Animal Rescue League of Boston supporters,

I have some news that I want to share with you.

I have decided to retire in May 2020 and step down as President of the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL). I am honored to have served as ARL’s president since 2012, only the eighth person in 120 years to hold this position, and just the second woman, since our founder, Anna Harris Smith.

This decision is entirely personal as I am eager to join my husband Jim in retirement and begin the next chapter of our lives. I hope that this chapter will include some travel, and, an unscheduled life, with more time to read, reflect, and enjoy family and friends.

While my decision is personal, it is also made with a sense that ARL is in a very good place. Having established a strategic vision focused on serving animals and people most in need, we are seeing the benefits of this direction through increasing impact to the most vulnerable of our community.

In addition, the next five years will see new facilities and services that will further strengthen this amazing organization, with master planning and design work to replace aging facilities complete or well underway.  I am confident in our ability to achieve these goals and appreciate the continued effort that will be required for success. I believe it will be most beneficial for ARL to have in place leadership who can see these projects and progress through to completion, taking this historic animal welfare organization to even higher levels of innovation and impact.

I leave knowing that we have that leadership in ARL’s Board of Directors and our talented staff. The board has been closely involved in my retirement planning and are reviewing the skills and attributes desired in a new president. In the coming weeks they intend to communicate their plans for future leadership.

Anticipating retirement is exciting, but leaving ARL is difficult. My career has spanned nearly 43 years in mission-based organizations in Boston. Prior to coming to ARL, this work revolved around issues related to human or community conditions. In joining ARL, I thought I was taking a detour from my past work. I was wrong.

The world of animal welfare is inextricably linked to humans, both the good and the bad. This link and the complexity of navigating through animal and human conditions makes for fascinating and highly complex work. My experiences here have been both tremendously rewarding and, at the same time, eye opening.  I now look at community quite differently, particularly the interplay of humans, animals, and the environment. I cannot adequately convey all of my learnings here and I intend to share with you my reflections on this transformative experience in a future communication.

As some of you know, I have a favorite quote attributed to Justice David Souter that has always resonated with me in terms of one’s life’s work. “For most of us the very best work we do sinks into the stream very quickly. We have to find satisfaction in being part of the great stream.”

For me being part of ARL, its compassionate work and the tireless efforts of staff, volunteers and donors alike who have responded to nearly 125,000 animals over the past 7+ years, is enormously rewarding and I will cherish having been part of this great stream for the rest of my life.

In the coming months I hope I can connect with many of you that have supported my journey at ARL and in the Boston community to reminisce and say thank you. Your friendship and support has sustained my many professional adventures and made possible any measure of success achieved. For this, I am eternally grateful.


Mary signature

Mary Nee
Animal Rescue League of Boston

Click here to read Mary’s executive profile in the January 24, 2020 edition of the Boston Business Journal.   

Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff/Globe staff