We had the good fortune of connecting with EC Michaels and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi EC, what do you attribute your success to?
Failing. I wish there was a better word to capture the art of failing, learning and getting back up even when you think you can’t. I’ve been let go from organizations and truly thought that maybe this world wasn’t the right place for me. I was lucky enough to recognize that though those roles may have not worked out, the people and pets of those organizations recognized that it was about the match, and not about my future as an animal welfare professional. It sounds sappy, but those tumbles and what I learned from them brought me to CCS and the exciting place we are in.

Another driving factor of my success has been a focus on creating strong relationships across a diverse and varied community. Taking a moment to get to know the people involved in this work has only created more opportunities to learn and offered more successful outcomes for animals. I try to offer everyone an open door and conversation; we cannot improve the lives of animals by ourselves.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve always been an animal lover, but it wasn’t until after college that I realized I could make a career out of my passion. My first gig in animal welfare was actually in Greece, where I worked for a Skyrian horse center. I went on to apply to the Dumb Friends League here in Denver and worked in customer care. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to work at other Colorado animal welfare organizations and as a consultant supporting non-profits across the U.S. While it was an appreciation for animals that got me in the field, it was the community of pets, people and the human-animal bond that kept me in it.

I came to Cat Care Society over a year ago when I was ready for the next step in my career. I knew that I was ready for growth as a leader, and I was looking for an organization that was ready for growth as well. This has been an amazing journey for me as I’ve learned so much, stumbled a bit and overcome challenges to get to this spot. I know that I will continue learning, too.

I’m a champion for change, and I realize that not everyone else is. I’ve learned to roll out change slowly and methodically, always making sure the building blocks are in place first and everyone affected understands the reasons behind change so that we are all successful in the end. Good communication is paramount, and I maintain an open-door policy for anyone who needs to ask tough questions, gain clarification or share their own ideas.

I think what makes my work so rewarding now is Cat Care Society’s specialty in the community. We’ve been around since 1981, and we are working to make sure our next 40+ years are as rich as our last. Cat Care Society takes in many special-needs cats that may not have a chance anywhere else. We love saying yes to unique medical cases, complicated health histories or behavioral issues. We view ALL cats are worthy of love and care, and aim to get each one adopted into a loving home. Additionally, our free-roaming or cage-free approach in the shelter, is a really special way of allowing the cats to be cats while people can get a better idea of their personalities. It’s different than anywhere else I’ve worked, and brings it own unique challenges, but I wouldn’t have it any other way now.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Some of my own personal favorite spots in the city are Sweet Bloom Coffee in Lakewood, the Denver Botanic Gardens, Pete’s Central One and Tikka & Grill for great meals, and the Mayan Theater for a movie.

And for the cat lover, there’s a great opportunity to create an entire day of cat-centric activities in Denver! Grab a beverage at either Denver Cat Company or Teddy Cat Cafe, go shopping at the Just Cats Store, stroll the walkway and take in some big cats at the Wild Animal Sanctuary, grab dinner at Gattara, and of course, you can’t forget a stop in to Cat Care Society for some kitty snuggles!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
This is the hardest question to answer concisely. It takes a village, and that is true to what I have been able to experience. In my position now, I can look back and see specific moments where someone saw an opportunity or promotion for me and trusted me to do it. In one of the first animal welfare organizations I was at, I applied for a promotion and did not get it. So, I applied again at the next opening. and got it. I do think that this manager and that moment was the opportunity I needed to confirm that animal welfare was the career for me. (Thanks Amanda!)

The other shoutout for me, would be the staff and board here at Cat Care Society. New leadership to an organization with CCS’ history, and the change that comes along with it is uncomfortable and hard. Despite some of the hurdles I have faced, I’m so thankful that the CCS community has stuck with me in their support and vision for our future.

Website: www.catcaresociety.org

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/catcaresociety/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/erin-claire-ec-michaels-mpa-0780631b/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CatCareSociety

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIOsNdRlWrZuan1L-6zyxIg

Image Credits
Petra photo: Purfect Pose Photography Most other images by Ariana Jenks

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