DETROIT––The Michigan Humane Society on August 13, 2014 named Matt Pepper, 38, to succeed Cal Morgan as president and chief executive officer. A Michigan native who earned a B.A. in wildlife biology at Grand State University, Pepper had been director of Bernalillo County Animal Care Services in Albuquerque, New Mexico, since 2011.
Employed in animal welfare since 2000, Pepper headed Caddo Parish Animal Services in Shreveport, Louisiana from 2008 until early 2010, and was director of the Memphis Animal Shelter in Memphis, Tennessee from March 2010 until August 2011, before moving to Bernalillo County Animal Care Services. All three of Pepper’s previous leadership posts were considered turn-around situations. Pepper arrived in both Caddo Parish and Memphis soon after multiple senior staff had been terminated for alleged mismanagement.
Morgan, who had headed the Michigan Humane Society since 2001, resigned in January 2014 to become president of the Atlanta Humane Society & Georgia SPCA.
After Morgan’s departure, Michigan Humane Society chief operating officer David Williams was named interim president, and was widely expected to be confirmed as Morgan’s longterm successor. Eileen Liska-Strongczer, legislative liaison for the Michigan Humane Society from 1985 to 2007 and a political consultant to MHS since then, was outspokenly critical of the MHS board’s decision to hire Pepper from outside, rather than promote Williams.
Founded in 1877, the Michigan Humane Society operates three shelters in the Detroit metropolitan area, with an annual budget of about $15.5 million a year. Animal intakes have increased since 2010 from just over 24,000 per year to more than 28,000.