Journey to Executive Director:  A Love Story 

My journey to becoming the Executive Director of OAHS began as a love story. 

Once upon a time, a local college student went to the little shelter on Dempsey Trail to see about volunteering. I didn't even get past the outdoor dog kennels before breaking down in tears at the seemingly sad, furry faces behind the chain-link fence. I didn't understand yet. I wasn’t aware of how many amazing programs were in place, nor that this tiny building was run by kind, compassionate staff and bursting with lovable animals just needing some attention. A few weeks later, I returned to the animal shelter. This time I actually walked through the front door, learned about the volunteer opportunities and met Joni Geiger. After that, I was smitten with everything about OAHS. I helped with so many tasks: endless laundry, nail trims, walking dogs, rotating cats for exercise, answering phones, and giving more flea baths than I could ever count. The work was hard, but the reward was priceless, all in the name of love for the animals.
Fast forward twenty-some years, add a dozen or so adopted animals over that course of time, and I grew from volunteer to OAHS employee. As coordinator of all donations and billing, it was natural for me to learn about every aspect of sheltering. I was fascinated how each piece of the lifesaving puzzle fit together, all for the animals. That's what it's always been about at OAHS: the animals. In the shelter's first newsletter in 1993, Joni talked about the constant commitment and desire to help animals in need at the heart of our mission. For the past 30 years, and continuing forward, I assure you our mission remains the same.
When I interviewed for the executive director position, I promised the selection committee members that I would always ask myself "what is best for each individual animal" in every decision I make.
Joni leaves big shoes to fill but she has been an incredible role model. I'm surrounded by an extraordinary staff and volunteers with countless years of experience. We will continue to create more love stories through matchmaking adoptions, reuniting lost pets with their owners, providing educational resources, and answering questions and offering what resources we have to help keep animals in their existing homes whenever possible. We promise to love every animal as if they were our own until they find forever homes.
Animal welfare and rescue is always evolving and changing. Strides in medical and behavioral research has allowed us to help animals in ways we never thought possible. But even with all the new information and changes happening, for me it still comes down to a love story. A love for animals, for our community, and for this organization. I’m honored and excited to see where this story takes us.

- Jessica Miller