LONGVIEW — The Humane Society of Cowlitz County is heading into its 50th anniversary year with a new executive director.
Darren Ullmann joined the Humane Society as its new director Monday. Ullmann recently retired after working for the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office for more than 20 years, where he had been undersheriff since 2019.
Ullmann said he was approached by community members over the last few weeks about potentially filling the shelter leader role. Ullmann has never worked as a nonprofit leader before, but he said liked the work the Humane Society was doing in the county.
“If I’m going to come out of retirement, I wanted it to be for a reason. I want to be with a group that means something here and I’ve always been a huge animal lover,” Ullmann said.
Board member Dave Spurgeon said the board liked Ullmann’s enthusiasm, the connections he had with the sheriff’s office and his business experience from working with wife Denise at Ullmann Family Homes. Spurgeon hoped that Ullmann could be a strong long-term fit for the agency.
Ullmann will be the Humane Society’s third executive director since 2021. Charmaine Nawrocki stepped down in the spring of 2021 and Christopher Cone left in November to take a job with Columbia River Mental Health Services.
Ullmann joins the Humane Society at a busy point for the agency. The kennels are close to full capacity and the fulltime veterinarian is booked out with work on stray cats and pets.
Later this spring, the Humane Society will launch a fundraiser for a long-awaited effort to build an expanded shelter.
“We have reached the limits of our abilities with what we have, so it’s important that we get the community support we need to keep this going,” Ullmann said.
Ullmann will also be negotiating new contracts with Longview, Cowlitz County and other cities to provide animal control services. He said that aspect of the agency’s work has not always been a priority, so he wants to improve the animal control equipment and strengthen the connections with law enforcement.