New director takes over at Humane Society

After two and a half months without an executive director, the Kitsap Humane Society has found a manager.

South Kitsap resident Suzanne Low’s first day on the job as the Kitsap Humane Society executive director was Monday, Oct. 14, and though she’s only been at it a week, she already has some ideas for the 92-year-old nonprofit agency.

“My big goal is to promote education of the public about what kinds of services the Humane Society provides the county; there needs to be a raised awareness,” said Low. “But that’s still a work in progress. I think it’s important to work with staff members on these kinds of decisions.”

Her bent toward consensus building was one reason why the society’s 15-member board unanimously named Low director.

“She brings to the board strong managerial skills,” said Judy Davey, president of the board. “Her management style appears to be one that is a good fit for the Humane Society. The supervisors have a lot of autonomy, and that’s something we like to see.”

Davey said the Humane Society received 80 applications over the last couple of months, and Low ended up as one of two finalists. She was chosen after the full board interviewed her, as well as the Humane Society supervisors.

“We were surprised at the caliber and number of resumes we received,” Davey said. “It was kind of an eye opener.”

Kitsap Humane Society Development Specialist Dana Lerma said Low is a good fit too because of her business acumen.

For 20 years, Low worked with insurance companies in a management capacity.

“We are a nonprofit organization, but we are a business,” Lerma said. “Our business is to take care of animals. The bottom line is, it still takes money to operate. Our funds come from contacts, adoptions and donations. As such, you need somebody at the helm who knows how to run a business and work with people and be a good leader.”

When Low applied for the position, she was on the lookout for a job at a nonprofit organization because she says she wants to give back to the community.

She is currently working on the United Way of Kitsap County’s fundraising campaign as a volunteer.

“When this opportunity came up to apply to the Humane Society, it seemed like a good fit,” she said.

Low, who grew up on a farm in eastern Washington, said she loves animals and has always had cats and dogs.

And as an animal lover and business manager, Low is looking forward to the biggest fundraiser the Humane Society holds during the year — Animal Krackers, to be held Oct. 26 at the Kitsap Golf and Country Club near Chico. It is a dinner and auction event.

“I’m really excited about the event,” she said. “I’ll be able to meet a lot of our supporters.

“I plan for a long tenure,” she said.

Low replaces former director Winton Read, who resigned on Aug. 7 after serving two years at the post. He resigned after a former Kitsap Humane Society employee filed a lawsuit against the agency in May, claiming she was sexually harassed, discriminated against and retaliated against for reporting the alleged incident.

Read was implicated in that suit as well. Not much has happened on the case since July, when a change of attorney status was filed at the courthouse.

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