The following Editorial was written by FARM’s Founder and President, Dr. Alex Hershaft and appeared in the 2013 FARM Report.
The history of our movement has witnessed a remarkable transformation in the definition and character of our leadership. The early days were marked by spectacular achievements by individuals, with an ability to mobilize our entire movement that no one has been able to duplicate since. Their deeds alerted the public to the problems of animal abuse and remain an inspiration to this day.
Starting in 1976, Henry Spira almost single-handedly shamed the American Museum of Natural History in New York into stopping cat blinding experiments, then several cosmetic giants into discontinuing their atrocious LD-50 and Draize tests.
When Paul Watson needed a ship to disrupt international whaling activities, TV Guide columnist, prominent New York socialite, and founder of the Fund For Animals Cleveland Amory simply passed the word to his well-heeled New York friends.
In 1980, college student Alex Pacheco infiltrated the Institute for Biomedical Research. His photos of primate abuse, the protests that followed, and the resulting massive media coverage introduced both PETA and animal abuse to the national consciousness.
Richard Morgan drew thousands to rallies protesting four of the regional primate research centers in 1982. Peter Link gathered 25,000 people in Washington for the 1990 March for the Animals. There were many others.
Today, as our movement has evolved to the discussion and reform stages of social change, it has also become much more fragmented and institutionalized. Today, quality of leadership is defined more by the effectiveness of a leader’s organization in reducing the number of animals raised and killed for human exploitation.
Still, our need for more high-quality creative leadership persists. Each year, at our national conference, I conduct a two-hour training session on leadership development. We need to do much more. Every one of us can play a part by taking on leadership roles and by supporting our leaders when they lead, but also when they falter.