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Leaders in Animal Protection: Brooke Haggerty

Written by David van Beveren | January 12, 2022

Brooke Haggerty has over a decade of experience in the nonprofit sector and has dedicated her career to animal protection. She stepped into the leadership role with Faunalytics in January 2020 after serving as its operations manager for over a year. In 2018, she was involved with the "Yes on Proposition 12" coalition promoting a California ballot initiative that established minimum space requirements for farmed animals.

Previously she served as the executive director, and later as a board member, for the Foundation for Animal Care and Education, and also worked as a humane educator for the Animal Protection and Rescue League. Brooke is a former board member and programming chair for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of San Diego, currently serves on the board for HandsOn San Diego promoting community volunteerism, and actively volunteers with her alma mater's student mentorship program. Brooke has an MA in Human Behavior, a BA in English, and certifications in Marketing and Nonprofit Management. In her free time, she enjoys classic literature and the great outdoors.

You have a lot of experience and involvement in the animal advocacy movement—from strategic planning, marketing, board service, fundraising, and analytics, to communications, education and program development, just to name a few. What is the driving force behind all of your work and achievements?

I'd say the driving force behind my nonprofit and animal protection work is simply the desire to leave the world a little better, followed by my inclination to always keep learning. I didn't always know how I would achieve my goal to give back and “change the world,” nor did I necessarily have ambitions to be in nonprofit management. I'd volunteered a bit in high school, but when I started college I thought I was going to go into editing and publishing!

As I became involved with different organizations and causes over the years, I had the privilege of being a part of the many aspects of nonprofit work that you mentioned above. For example, at a previous organization I started as a volunteer, was hired to help with programs and fundraising, eventually stepped into the executive director role, and then ended my time with that organization as a board member. I think the hands-on experience with nearly every position within an organization really helped broaden and deepen my overall understanding of all the different pieces that make an organization tick. And I hope that's made me a better manager and advocate.

We can definitely see how having experience at all levels can really help manage an organization effectively! While this type of work can oftentimes be very daunting or even downright depressing, what are some ideas, actions or thoughts that keep things positive for both you and your team?

Many of us on the team have previously been involved with pretty heavy work, such as investigations or other advocacy that's a lot harder on the soul. The depressing aspects of our day-to-day work here at Faunalytics are usually in the form of data, for example, our Global Slaughter Statistics resource is just heartbreaking. 

For advocates out there doing the really hard work, you're incredible, and we’re so grateful to each of you. We've tried to shed light on the issue through our research on advocate retention and through our blog; for example, Identifying And Mitigating Burnout In Animal Advocacy, or Emotional Labor, Burnout, And Animal Advocacy. In Defense of Animals has a pretty comprehensive advocate resource list that includes resources for mental health. 

Internally, our team members are all incredibly supportive of one another, are pretty open about mental wellbeing, and honest about when we need to step away for a bit (which is important to recognize, and should be honored). We’ve made small changes in that regard; for example, we call “sick time” “self/mental care time” instead to encourage folks to use paid time off for their mental well being, not just physical wellness. 

We look for small ways to stay positive. This may be silly, but we have “Fur Fridays” in our “watercooler” channel in Slack, where we all share photos of our companion animals on a weekly basis, which is guaranteed to bring all of us a smile. And I know just seeing my fellow advocates in the movement achieve wins for animals gives me so much hope, and importantly, reminds me that we’re not in this alone.

[Blog post] Brooke and humane education
Brooke pictured here working with the Foundation for Animal Care and Education's humane education program.

When we first heard of Faunalytics, we were really surprised to learn how small your team was. It's beyond impressive that a team of six people could do as much impactful work that you do every year! Do you have any advice or tips for similarly structured and small organizations who feel they may have too little resources to increase their impact and reach?

Thank you, we get that a lot! Before I dive into this answer though I do want to recognize Faunalytics’ dedicated volunteers. We have a team of a few dozen incredibly smart advocates and scholars who primarily help with our research library. So the first tip I’d share is to make sure you’re engaging your volunteers!

But to your question, I think something that has helped us in this regard is 1) having people in the right roles for them so that they’re set up for success, and 2) giving folks the autonomy to do their jobs. Although we all learn quite a bit as we go, I think our team members are each very well suited for their roles. This makes my job as a manager much easier; for the most part, I just try to stay out of their way (which in turn allows me to focus on my work). Smaller organizations often have the benefit of less red tape, which I think can make us more efficient. 

I’d also encourage advocates to reach out and support one another across organizations. For example, by sharing grant opportunities, various templates, and/or internal policies. I have a great group of fellow executive directors whom I reach out to with operations and fundraising questions, and it has saved me so much time. Whatever project or task you’re working on, chances are there is an advocate out there who has been where you are, and can offer feedback or input. We shouldn't be reinventing the wheel with every move we make.

As we were writing this, we received news that Faunalytics, after 6 years as one of Animal Charity Evaluators Standout Charities, was named an ACE Top Charity. Congratulations!

Thank you! Our entire team is honored by this recognition, but more importantly, we’re so glad to see that more and more advocates are turning to research and data to inform their campaigns and strategies. The impact we have (which we’ve worked hard over the past year to better measure and demonstrate) is due to the many advocates using research-driven insights to inform their work. Our work matters because it matters to you, and we could not have achieved our Top Charity status without the advocates we serve.

For our readers that may not be familiar with your work, from your library of almost 4,000 peer-reviewed research articles, which 3 articles would you recommend reading?

Over 4,600 at this point! For starters, we actually have a Hidden Gems blog that folks should check out. But for a few very comprehensive library resources, our content director Karol (Faunalytics’ longest serving staff member) recommends: What Does 15 Years Of Wildlife Trade Data Tell Us?, Five Different Ways To Look At Plant-Based & Cell-Based Meats, and Attitudes Towards Spay / Neuter In The U.S. I personally recommend that advocates check out our data-packed Faunalytics Fundamentals series. 

[Blog post] Brooke at fundraiser
Brooke has been fundraising for animal nonprofits for over a decade, pictured here hosting a charity golf tournament and live auction (source: Rich Soublet Photography)

What are you personally most excited about researching in the near future?

I'm really looking forward to two of the areas we'll be exploring (check out our full list of upcoming projects here):

A few of our studies will examine whether certain advocacy approaches might actually backfire, for example: Does humane labeling provide people with “moral licensing” to continue a harmful behavior? Do people who give up cow or pig products increase their consumption of chicken and fish products? As the public becomes more eco/health conscious, I think this research will help inform how we approach individual advocacy.

I'm also particularly excited about the studies we have planned to support legislative advocacy. Are there successful tactics to shifting subsidies? Are certain regions ripe for public support of new welfare laws? We hope this research will help lead to major legal wins for animals in the future.

Also, I'm very excited to share that Faunalytics is in the process of having a selection of our research and resources translated into additional languages (thanks in part to Vegan Linguists!) We have a very small selection of professionally translated articles available now, but plan to greatly expand what we offer to the global advocacy community in the coming year.

Have you and your team ever been surprised by the findings of your research? Or have the conclusions by and large reflected your hypotheses?

We are often surprised by findings! We try to go into studies with hypotheses whenever possible, as having something concrete and pre-registered provides the most reliable evidence, but we're not always right (hence the importance of our work)! I’ve asked our research director Jo to share her biggest surprise lately:

In our most recently published report about new vegans' and vegetarians' motivations and influences, we had hypothesized that participants' initial level of speciesism would predict how successful they were. You'd think that people with more speciesist beliefs might have a harder time going veg*n. However, we found no evidence for that. Instead, we did find that people became less speciesist over time as they went further in their veg*n journeys. To be fair, we had hypothesized that that would also occur, but it was interesting to see that the first part of the hypothesis didn't find any support.

It's important to keep an open mind when looking at data—if it doesn't support what we initially hypothesized, we will do as much exploratory analysis as we need to in order to understand what we're seeing in the data. We present these sorts of explorations cautiously, but we try to glean as much reliable information as we can from the data we collect, since it's what we rely on to inform advocates.

[Blog post] Brooke campaigning for Prop 12
Prior to working with Faunalytics, Brooke was involved with California's historic Proposition 12, the strongest farmed animal protection law in the United States.

It's amazing to see how your work can support and impact the vegan movement. How have you seen your research work in tandem with activism (or vice versa)? How do you see Faunalytics strengthening that relationship?

One of the most exciting things for us here at Faunalytics is seeing our research in action. We work with advocates during our prioritization process to ensure that our research will be useful to the movement, and in our Community Survey we ask folks to share how they've put our work to use. For example, one group used our research on corporate welfare commitments to convince companies they will be viewed favorably if they make policy improvements. Our research with Farm Sanctuary helped show that sanctuary tours can indeed influence dietary change away from animal product consumption. We've also seen our research library put to work; for example, one advocate used our article on demystifying dairy to successfully testify against misleading advertising used by dairy corporations in South Africa. 

We're also trying to produce more resources for capacity-building advocates (those who work behind the scenes to make direct advocacy possible). My friend Ivy from Animals and Society Institute shared that she used wording/framing from our blog about core mission support to help secure a grant for general operating expenses (which can be a challenge, since funders often prefer to fund programs only).

Faunalytics is working hard to strengthen our relationships within the movement because that's why we're here—to help advocates succeed and thrive! If you're reading this and wondering how our (free) research and resources can help your activism, please get in touch! We have weekly office hours, and we'd love to get to know you and learn how we can strengthen your work.

Which content, people, brands, or organizations/companies in the vegan movement that you follow and recommend?

I personally am trying to support and amplify organizations led by womxn and BIPGM (Black, Indigenous, People of the Global Majority) advocates. Groups like Food Empowerment Project, Encompass, and APEX Advocacy not only advance the animal protection movement, but also address the myriad of issues that overlap with animal advocacy work. I struggle to find the time to check out all the awesome podcasts out there, but I have to give a shout out to Our Hen House and Seb Alex. In terms of companies and cruelty-free brands, my favorites are those that give a portion of their proceeds to charity.

Thanks for the recommendations! Finally, is there any advice that you'd like to pass onto our community of vegans and vegan activists?

First and foremost, thank you for your important work. This is hard work, and every day I’m in awe of my colleagues in the movement and everyone out there advocating for animals. Remember to take time to celebrate the victories, to take care of yourselves and each other. And remember that you’re not in this alone–Faunalytics is here to help.

Thank you so much for your time, Brooke!

About the Author
David van Beveren

David is Founder and President of Vegan Hacktivists. In 2019, he created the organization to address gaps in technology & data for the animal protection movement. Since founding, VH has supported over 200 organizations with its services. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, watching anime, and playing handpan.