About Our President/CEO

Katherine McGowan Shenar

Nationally recognized animal welfare executive and advocate

Asheville Humane Society’s President and CEO, Katherine Shenar brings over 17 years of experience in animal welfare, ranging from shelter management to successful fundraising campaigns to improve shelter facilities, expand foster care programs, and provide life-saving medical treatment for homeless animals. Katherine’s mission is to work collaboratively with other organizations and rescue groups on behalf of all homeless animals in our community.

Katherine is well known in the animal welfare community for her book Coalition Building for Animal Care Organizations (Humane Society of the United States, 2009), which is an effective tool for forming state, regional, and local coalitions to implement animal welfare best practices. She is a popular speaker on the topics of shelter marketing, fundraising, and coalition building at conferences including The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators (SAWA), No More Homeless PetsBest Friends Animal Society, the Humane Alliance National SNIP Summit, and the ASPCA’s National Spay/Neuter Conference.

As President/CEO of Asheville Humane Society (AHS), the largest animal welfare organization in western North Carolina, Katherine transitioned the organization into new, state-of-the-art animal care facilities at the Buncombe County Animal Care Campus. Opened in 2010, the campus represents a public-private partnership to operate both the AHS Adoption and Education Center and the Buncombe County Animal Shelter. Katherine currently serves on committees for the National Federation of Humane Societies, the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators, and the National Advisory Group for PetSmart Charities.

Prior to joining Asheville Humane Society, Katherine served as Animal Sheltering Issues Consultant for the Companion Animals Division of HSUS, conducting shelter operations audits, representing HSUS at conferences, and publishing articles in Animal Sheltering Magazine. In 2005, Katherine was a first-responder during HSUS Katrina Hurricane Disaster Response, acting as Volunteer Supervisor for the Hattiesburg, Mississippi, emergency shelter.

Katherine’s executive nonprofit management experience includes serving as Executive Director for the Animal Protective Association of Missouri and for the Animal House Fund, a public-private partnership for a new animal shelter for the city of St. Louis. She began her calling in animal welfare in 1996 as head of Marketing and Public Relations at the Humane Society of Missouri. During her career, Katherine has been involved with numerous successful capital campaigns for shelter construction or expansion, including the $11 million headquarters facility for the Humane Society of Missouri.  Katherine began her career in advertising, promotions and public relations.

Katherine is an effective advocate for legislation to improve animal welfare, including issues of animal abuse and neglect. Accomplishments include restructuring of the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation (2006) and integration of PAWS St. Louis into Saint Louis Effort for AIDS.  In 2006, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay proclaimed “Katherine McGowan Day” in honor of her animal welfare advocacy work.

Other awards and honors include “Public Relations Professional of the Year” (2000) from the Community Service Public Relations Council. In 2002, Katherine’s brochure The Truth About Puppy Mills received a Bronze Quill award from the St. Louis Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators.  

Katherine holds a Masters of Arts in Media Communications from Webster University, where she served as guest lecturer and adjunct professor prior to relocating to North Carolina. She obtained international certification from the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2005. Katherine lives in Asheville with her husband, Chris Shenar. Their family includes two cats and five dogs – and a continuing stream of foster animals!  

Email Katherine at kshenar@ashevillehumane.org