Best Friends announces leadership change

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2009:
KANAB, Utah–The Best Friends Animal Society on January 13,
2009 announced that “by mutual agreement between the board and Paul
Berry, Mr. Berry would no longer serve as chief executive officer,
a position he has held since the spring 2006. The board is in
discussion with Mr. Berry about a possible future role with the
Best Friends cofounder Gregory Castle told ANIMAL PEOPLE that
Berry’s exit would not mean any significant change in the policies,
philosophy, or modus operandi of Best Friends, the largest no-kill
animal sheltering organization in the world, and the fastest-growing
major U.S. animal advocacy organization since reincorporating as a
501(c)(3) charity in 1996.

Best Friends was previously incorporated as a ecumenical
religious service order. While many smaller animal shelters and
sanctuaries start on that basis, most find that 501(c)(3)
reincorporation is necessary when they expand operations beyond what
the founders and volunteers can personally do.
Best Friends laid off staff for the first time in late 2008,
in anticipation of slumping donations, but instead “actually
received record amounts and signed up a record number of new
members,” Castle said. Some of the laid-off personnel were promptly
Castle and another cofounder, John Fripp, agreed in
separate statements that Berry’s departure as chief executive was
part of the final stage of a four-year leadership transition begun
when some of the surviving 22 cofounders reached 70 years of age,
when all of them were at least close to 60. As part of the process,
each Best Friends cofounder turned over day to day managerial duties
to younger successors. The last cofounders in routine managerial
posts, Michael Mountain and Steve Hirano, stepped down in mid-2008.
Castle said Best Friends expected to announce the appointment
of a transitional board of directors on January 24, 2009. The
transitional board is to include cofounders Fripp as president,
Castle as vice president, and Fripp’s sister-in-law Celeste Fripp
and Francis Battista as other members, along with five members of
the Best Friends staff and five persons who are neither cofounders
nor Best Friends employees. None are well-known in the animal
welfare field. The transitional board is to serve for one year. The
results will be reviewed before the changes become permanent.
Berry, who previously cofounded the Southern Animal
Foundation in New Orleans, “led Best Friends’ massive animal rescue
efforts during Hurricane Katrina in 2005,” remembered Fripp, and
“was instrumental in Best Friends saving the lives of 22 pit bulls
from the Michael Vick dog fighting case by bringing them to Best
The Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the focal project of the
organization, celebrated a 25th anniversary on January 1, 2009.

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