Retired CFO Lends Time to Bettering Lives of People and Animals Across Houston

Daily Point of Light # 7830 Jun 10, 2024

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree Ann Kaesermann. Read her story, and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a Daily Point of Light.

Ann Kaesermann, a retired chief financial officer turned figure in Houston’s volunteer community, has dedicated her post-corporate life to serving various causes with a focus on animal welfare, community service and financial governance. Her extensive involvement with organizations such as Houston PetSet and Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, among many others, is impressive as she utilizes her talents across multiple sectors.

Since retiring, Ann has transformed her professional expertise into valuable resources for nonprofit organizations. She serves as the volunteer board treasurer for Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, where she oversees financial operations and enhances transparency and understanding among board members regarding complex accounting issues.

Next, Ann’s passion for animal welfare shows in spades through her role with Houston PetSet. Since joining the board in 2019, she has been instrumental in advancing the organization’s mission to address Houston’s homeless animal crisis. Ann’s leadership with Houston PetSet helped facilitate significant achievements, such as the provision of over 5,800 spay and neuter services and the transport of 1,500 homeless animals to partners in Minnesota in 2023 alone.

But these are just a few of her active roles and achievements. Ann works with the University of Alabama Alumni Association’s Houston Chapter, Financial Executives International and a variety of others. Read on to hear about how Ann’s contributions make a significant impact across Houston and beyond.

Ann presents the Kaesermann Impact Award, through Houston PetSet, to a recipient working in Houston to help solve the unhoused animal issue with spay-neuter services.

Tell us about your volunteer roles

I currently deliver a monthly Animeals route for the Meals on Wheels area of Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston. This means I deliver dog and cat food to homebound seniors in the Houston area. Additionally, I serve as the treasurer and finance chair for Interfaith Ministries, where I review financial reports monthly, mentor and work with the CFO and assist in helping other board members understand financial benchmarks and other financial statements. For Houston PetSet, I serve as treasurer and am on the board and executive board. I supervise the finalization of the monthly financials and annual budget and I work with the executive board and full board in setting a strategy to make significant improvements in the unhoused dog and cat population in Greater Houston.

Why are these issues so important to you?

I had a great career as a CPA in the oil and gas business in Houston. Then I retired a few years ago. I knew I wanted to devote the next part of my life to making things better. I’ve been blessed and wanted to share the fruits and leave the world a better place. I’ve loved dogs since I was a little kid. I hate to see them suffer. I was able to affiliate with Houston PetSet. They’re not a rescue; you don’t go there to adopt a dog. What we are trying to do is be a facilitator, fundraising and then pushing those funds to rescue, specifically people on the frontlines. We want to shine a bright light on what they’re doing, and their needs. One of the biggest things we’re trying to do right now is solve this issue in Houston of the unhoused dogs and cats. It’s a significant problem in Houston. We’re trying to be strategic and pull together the city, the county, maybe even the state, as we broaden the mission. And we want to connect all these stakeholders with the rescues to see if all of us together can finally solve this problem.

I want to use my talents to make a difference. And while I always knew I wanted to get involved with the animals, what surprised me was that I got involved as heavily as I am with Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston. The first month after retirement, I got an Animeals route and started delivering food to seniors. It’s an easy and fun ask; it’s meaningful to other people. But then, in 2021, in the fall, things really changed. I saw photos of the Afghan withdrawal. I still get choked up. I couldn’t sit back. I knew there were going to be settlement issues with refugees and that we were all going to do whatever we could. I reached out to Interfaith Ministries and said, “What can I do?” At that time, I was able to donate with some contributions to set up a youth art project for teenagers of Afghan refugees – for them to use art as a means of trying to process their trauma. Then I got more involved, got onto their finance committee and then pretty soon after that got on the board and then was made treasurer. I had increasing knowledge and increasing responsibility.

Do you have any dogs yourself?

I have a 4-year-old Blue Great Dane. He’s a rescue, a 180 pounds and his name is Boone – named after Daniel Boone. Previously, I’d had two Harlequin Great Danes. Somehow we got hooked on the Great Dane train. They’re a lot of work… he’s the smartest dog I’ve had, which probably is what makes him a lot of work!

What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?

Just seeing the impact I have with others and making a difference is so rewarding. I believe that everyone has a responsibility, to the best of their ability, to leave this world better. You can give your time, talents and treasure – you hear that all the time. I’m fortunate that I’m in a position now where I can give all three. It gives me meaning in life to help make difficult situations better for people.

Ann with the Houston PetSet president and first responders at a spay-neuter event, named in honor of her former Great Dane, Sampson. The team spayed and neutered over 85 animals that day, but also distributed chip readers to first responders to help people better find their pets by going to firehouses or police stations.

What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?

I’ve learned that people are more alike than different – and you wouldn’t know that if you turned on TV or scrolled social media. But I’ve found that people of all cultures, all races and all economic means contribute to relieve suffering of other people and animals. I see this all over the city of Houston. You can see some people in extremely underserved areas who don’t have a lot to live on or give, and they’re out there every day feeding the animals in their own street. Most people want to contribute to the betterment of all. Those temporarily in need are always so grateful and so thankful for people remembering and helping them out.

Why is it important for others to get involved with causes they care about?

It brings people closer together to work on a single mission. You’re in the trenches. You’re sweating about it! But you can celebrate working on this single mission. You can also focus on how your differences can come together to make an impact for good in the world. And it gives you a great sense of satisfaction. I think people would be happier if they focused on helping others and not just what’s making their own life unhappy.

Any advice for people who want to start volunteering?

Every skill set is valued. When I look back, I’m a CPA. I’m not very mechanical. I’m not great at cleaning, though I’ll jump in and clean up after the animals. The point is that it takes every skill, and every skill is valued. You don’t have to be a veterinarian to help animals. You don’t have to be a lawyer to help refugees. There’s a place for everyone in the areas you feel passionate about.

Dip your toes in. Once you do one or two things with an organization, you’ll either feel that this is it for you and dive deeper, or perhaps you move on. It’s okay to put a couple of hours in here or there until you really find your passion. Because passion is what drives you at the end of the day!

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Ann? Find local volunteer opportunities.

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