Daily News

Dakin’s Leslie Harris to Step Down as Executive Director

SPRINGFIELD — After 20 years at Dakin Humane Society, Executive Director Leslie Harris announced she will be resigning her position on Oct. 2 to pursue a new opportunity at Quonquont Farm & Orchard in Whately.

“Leslie’s vision and leadership has given Dakin incredible momentum and untold success stories,” said Charlotte Cathro, Dakin’s board treasurer. “Since joining the organization in 1995, Leslie grew Dakin from an all-volunteer, foster-based network to one with more than 60 employees between its two locations in Springfield and Leverett, a full-time spay/neuter clinic that has performed more than 60,000 surgeries, and a multi-million-dollar budget. I know I speak for the entire board in expressing my appreciation for Leslie’s stewardship of Dakin and wish her great success in her new role.”

Under Harris’s leadership, Dakin Humane Society grew from serving 300 animals in its first year to more than 20,000 in 2014. She led the charge to merge operations with Greenfield’s Pioneer Valley Humane Society in 2006 and the expansion of operations to Springfield in 2009.

Today, Dakin encompasses two adoption centers and the Community Spay/Neuter Clinic. Due to Dakin’s affordable, wide-reaching spay/neuter programs, intake of local homeless kittens has declined 46% in the past six years. Dakin has met its dual goals of eliminating euthanasia as a means of controlling pet overpopulation in the Pioneer Valley and guaranteeing the placement of every adoptable animal that arrives at its front doors. Harris currently oversees the organization’s $3.7 million budget.

“It has been my honor and pleasure to serve as Dakin’s executive director,” Harris said. “This was a hard decision to make, given my love for animals and Dakin, but I know the organization will continue to thrive and evolve thanks to its dedicated staff and volunteers. I will continue to be an enthusiastic supporter of Dakin’s work.”

Dakin’s board voted to appoint its recent president, Nancy Creed, to the position of interim executive director. The board will now conduct a search for a permanent replacement who, according to Cathro, “exemplifies our guiding principles, is committed to our mission, and can lead the organization into the next phase of its development, expand community goodwill, and challenge the Dakin nation to bigger and better things.”

Dakin Humane Society is a local, nonprofit organization that relies solely on contributions from individuals and businesses that care about animals to bring its services to the community. For more information, visit www.dakinhumane.org.