Profile Q & A with Humane Society of Midland County executive director Jesse Fletcher

Catalyst Midland had the privilege of sitting down with the executive director of the Humane Society of Midland County  Jesse Fletcher for a Q & A highlighting ins and out of the organization. She was just named to this position in December. She joined the Humane Society a year ago as the director of development and fundraising. Prior to the Humane Society, Fletcher served as the Senior Relationship Manager for United Way of Midland County. Before that, she was the Vice-President of Member Services at the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce. She received her Certificate in Nonprofit Organization Management in 2021 from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Institute for Organization Management. 

Jesse and her husband live in Saginaw. They have no animals at home but she says her childhood was filled with lots of cats and a few dogs. She currently has one step-dog and four step-cats.

The Humane Society of Midland County (HSOMC) has placed over 24,000 pets since it opened its doors in 2011. Their facility is located on East Ashman, near the City of Midland Landfill. Volunteers play a major role in the services they provide.  
(Photo by Kayleigh Kessler)
Q: Tell me about a typical day in the life of the Executive Director of the Humane Society of Midland County.

A: As the first-ever Executive Director for the Humane Society of Midland County, my typical day likely involves a blend of building community relationships, establishing necessary strategic changes for the organization, and assisting in management oversight in day-to-day activities. My mornings usually consist of answering emails and messages, and reviewing any updates from staff. I then set priorities for the day, reviewing my intense meeting schedule, working on my daily tasks with ongoing fundraising projects, and so on. Throughout the day, I’m checking in with key staff members, including our interim shelter director, staff veterinarian, animal care technicians, kennel attendants, community outreach and marketing team, and our volunteers.

This communication with each is key to the growth of our new organizational goals. A large part of my daily activities is with community engagement. As the Executive Director, I dedicate time to building relationships with donors, sponsors, local businesses, and community leaders. This could involve attending networking events, giving presentations about the Humane Society, and bringing in different groups to tour the shelter. I also allocate my time to focus on strategic planning activities, such as developing long term goals and fundraising initiatives. This involves research into animal welfare organizations, community needs around pet care, and organizational growth opportunities. Among those duties, there is also ensuring compliance with regulations and policies, human resource management, financials, public relations, marketing, and raising awareness about the Humane Society's mission and programs. My day might end with reviewing any progress made throughout the day and preparing for the next
days ahead.
(Photo by Marco Brugnoli)
Q: Why should non-pet owners care about the dogs and cats (and other small critters) that pass through the shelter?

A: Non-pet owners should care about the wellbeing of animals that pass through shelters for several reasons. Even if an individual doesn’t own a pet, that doesn’t mean that they don’t care about the suffering of animals. Supporting shelters like the Humane Society of Midland County and other local shelters, by being an advocate for compassionate animal welfare work. It’s important for everyone to understand the importance of what animal shelters do for community welfare and public health concerns.

The HSoMC plays a vital role in maintaining public health and safety of our community. By caring for stray animals and preventing overpopulation, we contribute to making our community cleaner and safer. Stray animals can spread diseases like rabies or create unsanitary conditions for our area. HSoMC helps address these concerns by providing vaccinations, and proper care. Regardless of pet ownership, supporting animal shelters align with kindness, empathy, and respect for animal welfare. Let’s create a world by promoting compassion for our furry friends. By supporting shelters and advocating for humane treatment, non-pet owners can contribute to a better world for both humans and animals alike.

Q: Tell me how you see your organization five years from now. What are your hopes and dreams for the agency?

A: Where do I see our organization in five years from now? Wow, that’s a great question, with lots of answers. An increase in adoption rates. Although, the HSoMC is known for having great adoption rates in our community and in the state of Michigan, we want to continue to see loving animals find their forever homes. I would like to see more adoption events through community outreach and improving our education programs in the community. Another goal will be to continue to reduce euthanasia rates throughout the community. We want to expand our spay/neuter program as well as implement an animal behavioral program. We would eventually like to offer more low-cost animal care services, training sessions, and better wellness programs for the community. This would allow for more affordable resources for pet owners to help them better care for their animals.

I would like to expand even further into our brand-new programs centered around the “Animal/Human Bond – Mental Health & Wellbeing” with local nonprofits and businesses that work specifically in the mental health field. Research has shown that interactions with animals can have positive effects on human wellbeing, including reducing stress, loneliness, depression, and PTSD. Supporting the Humane Society ensures that animals in need can form meaningful connections with people, whether as pets, therapy animals, or companions.

Dog walking volunteers can take our shelter dogs for walks. (Kayleigh Kessler)
I would love to see the Humane Society of Midland County in a new state-of-the-art shelter facility equipped with modern amenities and technology to provide the best care for the animals. This would include spacious kennels and play areas for the animals, conference rooms for community training, quiet adoption areas, and advanced medical equipment. Lastly, I see us striving for financial stability and growth with increased volunteer and donor support with diverse funding sources, and a sustainable revenue stream. This would allow the HSoMC the ability to continue serving the community effectively. Overall, my hope for the Humane Society five years from now would be to continue making a positive difference in the lives of animals and the community we serve through animal welfare.

Q: How can the community get involved? What volunteer opportunities do you offer?

A: I love this question because there are so many ways to get involved and active with us. The Humane Society of Midland County offers a wide variety of ways to be involved anywhere from snuggling our animals to fundraising event support.

Here are some ways the community can get involved with HSoMC:

We’re always in need of volunteers assisting with the daily care of animals in the shelter, including cleaning, grooming, and providing socialization and enrichment activities. We’re especially in need of dog walkers and cat cuddlers. Dog walking volunteers can take our shelter dogs for walks, providing them with exercise, socialization outside of their kennels, and mental stimulation. Cat socializing volunteers spend time interacting and snuggling so that they become more comfortable around people. Foster care volunteers are needed to provide temporary homes for animals in need. This could include pregnant animals and their babies, animals’ recovery from surgery, or some needing behavioral assistance from prior placement situations.

We’re especially in need of dog walkers and cat cuddlers.(Kayleigh Kessler)
Businesses can get involved in many ways, too. They can host adoption events, donations drives, employee engagement activities, and fundraising events. Some businesses that have partnered with us are Feeders Pet Supply, Creative 360, Dow Credit Union, Great Lakes Loons, Members First Credit Union, Midland Brewing Company, Midland Center for the Arts, and so many more. Community outreach volunteers are also needed within our organization. We’ve been getting more engaged with the community to allow for more groups to volunteer with us. Northwood University students have been very active in this with getting groups of students to come and volunteer at the shelter. More businesses are showing their volunteer support by doing collection drives of food and supplies and collecting funds.

With our newest programs we offer centered around the Animal/Human Bond – Mental Health & Wellbeing, we see this as providing even more volunteer opportunities for families who want to come together and volunteer. We see these new programs around the positive psychology of mental health growth among our community members.

Lastly, the community can get involved financially with the Humane Society of Midland County in several ways: direct donations to or stop by our shelter during our open hours, sponsor an animal, sponsor our annual events, legacy giving through estate planning, plan your own fundraisers for the shelter, tribute and memorial gifts, or help with grant funding.

Q: How do you collaborate with other organizations in our area?

A: Collaboration is key for the Humane Society in our community. Both for our shelter animals and regarding our newest programs centered around the Animal/Human Bond – Mental Health & Wellbeing. We collaborate with other animal shelters in sharing resources, knowledge, and anything we can do to help in animal welfare. With new leadership in place, we’re working with other shelters for cross referrals and transfer programs. We’ve recently partnered with the Detroit Animal Care & Control through a grant from Best Friends Animal Society to bring in 500 dogs in one year to the HSoMC that may have otherwise been euthanized and can get placed into happy healthy homes.

Members First donates to the Pet Pantry
We have a full-time veterinarian on staff, but there are times that we collaborate with other vet offices (both local and out of area) to ensure that animals get the best care they need if they need assistance that we are not equipped to move forward with. We’ve recently created new programs that allow us to partner and collaborate with our mental health nonprofit community. These programs are:

• Animal/Human Bond – Mental Health & Wellbeing
• MYPAW Youth Development (Midland Youth Promoting Animal Welfare)
• Pet Pantry Program

The first thing I did when I created these programs was to identify what organizations to collaborate with to create the perfect partnerships. Some examples are: The Legacy Center for Community Success, Great Lakes Bay Veterans Coalition, Wild Heart Yoga, Midland Area Wellbeing Coalition, and so many more. Overall, collaboration strengthens the collective capacity to address animal welfare head on, and ultimately benefits the animals and the community we serve.

For more information on the Humane Society of Midland County, visit them on Facebook or their website.

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Read more articles by Carly Lillard.

Carly Lillard moved to the Great Lakes Bay Region in 2007 from Traverse City. Since that time, she’s graduated from Northwood University and held positions at Dow, Northwood University, Midland Area Community Foundation, Shelterhouse and Youth For Understanding. Currently, Carly is working as the Director of Philanthropy and Strategic Relationships at Holy Cross Services while completing her Master’s Degree from Michigan State University in Strategic Communication. When she’s not writing, you will find her spending time with her husband, Jesse, and two children, Maycie and Elias. Carly can be reached at