After 10 years, the La Plata County Humane Society has hired a new executive director.
Amy Groat started as head of the nonprofit last week after moving from Washington, where she worked at a U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory in communications. She has also worked for Boise Paper and McDonald’s.
“This is my dream job ... I have a great love of all furry and fluffy things,” she said.
In addition to working in communications, she has also helped lead nonprofits as a board member and done extensive work in marketing and fundraising.
The nonprofit has been looking for a new executive director for at least a year, said Al Winzerling, vice president of the board.
“I think we’ve been missing out on a lot by not having one ... It’s like a ship without a captain,” he said.
Groat stood out because of her “can-do” personality.
Some members of the society had questioned the decision to fill the position because previous executive directors had not worked out and because an executive director salary tends to be expensive.
The salary was a concern because the thrift store, which funds the shelter, had seen declining revenue earlier this year.
“It concerned us because it didn’t seem to be fiscally responsible,” said Gail Beach, a longtime Humane Society member.
She thought the thrift store should be given a chance to heal under the new director, Keith Dunning, who was promoted to lead the store in May. Winzerling confirmed the store has seen a boost in sales since Dunning took over.
Now that an executive director has been hired, Beach said she hopes Groat will be effective at raising money for the organization.
In her first two weeks, Groat is already proving to be an asset by applying for grants and taking over responsibilities previously completed by board members, Winzerling said.
He hopes having Groat dedicated to fundraising will help the society take advantage of more funding opportunities that had been falling through the cracks.
One of Groat’s first priorities will be raising money to build a new adoption center because the humane society has outgrown its current facility, Winzerling said.
“It’s not the nicest place to bring people ... The kennels are small; they are kind of dark and dreary,” he said.
But it will likely be a few months before the fundraising campaign for the center starts because the society needs to do internal planning, he said.