Get to know the Northern Oklahoma Humane Society's Board members.
Board President Justin Mathews
Q: Tell us about yourself(personally or professionally)
A: I graduated from PO-Hi in 2003 and returned to Ponca from Dallas in 2019. In 2021, I established my business, Paws On The Pavement, to have a more flexible schedule and spend more time with my dog, who was dealing with seizures at the time.
Q: What is your history with NOKHS? How many years have you been involved, and what roles have you held during that time?
A: I started volunteering at NOKHS to align my free time with my professional interests. My first volunteer role was at the Petstival in 2021, where both the nonprofit and municipal shelters aimed to make Ponca City a No-Kill community by 2025. Inspired by the shelter's community impact, I joined the efforts. I became a board member in March 2022, contributing to event planning, fundraising, designing marketing materials, and participating in discussions on community support programs.
Q: How long have you served as President?
A: I assumed the role of board President in June of this year.
Q: Could you elaborate on the responsibilities associated with being the Board President?
A: The Board President significantly influences the shelter's direction and community engagement. They focus on guiding strategic decisions while collaborating closely with leadership to ensure effective operations, financial stability, and a dedicated commitment to animal welfare.
Q: What are your future plans for NOKHS, and what aspects excite you the most?
A: Our shelter has exciting plans ahead. As President, my aim is to foster a culture of compassion and creativity to reshape our approach to animal welfare. Despite the challenges faced by shelters and pet owners, embracing these qualities allows us to address issues with empathy and innovation, enhancing our organization's impact and effectiveness.
We intend to expand community outreach, raise awareness about pet resources, and develop educational programs for youth to promote empathy, kindness, and respect for animals. Additionally, forging partnerships with other organizations will create a comprehensive support network for those in need.
Q: Could you share your experience as President of the board or as a board member in general?
A: In the previous year, NOKHS successfully rescued 331 animals from unnecessary euthanasia at Ponca City Animal Control. Moreover, we funded over 1,000 spay/neuter surgeries for shelter and public pets and distributed more than 9,000 pounds of donated pet food to pets in need within the community. Despite our significant contributions to the community, we concluded the year with less community funding than anticipated. This financial shortfall presents a challenge to our sustainability as a nonprofit organization. Drawing from my experience as a former board member, I've gained insights into the operational complexities that now inform my leadership approach. This well-rounded perspective allows me to help guide the direction of the shelter toward a more financially stable future.
Q: What motivated you to take on this role?
A: My desire to contribute to a larger cause led me to the shelter. The joy animals bring and the importance of safeguarding their well-being inspired my involvement. Recognizing the value of my business administration skills, I offered my services without monetary compensation, benefiting the shelter and the community while minimizing labor costs.
Q: What aspect of working with NOKHS do you find most fulfilling?
A: Witnessing the positive transformations of animals under our care is incredibly heartwarming. Additionally, the sense of camaraderie and shared purpose among staff, volunteers, and board members is motivating. Knowing that we are collectively changing the lives of these amazing creatures makes it all worth it and I hope to establish a lasting pathway for animals in need to find loving homes and ensure NOKHS's ongoing success.
Board Vice President Shawna Taylor
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself, both personally and professionally.
A: I work as an attorney, and when I'm not in the courtroom, you can usually find me engrossed in board games or spending quality time with my four canine companions at home, two of whom found their way to us through NOKHS. I've been calling Ponca City my home since 2010 and am happily married. Besides my work, I dedicate my free time to family, friends, and giving back to the community through volunteering at NOKHS and with the Rotary Club.
Q: What's your history with NOKHS, and how long have you been involved? Also, can you share your different roles within the organization?
A: I first joined the NOKHS board in 2011 and served for three years. My journey with NOKHS rekindled in 2020, and I've been actively involved ever since. It's been an incredibly rewarding experience. Over the years, I've been part of drafting new bylaws, held positions as Secretary and Vice President, and made lasting connections and friendships through this engagement. NOKHS has played a significant role in my life since moving to Ponca City, and it's been fantastic to witness the organization's growth and its continuous support for our community's animals.
Q: What inspired you to get involved in animal welfare?
A: My passion for animals and a deep-rooted desire to make a positive impact in our community motivated me to join this cause. While there are numerous nonprofits dedicated to helping people in our community, the Humane Society addresses the needs of animals who depend on humans for their well-being. The issue of animal overpopulation is a significant concern, and I'm especially proud of NOKHS's spay and neuter clinics, including the free community events we hold in partnership with The Good Fix. Promoting responsible pet ownership and championing the cause of spaying and neutering plays a crucial role in tackling this challenge. Ultimately, it helps diminish overpopulation and alleviates the strain on animal shelters due to overcrowding.
Q: How would you describe the role of the board within NOKHS?
A: The board plays a vital role in governing and guiding the shelter's overall operations. We collaborate with our Executive Director to develop policies and procedures, assist in budgeting, volunteer as needed, and actively participate in fundraising efforts. Given that the shelter relies solely on donations and gifts, community support is crucial. The board ensures that we generate the necessary support to keep the shelter running efficiently.
Q: What has been most eye-opening for me in the animal welfare sector?
A: The animal welfare field demands an incredible amount of work from numerous individuals with diverse skill sets to operate at its best. Today, the shelter benefits from a highly dedicated staff, an excellent Director, and a committed Board.
Q: What message would you convey to someone considering donating to NOKHS?
A: Every contribution, big or small, makes a significant difference. Whether it's a monthly donation, rounding up your purchase, or a one-time gift, your support helps us immensely. If monetary contributions aren't feasible for you, consider sharing your time and volunteering with us. We always welcome more helping hands.