Communications and Outreach Specialist
Liz Neuner is a communications and outreach specialist for the East Coast. She has been with Best Friends for four years, doing everything from facilitating adoptions at a lifesaving center to planning major events like Strut Your Mutt to helping build a Best Friends presence in satellite markets along the East Coast. Liz is based in New York City, but she has lived all over the country, from her hometown of St. Louis to Chicago, Baton Rouge and New Orleans. No matter where she moves, she always has her faithful travel companion, rescued dog Freckles, with her.
Q: When we started talking about DEI as an organization, what inspired you to say, “I want to do more”?
A: I was inspired to say I want to do more because, to me, DEI work is essential to building a better and more welcoming world. There are too many closed doors for minority groups, and I would like to play even a small part in cracking open those doors to let others through to have a say. I want my work environment to reflect the world in which we live, and right now animal welfare is overwhelmingly lacking in diversity. I want to shake the table and help change that.
Q: When you think about creating systemic change, how do we do that? How do you see Best Friends really infusing DEI into the work that we do?
A: Systemic change comes from personal growth. To me, before we can start changing the environment around us, we must first acknowledge our own biases or the times we could have been more inclusive. This personal growth can’t be had just by reading books or attending seminars. It means going into communities we aren’t familiar with and learning while also respecting and not taking advantage.
Best Friends is infusing DEI into our work by opening the discussion to colleagues who come from different backgrounds. By offering opportunities to learn from these colleagues and implement their thoughts and ideas via real actionable change. Best Friends is also actively taking down unnecessary barriers to animal welfare work. We are early into this work, but it is nice to see change happening.
I am personally working to improve our accessibility as an organization — from our social content to our press to our marketing materials to our events. I’m trying to make sure we have translators at all events, that our marketing materials are available in multiple languages, that our social content truly reflects the diverse adopters and supporters we have. It’s important for people to feel represented and seen, and that’s just one small way we can make animal welfare, and Best Friends, a more welcoming space.