By: Claire Roberson, Communications Director

Sarah Neikam, Operations Manager at the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare, recently earned her Certified Animal Welfare Administrator certification through The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement, an independent agency whose mission is to help develop strong leaders and promote standards of practice in the animal welfare profession. She is now one of several hundred individuals to hold this prestigious designation.

Sarah Neikam joined the SPCA Albrecht Center in 2012 as Volunteer Coordinator; recruiting, training, scheduling and encouraging supporters to volunteer their talents and skills to help pets in need. During this time, she also proved her knowledge of all things digitally oriented and showed affordable ways to gather support, garner donations, and increase awareness through technology, resulting in a promotion to Marketing Director in 2015.

Today, using what she has learned in her past roles, Sarah contributes to the organization’s ongoing mission as Operations Manager, responsible for bookkeeping, human resources, managing a donor database and offering insight into programs and opportunities for growth. Sarah lives in Aiken with her husband Tom, their three SPCA Albrecht Center adopted cats, Bastian, Luna & Grady, plus three former feral cats who take advantage of domestic safety and consistent meals.

After weeks of grueling studies, Sarah recently took on the challenge of completing the CAWA exam through The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement. This association administers the Certified Animal Welfare Administrator (CAWA) program which distinguishes top-level executives and managers working in both nonprofit and municipal animal welfare agencies. In addition to meeting strict eligibility requirements for leadership and management in the animal welfare field, Sarah needed to pass a rigorous exam to earn her CAWA designation.

The CAWA exam covers best practices in animal welfare with questions reviewing leadership, human resources, finance, fundraising, marketing, administration, and animal care. Obtaining her CAWA status validates Sarah’s work in the animal welfare field and illustrates her competency to contribute to broader animal welfare conversations as they pertain to her community and across the country.

Jim Tedford, The Association’s CEO noted, “Certified Animal Welfare Administrators have demonstrated that they hold specialized qualifications and a commitment to high standards and ethical practices in our industry. We respect their dedication to their own professional development and their pursuit of leadership excellence.”

On behalf of all of us at the SPCA Albrecht Center, we are so proud of Sarah’s accomplishments and can’t wait to see how she uses her advanced knowledge to help build a brighter future for our area’s homeless & neglected animals!

The SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare is a private, nonprofit, no kill animal shelter in Aiken, SC. The SPCA also operates a local Thrift Store (“Where Shopping Saves Lives”), a public, affordable Veterinary Care Center & a Dog Park. It is our mission to improve the lives of companion animals by rehoming abused, abandoned, and neglected pets while fighting for their well-being through vigorous legislative efforts, humane education, and by offering affordable veterinary care for all.