Julie Castle

September 26, 2019
The Great Hall

Reflection | Podcast | VideoPhotos

CEO of Best Friends Animal Society

Celebrating the achievements of one of Southern Utah University's finest alumni, Julie Castle!

When Julie Castle and her friends decided to gather their money and take a road trip to Mexico in her 1979 Dodge Colt after college graduation, they ended up in Kanab, Utah, at Best Friends Animal Society’s Sanctuary. She had just been accepted into law school when that road trip forever changed Castle’s life and career path. She became the organization’s 17th employee, taking on a variety of tasks from animal care giver, to landscaper, to tour guide.

Fast forward to present day and she is now CEO of Best Friends Animal Society, devoting her heart and soul to helping thousands of animals find forever homes. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the nation’s largest refuge for abandoned and special needs animals sits on 3,700 acres in the beautiful red rock canyon country of Southern Utah.

Over the years, Julie has championed the unique concept of multiple organizations and municipalities joining forces publicly to tackle a shared social problem — to end the killing of dogs and cats in shelters.



On Thursday, September 26, 2019, SUU alumna and Best Friends Animal Society CEO Julie Castle talked to SUU students and community about her time as a student at SUU and the lessons she learned from working at Best Friends Animal Society, as well as presenting the future goals of the organization and how people can get involved.

Castle began her presentation by talking about the common characteristic that all successful people have: perseverance and grit. She shared pictures and experiences she had as a SUU student and the challenges she faced from her family and friends as she turned away from her plans to go to law school and saw a bright future working for the then small organization, Best Friends Animal Society.

As the company grew, Castle led several fundraising efforts and coalitions to end animal homelessness and killing in shelters and her efforts led to her becoming CEO of the Best Friends Animal Society. Castle shared with the audience the company’s next big goal: the No Kill movement, a goal aimed towards eradicating the killing of animals in shelters in the U.S. by the year 2025. Today, over 4,000 communities and shelters nationwide are No Kill shelters, and Castle continues to tirelessly lead her organization and country towards this goal.

Castle concluded her speech with her continuing message of perseverance by sharing with the audience the famous 1997 Apple advertisement, “Here’s to the Crazy Ones”, and inspiring them to “be crazy and take risks,” to be “troublemakers”, and to “believe you can, even when people think you’re crazy.”


Audio Transcript