Ricord “Ric” Torgerson, 67, of Steilacoom recently returned from spending nearly 42 months deployed overseas as a civil affairs officer with the Army.
He’ll begin a new job on Wednesday as executive director of Joint Animal Services in Olympia.
“This gets me back to more in line with my background and history,” Torgerson said of the new job. “I’m very excited about the opportunity.”
Torgerson replaces Susanne Beauregard, who retired in June after 25 years with the intergovernmental agency that’s funded and supported by Thurston County and the cities of Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater.
“I think they’ve found somebody who’s going to be perfect,” said Beauregard. “I’m very pleased.”
Torgerson has a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the Davis campus of the University of California. He is the former vice president for the American Humane Association in Denver, and previously served as the chief operating officer for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in Washington D.C.
“We are excited to have someone with such an extensive background step into the leadership position,” said Jeff Gadman, Joint Animal Services Commission Board Chairman and Lacey City Council member, in a news release. “Ric’s broad experience in animal welfare, organizational management, and budgeting and fundraising will bring Animal Services to the next level in terms of service to the community.”
Torgerson also has an extensive military career. He was in the Army Reserves and deployed as an active duty officer in 2006. He spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan as a senior development officer, coaching and mentoring foreign national officials on solving problems, he said.
He will be retiring next year with the rank of Colonel.
“I’m not ready to retire just yet,” Torgerson said. “Now here’s a chance for me to roll up my sleeves and get down to the individual organizational needs.”
Torgerson and his wife, Carol Fox, who is a Veterans Administration nurse, have two grown children, five grandchildren (a sixth on the way) and two dogs, a Maltese mix and a Shih Tzu-Yorkie.
He said he’s looking forward to meeting people connected with the shelter. Even though he’s a veterinarian, he doesn’t plan to take over the organization’s veterinary needs.
“I haven’t practiced, per se, for some time now because my career has led me in different places,” he said. “I’m going to sit with the board and the staff and get to know people and take a hard look at how we can develop strategies for long-term sustainable growth for the organization.”
Beauregard said she’s enjoying retirement because it gives her more time to spend with a new granddaughter. But she said she is available for questions during the transition, and she plans to continue working at the shelter as a volunteer.
“I love that place,” Beauregard said. “I will be in and out of it.”