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News: News

Virginia Federation of Humane Societies Hires Executive Director

with 30 Years of Animal Welfare Experience

Edinburg, VA– May 8, 2023 – The Virginia Federation of Humane Societies (VFHS), the Commonwealth’s oldest and largest animal welfare membership organization founded in 1959, has hired Executive Director, Melissa Rubin. VFHS membership includes public and private animal shelters, humane societies, rescue groups, sanctuaries, and animal control agencies, as well as animal caregivers and individual supporters across Virginia. VFHS is committed to ending the killing of healthy and treatable animals in Virginia’s sheltering system. 

Composed of more than 100 members, VFHS is a leader in operating and supporting progressive programs across Virginia that focus on ending animal homelessness. The hiring of Rubin will allow the organization to expand its efforts and provide additional benefits to their members.


“We are beyond excited to have such an experienced and dedicated individual joining us to lead VFHS into its next phase,” says Jill Mollohan and Sue Bell, VFHS co-presidents.


Rubin, an attorney, has been involved in non-profit work for over thirty years and has an extensive background in animal welfare.  Her work includes serving as the Senior Vice President of Animal Response, Care, and Sanctuary at the Humane Society of the United States where she was responsible for all HSUS direct care. This included HSUS’s animal care centers, animal rescue team, Pets for Life, Rural Area Veterinary Services, and Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.  Melissa also served as President of the Fund for Animals. In this capacity, she was responsible for all aspects of running the large non-profit. Among many of her duties, Melissa built a strong leadership team, increased fundraising, created business protocols, and established strong relationships with internal and external partners. She also led The HSUS through many natural disasters, including Hurricanes Katrina, Floyd, Charlie, and Frances. Melissa sits on several boards including Animal Grantmakers and the Global Federation of Animal Welfare.

One of Rubin’s top priorities will be expanding strategic partnerships between VFHS and groups including the Virginia Animal Control Association, the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, the Office of the VA Attorney General Animal Law Unit and Virginia legislators. She will also be looking to grow VFHS membership and add additional benefits to VFHS members including educational and training opportunities, grants, and community support.


“The opportunity to serve the animal welfare community of Virginia is something I’m truly excited and passionate about. As Virginia is already a leader in so many aspects of animal welfare, I look forward to bringing my experience and energy to making VFHS even stronger. We will provide our members with even more support and resources to be successful in the valuable work they do for animals in their communities,” says Rubin.


Rubin’s first action item has been the hiring of a part-time Community Liaison position which will serve to gather more information on members’ needs and provide increased support at the local levels in various ways. Alice Burton, a former VFHS Board member will be filling this role. Burton brings to the role her experience as a longtime Animal Control Officer in Arlington, VA and her expertise advocating for Trap-Neuter-Return across the country with Alley Cat Allies. Most recently, Burton served as the Director of Community Cat Outreach for VFHS member organization Homeward Trails.


Rubin began her role on May 1, 2023, and Burton begins on May 5, 2023. Rubin can be contacted at

Three Cats Playing


Here is the latest edition of the VFHS Electronic Newsletter.  Inside you will find the following articles:  President’s Report, Annual Conference, High Five Program, Legislative Report and articles from Fairfax County Animal Shelter.

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