BRATTLEBORO — Maya Richmond will be the new executive director of the Windham County Humane Society (WCHS).
Richmond follows Annie Guion, who has been in the post since 2008.
Director of Operations Keri Roberts, a 19-year WCHS veteran, will continue in her role, as will board of directors President Julie Hamilton.
“We feel very fortunate to have hired Maya,” said Guion. “She has a wealth of experience, and she has implemented wonderful, progressive programs at her previous organizations.”
“As the first shelter in Vermont to offer affordable veterinary care, that kind of innovation is important to WCHS,” she continued. “She is very well aligned with WCHS philosophically, and we look forward to a smooth transition in leadership.”
Guion pointed out that Richmond, who has served as executive director of the Animal Welfare Association in Voorhees, N.J. since 2009, has been overseeing the final construction of a new building there.
WCHS is on the cusp of a significant building expansion “so we are looking forward to her input and expertise,” Guion said.
For Richmond, who grew up in East Calais, the move back to Vermont after 18 years is “returning home.”
“It's kind of fun to be able to enjoy another chapter of my career close to home helping local animals,” she said. “We're incredibly fortunate that WCHS and my organization both understand a smooth transition.”
“For now, I've been going up and down, meeting the team and board members,” Hamilton said. “The staff has been so wonderful. They've done so much during Covid to help animals and have been so welcoming to me.”
The incoming director, describing WCHS as “really a great place with a huge heart,” said that she is “honored to be trusted to continue the great things Annie started.”
Richmond has had 18 years of animal welfare experience and led progressive change at her previous organizations.
One major undertaking that she will be dealing with is a building project. The current facility was built in 2000, and Guion has noted how the field of animal welfare has changed dramatically since then.
“Covid has changed so many things, including animal welfare, so we are reviewing the building plans to ensure we are building the right facility for the future,” said Guion.
Looking toward a bigger building
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the animal welfare issue and in 2020, WCHS helped a record 2,000 animals, taking in close to 600 homeless animals and providing veterinary care to more than 1,400 local animals.
After a first phase of the capital campaign, the organization purchased the property next to the current shelter. Now the goal is to raise $1.95 million to build an addition onto the current facility. To date, WCHS has received about $1.2 million in gifts and pledges, approximately 62 percent of the budget.
Once the remaining needed money is in hand, the existing facility will be renovated.
The plan includes improving the lab, surgery, and exam spaces and providing more “compassionate assistance” to protect people's privacy, to keep incoming animals who have not yet been examined separate from those going home, and adding quarantine space for animals transported from overcrowded shelters.
The organization also will improve the intake area and provide best practice accommodation of stressed and ill animals; provide proven appropriate spaces for cats, including a colony room and outside “catios”; improve the kennel spaces for dogs and expand outdoor dog yards; and upgrade the heating, cleaning, and air-handling systems.
Richmond earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Vermont and her MBA from St. Michael's College. She worked at Middlebury College as director of animal programs and associate director of laboratory support.
During that time, she served on the board of directors of the Addison County Humane Society and discovered her passion for animal welfare.
She served as director of program development and operations at the Maryland SPCA from 2003 to 2009 before assuming her most recent role with the Animal Welfare Association.
Guion and Richmond will work together through the fall to effect a smooth transition.
Richmond will help lead the 18th Annual Walk for Animals on Saturday, Oct. 9, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., starting at the Grafton Village Cheese Company in the Retreat Farm complex on Linden Street (Route 30). To register, visit windhamcountyhumane.org.
“I think it's great to meet more members of the community, and there's a lot to celebrate,” said Richmond.