Gayle Viney, Dane County Humane Society
IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Gayle Viney, assistant director of development, Dane County Humane Society.
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1. What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?
Working in animal welfare, you will inevitably see and experience tough things — animal abuse, neglect, problems resulting from puppy mills, dog fighting, breed discrimination, and the sadness of saying goodbye to a beloved pet. There are many roles at a humane society and while the staff in development might not always work directly with the animals, our role is to fundraise the money needed to provide the necessary and lifesaving care needed. Compassion fatigue is a realistic challenge that the majority of staff members face at a humane society.
Fortunately, the rewarding aspects of my job definitely helps remind me why we’re working so hard and the importance of the work we’re doing. The genuine and pure joy of a newly formed family never gets old. For us to be able to continue helping the homeless animals in our community it is increasingly important to seek more and different funding sources. In my new role as assistant director of development, I believe I can successfully articulate and advocate for our local humane society. It is also my privilege to continue to meet and say thank you to our amazing supporters!
2. Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?
Charlotte Deleste, Channel 3 morning anchor, and founder and board vice president of Gio’s Garden. It’s challenging to have a demanding, high profile job and also work hard to be a good parent. With the addition of a special needs child it becomes even more complex. Charlotte Deleste must have found Hermione’s time turner, because she works long hours as a newscaster at Channel 3 in Madison while still being an active parent to two children, including Gio, who has Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, a rare form of childhood epilepsy, and who is also on the autism spectrum. In addition, she helped found an organization called Gio’s Garden that helps parents with special needs children receive respite care, professional therapy, client advocacy, and social work/support. And she does all this with a cheerful smile, unflagging energy, and an unselfish attitude that inspires others to do more.
3. What has been the high point of your career so far?
I represented DCHS as the public relations coordinator for nine years. I worked diligently to become an advocate, spokesperson, and knowledgeable resource regarding issues affecting animals and the people who care for them. Our shelter is an adoption agency for animals, but it also provides life-saving programs to rehabilitate wildlife, offer needed services and assistance to the community, and so much more. Local and regional media (including television, radio, and print) sought my assistance and expertise regarding questions, legislation, news interviews, and human-interest stories.
Although I didn’t keep an official count, my best estimate is that I showed over 1,000 animals on TV and radio. My job was to promote the shelter and our animals through these media outlets, but along the way I was humbled to become a recognizable personality in this community and beyond. People sometimes stop me in stores, at public events, or on the street to say, “Aren’t you Gayle Viney, that ‘pet girl’ on TV? I just love watching you and those animals!” Knowing that so many animals have found their forever homes because of that type of wonderful exposure brought an incredible feeling of success, not only to me but also to our organization.
4. Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
Jobs and careers will change dramatically over the next several years and beyond. Focus on skill building and experiences that will be helpful in many types of careers — organizational skills, communication skills, technical skills, human resource management, mediation, etc. Find ways to give back to your community and the people around you. The skills you are developing are needed in a variety of venues — clubs, volunteer organizations, civic events, etc. Recognize the importance of a healthy work/life balance. Work hard and with purpose, but find time for trips and memories with friends, family, and loved ones, too!