Janet Wilder Dakin Lifetime Achievement Award - Carmine DiCenso

The Janet Wilder Dakin Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes someone whose life’s work has exhibited exemplary leadership, selfless commitment, passion, and extraordinary dedication to animal welfare. Few are more deserving than Carmine DiCenso, former executive director at Dakin. Carmine has been a leader for more than 20 years in the animal welfare industry, and his passion, vision, and guiding hand have enhanced several organizations.  

Although he began his career at a human health treatment facility, in 1996 he began volunteering at the MSPCA. “I figured I would do an hour or two a day but before long, I found myself doing eight-hour long volunteer shifts. When the opportunity for a job at the shelter came up I jumped at it.”

His path led him to other leadership positions at the Animal Rescue League of Boston, the MSPCA, the Providence (RI) Animal Rescue League, and Dakin Humane Society.  In addition, he served on the board of directors for the Association for Animal Welfare Advancement, the New England Federation of Humane Societies, and the Ocean State Animal Coalition. He has been a featured speaker at dozens of regional and national conferences.

As Carmine’s career progressed, he transitioned from working directly with animal care to assuming directorship duties. “The hands-on work is physically and mentally exhausting at times,” he observed. “In an administrative role, I could help those people working hands-on and make their experience better so they can help more animals and people. Plus, as an admin, I still worked in a building full of animals so I could always walk around to get my animal fix!”

Given his unique perspective of working in animal welfare for over two decades, Carmine has seen a significant change in the industry. “We moved from being a society of people who didn’t know much about or seek adoption to one that is obsessed with rescue. There’s been a definite shift to where people think about adoption first.”

Carmine noticed another significant shift some years ago. “I felt the tide was turning a bit when many who volunteer and work in animal welfare started to appreciate that people are good and that we needed to have compassion for people, not just animals.”

In 2021, Carmine left Dakin to take a manager position at Zoetis, the world’s leading animal health company. “My current role is in the veterinary diagnostics world,” he explained. “Every day I get to help enhance the capabilities of analyzers used by animal hospitals around the world, and help veterinarians have the best tools at their disposable to treat their patients.”

Carmine’s household is a busy one.  In addition to his (human) family, he has three dogs, a cat, a pair of rabbits, a chinchilla, three mice, one rooster, and 10 chickens.  According to him, “Animals bring so much to people’s lives. I appreciate all they do for us and I want to do all I can for them.”

Asked how he felt about receiving this award, he smiled and answered “Surprised and very appreciative!”