Best Friends Announces 1st University Leadership Program

Published: December 10, 2019 | Author: David Bishop | Read Time: 4 minutes

President Scott Wyatt with a dogBest Friends Animal Society and Southern Utah University (SUU) announced the nation’s first university-endorsed animal services leadership program for working professionals. The Best Friends Executive Leadership Certification (BFELC) is a comprehensive, six-month blended learning program utilizing in-person and online interactive instruction. Training top-level leaders in animal services throughout the nation, the goal of the program is to end the killing of companion animals in shelters.

“Best Friends is a game changer in animal welfare, pushing animal services toward life saving efforts as opposed to control and disposal,” said Best Friends Chief Executive Officer, Julie Castle. “There are now more than 4,700 no-kill communities in this country."

Castle continued, “This new leadership program is rooted in proven animal services techniques, skills, programs and policies and is pivotal in transforming animal services as a profession and ending the killing of pets in shelters. We are excited to be engaged in such a powerful academic partnership.”

The ultimate objectives of the BFELC are to create organizational action, professional development and business plans. The program connects participants with innovators and national experts in animal services and offers templates, models, checklists, case studies and resources necessary to replicate and implement change in their respective organizations and communities.

Southern Utah University will award an Institutional Certificate and up to six academic credits to those who complete the BFELC. Beyond the program, and dependent on educational backgrounds and goals, participants will have opportunities to earn additional academic credits that may be applied toward SUU bachelor’s or master’s degree programs.

For example, if a participant attends the Best Friends Animal Society’s Annual Conference, they will have the opportunity to earn additional credits. Participants may apply earned credits toward one of more than 140 SUU undergraduate programs. For those seeking graduate degrees, credit application options include an SUU Master of Interdisciplinary Studies (MIS) Degree, Master of Public Administration (MPA) Degree, or Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree.

“Southern Utah University has been at the forefront of innovation and educational excellence for years, and I am beyond thrilled to be partnering with them on this history-making program,” commented Castle. “The Executive Leadership Certification offers clarity on what success looks like in animal services as a profession by examining real-life examples of data-driven, proven strategies from across the nation.”

According to SUU President Scott L Wyatt, “This is an exciting partnership for both organizations. Best Friends is known for its pioneering work in animal welfare and commitment to the same innovation and learning as we are. Our aim is to provide lifelong learning solutions, and we value this recognition by Best Friends for our educational offerings, student success, and neighboring location in this beautiful area of the country.”

Additionally, SUU is currently developing a customized track in the field of leadership development for animal services professionals. Dean Jean Boreen of the SUU College of Humanities and Social Sciences said, “We are very proud to begin providing leadership development for animal services professionals and look forward to continuing to work with Best Friends to implement learning opportunities that speak to their needs.”

More information about the partnership and educational program details is available at

About Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends Animal Society is a leading national animal welfare organization dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America's shelters. In addition to running lifesaving programs in partnership with more than 2,800 animal welfare groups across the country, Best Friends has regional centers in New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Salt Lake City, and operates the nation's largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals.

Founded in 1984, Best Friends is a pioneer in the no-kill movement and has helped reduce the number of animals killed in shelters nationwide from an estimated 17 million per year to around 733,000. That means there are still about 2,000 dogs and cats killed every day in shelters, just because they don’t have safe places to call home.

We are determined to bring the country to no-kill by the year 2025. Working collaboratively with shelters, rescue groups, other organizations and you, we will end the killing and Save Them All. To check out our community lifesaving dashboard and for more information, visit

Join the conversation on, Twitter (@BestFriends) and Instagram (@BestFriendsAnimalSociety).

About Southern Utah University

Southern Utah University is a caring campus community where students come to explore their interests and prepare for meaningful careers and life experiences. With more than 140 undergraduate programs and 21 graduate and certificate programs across six academic colleges, SUU proudly offers world-class, project-based learning opportunities where students gain professional experience before entering the job market.

Located in the world’s best backyard, SUU is the University of the Parks ® thanks to its close proximity to several outdoor recreational areas and its educational partnerships with the National Park Service. SUU’s safe, residential campus allows students (more than 11,000) to create lifelong friendships along with once-in-a-lifetime outdoor adventures in conjunction with innovative academic endeavors.

Tags: Regional Services Community and Professional Development Interdisciplinary Studies

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