Makena Yarbrough

Senior Director, Lifesaving Programs - East

Best Friends Animal Society

Makena Yarbrough is the senior director of lifesaving programs (East region) for Best Friends Animal Society. She works with team members, coalitions and partners in in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast areas of the country to establish lifesaving programs and policies to help organizations reach no-kill by 2025. In her home state of Virginia, she is a board member for the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies, and has been working toward a no-kill Virginia for many years. Before joining Best Friends, Makena was the executive director of the Lynchburg Humane Society, the largest no-kill organization in the state of Virginia. She was recognized by Maddie's Fund as a recipient of the 2018 Maddie Hero Award. When she joined Lynchburg Humane Society in July 2009 as its first executive director, the organization’s save rate was 49%. She quickly worked with the organization’s board to develop and implement a long-range plan to take the community to no-kill. Under her leadership, the Lynchburg Humane Society tripled the size of its board of directors, developed a more financially equitable relationship with the city of Lynchburg, began managing the regional spay/neuter clinic, created a citywide effort to provide free spay/neuter for community cats and substantially increased community funding, awareness and involvement in the cause. The result was an increase in the save rate to 94%. Makena began her animal welfare career in 2000 with the Richmond SPCA, first as the director of education and then as the director of operations. Before assuming her position at the Lynchburg Humane Society, she was the associate director for the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA.