New Kentucky Humane Society CEO Brings Enthusiasm & Experience

Writer / Grace Schaefer
Photography Provided

As incoming CEO of the Kentucky Humane Society, Alisa Gray is a professional lifesaver.

“When I was little, I had a dog-walking business . . . I charged fifty cents for half an hour around my neighborhood, because I loved dogs so much,” Gray says. “We also lived by a creek and had a lot of wildlife, so I would always try to help if there was an injured animal. So, I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian.”The Kentucky Humane Society

Gray began to first volunteer when she was 12 years old with Meals on Wheels, along with her grandmother. Ever since, she’s remained passionately involved in volunteer and nonprofit work.

After graduating from the University of Kentucky with a double-major in psychology and public relations, Gray worked for the Lexington Humane Society before moving back to Louisville and exploring social work.

“I loved it, but honestly, I missed the animals,” Gray says. “The animal welfare world is addicting. Once you’re in it, you just become so passionate about it, and I don’t think I’ll ever leave it.”

Gray worked at Metro Animal Services before finally joining the Kentucky Humane Society, where she quickly found the ideal combination of her love for animals and her passion for nonprofits. She was home.

The Kentucky Humane Society ranks as the state’s largest animal welfare group, with roots reaching back to 1884. KHS works with dogs, cats and horses in need of homes. In addition, the organization offers aid to pet owners with a spay/neuter clinic, pet food bank, behavior classes, a pet help line, boarding, the CARE-a-van mobile clinic and an equine program.

With focuses on positivity, compassion, inspiration and change-making, KHS is forward-thinking in relation to pets and people.

“Animal welfare now is very much focused on socially conscious sheltering and making sure the whole family is supported,” Gray says. “It’s not just finding an animal a home, it’s making sure that animal, throughout its life, has support. It’s the mix of the social work aspect, psychology, loving animals and finding homes for animals.”

So far, Gray has worked in donor relations and stewardship, typically meeting with people who love animals and who may want to support KHS programs.

“Seeing them get excited and connected to the mission is so cool and it’s just so inspiring,” Gray says. “We get excited about a new The Kentucky Humane Societyprogram or alignment with a foundation, and we get to try something new – that’s been so neat. We keep moving forward, keep looking at the community and what the needs are – nationally, locally – and then trying things out. We’re able to support and add programs or services or people…I want to do more. I don’t really stop much.”

While serving the animals in need in Kentucky has been a joy, Gray also reflects on the individual interactions that have made lasting impressions: rescuing wild horses in eastern Kentucky, watching a blind kitten play and walking – later, fostering – a special Pitbull who had never seen grass.

Gray also provides disaster relief, where many of her favorite animal stories have come from.

“It’s one of the greatest things in the world. I love being able to help an animal in need and see them come in potentially sad or broken and see the progress that they make with us, through fostering, and through the medical support we can provide,” Gray says. “There’s honestly nothing better that I can think of – it’s just so rewarding, and I get to lead an amazing group of people that are so talented and dedicated. It’s a dream.”

Despite a passion for her career and a strong history of service, Gray never expected to become KHS’s CEO.  Yet, when it was time, she was the unanimous pick.

“Lori Redmond, KHS’s current president and CEO, decided that she wanted to transition and slow down a bit,” Gray says. “I’m thrilled she’s staying on board. We worked on a succession plan with our board, it’s falling into place, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s a dream job. If you’d told me this when I was a little girl, I would’ve screamed with enthusiasm.”

In the six months leading up to the official transition in April 2023, Redmond and Gray have continued to work side by side. “She’s done so many great things for animals in our city and our state, so I’ve just been learning from her and talking about the future,” Gray says. “I feel very fortunate and grateful.”

Now, it’s time to look to the future.

“I hope to continue Lori’s legacy,” Gray says. “We have a great organization and the opportunity to grow.”

Being a lifesaver certainly isn’t just for the KHS staff – any Kentucky resident can play their part. Gray understands the impact of donations. In fact, she’s raised philanthropy by 240% in her first eight years at KHS. Gray hopes to see continued volunteer work and an increase in fostering.

“If you’re fostering, you’re caring for that pet and then making room for another, so we can take twice as many,” she says.  “Getting involved super easy. We try to do everything to support you and get you ready and make you successful. We also provide all the medical support, food, bedding and crates.The Kentucky Humane Society

Gray emphasized it’s free to foster—the pet just needs a home with love and support. In addition, Gray remains excited about the LOVE 120 Initiative, designed to touch every county in Kentucky by 2029. Saving lives doesn’t stay behind county boundaries.

It’s not work to be done alone.

“It’s definitely not just me,” Gray says. “It’s the whole team – great people working their tails off  and continuing to save lives and working with great partners in the community and nationally. It’s great to collaborate and work together… the sky is the limit.”

Ultimately, the Kentucky Humane Society is on track to continue much as it has in the past: with a focus on lifesaving brought with love, all unified around care for every life. And under Alisa Gray’s marvelous leadership, the Kentucky Humane Society’s lifesaving mission is only just beginning.

If you’re interested in volunteering with the Kentucky Humane Society, you can call (502) 272-1070 or visit

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