The six-month Animal Services Executive Leadership program will help you strengthen your leadership skills and connect you with animal services leaders across the nation. 

The Best Friends Animal Services Executive Leadership program is presented in collaboration with Southern Utah University (SUU). Graduates of the program earn an SUU Institutional Certificate in Animal Services Executive Leadership.

You will also have the option to purchase credits equal to six master’s level credits, which can be applied to an SUU bachelor’s or master’s degree in a Master of Interdisciplinary Studies, Master of Public Administration or Master of Business Administration program.

Participation in the program is currently by nomination only. 

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The Best Friends Animal Services Executive Leadership program is for current animal services leaders and for professionals looking to move into this work from another field.  Participation in the program is currently by nomination only. 



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What you’ll learn 

While enrolled in the Animal Services Executive Leadership program, you’ll learn about the evolution of animal welfare, and so much more. 

Topics covered include personal leadership, organizational leadership, data-driven decision-making, public speaking, performance metrics for shelters and field services, policies and procedures, communication and marketing, building community and nonprofit relationships, legislation and advocacy.  

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What to expect 

The coursework and program lessons are organized into custom digital learning modules. There are weekly calls with fellow leaders to reinforce what you’re learning and to get feedback and support on the course assignments and projects. 

Each week, you will be asked to review one of the modules provided. Typically, there will be a brief quiz or journal response to assess what you learned from that module. You will also have the opportunity to participate in discussion boards and 90-minute weekly cohort calls. You should expect to spend one or two hours a week on assignments, written reflections and discussions.  

Over the course of the six-month program, you will complete three projects: a personal leadership model, an organizational action plan and a pilot program plan.  

To graduate, you’ll need to complete all modules and associated assignments, have attendance of 80% or higher, participate in weekly calls and two in-person sessions, and successfully complete the three projects mentioned above.  

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Benefits of the program 

As a graduate of the program, you’ll walk away with a clear understanding of what it means to be a leader in lifesaving. 

While participating in the program, you’ll be invited to be part of a supportive community, participate in one-on-one meetings with course facilitators and join small group sessions. You’ll also be encouraged to partner with others in your cohort for advice or help with projects as needed.  

Additional benefits of the program include regular access to industry leaders, one-on-one meetings with field experts, the latest in course materials and timely research-based examples from the field (all of which will be provided to you digitally upon completion of the course).  

Activities and assignments in every module have been designed to promote leadership development and help you save more animals’ lives in shelters. You’ll create a personal development model and learn to feel confident leading change.  

Your learning doesn’t stop when the program ends. Upon graduation, you’ll gain admission to the lifelong Executive Leadership alumni group, facilitated by Best Friends that meets quarterly. You’ll also receive an invitation to contribute to future cohort classes as a subject-matter expert. And last, but certainly not least, you’ll get the satisfaction of being part of a nationwide community of no-kill leaders.  

What past participants have to say about the program 

Ready to up your lifesaving game?

Tell us that you’re interested in Animal Services Executive Leadership, formerly known as Best Friends Executive Leadership Certification, and we’ll let you know when the next session opens for enrollment.

If you still have questions, email us at