I think a trailer park was most impacted. A resident had been searching for help to round-up and neuter the abandoned cats in the community. We suspected there were possibly 100 cats, and this year Barbara Mays rounded-up, neutered and vaccinated 51 cats, and we expect there are 50 plus more. We have helped flea-infested cats and cats with severe dental issues needing tooth extractions, cats with serious medical problems, and some left lying on the street suffering until we rescued them. Sadly, this is all too common and is all preventable through education and responsible pet ownership. The felines do not fall from the sky; they are there due to irresponsible pet ownership.
Cheryl Phillips-Thill has held the positions of Vice President, Masco Corporation Foundation, and Director Global Procurement for Masco Corporation, a Fortune 250 Corporation with annual sales of more than 8.1 billion dollars. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in business from Madonna University and an MBA from Eastern Michigan University. Cheryl started her career in operations and directed global contracts covering various commodities, products, and services with annual purchases exceeding 4 billion dollars. Her career spanned 42 years with Masco, and following her retirement included consulting in the areas of strategic sourcing and negotiations. Upon fulfilling her consulting agreement, she accepted a full-time position for three years. Also, she chaired numerous procurement committees and conducted purchasing training seminars. Cheryl has been a member of the Institute for Supply Management, formerly National Association of Purchasing Management, since 1985 and served on the board of directors for NAPM-Metro Detroit. She has co-authored “Maximizing Purchasing Synergies” published by CAPS (Center for Advanced Purchasing Studies) in Practix, the March 2002 issue of Best Practices in Purchasing, Assessing Supply Chain Management Success Factors; A Case Study published by Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, Volume 11, Number 2, 2006, Know the SCORE published by Supply Management, the 8 October 2009 issue of Processes: Supplier Evaluation, The International Magazine for Supply Chain Professionals; London, England and Supplier Base Management: A New Competitive Edge published by Supply Chain Management Review, July/August 2010.
On a part-time basis, Cheryl has conducted management training and lectures. She held seminars for Madonna University, The Detroit Legal Association, the NAPM-Metro Detroit, and NAPM-Memphis, Tennessee. Lectured at Walsh College, Wayne State University, University of Michigan-Dearborn and Michigan State University for Masco’s Leadership Program and was an adjunct professor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn teaching Supply Chain Logistics Management, Strategic Sourcing, and Operations Management. In 2014 she founded GG’s Foundation, and in 2016 she authored GG’s Journey: From Lost to Loved.
Cheryl’s charitable contributions include previous support of the Armenian General Benevolent Union and The City of Hope Cancer Center and Beckman Research Institute located in Los Angeles, California. In 2003, she joined the Oakwood (Beaumont) Healthcare System Foundation Board of Trustees and chaired the Stewardship Program and the Oakwood (Beaumont) Women’s Healthcare Classic to raise awareness and funds to treat breast cancer, heart disease and assist victims of domestic violence. In 2013, she joined the Oakwood (Beaumont) Healthcare System Board of Trustees. She sat on the Board of Trustees Quality Committee and Women Supporting Women’s Health Advisory Board. She formerly served on the board of directors for the Michigan Humane Society as Secretary and chaired the Humane Education, and Marketing and Development Programs. In May 2012, she served on the board of directors of the Institute for Supply Management Materials Management Group (MMG).
In 2019, she was the recipient of the Best of MichBusiness Non-Profit Beacon Award for GG’s Foundation, Animaltarian of the Year finalist; an Animaltarian is a person who seeks to support animal welfare and humane education and Honoree SEEN Changemaker Award, Civic Service. In 2014, she received the Twilight Benefit Civic Leadership Award. In 2008, she accepted the R. Gene Richter Global Award for Leadership and Innovation in Supply Management in the Technology Category. In 2007 she received the YWCA Western Wayne County’s Women of Achievement Award in the category of Dedicated Volunteer, and in 2003, she was awarded Distinguished Volunteer by the National Society of Fundraising Executives on National Philanthropy Day. Other activities include volunteer work for the Humane Society of Huron Valley, and participating in animal rescue, spay/neuter to prevent animal homelessness and overpopulation. Also, protection activities speaking on behalf of our furry friends for the humane treatment of animals and Humane Education for people, animals, and the planet.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My great grandparents had a dairy farm in Rochester, Michigan, and it is there that I learned to love, care for, and show compassion to all animals. My TNVR involvement all started in 2011 when my mother called for help with 13 community felines she was caring for, and we had to find a way to get them neutered and vaccinated, and I found a group to help us. After that, I saw the great need in our communities to support the felines, volunteered with the group, learned the ropes, and began to TNVR while working full time. Since 2012, I have helped the compassionate people in our communities with community felines and TNVR (Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate, Return.) Community felines are those that have been abandoned, abused, neglected, and left on the streets to fend for themselves. When I retired from Masco Corporation in 2014, after 42 years, I took on TNVR full time and founded GG’s Foundation, “Paws on the Ground.” To date, we have rounded-up, fostered, neutered, vaccinated, rescued, adopted, and provided medical care to over 811 felines, 11 dogs, a Rooster, four bunnies, and two horses.
This year, we have helped more than 260 cats, and GG’s Foundation has spent more than 27,000 dollars to neuter, vaccinate, and provide medical care for these felines. If not for the generosity of our donors, our work in the communities would not be possible. Neither Barbara, nor I, receive compensation for our volunteer time. 100% of donations help the community felines.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
In June of 2019, a colony caretaker, a person who neuters and provides shelter, food, and medical care to abandoned cats, asked for assistance regarding a State of Michigan Uniform Municipal Civil Infraction Citation. A neighbor complained that cats were running on her property and suggested they were the community cats being cared for by the person cited. I am not an attorney, but went to court with her and requested the judge allow me to provide information to educate him on community cats and suggested that unless every cat owner in the city kept their cat inside, it was impossible to know which cats are running on her property. And the adjacent building that has and cares for two felines is within the city ordinance.
I prepared a binder with documentation supporting community felines and addressed the city ordinances. When we returned for a decision, the judge ruled in favor of the colony caretaker. We were required to get the kitties licensed and update their rabies vaccinations.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I underestimated the intelligence and strength of the kitties. Once I rounded up a kitty, I named him Houdini; he managed to escape from the humane trap we use to transport for neutering. We now clip the front and rear access to prevent escape. Hard lessons learned as it is very challenging to re-trap a kitty once trapped. But, I eventually got Houdini neutered.
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
“No other disease or condition of companion animals takes as many lives as euthanasia. In fact, no other disease comes close.” Janet M. Scarlett, DVM, MPH, PhD, Cornell University.
Since I began my TNVR journey 10 years ago to help kitties, we have rescued, adopted, fostered, neutered, and provided medical care to more than 811 felines. My TNVR partner, Barbara Mays, a retired veterinary technician, throughout the last three years, has fostered 119 kitties. The fostering includes providing medical care for moms and babies, kitties with severe health issues, and kitties requiring supportive care for upper respiratory infections, wounds, enucleations, and amputations.
Community felines are those that have been abandoned, abused, and neglected and left to suffer, starve, and fend for themselves. Without TNVR, the population continues to increase, as does the suffering. The ASPCA reports that an estimated 1.5 million companion animals are euthanized in US animal shelters nationwide every year. One female kitty can produce an average of about 12 kittens each year if not neutered. If we estimate 50% of our TNVR’d kitties are female, we have reduced homelessness by 2,400 felines. And if we did not fix these females and their babies have babies, you can see how the numbers compound quickly year after year.
In addition to TNVR and equally important to our communities is Humane Education for youth and adults. We have presented to a senior center, Detroit Impact Center, Crossroads for Youth, Friendship Circle, Michigan State University Animal Welfare Group, and Rochester Hills Homeowners Association. Our goal is to expand Humane Education within our communities and instill compassion and respect for people, animals, and our planet. With youth, we often bring our pets so the children can interact with them. At Crossroads for Youth, serving at-risk youth, the day started slowly, but the youth soon warmed up to DJ, Barbara’s therapy dog, Pepe, my 16 lb. deaf kitty, and four kittens. And soon, the kittens were sitting on their laps and shoulders, and DJ was a big hit! The staff and kids sent us a beautiful thank you card about how much they enjoyed the day and what they learned; that’s what makes it all worth it! If we can educate one person and that person educates one person, we will make a difference in the lives of animals and our communities.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
There are many, but I think a trailer park was most impacted. A resident had been searching for help to round-up and neuter the abandoned cats in the community. We suspected there were possibly 100 cats, and this year Barbara Mays rounded-up, neutered and vaccinated 51 cats, and we expect there are 50 plus more. We have helped flea-infested cats and cats with severe dental issues needing tooth extractions, cats with serious medical problems, and some left lying on the street suffering until we rescued them. Sadly, this is all too common and is all preventable through education and responsible pet ownership. The felines do not fall from the sky; they are there due to irresponsible pet ownership.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
- Implement city ordinances that require the neutering of companion animals. I know this is controversial, but we must do something besides TNVR to stop the overpopulation and suffering. If breeders can demonstrate responsible breeding practices, they would be exempt, and communities can offer free neuter and vaccination days.
- Support community felines and colony caretakers and allow TNVR sheltering, care, and feeding. PAWS Chicago has a fantastic TNVR community feline program that protects community felines and keeps the rodent population at bay. Disney in CA. also has famous community kitties in the park to control rodents.
- Educate, educate, educate! Provide Human Education to police and animal control to understand the magnitude of this problem, how we can work together to manage community felines, protect them, and understand the importance of neutering, and support TNVR in their communities.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leading by example and do it right the first time, there are no short cuts! In my career of 45 years, I learned you lead by example, and I would not ask my staff or colleagues to perform a task that I would not also do. Today, I am “Paws on the Ground”; I do TNVR day in and out. Up many days at 5 a.m. and return late in the day, or we may be out till 11:30 p.m. trying to round up kitties or driving hours to help someone help their kitties.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started,” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- My heart would break many times over. I rescued a tiny kitten this year who was missing half of his back left leg! I cried when I saw him. I immediately took him to the shelter I work with; he received medical care. Sadly, he lost his leg but now has a loving home.
- Need for education in our communities on pet care and community felines. Humane education is paramount and educating people on the need to neuter and vaccinate their pets. We have seen flea-infested cats that have become anemic and died, or in a recent case posted by a fellow TNVR volunteer, the people applied a topical flea treatment that killed their cat. I leave the colony caretakers with a flyer that provides information on care for their colony.
- I had no idea of the magnitude of the abandoned, homeless, and unaltered cats in our communities and the lack of awareness. GG” s Foundation has rescued, spayed, neutered, vaccinated, fostered, provided medical care for over 811 cats, bunnies, a Rooster, two horses, and 11 dogs.
- There are hundreds of compassionate people out there who need and want help to help the kitties. This year we have responded to more than 125 calls for help with community felines.
- Patience and perseverance! We have sat out in the heat and bitter cold for hours in the early morning and late at night to round-up kitties and have had to return to the same spot multiple times.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Companion animals should be granted rights and not viewed as property; neutering should be mandatory and humane education required in all schools. No animal should be adopted from a shelter or rescue until spayed, neutered, vaccinated, and micro-chipped.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My Aunt Jo gave me a laminated copy of this quote when I was a young girl:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.
It takes courage and perseverance when we see that something is not right to say something and do something. Three board members and I resigned from the Michigan Humane Society in 2011; 70% of the animals were euthanized and had been for years. I researched and recommended an independent assessment of all three shelters by Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program. We lost the vote 7 to 5, and three other board members and I resigned. We are the only voice the animals have. It is our responsibility to speak up to protect and help them.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I want to meet with Pope Francis and talk with him about the challenges facing the catholic church and its future.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Facebook: Cheryl Phillips, GG’s Journey
YouTube: [email protected]
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!