Press release: Michelson Found Animals Foundation
Michelson Found Animals Foundation (MFA), a leading animal welfare nonprofit with a mission of saving pets and enriching lives, today announced the appointment of Brett Yates as acting executive director. Yates has served as MFA’s chief operating officer since 2018. He steps into the role following the departure of longtime executive director Aimee Gilbreath, who recently became president of PetSmart Charities.
Founded by Dr. Gary K Michelson in 2005, MFA is a grant-making and operating foundation that has channeled more than $100 million into a broad range of projects that include impact investments in high-potential startups, research and policy initiatives, and community partnerships that seek to end shelter euthanasia, provide spay and neuter services, and other services that enhance the lives of pets and people, regardless of socioeconomic status.
With a $75 million commitment and 37 research projects funded to date, MFA is also the global leader in research to develop non-surgical spay/neuter alternatives for cats and dogs, widely considered the “holy grail” in ending shelter euthanasia.
The foundation revolutionized pet microchipping by creating the first free national registry. Launched in response to Hurricane Katrina, which displaced thousands of animals, the Michelson Found Animals Registry was created to reconnect lost pets to their owners. Today the registry includes millions of pets in its database. It also disrupted the industry and reduced financial barriers by substantially lowering the cost of microchips, making them widely available to shelters for $4.95 or less per chip.
Michelson Found Animals is a driving force in improving animal welfare in its hometown of Los Angeles. Working with dozens of local partners to build programs that serve underfunded communities and pets at the highest risk, MFA has donated more than $10 million to provide low cost or free spay/neuter and veterinary services. Overall, MFA is the largest funder of surrender prevention in Los Angeles County.
To this work, Yates brings decades of experience with finance, nonprofit, and startup organizations. Since joining MFA, he has combined his passion for helping animals with expertise in strategic investments and program development. Among other projects, Yates spearheaded pioneering MFA initiatives such as Leap Venture Studios, the first program built to springboard innovation in the growing pet products and services industry through equity investments in for-profit startups; the Better Neighbor Project, which partners with human service organizations to develop programs that support homeless and other under-served communities and their pets; and the Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative, which was created to field research that demonstrates the benefits of pet-friendly housing to owner/operators, residents, and communities.
“Brett Yates is a talented and caring leader with detailed knowledge about all aspects of our operation. Importantly, he has strong working relationships with our dedicated employees and partners,” said Dr. Michelson. “Together with my wife Alya, we are pleased he is taking on this new responsibility to guide Michelson Found Animals as it adapts to the disruptions we are experiencing across the industry and prepare for the challenges and opportunities ahead.”
“My goal is to confront our industry’s broken systems and create a world where everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, has access to the joy of pets,” says Yates. “It is an honor to serve as acting executive director of this incredible organization and make a positive difference in the lives of pets and people.”
Before joining the MFA executive team, Yates held progressively senior roles for companies such as First American, Fiserv, and Janus Mutual Funds. He is also an entrepreneur who has consulted for multiple startup organizations. Originally from Brea, Yates holds a degree in finance from the University of Denver.