The City of El Paso announced Wednesday the appointment of longtime employee and leader Paula Powell as the new Director of the Department of Animal Services.
“To see the progress that has taken place during Ms. Powell’s leadership is exciting,” said City Manager Tommy Gonzalez. “She stepped in during a critical time and proved that she is ready and dedicated to leading this department toward its goal of becoming a no-kill community.”
Powell, has been with the City for more than 20 years and has served in various key roles. Most recently, Powell led Animal Services as the interim director and as a member of the task force reform team.
During this time frame, Powell has made great strides to improve operations, which had a marked difference in the department’s live-release rate.
Within the eight month period that Powell led Animal Services, the live-release rate averaged 81.9% (Aug 2017 – March 2018), a notable difference from the previous year, which saw an average of 67.1% (Aug 2016 – March 2017).
In February, the department reached a live-release rate of 91.2%; the momentum continued in March, which saw a live-release rate of 91.1%. These are the highest live outcome rates in the department’s history.
In addition to the increasing live-release rate, Powell implemented operational changes focused on health and safety, cleanliness, and capacity.
“Ms. Powell has worked hard her 20 plus years with the City of El Paso,” said Deputy City Manager Dionne Mack. “She’s continued her education, and has risen through the ranks, leaving an impact in each of the areas she served. I’m confident that she’ll continue to do great things as the leader of Animal Services.”
“As the Fire Chief, I was asked by the City Manager to bring in best practices from the Fire Department on medical protocols in the animal shelter. With this in mind, I challenged Ms. Powell to not only set us in the direction of reaching our no-kill goal, but to set up policies and procedures to sustain the progress for years to come,” said Fire Chief Mario D’Agostino. “During these eight months she has shown tremendous leadership skills, while also displaying her commitment to improve operations.”
Also in recent months, Powell has focused on improving community partnerships in order to support the lifesaving efforts and activities of the department.
“When advocates called for El Paso to become a no-kill city, it was apparent that this could not be done without the community’s support,” said Ken Margherio, Animal Shelter Advisory Committee Chairman. “Ms. Powell has continued to engage with ASAC and the community as a whole, which reassures me that the she is committed to completing Animal Services’ reform efforts.”
“Being very active with the reform efforts of Animal Services, I have always believed in the need for strong leadership,” said Dr. Guy Johnsen, former Animal Shelter Advisory Committee Chairman. “I can’t be more pleased to know that Ms. Powell will continue to lead Animal Services on this journey, which has seen considerable progress in recent months.“
Powell’s appointment is effective immediately. The current taskforce overseen by Fire Chief Mario D’Agostino will remain in place and continue to support the reform efforts of Animal Services.