THE RISE OF THE ANIMAL PROFESSIONAL: Supporting Growth and Change in the Animal Welfare Sector

8:30AM to 10:00AM
Room: Montreal Ballroom

Barbara Cartwright, CEO, Humane Canada (Moderator)
Elizabeth Murphy, CEO, Nova Scotia SPCA
Kathrina Loeffler, Executive Director, Facilitated Improvement for Corporate Success
Tara Hellewell, Executive Director, Central Alberta Humane Society

Animal welfare is a complex, multi-faceted and evolving field. Even though it is one of the oldest social institutions in our country, the sector’s drive for professionalization has never been higher than it is today.

Professionalization is the social process by which a group of workers transforms itself into an occupation of the highest integrity and competence. The natural trend in all professions is toward greater specialization and recognition, but in animal welfare, the career path is not always clear, it can be challenging to enter the field and, while we apply standards for others, we don’t have industry wide standards for ourselves. This plenary will explore concepts of professionalization both for individuals and for organizations in the animal welfare sector. The panel of experts will discuss the path to an animal welfare profession and the role of codes of conduct or ethics, education and training, standards and accreditation and certificates and certifications.


  1. The key benefits and challenges to an animal welfare professional designation
  2. The different programs and opportunities related to professionalization
  3. Understand the components of the Humane Canada certification program

An award-winning executive leader in animal welfare, conservation and education, Barbara Cartwright’s work has spanned five continents and 25 years. Her extensive experience in developing and facilitating relationships with stakeholders, including governments, corporations and NGOs has led to innovative programs with dynamic results, including working with First Nations to initiate community-based companion animal welfare programs, partnering with the BC government to implement the first grizzly bear rehabilitation program, supporting east coast fishermen to protect the endangered right whale and mobilizing African communities across the continent to conserve chimpanzees. Barbara is sought after for her knowledge of policy and public affairs. She has secured amendments to federal legislation, including updates to the Criminal Code, the Migratory Bird Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Barbara has advised some of the top organizations in the world on animal welfare policy direction, including working with online giant eBay Inc. to end the illegal ivory trade on its site worldwide.

Today, as the CEO of Humane Canada, she leads the organization in fulfilling its mission through the successful execution of strategic and business plans. Over the past five years, Barbara has launched the National Animal Welfare Conference, the National Centre for the Prosecution of Animal Cruelty and the National Violence Link Coalition. She holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Education and Communication, is a published author and lecturer, and received the Governor General’s Gold Medal. She is the former President of the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada and Advisor to the Pan-African Sanctuary Alliance as well as sat on the Board of PetSmart Charities of Canada and Safe Pet Ottawa. Barbara is a member of Women’s Executive Network, the Council of Women Executives and part of the Distinctive Women network.

Elizabeth Murphy has worked in the charitable sector for more than 20 years, helping to secure reliable and consistent funding for many worthy organizations. Elizabeth describes herself as: one part executive, one part entrepreneur, two parts cat lady, two parts Mum and half-part control freak (pushed down deep). Her passion for animals and commitment to people living with disabilities is derived from circumstances in her youth and focuses her work on helping animal welfare organizations and health charities that support people living with different abilities.  Currently, Elizabeth is the CEO of the Nova Scotia SPCA. During her five years with the SPCA, she has facilitated the merging of 11 independent Nova Scotian SPCA animal shelters into one provincial organization and increased operational revenues from $1.2 million per year to $4.4 million per year.

Kathrina Loeffler is the Executive Director of Facilitated Improvement for Corporate of Success and the part-time Executive Director of the Canadian Massage Therapy Council for Accreditation (CMTCA). Kathrina’s experience with accreditation is extensive. In addition to her experience with CMTCA, for 8 years she worked in multiple roles at Accreditation Canada and as such learned the detail required to develop standards, design an accreditation process and manage an effective accrediting body. Having been a member of the leadership team at Accreditation Canada, Kathrina is very familiar with the development of an Accreditation program including the cycle, the decision process, the development of standards and indicators, and the development of a useful report provided to clients after the review visit. Her expertise ranges from the facilitation of standards development to reviewer and client preparation. Kathrina is a professional facilitator and leader who trains leaders to lead high performance teams. Kathrina’s educational background includes a Master of Education in Organizational Studies, a Bachelor of Education and an Honours Bachelor of Arts. Kathrina is a Certified Professional Facilitator (CPF), a Certified Lean Practitioner and an Affiliate member of the John Maxwell team, a group committed to effective leadership practices.

For the past 18 years Tara Hellewell has focused her career on the charitable sector, helping some of the most vulnerable in the Central Alberta Region from seniors, to women and children in crisis, to animals in distress.  Tara believes in the professionalization and unification of the animal welfare sector, supporting people and animals both locally and nationally. As Executive Director of the Central Alberta Humane Society since 2011, Tara has focused on positive change for animals and their humans through the improvement of laws, and enforcement while elevating public thinking about the role of animals in society.  Her passion overflows into helping staff and volunteers to impact animal welfare in a structured and professional environment, and to achieve success through thoughtful collaboration.   Tara has been an active member of the Board of Directors for Humane Canada since 2015.