Proven Strategies

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The Best Friends Podcast Episode 130

What "The Real Housewives" can teach us about shelter management
September 29th, 2022

When looking for practical tips and inspiration to help you save lives, chances are you’ve never sought out reality television for answers. But according to this week’s guest, animal welfare professionals can learn much from "The Real Housewives."

Makena Yarbrough is not only the Senior Director of Lifesaving Programs at Best Friends, but she’s also a self-professed superfan of the reality TV franchise. Using the show as inspiration, she created a presentation for the 2022 Best Friends National Conference that points out that a lot of the struggles in the show are things we face every day.

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Makena Yarbrough Best Friends Animal Society

Makena Yarbrough

senior director, lifesaving programs Best Friends

Makena Yarbrough is the senior director of lifesaving programs for Best Friends Animal Society. She is working with coalitions and partners in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina to establish lifesaving programs and policies to help them reach no-kill by 2025. In her home state of Virginia, she is a board member for the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and has been working toward a no-kill Virginia for many years.

Before joining Best Friends, Makena was the executive director of the Lynchburg Humane Society, the largest no-kill organization in the state of Virginia, and was recognized by Maddie's Fund as a recipient of the 2018 Maddie Hero Award. When she joined Lynchburg Humane Society in July 2009 as its first executive director, the organizations save rate was 49 percent. She quickly worked with the organizations board to develop and implement a long-range plan to take the community to no-kill. Under her leadership, the organization tripled the size of the board of directors developed a more financially equitable relationship with the city of Lynchburg began managing the regional spay/neuter clinic created a citywide effort to provide free spay/neuter for community cats and substantially increased community funding, awareness and involvement in the cause. The result was an increase in the save rate to 94 percent.

Makena began her animal welfare career in 2000 with the Richmond SPCA, first as the director of education and then as the director of operations. Before assuming her position at the Lynchburg Humane Society, Makena was the associate director for the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA.

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