A personal note from our CEO

A personal note from our CEO Tara O'Connell sent to VfCA Supporters on Monday, 10 July. 

Dear VfCA Friends and Supporters

I hope this finds you in good health and high spirits.  Today I write to you with mixed emotions as I share some news that marks both an ending and a new beginning.  After much contemplation I have made the difficult decision to step down from my role as CEO of VfCA. My last day will be Friday 21 July 2023.

This decision was not made lightly.  It has been a privilege to work with our team of staff and volunteers for the past year. Together we have achieved so many goals and positively impacted the lives of animals, and those who love and need them.

I'd like to take a moment to applaud a couple of the bigger achievements we have made in the past 12 months. Our collective dedication, perseverance and unwavering commitment to climate action have resulted in a couple of larger wins that deserve celebration:

1. Deductible Gift Recipient status:  After 3 years of knocking on doors, and waiting, we knocked on more doors (loudly) and DGR was finally granted.  This opens up a world of philanthropic and community fundraising opportunities to VfCA that didn't previously exist.  It also offers our individual donors a tax deduction for all donations over $2.

2. Strategic Plan: I'm grateful to our Board for tackling our Strategic Planning as a priority when I arrived, and I'm very proud of the 3 year plan that was developed.  You can read it here.  We also developed a comprehensive Operational Plan - the implementation tool for our Strategic Plan.

3. Climate Care Program:  So much work has gone into this groundbreaking Program.  I was fortunate to arrive at VfCA after most of the heavy lifting of Program development had been done!  The Program simply needed finalisation and launching.  The team of staff and volunteers overseeing this program have done an incredible job in researching, developing and publishing modules, and now promoting it to the Australian (and international!) veterinary community.  It is something to be proud of, and I'm also very happy that Clare Werbeloff is sitting in the role of Program Lead to do just that ... support the Program as it continues on its trajectory towards success.  Clare's positivity and enthusiasm is contagious. 

4. Rural and Regional Program: This Program was a plan on a page, but with the incredible tenacity (and brilliant mind!) of Elise Anderson, our friends at ELA, and others, it became a reality earlier this year as we commenced our rural and regional advocacy work in a focus area of regional Victoria.  I know this program will continue to grow and will have a significant impact on ensuring the veterinary community has a voice when it comes to climate and its impact on the animals we love and need.

5. Impact-led: With Mel Harwin behind the Impact wheel we were in safe hands in creating our first VfCA Impact Framework, a Theory of Change for each piece of our work, and a Program Logic for each of our Programs.  With good humour and her vast experience, Mel conducted a comprehensive evaluation of our pilot Climate Care Program, ensuring we were achieving what we had set out to achieve, and that any unintended consequences were positive in nature.  This high quality work is now used for funding submissions, and importantly, Boston Consulting Group is working with us (pro-bono) to create a world first animal-centric impact framework.  It's very exciting and I look forward to cheering on from the sidelines.

6. Operations:  Our organisation has 'moved up a gear'.  We are very fortunate to have Steff Goldring as COO.  Steff has been working hard behind the scenes to tidy up our processes, policies, and procedures.  Her attention to detail is brilliant.  She has been a wonderful sounding board for me and I'm very pleased to let you know that Steff will be working as Acting CEO in the coming weeks as a new CEO is recruited.

7.  Communications: We have sent many quality letters to MPs and submissions on things that really matter.  Many resulting in invitations to meet with MPs.  A special thank you to Janet Berry for being so thoughtful and brilliant.  I have been proud to put my name to so many written pieces created by Janet.

... and there are so many more things I'd love to mention!

The above accomplishments, among many others, are a testament to the collective strength and determination of our organisation.  None of this would have been possible without the unwavering dedication and support of each of you.  Your time, skills and contributions are invaluable.   

 As I prepare to pass on the baton to our new CEO, I encourage you to continue driving positive change and embracing new opportunities to be a voice for all animals.  

While there will soon be an announcement of an incoming CEO, your contact during the transition will be Steff Goldring ([email protected]).  I have complete faith in her ability to provide guidance and support as we embark on this new phase.

VfCA is governed by a highly experienced Board of Directors who I have been fortunate to work closely with over the past 12 months.  This group of truly special people are so very committed to VfCA, and I am thankful for having had the experience of working with and learning from each of them.

Thank you again for the positive impact that you continue to make.

Best regards


[email protected]