Named President and CEO of
Arizona Animal Welfare League

Arizona Animal Welfare League (AAWL) announced that Alessandra Navidad will join its executive team as its president and CEO, replacing Judith Gardner, current President and CEO, as she retires in April.

Above: Alessandra Navidad is looking forward to leading AAWL in its next phase of growth.

Navidad, most recently executive director of the Arizona branch of The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), brings extensive experience in policy advocacy, executive leadership, strategic planning and fundraising to the state’s largest and oldest no-kill shelter.

“I’m excited to join AAWL/SPCA as it celebrates 50 years of saving the lives of homeless animals,” says Navidad. “Judith has been an extraordinary leader in Arizona’s animal welfare community over the past 13 years, and I look forward to leading AAWL/SPCA in its next phase of growth to meet the changing needs of our community.”

Navidad joined ACLU of Arizona in 2006, transforming the organization from a local affiliate to a national powerhouse. Before her tenure at the ACLU of Arizona, working for an animal welfare organization was a long-held dream. In 1999, Navidad quit her job as a local government and environmental reporter for the Miami Herald to pursue her dream of going to veterinarian school. She worked as a vet assistant in Miami until her career took a different path and she joined the ACLU in Louisiana and Florida.

Above: AAWL rehabilitates and finds forever homes for over 4,000 rescue animals every year. 

Navidad looks forward to using her coalition building and leadership development experience as a force for good for pets in Arizona, especially as challenges continue to arise during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When people suffer, pets suffer, and this pandemic has placed additional burdens on animal welfare organizations like AAWL/SPCA that are working hard to help people care for their pets and reduce the number of animal surrenders,” says Navidad. “By focusing on growing our low-cost veterinary practice, I hope to be able to realize AAWL’s vision of becoming the leading organization that needy families turn to for pet adoptions and affordable veterinary services in Arizona.”

AAWL re-homes and rehabilitates more than 4,000 rescue animals across Arizona each year – a number Navidad hopes to grow in her role. As part of its Rural Rescue program, AAWL drives thousands of miles to save hoarded, homeless and abandoned animals in partnership with its Rural Rescue shelters. Animals in dire need of medical care receive high quality medical attention thanks to AAWL’s Medical Miracle Fund. In addition to adopting homeless animals into loving forever homes, AAWL offers youth education, low-cost clinics, animal foster programs and more.

“I have full confidence in Alessandra’s leadership and know I am leaving AAWL in good hands,” says Gardner. “I look forward to watching our organization grow and continue its work to save the lives of pets in need throughout Arizona.”

To learn more about AAWL and its mission to save homeless animals in our community, visit