José Ocaño

Sr. Director of People and Culture

Best Friends Animal Society

Jose Ocaño has spent more than 15 years working on behalf of people and animals. Self-awareness, flexibility and teamwork were foundational as Jose navigated his career in animal welfare, starting as an entry level kennel attendant in one of the highest intake and under-resourced shelters in the country to eventually leading that organization to become a national model. Jose’s focus on culture and people has been the secret sauce to being an effective change agent and leader. Jose serves as Best Friends’ first senior director of people and culture. In this role, he works to advance the CEO’s goal of making Best Friends an organization that leads with its heart. Through embedding Best Friends’ Guiding Principles into everyday operations, Jose and his team focus on creating a culture where people can bring their whole and best selves to work. Through collaboration and engaging the entire workforce of Best Friends, Jose aims to co-create an inclusive environment that maximizes people’s experience and potential to make meaningful contributions toward Best Friends’ mission and strategic priorities. Jose operates under the fundamental belief that employers have a duty to create cultures that prioritize the employee experience as integral to meeting and sustaining mission and business objectives. “It’s not just the right thing to do,” he says. “It’s the responsible thing to do. If companies and organizations want to stay competitive and relevant in today's market, they will have to ensure that taking care of their staff is of the highest priority.”