Lawrence Humane Society director to step down

photo by: Mike Yoder

Kate Meghji, executive director at the Lawrence Humane Society, holds one of the shelter's dogs in this March 2015 file photo.

Story updated at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30:

The executive director of the Lawrence Humane Society announced Tuesday that she will be leaving her post.

Kate Meghji has been with the Humane Society for four years, and she said in a news release that she will be resigning in December to take a position as executive director of the Humane Society of Vero Beach & Indian River County in Vero Beach, Fla. Meghji said in the release that she was grateful to have had the opportunity to work with a growing organization and improve its overall practices and philosophies.

“I am so proud of the work that our staff, volunteers, supporters, partners, and the community as a whole have accomplished together over the last four years — including, but absolutely not limited to raising the funds needed to build the new shelter this community deserves,” Meghji said.

The Humane Society began its efforts to raise $7.5 million to build its new shelter in 2016 with the original goal to finish raising the money by the end of 2017. The city of Lawrence provided the project a $2.5 million grant, and the shelter continues its efforts to raise the remaining $5 million in private donations. The shelter’s website states that it has raised 88 percent of the $7.5 million. Construction of the new shelter began this summer at the Humane Society’s current site at 1805 E. 19th St., and the new building is expected to open in late spring 2019, according to the release. Once the new building is complete, the current building will be demolished.

Meghji said she was not available for a phone interview with the Journal-World Tuesday, and instead provided responses to questions via email.

Regarding why she decided to leave the Humane Society at this time in particular, especially with the ongoing construction and fundraising for the new building, Meghji said she knows that the Humane Society is in an incredibly stable position. She said that although she is very sad to leave, that stability is why she has decided to pursue a new opportunity that will allow her to positively impact another animal welfare agency.

Meghji’s last day at the Humane Society will be Dec. 14. The Lawrence Humane Society Board of Directors will conduct a national search for a new executive director, according to the release. Meghan Scheibe, the shelter’s director of development and community engagement, has been appointed interim executive director, effective Nov. 1.

photo by: contributed photo

Meghan Scheibe

Lawrence Humane Society Board Chair John Olsen did not immediately return a phone call Tuesday from the Journal-World regarding Meghji’s resignation. In the news release, Olsen said that although they are sad to see Meghji leave, they look forward to building on the success she has facilitated.

As part of the news release, the Humane Society provided a list of accomplishments during Meghji’s tenure. In addition to the fundraising effort for the new shelter, those accomplishments include reducing the average length of stay for cats and dogs, increasing adoptions by 52 percent and decreasing the percentage of animals that are euthanized. The release states that the “live-release rate” went from 85 to 93 percent.

Meghji said via email that she is particularly proud of the new shelter, which she said is critically needed to serve the community and its pets. The Journal-World has previously reported that once complete, the new shelter will have an improved medical clinic and isolation rooms for sick animals.

Meghji began her position with the Humane Society in Aug. 2014, replacing former executive director Dori Villalon. Meghji came to Lawrence from the Champaign, Ill., area, where she had served as a director for a synagogue and previously as a manager for the community’s humane society.

The Humane Society board will begin the search for Meghji’s replacement later this year, according to the release.


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