Humane Society CEO steps down

Six years after taking the helm of the struggling Humane Society of Indianapolis, CEO Martha Boden has left the not-for-profit as the agency’s board looks to transform it into a “smaller, leaner organization,” Chairman David Horth said.

“It became obvious to the HSI board, and to Martha, that it no longer made sense for any individual to lead the organization at the CEO level,” Horth said in a statement issued yesterday. Instead, the board realigned its administrative and operations staff and is recruiting an executive director.

As CEO, Boden’s salary was $105,000, according to Horth, and a new leader will like make approximately $30,000 less.

Boden relocated to Indianapolis from Minnesota to take the job in 2002, drawing on a background in private-sector marketing and project management. She had her work cut out for her, as the shelter wrestled with waning donations and rising costs.

In 2003, the Humane Society board approved a plan spearheaded by Boden to borrow against the society’s endowments, worth a total of $4.6 million, to prop up its annual budget.

The theory was that the $2.3 million credit line would ease the immediate pressure to cover the shelter’s operating budget, which grew to more than $3 million in 2006, while Boden and others worked to boost fund raising.

But expenses continued to outpace fund raising and, in late 2007, the agency upped its credit line to nearly $3 million.

In mid-March, the organization stopped accepting stray animals and owner-surrendered pets unless owners first went through counseling. The “Reservations Required” program is intended to help the Humane Society use its limited resources more effectively. Strays are being transferred to the city’s Animal Care and Control shelter.

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