Silveira handing over the reins at Rancho Coastal Humane Society

After nearly 20 years, Jim Silveira has announced he will step down from his position as President/CEO of the Rancho Coastal Humane Society (RCHS). Judi Sanzo, a five-year board member of the Encinitas-based animal nonprofit organization, will take over the position.

Silveira announced his departure in late April, adding he's going to focus on his family's fishing business.

"My father-in-law is retiring," he explained. "My wife and I will be working together to operate the business. It will give us more time together and more time with our daughters."

Before joining the 58-year-old RCHS 19 years ago, Silveira ran a German Shepherd rescue organization. By the time he accepted the position at the Humane Society, he had rescued and found new homes for 4,300 German Shepherds.

At RCHS, Silveira has been instrumental in successes such as creating the Community Pet Food Bank and the Animal Safehouse Program, which provides a safety net for the pets of domestic violence victims, veterans and families in crisis. Most recently, RCHS opened the San Diego Wildlife Center earlier this year.

He said he's proud of the reputation the Humane Society has gained from staying true to its mission of helping animals. He noted the organization is recognized as one of the highest rated animal welfare organizations in the country, according to Charity Navigator.

"When you have that kind of reputation, it's an easy story to tell to donors, supporters and volunteers who want to be a part of our success and the lifesaving work we do," he said.

Silveira considers Sanzo a natural fit for taking over his role.

A business attorney, Sanzo has represented nonprofit corporations, which has been a beneficial experience to aid program development at RCHS. She looks forward to building a new Education Center for animal camps and humane education programs, as well as developing Charlotte's Medical Center to care for animals and provide medical support.

"We have accepted the responsibility of caring for animals and teaching families how to provide proper care, training and nutrition," Sanzo said. "The lessons in humanity that we're teaching children in our Humane Education program are important life lessons. One dad told us that, after his son attended Animal Camp, he began treating the family dog better, and then, he began treating his sister better. We're committed to creating a more humane future, protecting and promoting animal presence in homes and natural habitats."

Silveira will remain on the board of directors, and Sanzo began taking over his role April 30.

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