WORKSHOP: Driving the What and the How with a Meaningful WHY: Turning Passion into Practice


Dr. Cynthia Karsten, Outreach Veterinarian, University of California Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program
B.J. Rogers CAWA, Chief Operating Officer, Echo & Co.

Busy days, emotional work and the sometimes conflicting priorities of people, pets and community needs can put miles between what we do and WHY we do it. And, yet, that core motivation is one of our most valuable filters when considering how we do our work. What if the challenge isn’t the work itself, but HOW we do that work?

Once we take the time to articulate the why, then making choices about how we approach our work comes into focus with relative ease. After taking time to clarify our why, we’ll shift gears to discuss shelters who have been there and have used very practical methods to address the most common concerns with getting and staying within capacity and, thus, achieving their why through increasing welfare potential for pets AND people by reducing stressful interactions, gut-wrenching decisions and shifting the focus from the things we cannot control to the things we can.


  1. Participants will go through an exercise to help them connect to their personal story and the animal and/or human welfare commitment they are hoping to achieve.
  2. Practical methods to reduce length of stay, improve animal welfare through improved housing and manage to ideal capacity on an ongoing basis.
  3. Communication methods to help both the shelter staff and the community understand "full" and the true capacity for care of both.


Dr. Cynthia Karsten graduated from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine in 2010 and then completed a shelter medicine internship at Colorado State University. She finished her shelter medicine residency at UC Davis in 2014 and is now the outreach veterinarian with the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program. Her main areas of interest include infectious disease control, population management, intake diversion programs and community medicine. She has participated in numerous game-changing shelter consultations at both rural and urban, national and international animal care facilities, where she has identified solutions in the face of limited shelter resources. Dr. Karsten, as part of the UC Davis team, was a recipient of the 2016 CFHS Animal Welfare Leadership and Innovation Award for their work on C4C in Canada (one of her proudest achievements!).

B.J. Rogers is the the Chief Operating Officer of Echo & Co., a digital services and strategy firm working with mission-focused organizations to deploy digital technology in furthering positive impact and social change. Before joining Echo, B.J. worked for 12 years in the animal welfare field, most recently as Vice President of ProLearning at the ASPCA, where he led the team responsible for the organization’s online training and support of animal welfare professionals. Previously he was executive director of the Humane Society of Chittenden County.