Lisa LaFontaine is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Humane Rescue Alliance (HRA), this area’s premier animal welfare organization. HRA was created when two iconic predecessors—the Washington Humane Society (WHS) and the Washington Animal Rescue League (WARL)—came together to form a single more powerful voice for animals. With this historic union, Washington, DC, becomes the only major urban area in the country that has all of its animal protection programs and services—from medical services and adoptions to animal control and humane law enforcement—unified in one organization.
Lisa’s experience and accomplishments in the animal welfare field are a testament to her compassion and commitment and have prepared her well for the challenge of heading up such a unique organization. She left a successful career in communications after having what she describes as a personal epiphany. Her young daughter, who was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, had trouble sleeping at night. A counselor advised having one of the family cats, to whom Lisa’s daughter was very attached, sleep with her. This cat, who had never been interested in sleeping on anyone’s bed, willingly curled up with her, helping bring her the sense of calm she needed to sleep. Lisa recalls thinking first that there had never been an animal like this cat and then that perhaps other people felt the same sense of connection with their companion animals. Her commitment to animals and their well-being was born.
As CEO of New Hampshire’s Monadnock Humane Society, Lisa spearheaded a successful capital campaign that resulted in construction of a new, state-of-the-art animal welfare facility and an expanded endowment fund for the organization. In 2007 she was hired as President and CEO by the Washington Humane Society, where she significantly increased the live release rate for animals from one of the lowest to one of the highest in the country. She also advocated for greater animal protection through innovative programs and changes in law and built critical relationships with DC’s diverse interests and communities on behalf of animals in need.
Lisa worked closely with the senior staff and Boards of Directors of both WHS and WARL to lay the groundwork for a new, combined organization that would not just be larger but would also be more powerful, one that could accomplish more for both animals and people. The Humane Rescue Alliance is the result of that collaboration.
Given her personal and professional devotion to animals, Lisa is dedicated to the vision of a community where there is a loving home for every unwanted animal, affordable medical care for every sick and injured animal, an end to animal abuse and cruelty, and stronger bonds between animals and people through education and training. She believes that the Humane Rescue Alliance can bring that vision to fruition.
When not advocating for the animal community at large, Lisa shares her life and home with her husband, Matt Kayhoe; Sazzy, their pit bull; cats Crystal, Gregory Xavier Pibb, and Harold; and an ever-rotating and always welcomed family of foster animals. She serves as Vice Chairman of the DC Board of Veterinary Examiners and is a proud member of SAWA (the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators).
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