Aimee Gilbreath received a full scholarship to attend the University of Arizona, where she earned her B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology, graduating summa cum laude in 1996. She began a career in biotechnology and was hired by Motorola Corporation’s R&D division; after spending four years in the laboratory researching single nucleotide polymorphisms, Aimee returned to school and earned her MBA at Stanford University. Upon graduation in 2002 she was hired by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a management strategy consulting firm that works with Fortune 500 companies to solve complex business issues.
In an effort to introduce balance and service into her busy business career, Aimee began volunteering for a local animal rescue group when she moved to Los Angeles in 2004. This was her introduction to the issues of pet overpopulation and shelter euthanasia. And, this was where Aimee fell in love with one of the most popular yet misunderstood breeds of dog, the pit bull. She eventually adopted a “pittie” of her own – Rufus – who is now six years old.
Rufus inspired Aimee to return to her first love – animals – and led her to take the position she holds today. In March 2008, Aimee joined Found Animals® as the Executive Director and first employee. Now, rather than tackling post merger integrations, she is managing a social entrepreneurship startup and applying her business skills to the creation and development of sustainable business models within animal welfare.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? My idea of perfect happiness is to always be working on a project that is meaningful and challenging, with a great team of collaborators, while surrounded by amazing friends and family. And of course, there have to be at least a few dogs, cats, guinea pigs, or horses helping to “supervise” the whole operation.
If you could come back as a dog or a cat, which one would it be & why? For me it’s less about which animal I’d come back as and more about whose animal! I’d happily be reincarnated as a dog or a cat if I got to live with myself or one of my wonderful friends or relatives who treat their pets like family and be sure that they get lots of love and entertainment – and a soft spot to sleep in the sun!
What is your pet’s most treasured possession? My dog Rufus has a green and white braided rope chew toy that he has had since the first week we adopted him five years ago. He frequently carries it around the house, often has it in his bed with him, and will proudly bring it to us when we get home as a “gift.” Thankfully that toy is indestructible!
Your proudest achievement so far? There are so many things that we’ve done at Found Animals in the past three years that it’s hard to pick just one, but I’ll go with our Cat Adoption Center at SEAACA (Southeast Area Animal Control Authority). Cats have much worse outcomes than dogs in shelters, and up to 75% of the 4 million animals euthanized each year are cats. Because of that, we have many programs that focus on felines, including the Cat Adoption Center. It’s a cat specific adoption annex that we built on the shelter property at SEAACA and it’s run by our staff and volunteers. It gives cats the environment they need to be healthy and happy, which is difficult to do in a typical shelter set up. Happy cats go home faster, and we’ve adopted out nearly 500 cats from the Cat Adoption Center in just over a year! Come visit us at http://www.foundanimals.org/pet-adoption/visit-us
Who are your heroes in real life? My heroes in real life aren’t famous or rich. They are everyday people like my mother and my boyfriend and so many people I meet in non-profit work. People who are sensitive to the needs of others and willing to sacrifice to help another human being and make the world a better place - even if it’s not easy or comfortable for their own life - those are my heroes.