Highlighting Our Community of Leaders: Allison Mayfield :

Highlighting Our Community of Leaders

Allison Mayfield, CEO of The Humane Society of Northeast Georgia

by Ro

Highlighting Our Community of Leaders

Allison Mayfield, CEO of The Humane Society of Northeast Georgia

by Ro

by Ro

What’s going on at HSNEGA this year that you are excited about?

We actually have 3 different initiatives going on right now. We have Better Together Georgia which is a coalition of Georgia animal welfare organizations that is working to increase animal lifesaving in the state. As part of that, we also started a foster program in Augusta with a goal of rescuing 500+ more animals. We also just got a grant from PetSmart Charities to research the Latino community’s access to veterinary care. This is really cool because it’s going to help us hear what the community needs from the community itself rather than us just going in and telling them what we think they need.

What should we know about Art with Heart?

Art with Heart is on March 18th. Kevin is in charge of Art with Heart and he just rocks it out. This year’s theme is masquerade, though you aren’t required to dress up. We’ve been collecting art (fine art, folk art, pottery, and more) from national and local artists. We’ll be auctioning these pieces at a live and silent auction. We have some pretty amazing signature pieces that I can’t wait to share with our community. We also have a lot of non-art items, like an Experience Gainesville Basket. This year we’re also offering an in-person and a virtual option. So, Art with Heart really offers something for everyone. Plus, it’s so much fun!

You can learn more about Art with Heart on our website.

What do you do for fun?

My favorite thing on the planet is to go home and sit out on my back deck. I have a beautiful view of the lake and woods. It’s just peaceful and with my busy life I need peaceful when I go home. 

I live in the mountains. So another thing I love to do is take day trips to other little mountain towns. All of them are so unique, but I’ve gone back to Clayton, GA and Highlands, NC often. I always travel back roads and look for some treasure I’d never come across if I was taking the interstate. 

And my animals are my life. I have seven now — three dogs and four cats. I’m very extroverted and outgoing, so I hate to admit it, but my little pit bull rescue dog is 100% my best friend. He’s my ride or die.

How have you set good boundaries between your personal life and your work?

You know, I love my work so much. I love being a CEO and I love animal welfare. There’s rough days, but in general the work is so much fun to me that it just feels like an extension of my life. We’ve also doubled in size in the last two years — in part thanks to our strategic plan and front loading our development staff so we were ready to grow and take opportunities when they fell in our lap. So right now it feels hard to have clear boundaries.

What was the best piece of advice you received?

It wasn’t advice given necessarily, rather modeled behavior that I have taken into all of my leadership roles:

My very first job in nonprofits was as an Administrative Assistant at a huge church. Let me tell you, I was not designed to be an assistant. I am a visionary at heart and I have zero organization skills. I almost got fired! I eventually moved into my first leadership role as a Community Outreach Director. One day the lead Pastor came up to me and said, “Allison, it’s so good to finally see you in your sweet spot.” It might sound cliché, but I took his comment to mean that everybody has a place that they’re designed to be. And Administrative Assistant was not my place, but a leadership role was.

I have taken that forward into every position I’ve had. If I value an employee and their contribution to the organization, but they aren’t in the right seat on the bus, then together we’ll find them the right seat where they are happy and their skill set is put to the best use.

What have you learned about Board management?

I think the most important things an executive director can do are build strong relationships, have open communication, and not take things personally. A lot of new Executive Directors don’t realize that, while they are in charge, they aren’t all powerful and that they need to communicate with the Board about what they are doing and sometimes ask permission. At the same time, a lot of Board members are also new and don’t understand their roles and responsibilities. So you have to manage up by modeling the behavior you want and tactfully help Board members to stay in their lane. But you can only do that with when you take time to build trust and strong relationships with your Board members.

Mission: Helping animals and people live better. . .together

Vision: A community where every animal is treated humanely.

Feel free to share your thoughts!

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