José Ocaño, Senior Director of People and Culture
As Senior Director of People and Culture, José Ocaño leads efforts to create and implement strategies for employee recruitment, development and growth within Best Friends and the no-kill movement. He also leads the volunteer division, developing a robust internship program and Best Friends’ culture to promote fluency in our mission and values.
José joined Best Friends Animal Society in 2017 as the Pacific Regional Director. In that role, he worked with animal welfare groups in California, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii and Alaska to support them in implementing lifesaving strategies, policies and programs to achieve no-kill in their communities.
José spent over a decade of his career working for Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) in Tucson, Arizona. He started as a shelter technician in 2005 at the open-admission shelter, which at the time took in more than 30,000 pets each year and was killing most of them. After he spent his first day on the job killing dozens of saveable pets, José considered leaving animal welfare, but he decided to stay and work for change at the county facility.
During his tenure, José and his team focused on shifting the internal culture and implementing progressive adoption, rescue, targeted spay/neuter, community cat and volunteer engagement programs to increase live outcomes and decrease intake, which declined to 17,000 pets per year. In his last role at PACC, as Executive Director, José helped launch a Pet Support Center and overhauled the shelter’s medical and shelter operations, which pushed the open-admission facility to become one of the most progressive and innovative shelters in the country.