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A Moonlighting Matchmaker Juggles Multiple Roles

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By day, Mirah Horowitz is an executive recruiter. By night/weekend, she runs a volunteer dog rescue organization.
Rebecca Sheir
By day, Mirah Horowitz is an executive recruiter. By night/weekend, she runs a volunteer dog rescue organization.

Mirah Horowitz happily works like a dog to keep her dual gigs going. And actually, one of those gigs has her working with dogs, too. To date: more than 4,200.

That's because Horowitz volunteers as the executive director of Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. Since Horowitz started Lucky Dog in May 2009, the all-volunteer non-profit has saved dogs from shelters in Virginia and the Carolinas.

During one of Lucky Dog's transports, anywhere from one to 50 dogs are driven from a shelter to meet their new adoptive and foster owners in D.C. The two-dozen canines arriving today come from a shelter inside South Carolina's Pickens County Prison.

"These dogs had been in the shelter where there is a 100 percent euthanasia rate," Horowitz says. "Every single one of the dogs that came off the van today would have been killed if it wasn't for us. And some of them are a little tentative to come out of the crate, they don't really know, 'do I really want to come out of the crate right now?' And then they do, and it's like, wow, this whole new life."

Making that "whole new life" possible takes a ton of energy and effort. After all, Lucky Dog isn't just constantly seeking adoptive and foster homes, it's seeking the right ones. So Horowitz's moonlighting gig involves quite a bit of matchmaking, but then so does her day job.

As an executive search consultant for Russell Reynolds Associates, Horowitz matches executive candidates with high-level positions at non-profits. So right now, she's seeking everything from a Vice President of Research for Michigan State University to the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate President.

Speaking of Sen. Kennedy, Horowitz says he greatly influenced her career path, because she hasn't always done executive recruiting. After law school, she clerked for several justices, including Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, and eventually became legal counsel for Sen. Robert Menendez, and Sen. John Kerry.

That's where Ted Kennedy comes in. Because when Horowitz was growing up, her father was Kennedy's Chief of Staff.

Every time a school vacation came along, she says, "I would beg my dad to please take me to work with him so I could answer the phones, and ride the subway from the Russell Building to the Capitol and eat lunch at The Monocle. And that was like, the best day in the world for me. So I grew up always thinking one day I want to be just like my dad and work in the Senate. So a little bit of a childhood dream come true!"

After achieving that dream, Horowitz worked for the Obama Administration, before joining the U.S. Department of Justice. "But after some time I started thinking, 'I've done this government thing for a while,'" Horowitz says. "I've actually been in all three branches. I've been in the executive branch, I've been in the legislative branch, I've clerked on the Court."

So when she heard about the position at Russell Reynolds, she jumped at the chance.

"I realized that the interaction with people, and the networking and the consultant aspect of what we do; it's like a puzzle," she says. "What do they want? What do they need? And what can they get? And trying to make those three pieces fit together is fascinating to me." And that same puzzle comes in to play at Lucky Dog Animal Rescue.

"We have actually an official matchmaking team," Horowitz says. "So that if people say, 'I think I'm ready for a dog but I don't really know what dog, and I don't just want to pick a picture off the Internet or whatever,' we'll take those applications and work with them and talk to them and figure out what the right dog for their family is."

Then there are the logistics of foster care for dogs that aren't immediately adopted. There are the occasional medical issues and emergencies. All in all, running Lucky Dog and working at Russell Reynolds definitely keeps Horowitz on her toes. The way she puts it, "there isn't a whole of Mirah time at this point."

But that's about to change. Lucky Dog has finally raised enough money to hire its first paid employee, a chief operating officer. And that could take a lot off of Horowitz's plate as Lucky Dog's executive director.

"I would really like to see it become an organization that's a little bit separate from me," she says. "I think anyone who founds something wants it to live beyond them, and it's frankly something that I've learned at Russell Reynolds as I've done searches for organizations that their founder is moving on, and it's a difficult thing, and a challenging thing. But it's an important thing. It's important for the volunteers. It's, in this case, important for the dogs!"

For now, though, Horowitz says she's happy leading her double life, whether she's matching people and institutions, or people and dogs.

"It is worth the long hours," she says. "Absolutely. I wouldn't change it for the world. I really wouldn't. Even if it meant I could get, you know, a full eight hours of sleep every night, I wouldn't change it!"

Because it's one thing to be dog-tired. It's something else to make sure that every dog--4,200 and counting--has its day.

[Music: "The Dog Song" by Nellie McKay from Get Away From Me]

Photos: Moonlighting Matchmaker Juggles Multiple Roles


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