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Meet Founding Member Kristi Brooks!

  • 1.  Meet Founding Member Kristi Brooks!

    Posted 07-13-2018 12:17 PM

    Get to know Kristi Brooks and learn about her work with the Cat Adoption Team and the Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland in this week’s featured founding member interview!


    @Kristi B. at Cat Adoption Team 
    Cat Adoption Team (CAT)
    Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland (ASAP)
    Portland, Oregon

    Tell us about you and your history in animal welfare.

    KB: I am the Director of Operations for Cat Adoption Team (CAT), the Northwest’s largest adoption-guarantee, cat-focused shelter. CAT finds homes for approximately 3,300 cats each year, including more than 800 “graduates” of the kitten foster program. We celebrated 20 years in business this May!

    I am an active member, and founding partner, of the Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland’s (ASAP) leadership team, and co-chair of the lifesaving committee. In these roles, I work closely with county shelter partners to increase the feline save rate in the greater Portland metro area from 46 percent in 2006 to 93.8 percent in 2017 through transports and collaboration. I’m speaking at the Best Friends National Conference next week on coalitions.

    I have been involved with CAT for over 16 years (see below), and I am frequently invited to share knowledge at conferences and workshops. I usually speak regularly on topics including coalition-building and kitten foster programs. I love getting to talk with others about what we have done, and hopefully I inspire them to do something when they get back home. It is one of my favorite things to do. I love to do trainings, like Fostering 4 Rock Stars, and speaking at conferences.

    I started in animal welfare in 2002 as a foster volunteer at CAT. Two years later, I became the first paid kitten foster coordinator at CAT. In 2007 I was promoted to Volunteer Manager where I continued to oversee the foster program. In January 2009 I was promoted to operations where I have been working ever since. During my tenure at CAT, I helped develop the foster program into a nationally recognized model, Fostering 4 Rock Stars (F4RS). I traveled to shelters across the country to help them implement kitten foster programs based on the F4RS model, resulting in dramatic increases in save rates in these shelters.

    I still foster kittens each year. My areas of expertise are socialization, and sick kittens. I teach a socialization class to help others become lion tamers. It is so rewarding to see a hissy-spitty kitten decide that love is a much easier option. Usually I can turn even the toughest 4-month-olds around in about 14 days. My daughter says we have mad skills! One of our volunteers says I have a magic bathroom (this is my foster room). I just did a Fostering 4 Rock Stars webinar for the ASPCA National Kitten Campaign.

    I’m a native Oregonian, and live just outside of Portland with my husband, daughter, and adopted cat, Kate.

    What are you most proud of in your career?

    KB: The Fostering 4 Rock Stars program hands-down is my favorite. After years of figuring things out, making mistakes, and learning we put together a model that any shelter can take and use. They can take what they want, and leave the rest for later. PetSmart Charities asked us to work with them in 2012 to put all of our documents and training materials together and then hit the road to help shelters across the country. Basically, this was doing a brain-dump. I had to get all that info out, and in a format that others could easily use. It was a lot of work, but so rewarding to help other shelters. In 2016 Maddie’s Fund asked us to get F4RS going again and do a little research along the way. We chose three groups to participate (small, medium, and large) and had them come to our shelter for training (different from the PCI grant where I went to them). We just finished our year with them and our data is very exciting. We will be putting that out soon.

    Name something related to shelters and animal welfare that you are super passionate about and want others to learn about?

    I am super passionate about coalitions and working with the other shelters in your area. We are a founding member of the Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland (ASAP). We are a coalition of 6 shelters as well as other founding members. We are a mix of animal control, private organizations, and private organization with county contract. Together we worked very hard to bring our live release rate for cats from 46% up to 93.8% in 2017. You can do so much more as a coalition than you can as a single shelter. We all specialize in different areas, and when we pull on each other’s strengths we can do so much more. I’ll be talking all about this at the Best Friends National Conference next week!

    Tell us something about yourself people might be surprised to learn

    KB: I have competed in a puzzle competition with three other people from Cat Adoption Team and we took 5th place. So, I guess that means I am pretty fast at putting them together. We plan to enter again next year and bring home a prize. And, if you are wondering, yes, we practiced once a week for four weeks to get our rhythm down. I guess that makes us nerdy. 

    CAT Puzzle Team in Action!

    Who is your “animal welfare crush”?

    KB: This was hard for me to answer since I feel fortunate enough to get to meet these folks and at least get to talk to them. But, before I met her, Hannah Shaw was the person I really wanted to meet. You know, the Kitten Lady. From one kitten person to another it was like we had to meet! I wish we were not on opposite coasts because I would love to see her in action. She does such a great job on social media and her videos are so helpful. My other “animal welfare crush” is Kate Hurley. I get to chat with Kate more frequently since we are founding members of the Million Cat Challenge and I volunteer at their booth when we are at the same conference. But, even though I know her, I admire what she does, what she believes in, and her spirit. If I could capture some of that in a bottle, I would share it with the world!


    Thanks for the interview, Kristi!

    If you’re attending the Best Friends National Conference next week, Kristi will be speaking on Thursday, July 19 from 1130am - 12pm in Workshop Session 1: Coalition Building 101: Everything You Need to Know About Creating Action-Oriented Coalitions. Stop by and say hello!


  • 2.  RE: Meet Founding Member Kristi Brooks!

    Posted 07-13-2018 01:36 PM

    I love working with you, KB! 


  • 3.  RE: Meet Founding Member Kristi Brooks!

    Posted 07-13-2018 03:08 PM

    A wonderful Portland OR Metro Area Shelter. Much love for CAT and all they do. I heart their fun Whisker Wonderland gala each fall, too.


  • 4.  RE: Meet Founding Member Kristi Brooks!

    Posted 07-13-2018 05:52 PM

    Thank you, Valerie! We appreciate your support and heart you right back!


  • 5.  RE: Meet Founding Member Kristi Brooks!

    Posted 07-16-2018 09:57 AM

    Feelings mutual!


  • 6.  RE: Meet Founding Member Kristi Brooks!

    Posted 07-14-2018 06:43 AM

    So awesome to read about this.  The first cats I adopted as an adult were from CAT, when I lived in Portland.  I loved those boys!  Sadly both have passed due to age but they were wonderful first cats and my experience with CAT was excellent as well.

    As a former Portlander, I know how hard ASAP works to coordinate among the different shelters and animal control agencies in the area.  Kudos to Kristi for all her hard work!  I will have to take a look at the Fostering for Rock Stars program...we need more kitten fosters so badly.


  • 7.  RE: Meet Founding Member Kristi Brooks!

    Posted 07-14-2018 06:44 AM

    P.S. Hannah Shaw is moving to San Diego...still really far away, but not opposite coasts!


  • 8.  RE: Meet Founding Member Kristi Brooks!

    Posted 07-16-2018 09:56 AM

    That's what I saw. Very exciting!


  • 9.  RE: Meet Founding Member Kristi Brooks!

    Posted 07-16-2018 09:58 AM

    Where are you located now? And, let me know if you have any questions about the F4RS program once you take a look.


  • 10.  RE: Meet Founding Member Kristi Brooks!

    Posted 07-18-2018 09:31 AM

    I'm in South Bend, IN (northern IN, semi-central); right near University of Notre Dame if you know it.  About two hours due east of Chicago.


  • 11.  RE: Meet Founding Member Kristi Brooks!

    Posted 07-24-2018 10:00 AM

    Way to go Kristi...we are so fortunate to have you as part of our community! 

    Keep up the good work!


  • 12.  RE: Meet Founding Member Kristi Brooks!

    Posted 07-25-2018 03:06 PM

    So cool to see this today - nice job Kristi!  As a fellow ASAP-er, it's great to see our people highlighted on a national level.  For anyone who is interested, you must check out the F4RS program - it completely changed the dynamic of the cat population in our shelter, and in all the ASAP shelters that Kristi has "mentored". 

    Personally, I have loved working with you and look forward to many more years of Lifesaving!