Rachel D.K. Finney, CEO of Columbus Humane, is leaving after 16 years at the helm, the animal welfare nonprofit’s board of trustees announced Wednesday.
“When I joined Columbus Humane in 2008, the organization was filled with so much potential,” Finney said in a prepared news release from the organization. “There’s something truly magical about a group of dedicated people coming together to save and change lives for the better. I get chills when I think of what we’ve accomplished together to help animals and people. It’s really working, and we’ve made a meaningful difference–and there’s still room for more!”
In a phone interview with The Dispatch, Finney said that she sees her resignation as a “graduation” for both her and Columbus Humane. Finney said that since she took leadership of the animal welfare organization in 2008, they’ve accomplished everything they set out to do.
Now, Finney said, it’s time for “new leadership with a new vision” to come and continue to help the agency grow and eye areas of improvement.
Finney’s resignation is effective on or before June 30, 2024. Finney told The Dispatch she plans to stay in Columbus, but isn’t sure yet what she will do next.
The Columbus Humane Board of Trustees has already begun a national search for her replacement.
“Rachel’s passion for the well-being of animals and the residents of our community, coupled with her visionary leadership, has left an extraordinary impact on Columbus Humane and central Ohio,” Angie Tabor, president of the Columbus Humane Board of Trustees, said in the news release.
“The organization expresses its heartfelt appreciation for her tireless efforts. We will honor and carry on her legacy through the search for the next CEO, who will embody our mission of fighting animal cruelty, helping animals in need and advocating for their wellbeing.”
Finney said that although she will miss everything about Columbus Humane, what will stick with her the most is watching people have authentic interactions with each other and with animals, whether they are potential pet parents looking to adopt or watching volunteers and staff interact with people and pets.
A career of accomplishments
Under Finney’s leadership, Columbus Humane launched several major initiatives, projects, and expansions that improved the lives of both animals under their care and people seeking to adopt a pet.
During her tenure, Finney and Columbus Humane:
- Oversaw the completion of five major building projects and improvement of shelter facilities in Hilliard.
- With $6 million of capital, established the first of its kind Essential Care Center, providing heavily subsidized veterinary care for underserved communities, pet food, and veterinary workforce training.
- Created the Safe Haven for Pets Program, which provides animal care and housing for those experiencing domestic violence.
- Collaborated with the Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio and Jewish Family Services to create a new workforce development program. Columbus Humane also recently celebrated a 16-year partnership with the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. All fourth-year veterinary students at OSU complete a shelter medicine rotation at Columbus Humane, having provided medical aid to more than 75,000 pets.
Founded in 1883, Columbus Humane serves central Ohio through a variety of programs for both animals and people. The nonprofit’s animal cruelty investigation unit responds to an average of 6,000 investigations per year.
As an adoption center, Columbus Humane cares for an average of over 250 animals daily and facilitates an average of 3,000 adoptions yearly. The organization celebrated its 140th anniversary on Dec. 7, 2023.