Ask Judy Calhoun about her nomination in the Nonprofit — Creative Services category of the annual Women of Distinction awards, and she laughs.
“Being the CEO or executive director of a nonprofit takes a lot of creativity,” said Calhoun, who heads the Larimer Humane Society. “Maybe it’s mostly the juggling. Fortunately, I’m better at juggling schedules and everything that needs to happen to get the job done than physically juggling clubs or plates.
Calhoun will receive the recognition at the BizWest Women of Distinction breakfast on April 2, 7:30 a.m., at the Embassy Suites by Hilton, Loveland.
“My entire professional career has really been focused on ways I can make the world a better place,” she said. “It sounds really trite, but that’s really what I’ve wanted to do. I’ve been in higher education and nonprofits for all of my profession, and I’ve worked on causes I feel passionate about. Animal welfare is something I am very, very passionate about.”
That passion stems from the connection humans and animals have, and the joy animals bring to our lives. Calhoun said. When animals are mistreated or in need of a home, she kicks into high gear.
Since joining the Larimer Humane Society 11 years ago, Calhoun has spearheaded initiatives that have benefited the organization. She was the force behind the successful campaign for a sales tax ballot measure to fund a new facility. That tax ended three years before its sunset date.
Calhoun also oversaw a $2.1 million capital campaign to help provide additional funding for the new shelter. Her strategic development increased investment assets by $8.3 million while paying off a $1.2 million note on the 27-acre property where the shelter stands. She hired the Humane Society’s first human resources director, with a mandate to increase employee benefits and professional development.
Calhoun’s drive to make the world a better place wasn’t the result of an “ah-ha moment” that offered clarity. Rather, it came from a seed that was planted by her parents and slowly took root and grew leaves and blossoms over the years.
“As a child, my parents gave back when and as they could,” she said. For Calhoun, though, this quality seems to be innate. She remembers grade school, when she tried her best to make sure a physically disabled student felt included and accepted by other students. “I just wanted her to know she was part of us,” Calhoun said.
That care extends to animals, which begs the question: How does Calhoun refrain from taking every animal at the shelter home with her?
First, she recognizes her limits and how many animals (two cats, a guinea pig and a dog) she can provide quality care for at home, she said. Second, she knows that her work helps significantly more animals than she could on her own, connecting animals and humans in permanent and loving relationships.