The Maddie's® Executive Leader Fellowship at Austin Pets Alive! and Austin Animal Center

As the no-kill movement continues to grow, there is an urgent and ongoing need for new leadership in animal welfare. Austin, Texas is the largest no-kill community in the United States, saving more than 97% of the 18,000 animals who enter the city shelter each year. This city achieves historic lifesaving through a unique, collaborative partnership between Austin Animal Center and its largest non-profit partner, Austin Pets Alive!.

Unlike traditional non-profit models, Austin Pets Alive! takes the animals who would be more at-risk of euthanasia in City’s shelter, including sick and unweaned puppies and kittens, unsocialized cats, geriatric pets, dogs with behavioral challenges, and cats and dogs with other specialized needs. In total, Austin Pets Alive! saves approximately 3,500 of the "hardest” animals each year, allowing the city shelter to save the vast majority of the animals left in their care.

How does it work?

Two fellows will be selected to spend 12 months in Austin, Texas. This immersive experience provides fellows with the opportunity to act as part of the leadership teams at Austin Animal Center and Austin Pets Alive!. The fellows will be empowered to direct their own learning and professional development by engaging with all levels of both organizations to learn about their lifesaving programs and the organizations as a whole. Fellows will shadow the leaders of both Austin Pets Alive! and Austin Animal Center and will complete a practical project that will focus on a challenge and creating a solution that makes Austin’s no-kill community even stronger and more effective. For emerging no-kill leaders, this fellowship will offer attendees a chance to learn the unique model of no-kill animal sheltering and community collaboration that has put Austin on the map as the national model in no-kill animal welfare.

Fellows will:

  • Spend six months each at Austin Pets Alive and Austin Animal Center working as Project Managers or the equivalent
  • Initiate and complete at least one large and multiple smaller projects for the no-kill community of Austin, Texas
  • Present on learnings at the end of each quarter
  • Participate in a continuous evaluation process
  • Pursue a leadership position at an animal shelter or rescue, and remain in animal welfare for three years following the fellowship
  • Become fully vested in the Austin Methodology while in Austin, championing it and improving it
  • Travel to other municipalities (selected by Austin Leadership) to shadow other effective leaders and execute projects


The fellows will work collaboratively with leadership in Austin to complete projects for the largest no-kill city in the United States. These projects are expected to improve a current program or create a solution to a problem. The fellows will be expected to share learnings and projects with Maddie’s Fund® and participate in sharing this information through a webcast.

Qualifications and eligibility

  • Minimum of three years of management or leadership experience
  • Demonstrated ability to manage projects, write policies or procedures and lead change in an organization
  • Commitment to saving the lives and providing options for all dogs and cats
  • Demonstrate a strong ability for oral and written communication
  • Ability to articulate a vision for animal welfare that is consistent with No Kill values
  • Experience working or volunteering in a shelter or rescue
  • A clear understanding and commitment to the values of no-kill and desire to improve the current sheltering system in the United States by ending euthanasia for space and convenience
  • Comfortable becoming a leader in a cutting edge movement that is disrupting the existing animal welfare industry
  • Ability to critically evaluate one’s own knowledge and beliefs, and to challenge them on a daily basis

Award Amount

Fellows will serve one calendar year and receive $70,000 salary, including full benefits. Fellows will also attend a number of professional development experiences, including national conferences.

Applications are currently closed

The Maddie’s® Executive Leader Fellowship described on this website are subject to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which provide that no citizen of the United States may, on the grounds of race, sex, color, religion, age, national origin, or disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.