February 22, 2022
Categories: Uncategorized

Lynn Spivak, a longtime animal welfare advocate and beloved former Maddie’s Fund® Communications Director, passed away on January 8. She was 74.  

A prolific writer, Spivak was best known for her dedication to publishing daily stories about the pets she tried to help, first at San Francisco’s SPCA and then at Maddie’s Fund. For decades, her colorful dispatches led to ample publicity for pets in need, promoting the cause of animal welfare in innovative ways. 

That was especially true during her 14 years at Maddie’s Fund. As Communications Director, she was credited with unabashedly promoting the contributions and priorities of the foundation. She retired from Maddie’s Fund in 2013. 

“If I were to use one word to describe Lynn, it would be fearless,” said Mary Ippoliti-Smith, Executive Leadership Team member at Maddie’s Fund. “She was always willing to take the road less traveled.”   

Rich Avanzino, former president of both Maddie’s Fund and San Francisco SPCA, said Spivak’s work led to thousands of stories. “She was at ground zero in developing the messaging of each story,” Avanzino said. “She was great at doing the research and anticipating questions and having answers ready. She made things happen.” 

Avanzino first met Spivak when he was invited to appear and bring a pet on the PBS show, “Over Easy,” where she was the Associate Producer. The daily talk show in the Bay Area focused on aging gracefully, covering everything from tips on visiting the doctor to handling rent payments, with celebrity appearances. 

Alison Gibson, who first worked with Spivak on “Over Easy” and later at Maddie’s Fund, recalled her as being especially easy to talk to. “You felt like you wanted to tell her everything,” Gibson said. “Her style was such that she asked probing questions, but in a way that she made you want to share everything with her.”   

At the various stops in her career, Spivak also took a special interest in mentoring young people. “She was really good at that – providing opportunities for a new person to be on a photo or video shoot to see how it all worked for example,” Gibson said.   

Eventually Spivak joined Avanzino at the San Francisco SPCA as the Public Information Officer, where she worked for 16 years. There, a goal was to be on the news each day. So Spivak saw to it that there were an array of stunts that would regularly land the organization’s pet on the news.

Spivak was particularly adept at working on a shoestring budget, while using sound marketing techniques to raise awareness about animals in need – and detailed-oriented, too. 

“She was amazingly old school and incredibly effective, she inspired others in animal welfare to use grassroots marketing,” said Ippoliti-Smith who noted that Lynn’s one pet peeve would be if the ears on the Maddie costume were positioned incorrectly. “She was adamant about that.” 

Her sense of humor, ability to respect everyone’s point of view and her great team leader skills, made her an invaluable employee and friend. She loved horses, dogs and cats. She had a scruffy little dog named Bean and a black and white cat named Percy. She was a winning Bridge player and loved to hike and travel, especially to Australia. 

Spivak lived in and embraced the moment, her family noted in her obituary. “Every day’s a picnic,” she would say.