Wayne Pacelle is President and Chief Executive Officer of The Humane Society of the United States. Since his appointment in 2004, Wayne Pacelle has driven the growth of The HSUS through greater visibility and engagement and a remarkable range of corporate and policy gains on animal protection issues – from animal fighting and anti-cruelty laws to factory farming, puppy mills and horse protection.
The HSUS is the nation’s largest animal care provider, and also the nation’s leading advocacy organization for animals. The organization has helped pass more than 1,100 state animal protection laws and more than 25 federal statutes during Pacelle’s tenure. Pacelle’s 2011 book, The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them, was a New York Times bestseller. Non-Profit Times named Pacelle Executive of the Year in 2005, and he’s been on the “Power and Influence Top 50” list among non-profit organizations four times in recent years.
How did you get into the Non-Profit industry?
I’ve been passionate about animal protection since I was a kid, when I used to spend hours with Brady, our retriever mix, and watch Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. In college at Yale, I learned about how we’ve broken the human-animal bond – through trophy hunting and trapping, factory farming, and so many other abuses – and formed an animal protection group. I started writing for a magazine in the field and then was fortunate to connect with author and legendary animal advocate Cleveland Armory, the founder of the Fund for Animals. I became national director of his group, and I’ve been working for animal protection ever since. It is a real privilege to serve today leading the nation’s most effective animal protection group.
Tell us about The Humane Society of the United States. What inspired the idea and what is your vision for the organization?
The Humane Society of the United States was founded in 1954 as a national group to tackle the biggest cruelties beyond the scope of local organizations. We remain true to that mission today. My vision is to implement a more humane economy, in which our business practices and social conduct aligns with our concern for animals. Nobody wants animals to suffer, but in puppy mills, factory farms, the fur trade and so many other industries, animal cruelty has become the norm. We need to find creative solutions that provide better outcomes for both people and animals.
What strategic partnerships/marketing strategies have you implemented that have attributed to The Humane Society of the United States' success?
For many years The HSUS and Maddie’s Fund have teamed up to promote pet adoption and reduce the euthanasia of healthy, adoptable pets. We’ve also partnered with the Ad Council and Maddie’s Fund on the Shelter Pet Project, which has secured more than $240 million in donated media to promote shelter adoption over the last decade. As importantly, we’ve worked with many of America’s major corporations to drive changes in their supply chains and testing laboratories.
What industry trends are you noticing and how do you capitalize on them?
Americans care more than ever about animal welfare, and increasingly major corporations are adapting their policies to reflect that sensibility. For example, earlier this year, Aramark, Nestle and Walmart – three of the world’s largest food companies – announced sweeping animal welfare reforms. Just this week, we announced that General Mills joined that list. We’re working with the nation’s biggest companies to convince them that practices associated with animal cruelty are no longer sustainable. In the 21st Century, consumers simply won’t tolerate business models founded on animal abuse.
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The Humane Society of the United States' Motto?
Confronting Cruelty, Celebrating Animals.
Your greatest success as President of The Humane Society of the United States? Most difficult moment-how did you overcome and what did you learn?
I think two of my greatest successes are leading the effort to end legalized dogfighting and cockfighting in the United States and building a team that is every day getting closer to ending the era of extreme confinement of animals in industrial agriculture. I’m also very proud of our joining with a number of organizations, including The Fund for Animals and the Doris Day Animal League, to unite our movement and become a stronger force as a consolidate operation.
Your advice to an aspiring philanthropist?
Invest in a group with a track record of results. Any group can make promises; only some groups can deliver on them. I’ve made achieving results our focus at The HSUS, and I think that’s the most powerful evidence a philanthropist can have that their investment will make an impact.
Describe the ideal experience at a Humane Society of the United States event/volunteering.
I always hope that our supporters and volunteers will leave our events and projects inspired. And I hope that they will be motivated by the breadth of issues we work on, and the depth of impact we achieve. I’m always moved by their commitment to helping animals.
How do you motivate your employees?
It’s all about our mission and impact. Our staff, volunteers and supporters can become a contributor to the biggest changes ever seen in the world for animals. No one comes to work at The HSUS for the money; they come because they want to stop cruelty to animals. So it’s critical that we engage them directly in that mission, and set them up to achieve an impact on the most important issues. I also try to celebrate their successes for animals, both through our internal communications and through my daily blog.
One food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?
A soy chai latte and my wife’s delicious vegan enchiladas.
What literature is on your bed stand?
There are about 80 books on the bed stand and on my iPad (the latter minimizes clutter). I just finished reading Our Declaration by Danielle Allen. It’s a spirited defense of the Declaration of Independence as a call for political equality, and a powerful call for a better democratic process in our time.
Role model - business and personal?
My brother had a huge influence on my commitment to social justice and he also helped instill in me a thirst to learn and to aspire to make an impact. He’s a political scientist, and I think I got a bit of the bug of politics thanks to him, too.
I’m writing my second book, The Humane Economy, to be released in early 2016. It’s about how entrepreneurs, innovators and businesses are finding humane solutions to the longest standing abuses of animals. It’s an all-consuming project right now, but I’m very excited about its progress.
Favorite travel destination?
California or Italy. I love the climate in these places, and it feels especially right to go to California, since it’s been so forward-thinking on animal protection. We’ve had great victories there – from banning trophy hunting of mountain lions to banning cruel traps to outlawing horse slaughter and the use of lead ammunition to our 2008 victory to ban the most cruel factory farm confinement systems. Though my parents were born in the U.S., I still remain proud of my Italian heritage, and it’s such a beautiful country, with such mouth-watering foods.
What's next for The Humane Society of the United States?
We’re expanding internationally through our affiliate Humane Society International. HSI is already in about 50 countries, but we want to be everywhere animals are being abused. Domestically, we’ve helped pass felony animal cruelty and dogfighting laws in every state, so it’s time that we got an anti-cruelty law in every country, too. We are also finding way to build a volunteer leadership group in every state and county in the U.S., and we invite people to join us and be part of this incredible movement for change.