NHS CEO is retiring

Under Judy’s vision, the Nebraska Humane Society has become one of the premier shelters in the country.

After 18 years at NHS helm, Varner is retiring

Monday, December 14, 2015 | NHS Staff

Judy Varner, President and CEO of the Nebraska Humane Society, is retiring after 18 years of exemplary service to NHS and more than 25 years in animal welfare.


UPDATE: In recognition of Judy's service to the community, the Omaha City Council declared April 26, 2016 as "Judy Varner Day." Watch the proclamation »

Judy became the President/CEO of the Nebraska Humane Society in November 1997. In that time, the Nebraska Humane Society has grown from an outdated, 23,000-square-foot building to a full campus encompassing four buildings totaling more than 100,000 square feet and 13 acres. During her tenure, NHS has successfully completed several capital campaigns for improvements, established a Foundation to manage and increase the endowment fund, totaling approximately $12 million to date, and implemented numerous new programs to benefit the animals and the community. The organization has an annual budget of $10,000,000 and 150 employees, and provides care for more than 20,000 animals annually.

For her efforts, Judy was recognized and awarded the Big O Greater Omaha Chamber Excellence Award as the 2011 Business Woman of the Year.

During Judy’s tenure at NHS, more than 142,610 animals have been adopted into new homes. More than 54,606 have been returned to grateful owners. As times change, the vision of the Nebraska Humane Society has grown past simple adoptions to a holistic approach for the entire community. The shelter’s vision is to provide a good home for every pet by the year 2020. To that end, Judy and her staff have worked to keep animals in homes, offering behavior help, resources for those on fixed incomes and educational programs.

Every decision has been made with the best interest of the animals in mind from adoption criteria and kennel sizes to behavior help and medical services. Volunteers, along with staff, play a vital role in enriching and working with shelter animals to offer them a second chance, while the robust foster care program gives fragile and scared animals a chance to rehabilitate in homes away from the stress of the kennels.

A nationally-recognized Animal Control Department upholds some of the most comprehensive laws in the nation, designed to protect the residents of the Omaha metro and their pets.

Under Judy’s vision, the Nebraska Humane Society has become one of the premier shelters in the country. Her official last day is April 30.

Additional coverage:

Omaha World-Herald: 18 years ago, Nebraska Humane Society was an 'an underfunded, woeful' shelter; CEO who led transformation is retiring »

World-Herald editorial: Judy Varner was always there for the animals »

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