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Morris Animal Foundation Welcomes Two Industry Leaders to its Board of Trustees

Morris Animal Foundation welcomes Jay Mesinger, President and CEO of Mesinger Jet Sales, and Chuck Stephens, founder and CEO of Stephens & Associates Advertising, as the newest members of its Board of Trustees.

“We are honored to have Chuck and Jay serve on our Board of Trustees,” said John Reddington, DVM, PHD, President and CEO of Morris Animal Foundation. “Chuck brings to the board his marketing and branding background with animal health organizations, and a lifelong passion for animals. Jay brings his experience as an entrepreneur, consummate salesman and fundraiser, as well as a heartfelt desire to make the world a better place for animals.”

Jay Mesinger, President and CEO of Mesinger Jet Sales

A long-time leader in the aviation industry, Mesinger discovered his love of flying when he was in high school. Combining that with his study of business in college, he entered the plane acquisition business and, in 1982, began to create what is now Mesinger Jet Sales. Along the way, his business also began to highlight the family’s dogs, connecting personally with potential customers who were interested in purchasing planes so they could fly with their pets.

“I’ve always been a dog owner, and grew up around horses, cats and dogs; most recently, we’ve had a love affair with golden retrievers,” said Mesinger, who lives with his wife, Sandra, in Boulder, Colorado. “When our first golden, Elliott, developed a growth on his side, we took him up to Colorado State University. That’s where we met Steve Withrow and Rod Page, and later learned about the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study and Morris Animal Foundation.”

Begun in 2015, the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is the first Morris Animal Foundation-funded study conceived, designed and run by the Foundation and its partners. The study examines epidemiology and the long-term effects of nutrition, environment, lifestyle and genetics on health and the development of cancer and other major diseases in dogs. 

The study is the largest prospective study ever undertaken in veterinary medicine in the United States, gathering information on 3,000+ golden retrievers throughout their entire lives. Mesinger enrolled the family’s golden retrievers Louie (Hero #31) and Miles (Hero #840) in the study. At the time, Mesinger said, he didn’t know that much more about the Foundation.

“I was aware of the Foundation, but didn’t know anything but the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study,” said Mesinger. “Now, I understand the power of it in the whole world of animals – not just dogs. And, while I don’t know much about science, I do know a lot about fundraising and people’s affinity for their dogs and for animals, and that is where I am going to start.”

In addition to running Mesinger Jet Sales, and devoting time to philanthropic work, Mesinger is active with numerous aviation associations and boards including as former member of the Board of the National Business Aviation Association, and Chairman of its Associate Member Advisory Council. He is on the Customer Advisory Board of Jet Aviation, the Customer Advisory Board of Airbus North America, and is a member of Gulfstream’s “Key Player” Team. Mesinger served on the Duncan Aviation Customer Advisory Board for two terms, and is a member of the European Business Aviation Association. He is also a member of the Colorado Airport Business Association and the Asian Business Aviation Association. He is an alumnus of the University of Texas.

Chuck Stephens, Founder and CEO of Stephens & Associates

Stephens grew up on his family’s 1,500-acre dairy farm just outside of Kansas City, and actively shared in caring for the family’s dairy cows, horses, dogs, cats and other animal residents. His love of animals encouraged the direction of his career, as he developed Stephens & Associates Advertising to help market the best animal healthcare products available.

“Our lives have always been enriched by the animals that share our home,” said Stephens, whose company is located in Overland Park, Kansas, near the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor. “Right now, we have Boozer, an English springer spaniel, and I don’t know what we would do without him. He is a compassionate, loving and caring little guy who always seems to know when someone is troubled and need a little extra companionship.”

Stephens was one of the founders of Banfield Pet Hospital, the first network of pet hospitals, and is an owner of Hannah the Pet Society, the first and only all-inclusive pet veterinary care company. He also provides strategic counsel to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, and has been recognized as Marketer of the Year by the Business Marketing Association, and Distinguished Alumnus by Kansas State University.

“I love what Morris Animal Foundation is doing and what they stand for,” said Stephens. “The Foundation has a great reputation among veterinarians and in the animal health industry as being truly dedicated to and existing for the benefit of animals. In my new role as a trustee, I hope to build on that reputation by helping to create even greater awareness of the Foundation, and accelerate new partnerships to benefit its work.”

About Morris Animal Foundation

Established in 1948, Morris Animal Foundation is dedicated to improving and protecting the health of animals through scientific innovation, education and inspiration. Our investment in research has yielded life-saving vaccines, new treatments for critical diseases, superior screening tests, and advanced diagnostic tools. We respond to emerging animal health threats that endanger entire species, and make new discoveries in basic animal biology to support applied research. With every study we fund – more than 2,600 to date – we strive to advance the science of veterinary medicine, honoring the founding principles of Dr. Mark L. Morris Sr. to benefit animals worldwide. Learn more at morrisanimalfoundation.org