Dana Brooks, President and Chief Executive Officer, Pet Food Institute, and Kincannon & Reed placement, was named in February of 2021 as a woman of influence across the pet food industry.
Her passion for the pet food industry combined with her self-described “grace-filled” leadership philosophy will represent our industry well in the years to come.
The following is an interview with Brooks originally printed in Pet Age March 1st, 2021:
Who or what inspired you to get into the pet industry?
My mother and her beloved Chihuahuas were my inspiration to pursue the CEO position at Pet Food Institute (PFI). My father died in a tragic farm accident in 1996. My mother’s motivation for living was to care for her pets. On the night before my final interview with PFI, my mom called me to tell me a story about her Chihuahua Lucy. Lucy’s loyalty, comfort, and companionship to my mom was the encouragement my mom needed daily to care for herself and her fur friend. Without Lucy, my mom would have been lost for years.
This unconditional love and devotion, the human-animal bond, is why I take our mission at PFI very seriously and know I am leading an association where I am meant to serve. The Pet Food Institute and our members are committed to helping dogs and cats live long and healthy lives.
What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet business and/or pet parents?
First and foremost, I have a heart for all animals, fish, and mammals. I’m fascinated with all of God’s creatures, big and small. Second, I have a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from University of Arkansas, Monticello and a Master of Agribusiness from Kansas
State University. My studies helped me further understand the value of good animal nutrition and the ingredient supply chain for pet food manufacturing. Third, I recognize the importance of companion animals in our lives which is why I serve on the Pet Partners
Board of Directors. Lastly, I’ve built a successful 20-year career for myself in government relations. Therefore, I can navigate government bureaucracy as an “insider” advocating on behalf of the pet food industry.
What issues do you think need more attention from the pet industry and why?
Product safety and business transparency. Consumers are demanding these two issues be satisfied and assured that they are buying the best products for their four-legged family members. I cannot count the number of times people ask me which food would I recommend for their pets. Why do they ask? Because, they trust me to keep their dog or cat safe and healthy. It’s a reality check for me and very humbling. Of course, I don’t tell them what to feed their pets but I do recommend they go to the PFI website to learn more about the nutritional needs of dogs and cats.
What are the most important attributes of a strong leader?
One word; grace. Grace-filled leadership is being humble yet confident, authentic and bold, compassionate yet firm, and focused but with a sense of humor. A CEO of a Fortune 500 company, that a deeply admire, once told me that she likes working with women who are humble, hardworking, smart, and have a sense of humor. That’s who and what I want to be.