On November 4, the American Kennel Club Government Relations Department (AKC GR) brought together two dozen federation leaders and club members from across New England to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for a regional legislative conference.
Sheila Goffe, AKC Vice President, Government Relations opened the event with a welcome and update on policy trends around the country, including federal canine legislation, and an overview of government relations advocacy tools. Stacey Ober, New England Regional Manager for AKC GR, followed with a presentation that included regional updates and strategies for establishing personal relationships with lawmakers.
New Hampshire State Senator Howard Pearl shared strategies for effectively communicating with lawmakers, before proudly receiving AKC’s Legislator of the Year award in recognition of his extraordinary efforts in working with dog owners to advance animal welfare and protect the rights of responsible dog owners.
During lunch, attendees introduced themselves and networked with regional grassroots leaders to share experiences and better understand the legislative challenges facing New England dog owners. Afterwards, Sarah Bingman Schott of Interim Executive Solutions discussed the importance of non-profit organizations’ bylaws, inclusionary practices, and strategies for retaining volunteers and recruiting future leaders.
To round out the day, a “town hall” with AKC GR staff allowed attendees to share experiences and challenges and discuss solutions to expand future preparation and success of federations and clubs.
The session concluded with a recognition of six extraordinary legislative advocates—one from each of the New England states. Recipients of the Grassroots Champion award are:
- Kathy Augaitis, Rhode Island
- Colette Thompson, Maine
- Mary McFaun, Vermont
- Gale Golden, Massachusetts
- Laurie Maulucci, Connecticut
- Angela Ferrari, New Hampshire
Sheila Goffe presented each of the recipients with bag emblazoned with “Grassroots Champion” to thank them for their commitment. “AKC is more than champion dogs, and today, we’re proud to celebrate these advocates who do so much to advance responsible dog ownership. We are champions because you are our champions,” said Goffe.
“Today was awesome, so glad I made it,” said Angela Ferrari, President of New Hampshire Dog Owners of the Granite State (NH DOGS).