Photo: Peter Gumaskas, TuftsNow
- B.A. Psychology, Vassar College, 2007
- M.S. Animals and Public Policy, Tufts University, 2015
Country Director at Four Paws USA
What were you doing before entering the Masters in Animals and Public Policy (MAPP) program?
I spent a year and a half as the Operations and Community Caretaker at the Mission: Wolf sanctuary in Colorado. This was followed by an internship at Mass General Hospital doing medical simulation for crisis management and communication. Prior to all of this I worked as the logistics manager for the fashion company Mara Hoffman in New York City. What can I say, life can take us in many different directions.
What aspects of MAPP led to your decision to join the program?
I wanted a chance to focus on the study of the history, policy and current events of the animal welfare movement. I knew that to go forward in the field of sanctuary management I would need a strong foundation and understanding of the political and social implications of human-animal issues. I also knew joining the MAPP program would mean the opportunity to not only meet influential people, but to make important connections for the future.
In what ways have you used your Masters in Animals and Public Policy degree in your first position after MAPP as Sanctuary Director of the New England Exotic Wildlife Sanctuary (NEEWS) in Hope Valley Rhode Island?
Aside from equipping me with the vocabulary to be an informed and vocal advocate for animals, MAPP did an incredible job at preparing me for the technical and policy issues relevant to my position. Here at the sanctuary we deal with several issues that pertain to the Animal Welfare Act as well as state-by-state regulation of avian and exotic pet ownership. In addition to the policy issues we deal with, shelter and colony management is our top priority at the sanctuary. The in-depth study of shelter management that we did in our companion animal module helped prepare me with the skills I need to run a sanctuary that houses over 450 animals.
Tell us about your MAPP project or preceptorship. In what ways did it help you form your career goals?
I did my preceptorship at Born Free USA located in Washington D.C. I helped conduct research for Born Free in partnership with the ASPCA and PETA to amend Animal Welfare Act regulations for improved captive bear housing standards. I also initiated a research project on the financial impacts of exotic pet ownership on emergency services and animal sanctuaries in Texas. This internship offered me amazing insight into the world of lobbying and policy-making. Also, I’m pretty sure it helped get me my current job, as Born Free has been a big supporter of Foster Parrots and NEEWS.
What did you enjoy most about participating in MAPP?
I really liked all of the guest speakers. It was fascinating to have discussions with so many people from so many different aspects of the animal world: people who work in shelters, lawyers, government officials, farmers, veterinarians, etc. Even when I disagreed with their point of view, I learned a lot from the many and very different people the MAPP program exposed me to, and the experience definitely improved my skills in communicating with people who hold different views than I do. I also very much liked the open-endedness of the program. I generally felt like I was able to pursue my own relevant interests while writing papers or completing projects, but I also still felt like I had a clear understanding of what was expected of me in the completion of those projects.
Is there anything else you would like to share with prospective MAPP students?
This is a great program, but it is important to be motivated not only to manage the workload but also to truly take advantage of the opportunities the program offers.
MAPP Capstone Research Project: Volunteer Participation with Non-Lethal Alternatives in US Wildlife Management Participant perspective on suburban deer population management.
Danika in the News
Animal Matters Seminar: “Feral Arts! A Parrot Sanctuary Mixing the Arts and Animal Welfare”
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