SARASOTA, Fla. — Cat Depot, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a free-roaming facility, clinic and adoption services, recently welcomed Jackie Ott Jaakola as its executive director.
With more than 30 years of experience in animal welfare, Ott Jaakola is an experienced professional with expertise in nonprofit management, strategic planning, budget management, organization and program development, event management and fundraising. The talent management company, MBJ Group, led the nonprofit’s search for the position.
In her new role, she will be responsible for overseeing the organization’s consistent achievement of its vision, mission and financial objectives. Ott Jaakola will drive the strategic direction, culture and overall management and oversight of Cat Depot. She will also lead fundraising and development initiatives and manage Cat Depot’s 34 employees.
“Jackie possesses a passion for promoting the human-animal bond and its benefits, and we know she will serve as a wonderful representative for Cat Depot,” said Ken Slavin, president and co-founder of Cat Depot. “Her employment experience with one of the largest philanthropic foundations in the country will further help propel our organization forward.”
Relocating from California, Ott Jaakola most recently served as the senior manager of advocacy, outreach and programs advisor for Wallis Annenberg PetSpace. Opened in June 2017 as the first destination of its kind, PetSpace is a unique 30,000-square-foot community space that features an interactive place for pet adoptions, an education center with innovative programs and a leadership institute. A model for communities for the changing role of shelters and animal welfare, more than 32,000 people visited the center in its first year.
During her time there, Ott Jaakola helped establish PetSpace and was heavily involved in all facets of the capital improvements for the project. She spearheaded advocacy, developed tours and classes, trained staff and volunteers on program delivery and coordinated outside academics for participation in programming.
Prior to PetSpace, Ott Jaakola acted as the general manager of special projects for The Annenberg Foundation, a family foundation that provides funding and support to nonprofit organizations in the U.S. and around the world. The position and her various other advisory roles with the foundation explored and pursued animal-welfare projects. At the direction of the foundation’s chairman, Ott Jaakola led the multimillion-dollar planning and design effort to create a new center dedicated to the celebration of the human-animal bond, which is now known as PetSpace.
For more than a decade, she also served as the director of the Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur, which is the only Los Angeles, Calif. hospital for wild seals, sea lions and dolphins. Ott Jaakola joined the team in its first year and helped create a volunteer program, school programs, an integrated community presence and an endowment. She also nurtured a partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District, one of largest school districts in the nation to offer innovative learning and internships for students with marine mammals.
An avid equestrian, Ott Jaakola earned her bachelor’s degree in biology with a strong emphasis in psychology and animal behavior from Westminster College in Missouri.
“I felt an immediate connection with the staff, board and mission of this truly important organization that aligns perfectly with my life’s passion to advance animal welfare,” said Ott Jaakola, an animal lover who is a pet parent to two dogs, three cats and several horses. “I hope to bring my dedication, enthusiasm and love for animals to Cat Depot and showcase the benefits of the special human-animal relationship. I will strive to forge new collaborative relationships, nurture the nonprofit’s existing foundation and work within the community to further educate, inspire and encourage adoption.”
To date, Cat Depot has placed nearly 12,000 animals in homes throughout Sarasota County and surrounding areas. The organization receives more than 25,000 visitors a year through its adoption program and Cat Care Clinic. Staffed with three veterinarians, its clinic delivers affordable veterinary care to people who are unable to provide traditional veterinary care for their pets.
In 2017, the nonprofit rescued 1,532 homeless cats and kittens and placed 1,419 into loving homes.
About Cat Depot
Founded in 2003, Cat Depot is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a free-roaming facility. The organization is recognized for its progressive design and commitment to helping homeless, abandoned and injured animals. Cat Depot’s mission is to save lives, locate loving homes and provide the resources and education needed to improve the destiny of homeless cats. Located at 2542 17th Street in Sarasota, the nonprofit supports more than 130 cats and kittens on any given day. For more information, visit www.CatDepot.org or call 941-366-2404.
About MBJ Group
Sarasota residents and co-owners Mary Beth Bos and Jim Bos founded MBJ Group in 2000. The husband-and-wife team has over 60 years of combined experience. The company focuses on four areas, including facilitating searches for nonprofit and for-profit organizations, working with professionals in career transition, utilizing career assessments to assist organizations in the hiring process and coaching senior-level executives. For more information, visit www.MBJGroup.com.