Meet Wayne Pacelle, fierce animal rights advocate and Chief Executive Officer of the US Animal Humane Society.
During his tenure as HSUS President and CEO, Pacelle has driven transformational change for animals and spurred major growth for the organization, which has emerged as the nation’s 138th largest charity and and most effective animal protection organization.
Born on August 4, 1965, Wayne Pacelle grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, with a Greek-American mother, an Italian-American father and three older siblings. As a youth, Pacelle showed an early fascination with animals, as well as a protective instinct toward them. His childhood dogs—Pericles, Brandy and Randy—were among his best friends. All the family’s encyclopedias were dog-eared to the animal pages, and Pacelle would anxiously await the arrival of new issues of National Geographic. Despite a lack of drawing skill, he regularly filled sketchbooks with drawings of animals.
Pacelle graduated from Notre Dame High School in 1983 and received his B.A. in History and Studies in the Environment from Yale University in 1987.
United States Humane Society CEO
Joining HSUS in 1994 as Vice President of Government Affairs and Media, Wayne’s involvement has been instrumental in the passage of over 25 statutes in the favor of animal welfare and protection.
“...Compassion is a muscle; the more you use it, the more compassionate you become. That's what builds a civil society. That's what allows us to have a workable, livable set of humane communities in our society. I think when we're cruel to animals, it deadens us to the needs of others. It reflects a callousness and a lack of concern for others, which is corrosive in our society.”
As HSUS CEO, Wayne has forged on as a staunch defender of animal rights. From an agreement with SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby in which SeaWorld agreed to end their orca whale performances as well as the breeding of captive orcas, to co-founding the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF), a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization that lobbies for animal welfare legislation, his influence continues to powerfully impact the well-being of animals around the world.
Pacelle writes for a number of publications and is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them and his new book The Humane Economy. Today, Wayne lives with his wife and television broadcast journalist, Lisa Fletcher, in Washington, DC, with their dog Lily and cat Zoe.
Achievements:• Nonprofit Times Executive of the Year (2005)
• NonProfit Times “Power and Influence Top 50” (2009-2015)
• National Italian-American Foundation’s Special Achievement Award for Humanitarian Service (2008)
• The Ellen Glasgow Award for Humane Service from the Richmond SPCA (2016)
• Knight of Honor Award from Notre Dame High School (2010)