Leadership

Debi Wright Berry, Founder / Chief Executive Officer / Executive Director

Olive Branch, Mississippi

Debi has worked in rescue for the past 12 years. She maintains good relationships with local municipal animal shelters while also working with owner surrenders, and abandoned animals in need of re-homing – the goal being to save lives and find responsible owners who will provide loving, compassionate homes.

In 2014, Debi successfully completed the program ‘How to Start and Run an Animal Sanctuary’ at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the United States. Additionally, she attended “Before You Ask”, a 12-week program offered by The Assisi Foundation of Memphis on creating and running a Not-for-Profit Corporation.

In her role as CEO, Debi works toward soliciting large donors and grants for land, buildings and operating capital. She is also heavily involved in the care of the rescue’s animals.

James C. Cochran, First Vice President

Memphis, TN 38104-6813

James has worked in rescue for over 12 years in many capacities including as a consultant regarding building and landscape design. He has volunteered on many fundraising events for various organizations, lending his talents in concept and graphic design. Along with all our board members, James has worked cleaning kennels and feeding the animals. There is no such thing as a dirty job when it comes to his love and compassion.

Delores “Dee” Spears, Vice-President

Nolensville, Tennessee

Dee joined Big River Animal Society in 2016 and served as Assistant Manager at our temporary facility in Coldwater, Mississippi. She works mostly with our program, Southern Akita Rescue Alliance. Dee is very knowledgeable in training techniques and behavioral assessments in dogs, especially the Akita breed. She serves as the organization’s intake advisor and handles assessments on shelter dogs in the Tennessee and Kentucky regions. Dee has represented Big River at several regional and national conferences that focus on fundraising, training and facility management.

Julia Baker Bell, Secretary/Treasurer

Olive Branch, Mississippi

If the name Julia Baker Bell sounds familiar, it’s probably because of her paintings and passion for the arts. Along with years of rescue experience, she was a founding member of the Friends of Olive Branch Animal Shelter. There she set up and managed all social media for the shelter up until 2013. She currently assists many other local rescue groups, advising them on how to set up and manage social media and pet adoption websites. Additionally, she volunteers with various fundraising events for animals. A member of NBRAN (National Brittany Rescue Adoption Network), she is a strong advocate for the Brittany Spaniel breed and fosters whenever she can.

Debbie Cochran, Director

Memphis, Tennessee

An Interior Designer by trade, Debbie’s forte in the non-profit world is fundraising and society events. She has worked on multiple fundraising committees for non-profits for over 15 years, including those for DeNeuville Learning Center for Women, the American Cancer Society and Tunica Humane Society. She is strong in her compassion and determination to help those in need.

Big River Animal Society, Inc. is a 501c3 charitable organization in good standing with the IRS and the State of Mississippi.