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Heidi Colonna

Education:
Degree earned: B.S. in Animal Science/ Pre-Vet, UMass Amherst, 1997
M.S. in Animals and Public Policy, Tufts University, 1998

Current Position: Curriculum Development Manager, The Humane Society of the United States. I plan and develop online courses, K-12 curriculums and other training and educational offerings for HSUS’s training department, Humane Society Academy. I work with internal and external subject matter experts on writing, curriculum design, review, and coaching to produce engaging learning experiences on animal protection topics. I also serve as a liaison to the Association of Professional Humane Educators’ Board of Directors (right now I’m Recording Secretary). I’ve promoted humane education for The HSUS for 14 years, starting out at its youth education division and served as student outreach director from 2008-2011. During that time, I earned Certified Humane Education Specialist credentials and a Mass Teaching license in science and humanities, grades 5-8. Those studies have proved helpful in fusing animal welfare with mainstream K-12 education.

What were you doing before entering the Masters in Animals and Public Policy (MAPP) program?

I was finishing my bachelor’s degree while working as a veterinary technician.

What aspects of MAPP led to your decision to join the program?
The issues it addressed were exactly what I wanted to tackle in my professional life. I had never seen anything like it, so uniquely suited to my interests and calling. I was on my way to become a veterinarian – the closest thing to helping animals in my mind—before learning about the program. But as a vet tech, for the cases that bothered me, medical intervention was not the number one remedy; education was. I had realized that overwhelmingly, problems affecting animals were really people problems, so a public policy focused degree made sense. I wanted to effectively reach people with information they needed to treat animals better, and I wanted to change attitudes. The fact that a former professor at Holyoke Community College was on the list of faculty sealed the deal that I had to apply!

In what ways do you use your Masters in Animals and Public Policy degree in your current position?
A lot of the courses I develop are heavy in writing and remind me of the written legislative case study and final project reports I did through the program. Those experiences writing and getting feedback from my mentor – a literature professor- -were critical. The program is a foundation for my career and served as an important stepping stone toward my current job. It put me in touch with professionals in my field who ultimately recommended or hired me in positions leading up to this one. Eighteen years later, I still interact with former professors and mentors in my professional life – and they remember me.

Tell us about your MAPP project or preceptorship. In what ways did it help you form your career goals?
My final project was on resolving conflicts with the Eastern Coyote humanely and with education as a basis. It made me see precisely how education could play a role in solving an animal-related problem, including what children’s literature titles could be incorporated. It confirmed that humane education was something I wanted to focus on in my career.

What did you like most about the MAPP program?
The friends I made, the professional contacts, and the incredible support I received in my later professional life from those in professor/mentorship positions.

See Heidi’s Community Cats Podcast interview “Humane education can prevent situations where people lack knowledge of basic care and, in other cases, lack of empathy.”

Back to MAPP Alumni page