In celebration of the 10 year anniversary of Momenta Workshops, we sat down with Dean Howard, Development Director of the Lousiana SPCA. For the last decade, Dean has been working with Momenta and our photographers assigned to the LA-SPCA during our Project New Orleans workshop held every April. Together, the photographers and Dean work to create beautiful storytelling packages focused on the clients the nonprofit serves, the animals they rescued and adopted, and the team of dedicated staff.
A skilled fundraiser and a lover of animals, Dean is indeed a staple of the New Orleans non-profit community. His passion for his work is evident in the dedication he puts into helping not only his nonprofit thrive but the community as a whole.
For all of us at Momenta, it is an absolute honor and pleasure to share our interview with this inspirational nonprofit leader.
When did you first join the LA-SPCA and what attracted you to the job? I joined 10 years ago this month! At the time, I was Development Director with the Tipitina’s Music Foundation. I had been with the organization pre- and post-Katrina. I was looking for a new outlet, after being a little burned out. So, I volunteered on a board to fundraise to build a new off-leash Dog Park in City Park. The project was exciting, and the opportunity to join the LA/SPCA came about when one of the board recommended me for the position. Ten years later, I’m still here.
Describe the highlights from the 10 years of the Momenta/LA-SPCA working relationship. It’s been great to see so much of the history organization captured over the last ten years. We’ve gone through so much, from hurricanes, oil spills to public art projects. Momenta hasn’t necessarily been there at those exact moments, but they’ve captured the parts that lead up to them or came after. They captured the results and the people that made it happen.
Can you describe one memory or photograph where Momenta’s photographers truly defined the story of the LA-SPCA’s mission in one photo or one video? I remember one shot of a kitten being bottle fed. I remember seeing it and thinking, “this truly represents what we do from beginning to end; the part that no one sees.” It captures all the work that goes into saving each creature our team or volunteers care for on a daily basis. I’m not always sure the general public understands how much it takes to care for them before they make it to the adoption process.
Has Momenta changed the way you approach using photography and multimedia to document your organization’s outreach? Most definitely. We don’t do a great job of regularly documenting exactly what we do, from small tasks to extensive lifesaving programs. Momenta has done a super job of helping us showcase our work and successes. Because we’ve realized the fundraising opportunities through our work with Momenta, we’ve recently hired a videographer who will work on site to make sure we do it on a regular basis.
You hire professional storytellers throughout the year as well as use Momenta’s donated images. Why is it valuable for LA-SPCA to hire professionals? The value comes from their experience in expert storytelling. Those stories aid us in everything from proving grant results, fundraising on social media or proposals, highlighting our stories at large events, and so more.
From a nonprofit leadership perspective, why is hosting a Momenta photographer so valuable for the LA-SPCA? Embedding someone from Momenta allows us to have a fresh set of eyes on our daily mission. Too many times we lose perspective on what it takes to accomplish what we do, from day to day or on a large scale.
What advice would you give other nonprofits directors who are considering hosting a Momenta photographer? It’s invaluable. Do it! As much as I would like to think people want to sit and read everyone’s story, times have changed. Even when it comes to kittens and puppies. It’s so competitive you need a Momenta student to capture those simple and special moments so you can capture the attention of those influencers that will help your nonprofit prosper.