Rick Aiken, executive director of the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia, announced today that he is retiring next year, after 24 years in the job.
“When Rick was hired, the shelter was days away from permanently closing, and now it is a thriving organization that has served millions of pets and people in our community,” said Sid Chandler, president of the HSNEGA Board of Directors, in a news release.
“It will be a real challenge to find a leader who can fill his shoes.”
Aiken led a capital campaign for the shelter in 1998, taking the facility from a cinder-block building to a modern shelter with all indoor kennels, according to the news release. He also transitioned the facility to one with selective admission and that no longer euthanizes animals due to space limitations or an animal’s length of stay. He also established a low-cost spay and neuter center.
Before working with the humane society, Aiken worked in zoos throughout the Southeast and also served as senior district executive for the Northeast Georgia Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
“Being a shelter director requires being on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year — it doesn’t leave room for much else,” Aiken said.
“I am extremely proud of the accomplishments that have been made during my time at the humane society, and I know the shelter can only continue to grow, but I think it is time for new leadership to take the reins and take us to the next level.”
The society’s board of directors has established an executive search committee to begin work next month to replace Aiken.