OCHS names new executive director

Elizabeth Thompson officially began March 1

March 17, 2021 — After a nationwide search, the Oregon Coast Humane Society (OCHS) Board of Directors has named a new executive director, Elizabeth Thompson.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled. The Oregon Coast Humane Society is an outstanding organization,” said Thompson. “It’s a no-kill facility that bettered the lives of about 1,000 animals last year. We have a great staff both at the shelter and the Paws Boutique Thrift Shop in Old Town. We have a bunch of sweet, adoptable dogs and cats right now, and the board has a solid vision for a very bright and vibrant future.”

Thompson comes to OCHS with both extensive retail and nonprofit experience. For the past eight years, she managed Goodwill Stores in Eugene/Springfield and has deep and relevant experience at Lane County Animal Services’ (LCAS) First Avenue Shelter in Eugene. She holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing education/fashion merchandising from Virginia Tech with additional education in leadership, grant writing and employee training.

While at Goodwill, she hired, trained, and supervised a team of more than 45 employees for the multimillion-dollar store where she increased sales on a regular basis. At Lane County’s animal shelter, she helped manage the operation, organized volunteers, raised thousands of dollars, partnered with media, and appeared weekly on KEZI-TV’s “Pet of the Week” segments.

“My experience in animal rescue has been some of the most rewarding in my life,” Thompson said. “I am passionate about advocating for animals and educating people about the importance of spay/neuter and how to care for their pets. My time at LCAS was the most rewarding in my career so far. Every day brought new challenges and new rewards. I was eager to find a shelter position where I can make a difference in the lives of animals and their humans.”

Thompson said she was also aware of OCHS and its past as she contemplated a career there.

“The board of directors that was in charge during the Department of Justice’s investigation of four years ago is gone,” she said. “I have familiarized myself with the findings and requirements from way back then and they have been resolved to the department’s full satisfaction. That is in the distant past and we’re leaving it there; and we have been moving on ever since.

“The board also tells me that other recent matters with previous employees have been fully resolved to everyone’s satisfaction and are bound by non-disclosure agreements. So, we’re done with that too,” Thompson stated. “I wouldn’t have applied if I hadn’t done my research, and I wouldn’t have been hired by this hardworking volunteer board if they hadn’t done theirs. I think we are a great match. The future is bright and promising. Let’s go there together.”

“We are a great match,” agreed OCHS Board President Shauna Robbers. “The board is very excited that we could hire Elizabeth. She has a stable and highly successful work history, and glowing endorsements by former employers and others. She is a passionate animal lover and even took one of our dogs home to foster during her first week on the job.”

Thomson has been involved in animal rescue for 18 years. During that time, she has fostered more than 200 dogs and volunteered with local rescues and shelters. She also served on the board for Luvable Rescue and organized public events and fundraisers, facilitated adoptions for animals in her care, socialized and trained hundreds of puppies and adult dogs, and fostered abused animals that had been removed from their homes for LCAS while criminal and civil charges were being filed.

Robbers added, “Prior to hiring Elizabeth, our shelter manager Pam Bailey, the staff and our excellent volunteers have done an outstanding job, as always, caring for all our residents, our facility and our thrift store.”

Thompson also detailed plans for a way forward for OCHS.

“After extensive conversations with our board, our compassionate and committed staff and our priceless volunteers, this is what our intended future looks like and we ask the community to join us in it,” Thompson said. “A continued small-scale remodel to improve facility flow and function, a capital campaign for an important building addition to house a veterinary clinic, more low-cost spay/neuter clinics, more low-cost microchip clinics, even better and more immediate care for animals brought to the shelter, and more care for other pets in the region as our two local vets’ offices are generally unable to take new clients. They have stated their support of our intentions.”

In his letter of recommendation Rick Hammel, program manager for LCAS, wrote, “Elizabeth’s work with community outreach has reflected credit on the department and county. Her work with volunteers, foster providers, staff, and numerous local merchants and community partners, has created a community team LCAS has not had until Elizabeth came on board.”

Thompson, who started work on March 1, said “I look forward to meeting our supporters and community leaders to build even stronger bridges and discover what more the community may need from OCHS.”

For more information, visit www.oregoncoasthumanesociety.org.