It is a special privilege to advance the work of The HSUS and to be able to serve our members and supporters, whose generous support and active participation in our programs enables the work of the organization. It is also a distinct privilege to serve the 27 members of the board of directors and the 15 members of the National Council—all of whom as volunteers devote extraordinary amounts of their time to govern, grow, and guide this organization.
During my four years at the helm, I have truly been blessed to serve with David Wiebers as chairman of the organization. David is emeritus professor of neurology and former division chair, professor, and consultant in neurology and clinical epidemiology at the Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minn., and the chairman and chief medical officer of Preventive Medicine Inc. in Bethesda, Md. He is the author of more than 330 papers on medical topics, and the author of seven medical textbooks. But for all of his professional achievements, his greatest passion is animal protection and combating human-caused cruelty, and that’s been a common bond that has made for a special relationship between him and me.
This past weekend, David stepped down as chair, after helping to triple revenues and quadruple assets of the organization during his tenure. He and I worked closely on corporate unions with The Fund for Animals, Doris Day Animal League, and the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights during his tenure. Upon relinquishing his role, he urged the election of Anita Coupe as chair and Jennifer Leaning as vice chair. It was not a hard sell. The board unanimously elected these two extraordinary women to these important posts, and when they walked back into the room after the election was completed, a room full of directors broke out into a standing ovation. In attendance were the other two living board chairs of The HSUS—K. William Wiseman, who served from 1987 to 1994, and O.J. Ramsey, who served from 1994 to 1999. Bill Wiseman and Joe Ramsey had served with the two new elected leaders, and they could not have been more thrilled with the outcome.
Anita is a person of very uncommon compassion for animals, strength, character, and judgment. A former partner in the law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, she practiced labor and employment law in Washington, D.C. and New York City, and served in executive management in Philadelphia. Anita has been involved in various international, national, and local efforts to protect animals and preserve wildlife habitats. She told the board that “Being elected to chair the nation’s largest and most effective animal protection organization is an even greater thrill than the day I made partner at one of the nation’s leading law firms.” She joined the board in 1990, and became vice chair in 1999.
Jennifer, who has served on the HSUS board since 1991, is a professor of the practice of international health at the Harvard School of Public Health, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Senior Advisor on International and Policy Studies at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and co-director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. She has been immersed in international disaster relief and human rights programs, and brings her vast experience in those areas and more as The HSUS makes the connection between its work and the health of people and the future of the planet.
With two women now serving as the board leaders, it is a historic moment for The HSUS. And to all members of the organization throughout the nation, I assure you that with these fine people at the helm, we are in a position to continue our growth and to confront the many challenges that lie ahead.