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B.A. in Psychology, DePaul University, 1998
M.S. in Animals and Public Policy, Tufts University, 2014

Current Position
Marketing and Events Coordinator for the MSPCA at Nevins Farm

What were you doing before entering the Masters in Animals and Public Policy (MAPP) program?
Prior to entering the MAPP program, I had a 10 year career in the mortgage industry. Prior to that, I’d worked with wards of the state. My heart was always in animal welfare and animal sheltering, however, and I volunteered for Chicago area shelters for more than 20 years and in a variety of capacities.

What aspects of MAPP led to your decision to join the program?
I knew that I wanted to incorporate my passion for animals into my career. Looking to make a dramatic change, I searched for a master’s program that would allow me to do just that. The MAPP program was precisely what I was looking for, and after attending the Open House and realizing the breadth of topics that it covered, it knew that it was the right fit for me.

In what ways do you use your Masters in Animals and Public Policy degree in your current position?
Nevins Farm shelters and cares for companion and farm animals. Every day, a deep understanding of our complex relationships with each of these species is called upon as I interact with the public, media and develop our outreach and educational programs.

Tell us about your MAPP project or preceptorship. In what ways did it help you form your career goals?
My preceptorship was with a small local non-profit that was undergoing some significant growing pains. After my month concluded, I remained with the group as a volunteer and am now a member of the board of directors. Working with an evolving group has been an invaluable experience as it has allowed me to witness best practices in action – as well as pitfalls to avoid. Fortunately, the organization is now larger and much stronger. I’ve learned a tremendous amount about non-profit management and board work that I have not had the opportunity to be exposed to in my work with other better established boards.

What did you like most about the MAPP program?
It was a gift to take time off from life to explore topics that I was incredibly interested in. The program explored aspects of animal welfare outside of my primary area of interest, companion animals, opening my eyes to a more robust range of topics and perspectives. This required me to thoughtfully reconsider my opinions and approaches to animals in ways that I was not able to anticipate.
Additionally, the people that I was introduced to through the program – be it as a guest speaker, through an introduction by a professor or via an activity – have allowed me to build incredibly valuable relationships and become involved in aspects of animal welfare that I would not otherwise have had the opportunity to be involved in.

What are your outside interests?
Cycling, sailing (though my friends with boats are sadly back at home in Chicago), wine and good movies.

Is there anything else you would like to share with prospective MAPP students?
If you are passionate about animals and want to delve deep into an exploration of our relationship with them, this is precisely the program for you. Come with an open mind, listen to differing perspectives and you’ll leave the program as an informed, engaged and well-rounded individual, ready to make an informed and meaningful difference in the lives of animals. It will be time and money very well spent.

MAPP Capstone Research Project: “Models for a voluntary accreditation system for companion animal shelters.”

Community Cats Podcast “Interview! Julia Pesek, Community Outreach Coordinator for the MSPCA at Nevins Farm (MA), and Vice President of the Massachusetts Animal Coalition (MAC)”

Full list of MAPP capstone research projects >>
Back to MAPP Alumni page