Q&A: Jane Hoffman
Jane Hoffman, 60, is president and chair of the board of directors of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals, a nonprofit organization that provides resources to about 150 animal shelters and rescue groups in New York. The Alliance—the largest and longest running collaboration of animal rescue groups and animal shelters in the United States—aims to increase adoptions as well as spaying and neutering to reduce the euthanasia of cats and dogs in New York City. The Alliance works routinely with NYC Animal Care & Control, the nonprofit group under contract with the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that provides animal control services.
Hoffman worked as a tax librarian at Dewey Ballantine while taking night classes at Brooklyn Law School, earning a law degree in 1984. She gained connections as a tax associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett from 1985-88. Later, she worked in-house for a management consulting firm and had her own practice.
Hoffman helped found the Alliance in 2003. The Alliance got a major boost early on when it received funding from Maddie's Fund, a private family foundation. Now the Alliance has an operating budget of about $3 million, with funding coming from individuals, corporations and foundations.
While the nonprofit world doesn't provide the same paycheck as private practice on Wall Street, Hoffman said she would like to stay focused on animal shelter and rescue work for the rest of her career. "At the end of the day, do you want to die saying I have the most stuff, or do you want to die doing something you really care about?" she said. Hoffman, who is the unofficial general counsel at the Alliance, said she is grateful for her law firm background. "The Alliance would not exist but for my legal background—I'm firmly convinced of that."
She lives in the West Village with two dogs and four cats, all shelter animals.
Q: How did you get involved in animal shelter and rescue issues?
A: I've had companion animals all my life. In 1990, when I helped to create the Animal Law Committee of the New York City Bar, I became involved in a range of animals issues in a more structured way, and in 2000, I moderated the Annual Conference on Animal Sheltering in the United States at the bar. It was through my work with the Animal Law Committee that my focus turned to animal shelter and rescue issues in New York City. The confluence of several important factors at the time crystallized my decision to become more involved. The creation of Maddie's Fund in 1999; the election in 2001 of a new mayor who is a strong proponent of public-private partnerships; and the positive response we (the animal law committee) received from his administration to suggestions we set forth in a memo to the new administration, all came together to signal to me that it was the time to make something big happen. And at the time I had my own practice, which gave me the flexibility to devote time to the endeavor.
Q: How did the organization form?
A: When Michael Bloomberg began his first term as mayor of New York City in 2002, the animal law committee sent a memorandum to the new administration suggesting solutions to some of the issues facing New York City's animals, and particularly the animals at NYC Animal Care & Control (AC&C). I received a call from the deputy mayor for operations lead counsel, Terri Matthews, expressing interest in our proposed public/private partnership. The administration was very receptive to the idea of a community collaboration and the potential influx of millions of dollars from Maddie's Fund to help New York City reduce euthanasia of healthy and treatable animals at AC&C. And so it became apparent that we needed to establish a not-for-profit organization, apply for the Maddie's Fund grant and then to manage the funds and initiatives needed to accomplish the goal.
Q: Why did you decide to leave private practice and lead the Alliance?