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Humane society taps new leader

by Alecia Warren
| April 7, 2010 9:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - When Rondi Renaldo had to write her ambitions in her senior yearbook at Coeur d'Alene High School, she knew exactly what to say.

"I wrote, 'Something to help save animals, in whatever capacity,'" Renaldo remembered.

Her dreams came true this month, when she was tapped as the new executive director of Kootenai Humane Society.

After her first day on Monday, the lifelong animal lover said it was a perfect match.

"It's totally wonderful. I called my husband after my first day and I said, 'I love my new job!'" the 39-year-old said Tuesday. "I think I was ready for a change."

For the past 16 years, Renaldo has acted as branch manager at Panhandle State Bank, where she was awarded boss of the year in 2006.

She was included in company downsizing on March 16, but was soon after contacted by her former coworker Ron Ouren, Panhandle vice president and also a member of the KHS board of directors.

He told her about the position and then recommended her to the board, who met her soon after.

"I came to a board meeting, and I gave them all kinds of ideas, and I was so excited," she said. "Afterward, they said 'We've never seen someone so passionate about this before.'"

Andy Smith, KHS board president, said the group had interviewed several recommended individuals.

"She (Renaldo) stood out as an obvious candidate once we met her," Smith said. "It was easy to make a quick decision."

Board members were impressed by her management career, Smith said, which includes managing a movie theater even before she joined the bank.

She has also served on several community boards, including United Way and the Rathdrum Chamber of Commerce.

"She's very involved in the community," Smith said.

Above all, she was clearly supportive of the KHS no-kill philosophy, he added.

"She's very passionate about animals and very passionate about the mission," he said. "That's a primary item we're looking for."

The new hire came quickly after the previous executive director, Phil Morgan, was let go Thursday.

"We didn't want to be leaderless for a period of time," Smith said. "So when the decision (to terminate Morgan's contract) was made, we immediately began to look."

Other board members didn't return calls, or declined to comment.

Renaldo said her salary is still being discussed.

She already has plans for the nonprofit, she said. They include expanding the Web site, featuring more adoptable pets in the newspaper, and creating another major fundraiser in addition to Tails at Twilight.

"I think people don't realize that nonprofits also need to be run as businesses. They need to be fiscally responsible to their donors," Renaldo said. "I can bring a lot of ideas and excitement for the animals."

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