BOULDER, CO – JUNE 5: Lisa Pedersen, Director of the Boulder Valley Humane Society, visits with Riley, one of the over 50 cats that are currently available for adoption at the center in Boulder, CO on June 5, 2013. The Boulder Valley Humane Society and a groundbreaking coalition of shelters and humane organizations are responding to a big, confrontational no-kill push by a national non-profit. Pedersen likes the idea of trying to attain a no-kill attitude every day of the year rather than once a year despite the fact that the Boulder Humane Society is a kill shelter. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)
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The CEO of the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, Lisa Pedersen, has announced she will resign after more than a decade leading the organization.

Pedersen will resign Wednesday and start a coaching and consulting business, Root Purpose Group. She started as the humane society’s director of development in 1998 and has been its CEO since 2007.

“What I’ve had the privilege of experiencing every day is the commitment of our team,” she said. “As I look back over my tenure here, I’m really proud of the team we’ve built and the culture we’ve built together for the animals and for the people who turn to us when they are in need.”

Pedersen has received national praise for her role in Boulder, as well as her influence on animal welfare practices around the country. She’s invested in public policy work, including through her role as president of the Colorado Federation of Animal Welfare Agencies, according to a Thursday news release.

“She’s had an impact on animal welfare on the national scale,” said Bing Chou, co-chair of the humane society’s board of directors. “She’s done great things not only for Boulder Valley and (the Humane Society of Boulder Valley) but also for animal welfare across the country.”

During her 21-year tenure with the humane society, Pedersen has seen a shift in who comes through its doors. Now, fewer people are surrendering their animals, and fewer people are reporting lost and stray animals. That, she said, is a testament to the community and the strong relationships between people and their animals. But it also means the animals the humane society serves now often have more complex behavioral or medical needs — and as a nonprofit it stretches every dollar to do so.

“When those animals do come to our organization, oftentimes they have a greater level of need,” Pedersen said.

She has sought partnerships with other organizations and prioritized training and behavior programs to ensure animals are getting the care they need to find homes. She also has prioritized comprehensive training classes and a full-service vet clinic, with the option for subsidized care, to support people in the community. Such programs can provide a safety net for people to keep their animals at home in the face of challenges, she said.

“With our community’s support, we’ve been able to create programs to support those increased complexities,” she said. “That’s a big shift. There’s a lot of good news in that our community continues to recognize that animals are an important part of our lives and our community.”

Bridgette Chesne, the humane society’s director of animal behavior and sheltering, said the behavioral support both pre- and post-adoption has been a positive and effective solution.

Beyond that, she said, Pedersen has built a strong team and put her trust in them to try new things, problem solve and collaborate. Pedersen also is more than willing to pinch hit when they’re shorthanded, she said.

“One of the things that’s been really special about her over the years is her willingness to plug in wherever needed,” Chesne said, adding that staff are equally accustomed to seeing Pedersen dressed up to attend a fundraiser and clothed in blue jeans and a T-shirt to pitch in at the shelter.

Chesne noted that Pedersen was on the team that led the fundraising charge for the humane society’s facility on 55th Street, which she described as bright, airy, cheerful and counter to the last century’s stereotypes of shelters.

Pedersen will launch her new organization in June, with the with the help of her family, which includes her three dogs, River, Tanzy and Willow, two of which are adoptees from the humane society.

“I knew animals were a big, important part of my family, and it was a mission I could really believe in,” she said of joining the organization in 1998. Her dogs now “are the constant reminder of why the mission is so wonderful.”

An executive search committee, including Chou, is far along in the process of selecting Pedersen’s replacement from a pool of internal and external candidates — a replacement that will usher in a new chapter for the organization. Chou said he expects a final decision in the coming weeks.

“They have some big shoes to fill,” Chesne said.

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