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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Betsy Goldman, President and Founder of Friends of Animal Rescue and Television Executive

BETSY GOLDMAN is the President and Founder of the non-profit group called "Friends of Animal Rescue."  She wanted to create the group to help desperate animals in need and the rescuers who pull them from the New York kill shelters. Sometimes the difference between a cat or dog being put down is a mere 50 bucks-so now Friends of Animal Rescue holds fundraisers and gives grants to individual and group rescuers who are in the trenches doing the hard work-of taking dogs and cats to vets, training them, and finding them foster homes. 

Betsy also is a foster mom to many cats and dogs. Right now there are 5 delightful kitties running around her tribeca apartment and only one plump Shitzhu named Sweetie. Sweetie came with the name Sweetie but he is anything but... When Betsy fostered him -it turned out he came from an abuser and so Sweetie bites people sometimes---but he doesnt do much harm-and Betsy will never let him or any animal who crosses her path go to a shelter. Her other foster dog named Nero-was a big cow of a pit mix-he was an angel who was "surrendered" when his mom became homeless. He was with Betsy for two fun years until he died of old age. Through the years Betsy has fostered and found homes for over 28 dogs and 14 cats.

Besides the animal interests, Betsy has a public relations business where she focuses on getting her clients on television.  Previously, she was a Senior Editorial Producer at MSNBC and was in charge of editorial content and guest interviews for Deborah Norville Tonight, and helped launch new programs for the network as well.  

Prior to joining MSBNC in September 2003, Ms. Goldman spent 15 years at CNN, 14 of these in Atlanta, where she was a booker for such shows as Newsstand and The Point with Greta Van Susteren. While at CNN, she was also the head booker for Connie Chung Tonight and Paula Zahn Now. 

Some of the high-profile news stories Ms. Goldman covered in the field include the Rodney King riots, the O.J. Simpson trial, and the William Kennedy Smith trial. She landed the first interview in the country with a juror from the William Kennedy Smith trial, and rode with Johnny Cochran and his Nation of Islam guards in his limousine following his closing remarks at the O.J. Simpson trial. 

A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Betsy Goldman also co-hosted the Purina Dog Challenge, a show on athletic dogs, on ESPN 2 for a year.  We are so pleased to present Betsy Goldman as our latest Mover and Shaker!

Peachy Deegan interviewed Betsy Goldman for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: What inspired you to create friends of Animal Rescue?
Betsy Goldman: I felt desperate to help the animals get out of the city shelters-rescuers can pull them out –but sometimes the difference of 50 or 100 dollars can be the difference between life and death for a cat or dog.

What are your best childhood memories of animals?
Dressing up Peppo, our spitz poodle mix in a purple ballerina costume-god she was a good sport!

If you were stranded on a desert island with just 5 animals, what would they be and why?
My favorite fosters-Foxy-loyal shepherd, Nero-a dog in a cow’s body, Zoey-a hilarious little rascals pit bull, Dusty-sheperdy mix who loved to swim across the lake like a silent alligator

What advantages do animals have over people?
They love with all their hearts and don’t learn to mistrust--also they don’t have to deal with broken blackberries!

Tell us some of the most inspiring stories that have come out of the mission of FOAR's work please.
There are so many-here is but one: Hank and Lucy were taken to a vet in queens and left there by someone who claimed to be a rescuer-she wouldn’t pay their vet bills and left them there living in crates for 7 months-when we found out about it-we paid their bills-got them into a playschool type boarding and training facility and then they both got adopted-We love these sweet pitties and are so grateful they are out of that hell.

What kinds of animals have you not had yet that you would like to have?
I definitely want to rescue a pig or multiple pigs-and I can't wait for that day-it breaks my heart the lives they are stuck with-they are as smart as dogs (its been shown) and if I ever passed out like the old lady in the “I've fallen and I cant get up” ads-I know a pig would run and get help-its been documented that they will do just that! They have saved many lives sincerely.

How did your career in television begin?
My grandmother wrote to CNN telling them how great I was and that they needed me! No kidding-I think she thought they were going to put me right on air-but I did get an interview that way-and ended up booking guests for cnn shows starting when I was 21.  However-I also did do tv internships----one where I had to go work overnights in college--crazily exhausting.

What was it like to work at CNN in its early years?
No one knew who we were-a lot of times people thought I was calling from a bank-my first big booking was Bob Barker-and being an animal lover I was thrilled (he is one of my true heroes!)

Would you like to be on the air again?
I did do a local segment in NYC w/ adoptable animals-and I loved it-I can really “sell” homeless pets.

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
Grandma Rashkis-she was the best at all she did-she was a teacher for years and then a host of  an educational tv show-she cared about every single person she met-seriously she'd be inviting the trash man over for dinner-and they named a school in Chapel Hill after her and Grandpa (the Mel and Zora Rashkis Elementary School).

What are you proudest of and why?
I’m proud of the lives I’ve saved of the dogs and cats I've taken in-especially when people in my life-most especially men would say “Why are you wasting your time with that dog who is wild and is trashing your apartment?”---in the face of some mean guys-I've proudly stood my ground and have helped rehab some amazing angels.

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?
I’d love to write or perform sketch comedy about the news

What honors and awards have you received in your profession?
In 1988 I won “Most physically fit woman in the triangle area” –that was back in North Carolina-but wait that is not in my profession and it was 22 years ago-other than that-I did get “Most fun person in the office” when I worked for Connie Chung.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan?
The Hudson river walkway (west side highway) park

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?
Any bcbg/ dylans candy bar/ pinkberry

What is your favorite drink?
Pomegranate margarita at Rosa Mexicano
What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
Hillstones and Milos

What is your favorite Manhattan book?
Anything by Augusten Burroughs

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why?    
How about Betsy’s dog run where you can bring your own “ to go” cup of wine while your dogs romp and play together-the two greatest joys to be had all at one time-            

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?
Running the nyc marathon three times

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?
Bringing my dogs into Barnes and Noble and having the staff come pet them while I browse

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?
Van Halen reunion tour at the Garden and a few years ago and the Country Music awards at MSG

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
Most underrated is the niceness of the taxi drivers-you can get a lesson in politics, history, culture, religion from so many of them/ overrated are the restaurants-so costly and they are all starting to seem to be the same thing “honey glazed salmon with a ratatouille reduction sauce with a hint of saffron…”

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it?
My favorite Whom You Know Column is Peachy’s Pet Pals-because she is shedding light on the real celebrities of NYC~
What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
That I'm a nice person who baked cookies for the MTA picketers across the street –I feel so sorry for all those people who are losing their jobs while the rich get richer.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?

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