Shiawassee Humane Society Executive Director Patrice Martin

(Courtesy Photo)

by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor

   Patrice Martin is the new executive director at the Shiawassee Humane Society (SHS), officially taking on the position at the end of December, though she performed as the interim director since last March. Martin, who has considerable experience working with nonprofit organizations, stepped in as interim director after Sue Osika departed, and at a point when the pandemic hit the world.

   Martin credits the “exceptionally capable and stable staff” for assisting with the COVID-19 protocol process. Several staff members have been employed with SHS for numerous years and are highly committed to the care of the animals housed at the Bennington Road shelter. “We had to respond to the pandemic as a team,” Martin shared. “At the staff’s urging, we closed just before it was mandated since there are staff with compromised family members. The good thing though, is crisis breeds innovation and we are a species most adaptable to change, and that’s what we did. Our innovation was to move adoptions online, which worked. Adoptions were somewhat down in 2020, but not significantly.”

   “The extra time,” Martin added, “also freed up shelter staff to make improvements they had long wanted to do. We made the best of a really terrible situation.”

   Some longtime staff members include Tim Bishop (operations manager), Lori Beard (adoption coordinator) and Robert Ash (maintenance coordinator). Beard has worked for the shelter since 2010, according to Martin. Other staff members include Clint Grove and Morgan Renwick. Renwick joined in May of 2020.

   Heading into 2021, the shelter is adding a staff position and is currently seeking an administrative aid for 30 hours per week. Martin emphasized the job is “definitely an administrative support position.” Interested individuals are encouraged to send in resumes.

   Looking at the future, Martin is upbeat and ready to tackle some large-scale projects. The nonprofit organization is the recipient of a grant from the Cook Family Foundation. Back in December, Martin explained, through the nonprofit network, the Cook Family Foundation had challenged nonprofit organizations in the capacity building program to look forward. “What did we see for our organizations and how could they help us get there? One thing that became obvious to me is the facility. There is no room for growth and we are dealing with an outdated shelter model,” she shared. The grant will go to support the cost of architectural plans.

   Martin wants to see a new wing added to the structure, along with major renovations to the original building. “I see expansion … state-of-the-art kennels and exercise areas and the ability for us to have space to train volunteers and offer educational opportunities. In visualizing this, we have issued proposals from architects. The SHS Board is committed to hiring locally and decided on Team Design with Jeff Peltier of Owosso as the architect.

   There are numerous complexities connected to updating a shelter, so Martin has been cautious in expressing the purpose needed of any design work to the architect. “We are at the very early beginning with the plans,” Martin shared. “We had a first meeting via Zoom with Pat Skvarenina and Chris Newell, who are part of the design committee.” Skvarenina and Newell are also board members. “The goal is to have the best possible outcome for the animals in our care. The sub-goal is to give us the physical capacity to engage with the community.”

   Martin hopes to have renderings and a design by the end of the year. At the time, SHS will need to look at a capital campaign through loans and grants. “It’s a layered financing approach. We have very generous and loyal supporters,” she shared.

   Martin lives in Owosso. Aside from working as director at SHS, she is also the vice president at Innovative Community Solutions, Inc. Before moving back to Owosso, Martin had owned and operated a bed and breakfast in Hart, MI. She currently chairs a committee for Friends of the Shiawassee River and is a member of the economic vitality committee in downtown Owosso.

   SHS is always in need of donations of cleaning and laundry supplies. For further information, visit

Humane Society Director has Vision for Expansion was last modified: January 19th, 2021 by Karen Elford