International Women's Day: Inspiring women of the Canada office

March 07 2019

The four directors of the World Animal Protection Canada office share insights behind their work moving the world to protect animals

To celebrate International Women’s Day this week, we are shining the spotlight on our all-women leadership team and the work they do to make a positive impact for animals.

These four women have dedicated 5-12 years of their careers to improving animal welfare with World Animal Protection, and have valuable insights on our shared mission, career lessons, role models, and advice for young women beginning their own careers.

Click on any of the names below to jump to their interview:

Melissa Matlow, Campaign Director

Tammy O'Dwyer, Director of Partnerships

Kay Marks, Director of Development

Beth Sharpe, Interim Executive Director, Communications Director

 

Melissa Matlow

Campaign Director

Years with World Animal Protection: 14 years

Favourite quote: “Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don’t believe is right." - Jane Goodall

What motivates you to work to protect animals every day?

Knowing how animals suffer and that we have the power to end it for them. And hearing from our supporters after achieving big wins together motivates and inspires me. I love when they feel empowered.

What is the most memorable moment of your career at World Animal Protection?

Hard to pick just one! From seeing provincial and federal parliamentarians stand up in their legislative assemblies in support of our campaigns to advance animal welfare to working with some of the biggest travel companies in the world to remove cruel attractions from their supply chain and jointly advocate to end the exploitation of wildlife for tourist entertainment. I’ve seen a tremendous shift in awareness and government and corporate support for animal welfare. And the growing number of venues and tour operators that no longer offer elephant rides is a huge moment and transformational shift we are seeing right now. Watching elephants that were previously chained to give tourist rides now roam freely at one of the tourist venues we worked to transition in Thailand was also an amazing and memorable moment.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?

Most people do not want to treat animals inhumanely. Once you understand their perspective and the barriers to them understanding yours, you can achieve more long-term change for animals by moving forward together.

Who is your role model, and why?

There are so many inspiring women role models that are advocating for a better world but I’d say Jane Goodall is most inspiring for me because of her research and advocacy to protect wildlife. Firstly, she was super courageous and smashed the glass ceiling for women wildlife scientists when at age 26, with no scientific experience, she defied social norms in the 60s to explore Tanzania to study primates. Secondly, she takes a very positive approach to advocacy. She sees how interconnected animal welfare is to the welfare of people and the planet in doing so has inspired countless people, governments and industry around the globe to make positive changes for all things good.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working to protect animals?

Enjoying precious time with my husband and daughter, travelling and adventuring and spending as much time as I can in nature. My absolute favourite place to be is in a canoe or at a campsite on a lake deep in the woods of one of Ontario’s beautiful provincial or national parks.

 

Tammy O'Dwyer

Director of Partnerships

Years with World Animal Protection: 5 years

Favourite animal: Llama

Favourite quote: “You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,

Love like you’ll never be hurt,

Sing like there’s nobody listening

And live like it’s heaven on earth.”

What is the most memorable moment of your career at World Animal Protection?

When I had the opportunity to visit Thailand and see elephants roaming freely at their new sanctuary -  Happy Elephant Valley (soon to reopen as ChangChill), a high-welfare home for elephants previously in working in entertainment. 

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?

That it’s never too late to learn about a new area of work. I have a career history of working in social service and health charities. When the opportunity came up to work in animal welfare, I jumped at the chance to help animals and learn about a new sector.

If we were to sit together a year from now and celebrate a great year in your role here at World Animal Protection, what would you have achieved?

Successfully partnering our organization with people and companies that support our work to help protect animals.

How have you overcome challenges in life?

Communication – it’s key to overcoming most challenges personally and professionally.

Do you have any advice for young women beginning their careers?

Explore working in the charitable sector. With more than 86,000 charities in Canada, it’s a significant employment sector. Excellent work-life balance and an opportunity to make a difference.

 

Kay Marks

Director of Development

Years with World Animal Protection: 6 years

Favourite animal: horse

Favourite quote: "If you don’t take a chance, how will you ever know?"

What motivates you to work to protect animals every day?

Seeing all the suffering that animals go through and knowing that we are their voice and we are what will make the difference is what motivates me to keep protecting animals every day and working at World Animal Protection.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?

There is always room to grow, to learn and to improve.

How have you overcome challenges in life?

Criticism is hard to take but a necessary tool to learn from so that you can grow and be a better self.  

Do you have any advice for young women beginning their careers?

Find a mentor and role model that will help give you the advice necessary to help you grow. You should be happy and fulfilled with what you do in your career; if this isn’t how you feel, it's time for a change.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working to protect animals?

Spend time with my three children and husband. I love to travel and explore the world and experience different cultures.

 

Beth Sharpe

Interim Executive Director, Communications Director

Years with World Animal Protection: 8 years

Animal you’d be for a day: house cat

Favourite quote: “Fight for the things that you care about but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” - Ruth Bader Ginsburg

What is the most memorable moment of your career at World Animal Protection?

It’s hard to pick just one. In my time here, I’ve been lucky enough to visit some of our projects and see the work of our supporters in action for animals. When I was in Thailand last summer I went to see elephants that had been used for tourist rides and were now living in a sanctuary. That really moved me – obviously because elephants are incredible, but also because it was the real-life result of both our supporter’s generosity and the work of our global team changing tourist demand.

What motivates you to work to protect animals every day?

Even after 8 years, it’s still hard to come face to face with animal cruelty but we owe it to the animals who are suffering not to look away and to work hard to stop it.  That’s what World Animal Protection supporters do.  They consistently step up, sign corporate petitions, push legislators, change their buying decisions and have made huge progress for animals.  They are what inspires me to keep going.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?

I’ve learned that you can be successful and still be yourself. Early in my career I worked in an office culture that seemed to reward behaviours that didn’t align with my values and I was worried I’d have to change to be successful. When I left and found World Animal Protection I realized I could help build a culture that supported diversity, uniqueness and collaboration.  When you find or help create a space that fits your principles, you’ll be more successful.    

Do you have any advice for young women beginning their careers?

Consider taking your talents to a mission-driven organization. I think the three most important things to feeling fulfilled at work are finding enjoyment in the day to day tasks, feeling properly recognized and liking the people you work with (at least most of the time). When you’re working towards a positive vision it’s easy to find meaning; non-profits increasingly celebrate innovation and charities are full of passionate people with a common purpose.

Tell the world:

Pinterest