The older I get the more I appreciate the colleagues who I have worked with for 30 years or more in animal rights. This appreciation becomes even more valuable when I think about Jill Howard Church. She personifies a heartfelt dedicated commitment to animal rights with exemplary professional skills in writing and editing. In short she is wise and compassionate, and always a delight to work with.
We first met when we were both at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in 1987. Since then we have worked together on a number of important projects. This includes The Animals’ Agenda magazine (now sadly defunct) when I ruled as the editor in chief. I decreed that everything we published had to be reviewed and copy edited by Jill. Everything had to have her seal of approval before it saw the light of day. It is because of Jill, and the wonderful editorial team that I was so lucky to have, that the magazine often received praise for its writing and reporting.
Jill also helped me greatly with my own writing. This included my book, Growl: Life Lessons, Hard Truths, and Bold Strategies from an Animal Advocate, and a chapter in the forthcoming anthology, Ethical and Political Approaches to Nonhuman Animal Issues edited by Andrew Woodhall and Gabriel Garmendia da Trindade. Jill also played a major role as copy editor in helping me to produce for Alley Cat Allies their 25th anniversary book, The Evolution of the Cat Revolution, by Becky Robinson, president and founder.
With all this in mind it was great to spend a long Sunday lunch with Jill on a recent visit to Atlanta where she lives. We had been attending the I am Not an Animal conference organised by Earth in Transition. We had a terrific time in the vegan restaurant, Cafe Sunflower. This was a long over due opportunity to catch up in person and talk about our various projects as well as those we aspire to do. On the way to the Atlanta airport, Jill and I stopped off at the Botanical Garden. This is where Jill insisted we took a selfie with a large sculpture of a frog on a bench that is sadly barely visible.
Jill is one of those great unsung heroes in animal rights who personifies personal commitment with professional expertise. She and many others like her are the backbone of the animal rights movement. I am very proud to say she is a wonderful friend and respected colleague.