December 23, 2020 – The Board of Directors of the Animal Protective Foundation (APF) has announced the hiring of an accomplished animal welfare professional with more than 20 years of experience leading shelters and clinics across the country as its new executive director.

Austin Gates will join the APF on January 4, having most recently served as executive director of the Humane Society of Sedona, AZ for three years. She will succeed Deb Balliet, who announced her departure from APF earlier this year after more than six years of service and  successfully increasing the organization’s service to the people and pets of our community, led the development of a new strategic plan, and addressed many of the facility’s capital needs including completion of the Delack Feline Care Center.

The APF is a private, nonprofit humane society providing pet sheltering, healthcare and education and support services to pet owners and their families in Schenectady County and the greater Capital Region from its Glenville headquarters. The organization will celebrate its 90th year of operation in 2021.

“We are fortunate and excited to have attracted such an experienced executive director as Austin to succeed Deb as we move forward in executing our new 2020-25 strategic plan and expanding our services for the benefit of pets and their owners,” said Board President Howard Halstead. “Austin is accomplished, enthusiastic, forward-looking and an ideal fit for our organization as we build new programs and engage in new and exciting ways with pet owners in our community.”

While in Sedona, Ms. Gates led her team in the development of a number of innovative programs that resulted in a 99% live release rate for the Humane Society, along with a 50% increase in return-to-owner rates, a 40% increase in adoptions and a decrease in the average length of stay for sheltered pets. Prior to Sedona, Ms. Gates served in leadership roles with the San Diego Humane Society,  and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

“I’m thrilled to be joining a team and a community that cares so much about animals,” Ms. Gates said. “The APF is undoubtedly in line with the best shelters in the country and I look forward to working with our incredible staff, donors and community partners to expand our amazing programs beginning in our milestone 90th year and continuing for years to come.”

“During these uncertain times” she added, “the unconditional love and companionship we get from our pets are more important than ever.  The APF will be here for the animals and here for our community … that you can count on.” 

 The APF Incoming Board President Otto Zamek, who chaired the leadership search committee, said Ms. Gates’ experience as an executive director will enable her to hit the ground running at a time when APF is expanding beyond its traditional shelter services to offer more community-based programs for pet owners, particularly those facing economic and social challenges.

“Because of the APF’s success, and that of other animal welfare organizations, in providing access to affordable spay and neuter services, the numbers of pets in need of sheltering is declining each year,” Mr. Zamek said. “That’s wonderful news! The APF is seeking to reduce that further by helping pet owners overcome obstacles to help pets remain in homes with the families who love them, which is at the heart of our mission to help maintain the human-animal bond.

“The APF is also planning to expand its pet food pantry and low-cost veterinary services, and to bring more services into local communities — both virtually and in-person — to make them more accessible to more people and pets, and keep our community’s pets healthier.”