also chatted with Ashley Flores from the Great Plains SPCA in Merriam, Kansas. Ashley tells us about their virtual behavior mentorship program - an idea that took flight after they received a Rachael Ray grant in 2022.

Interested in taking the Great Plains SPCA's three week virtual course on building a sustainable behavior program? Follow this link for more information:

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Bethany Heins - Best Friends Animal Society

Bethany Heins

director of strategy and network operations, Best Friends Animal Society

As the director of strategy and network operations for national programs, Bethany Heins leads the execution of strategic projects associated with Best Friends’ national program work to achieve no-kill nationwide by 2025. This role marries Bethany’s diverse programmatic and shelter operations background, partnership-building capacity and knack for strategic planning.

Prior to this position, Bethany served as the senior manager of regional programs with a focus on developing Best Friends’ lifesaving programs in Atlanta, Georgia; Nashville, Tennessee; and Houston, Texas. Through Best Friends in 2012, Bethany launched an innovative program in San Antonio, Texas, that focuses on partnerships and grassroots public engagement to save community cats. Bethany then served as the live release manager for the City of San Antonio Animal Care Services from 2013 through early 2015.

Bethany has also worked as the executive director of Vernon County Humane Society in Wisconsin. She began her career in shelter operations working as an animal care specialist for Central Illinois Humane Society while obtaining her bachelor’s degree in natural resources and environmental sciences at the University of Illinois.

Bethany lives in Illinois with her husband and daughter, and an ever-changing number of cats and dogs.

Ashley Flores - Great Plains SPCA

Ashley Flores

director of animal behavior and training, Great Plains SPCA

Ashley Flores, CPDT-KA, brings more than 18 years of experience working in animal behavior and training to the Director of Animal Behavior and Training role at Great Plains SPCA. Ashley is a Missouri native, having moved to the Kansas City area to attend the University of Missouri at Kansas City. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Geography and Special Studies in Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences but quickly felt a calling to direct her professional career towards animal behavior and training. Ashley studied under the Council of Certified Professional Pet Dog Trainers (CCPDT), has been CPDT-KA certified and American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certified for seven years and certified in Kansas for ten years in humane euthanasia. She also earned certification for Behavior Pharmacology and Separation Anxiety through Heartland Positive Dog Training Alliance (HPDTA) Training.

Before beginning her professional career, Ashley volunteered at Springfield Humane Society and with Missouri Pit Bull Rescue. Her first professional behavior role was as a Personal Training Coordinator/Dog Trainer at Wayside Waifs for four years, and she has been in her current role with Great Plains SPCA for seven years since. Currently, Ashley serves as the Board Secretary for HPDTA and is a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.

Ashley and her husband, have a six-year-old daughter, Great Plains Alumni dog named Willa Blue, Catahoula Leopard, and cat named Meeka. In her free time, Ashley enjoys spending time outdoors, traveling, meditation, art and reading.

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