Proven Strategies

Tawny Hammond from Best Friends Animal Society sitting with a dog

The Best Friends Podcast Episode 80


Professionalizing the profession
September 17th, 2021

Animal welfare is more professional than it’s ever been. Across the country, collectively, we’re saving more lives on any given day than some ever thought possible. We have a greater understanding of the role pets play in our individual lives and within our communities. More than ever, our industry strives to preserve the human-animal bond and keep families together.

So why are we still fighting to have animal welfare recognized as a critical community service?

Today’s guest, Tawny Hammond from Best Friends, identified this disconnect and leaned into her background in training and development in municipal government to launch the Best Friends Executive Leadership Certification Program. The first in an ever-growing suite of educational opportunities designed to continue what she calls “professionalizing the profession.”

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Tawny Hammond

Tawny Hammond

director, national learning advancement, Best Friends

The director of national learning advancement, Tawny Hammond has more than 30 years of experience in the public service arena, creating and implementing programs and services for people and their pets, working effectively with appointed and elected officials, and creating and leading teams focused on professional excellence and lifesaving best practices.

Tawny currently leads Best Friends’ leadership advancement initiatives with a focus on strengthening existing leaders’ skillsets for the goal of ending the killing of shelter pets in their communities. An additional focus will be developing programs to assist seasoned leaders from other fields and disciplines who are interested in making the transition to animal welfare and services leadership.

For the majority of Tawny’s career, she has facilitated leadership programs for professionals and community organizations, as well as focusing on the building of dynamic teams, professional development, and succession planning.

Tawny has a proven track record of success, serving for more than 25 years in municipal government in Fairfax County, Virginia. She brought the Fairfax County Animal Shelter to a 90 percent live release rate in less than two years by removing breed restrictions, growing a robust volunteer program, establishing a cutting-edge foster program for the dogs losing their lives, strengthening community cat programs, and establishing the animal shelter as a community center for residents of Fairfax.

Tawny is also the former Chief of Animal Services for the city of Austin, Texas. Under Tawny’s leadership, Austin and Travis County reached a new milestone in 2017, achieving live outcomes for 98 percent of the more than 17,000 animals who came through the doors.

Tawny is devoted to ending the killing of pets in shelters and believes that how we treat pets and their people is connected to social justice, community wellness, and our compassion as a society.

Tawny, her spouse, Amy, and their dog, Rosie, live in Traverse City, Michigan, where they enjoy the beautiful Michigan outdoors.

closed caption icon   Episode Transcript