What do Jane Goodall, Leslie Jones, Reese Witherspoon and Madeleine Albright have in common with Best Friends CEO Julie Castle?


When InStyle magazine selected Best Friends CEO Julie Castle to be on their “Badass 50” list, I thought, yeah, that makes sense. I mean I know she is bold, audacious and determined. Those are some of the qualities that the Best Friends Board of Directors identified in Julie four years ago when we extended the offer for her to begin her training and preparation to step into the top spot, which she did this past April. What I didn’t know was that her reputation had gone national or that she would be in very impressive company on the InStyle list.

The list, which “celebrates women who show up, speak up and get things done,” is a who’s who of dynamic women making their mark and leading social change on a variety of fronts. In addition to those named above, InStyle’s Badass 50 includes J.K. Rowling, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, Mika Brzezinski, Christiane Amanpour and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Best Friends Animal Society leadership

Women in leadership roles is not a new trend at Best Friends. Women have shaped our organization since our beginnings. Half of our founders are women: co-founder Faith Maloney was our first president. Women created our dog, cat, bird and wildlife departments at the Sanctuary and our C-suite has been dominated by women for years.

Julie has been a prominent figure in animal welfare since she took on the operational leadership of the No More Homeless Pets in Utah coalition in 2000. She has had a significant role in every major Best Friends initiative, campaign and program since, but she really shook things up during her closing address at the 2016 Best Friends National Conference, when she planted a stake in the ground on behalf of Best Friends to lead the country to no-kill by 2025. With what she referred to as our movement’s “moon shot,” Julie challenged Best Friends and the entire animal welfare world to work together to end the national shame of shelter killing by 2025.

Now, as CEO of Best Friends, Julie has the wheel for what is sure to be an exciting ride over the next seven years. The no-kill 2025 campaign has proved to be a rallying point for people from across the sheltering and rescue spectrum, with some of the most transformative work being done in municipal shelter systems that, just a few years ago, were not even part of the conversation.

Recognizing Julie Castle as a leader

Julie’s recognition by InStyle magazine is well-deserved, if not much of a shock to those of us who know her and have watched her impact as an agent of change throughout her career. The even better news is that wherever I look in the no-kill universe, I see humbling talent and leadership at every level of the movement. It is so pervasive and engaged that I have no doubt that we will achieve the no-kill 2025 goal.

Julie is a star, but she is by no means alone.

Together, we will Save Them All.

Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society