Jim Houpt joined the Friends of Front Street Shelter board in 2018, after volunteering for several years at the shelter. The board elected him to board president in 2019 shortly before pandemic restrictions limited operations at the shelter and restricted fundraising opportunities. Despite the restrictions, Friends’ donors continued to improve their generosity from year-to-year, bucking the trend experienced by many other nonprofits during the pandemic.
Jim graduated from Harvard Law School and worked as an associate in the national law firm Baker & Hostetler in Washington, DC, and the Silicon Valley, and for the international law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in Sacramento, retiring from the partnership in 2011. Jim continues to practice law in a pro-bono-only practice that helps nonprofit organizations, including rescue organizations. He also accepts appointments as a volunteer mediator for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
Continuing as an active shelter volunteer, Jim heads the Timid Team that helps small, timid dogs gain the confidence to be better adoption candidates. Jim also pioneered the groundbreaking use of Nextdoor.com to publicize stray dogs to the neighborhoods where they were found, resulting in an improved return-to-owner rate that has continued from the program’s inception. As the captain of the Sacramento Missing Animal Response Team (“SMART”), Jim’s team also attends events to educate the public about the advantages of microchipping pets and the need to update contact information affiliated with microchips.
Acting in his role as both a board member and volunteer, Jim pioneered the cash grant program that rewards rescues that accept Front Street’s most challenging animals but need assistance to pay for medical needs or behavioral modification. He also created AdoptUs, the hospice adoption program for senior dogs and dogs with terminal conditions that still have love to give even if their lives are limited. Jim also manages the Home-To-Home website (https://home-home.org/) for Front Street in the Sacramento region, helping pet owners seeking to rehome their pets.
In other community activities, Jim is chair of the California State Railroad Museum, lead of Friends of the Sacramento River Parkway, and a commissioner for the Active Transportation Commission of the City of Sacramento. Jim is a Vietnam veteran, serving on a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier during and after the war.