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Brett Yates Named CEO of Michelson Found Animals Foundation

Michelson Found Animals Foundation (MFA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Brett Yates as CEO. 

Yates has served as MFA’s chief operating officer since 2018. He steps into the role following the departure of longtime executive director Aimee Gilbreath who recently became president of PetSmart Charities. 

Founded by Dr. Gary K Michelson in 2005, MFA is a grantmaking and operating foundation with a range of programs including impact investments, research initiatives, and community partnerships that seek to end shelter euthanasia, provide spay and neuter services, and enhance the lives of pets and people, regardless of socioeconomic status. 

With a $75 million commitment and 37 research projects funded to date, MFA is the global leader in research to develop non-surgical spay/neuter alternatives for cats and dogs. Non-surgical spay and neuter options are considered to be the best solution for ending shelter euthanasia. 

The foundation has also revolutionized pet microchipping by creating the first free national microchip registry. Launched in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which separated thousands of animals from their families, the Michelson Found Animals Registry reconnects lost pets and their owners. As the first free national microchip registry, it the industry and now includes millions of pets in its database. The registry also reduced financial barriers by substantially lowering the cost of microchips, making them widely available to shelters for $4.95 or less per chip. 

Since 2011 the MFA registry has become one the largest in the nation and has forced the other large national registries to offer a similarly free service for their customers. The presence of the MFA free registry has literally changed the industry to make it much more affordable to pet owner to microchip and register their pets and assure that they can be reunited if they ever become lost.

MFA is a driving force in improving animal welfare in its hometown of Los Angeles, as well. Working with dozens of local partners to build programs serving underfunded communities and pets at the highest risk, MFA has donated over $10 million to provide low cost or free spay/neuter and veterinary services.  

Yates has decades of experience with finance, nonprofit, and startup organizations. Since joining MFA, he has combined his passion for helping animals with expertise in strategic investments and program development. Among other projects, Yates spearheaded pioneering MFA initiatives such as Leap Venture Studios, the first program built to springboard innovation in the growing pet products and services industry through equity investments in for-profit startups; the Better Neighbor Project, which partners with human service organizations to develop programs that support under-served communities and their pets; and the Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative, which was created to field research that demonstrates the benefits of pet-friendly housing to owner/operators, residents, and communities.

“Brett Yates is a talented and caring leader with detailed knowledge about all aspects of our operation. Importantly, he has strong working relationships with our dedicated employees and partners,” said Dr. Michelson. “My wife Alya and I are pleased he is taking on this new responsibility to guide Michelson Found Animals as it adapts to the disruptions we are experiencing across the industry and prepare for the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

“While there are many aspects to pet adoption that need fixing – surrender, cost of spay/neutering, and more – I believe MFA can play a big role in creating a world  where everyone, regardless of their socioeconomic status, has access to the joy of pets,” says Yates. “Going forward, MFA will be tackling large societal issues at any point where pets and people intersect and we look forward to creating a better world for pets and their people.”

In addition to his responsibilities as CEO of Michelson Found Animals, Yates also serves in the dual role of chief operations officer and chief financial officer for Michelson Philanthropies, the network of foundations established by Alya and Dr. Gary K. Michelson to drive positive change in animal welfare, education, and medical research. The foundations include Michelson Found Animals, Michelson Medical Research Foundation, Michelson 20MM Foundation, and Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property.

Prior to MFA, Yates held progressively senior roles for companies such as First American, Fiserv, and Janus Mutual Funds. He is also an entrepreneur who has consulted for multiple startup organizations. Originally from Brea, Yates holds a degree in finance and real estate from the University of Denver.