The Avery County Humane Society Board of Directors has named Susan Harris as its new executive director. Harris started her new position on Aug. 17.
“We are excited to have Susan on our team,” Humane Society President Erika Siegel said. “She brings to the Shelter a level of expertise and knowledge that will be invaluable as we move forward in our mission to provide care to the animals of Avery County. The Board is extremely pleased with our choice and we all look forward to working with Susan.”
Harris is a North Carolina native who earned a B.A. in sociology and anthropology from St. Andrews College in Laurinburg, NC. She did her graduate study in public administration and economics at UNC-Chapel Hill. She has worked with many non-profit organizations and has served on many boards, such as United Way, High Country Host, HandMade in America, Boone Chamber of Commerce, Triad Leadership Network, NC Center for Public Policy Research, NC Rural Center’s Rural Leadership Program, NC Pottery Center, Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show, Watauga Community Foundation, and NC Economic Developers Association. She spent many years working for the American Saddlebred Horse Association and also was the executive director of the Watauga County Economic Development Commission a few years ago. Harris is coming to the Avery County Humane Society with a unique set of skills and experiences.
She is married to Ernie Whitener, a former longtime ski patroller at Sugar Mountain Ski Resort. Skiing has been a mutual interest as Harris taught private and group lessons at Sugar Mountain. Harris has a grown stepdaughter and, of course, a 10-year-old spaniel named Chester. Horses are a lifelong passion. She competes in driving competitions at horse shows with her Hackney pony.
“I am thrilled to be serving as the Avery County Humane Society’s new executive director,” Harris said. “The majority of my career has been in the service to the people of North Carolina in the fields of economic and community development and non-profit fundraising. Now I have an opportunity to extend that service to the animals of Avery County that are in need. In my short time with the Avery County Humane Society, I have gained such a respect and admiration for the organization. The passion and dedication of the staff, the board, and the volunteers to the welfare of the animals entrusted to our care is inspiring to see. I look forward to sharing the story of their remarkable work with all the residents of Avery County.”