Press Release

Alaqua Welcomes Paul Arthur as New Executive Director 

NOVEMBER 7, 2022

Alaqua Animal Refuge, the Southeast’s premier non-profit animal shelter and sanctuary, has named Paul Arthur as its new Executive Director.

The organization did not have to look too far from home as Arthur has been embedded in the local community for years and has a breadth of valuable experience and perspective to lend. He takes the helm of the growing non-profit at a crucial time in its 15-year history as the organization gets set to open back up to the public in March 2023, after being closed due to continuous construction and supply chain delays on their new property.

“I am beyond thrilled to share this news,” said Laurie Hood, Alaqua’s founder and president. “We are very blessed to have Paul join our team. In just a few short weeks, he has already proved to be an incredible asset, sharing his energy, creativity, and fantastic leadership style with us!”

Alaqua Founder Laurie Hood stated that Alaqua had quietly been looking for someone to fill the executive director gap, and that the light bulb just went off one day. She indicated that Arthur had the same values and goals in his life that “just meshed well” with Alaqua and herself, and she asked him one day if he would be interested in joining the team in some capacity.

Arthur comes to Alaqua after spending 12 years at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center in many roles, with the last 10 years as president and director.

“I’ve known Laurie for 12 years and we became fast friends early on, both sharing a love of the natural world and animals, of course,” stated Arthur. “Throughout the years, we dreamed of collaborations between the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center and Alaqua, which brought to light our similar ideals, passions, convictions, and goals for our respective organizations and the community.”

“I watched in awe at the growth and success of Alaqua and how well Laurie relates to people, animals, and to the public as a whole. I have always been a big cheerleader for her and an occasional sounding board for her vision,” he added.

When the opportunity with Alaqua presented itself for Arthur to join the organization, he knew it was meant to be, stating, “I get excited knowing that I can help make an impact to achieve this grand dream of Laurie’s and I look forward to leading the devoted and passionate staff for years to come, changing the lives of thousands of animals along the way.”

Arthur’s love of all living things falls right in line with Alaqua’s beliefs, vision, and mission of providing shelter, safety, and second chances to animals in need—domestic, farm, and wild. His background and dedication will further advance Alaqua into the future to become a destination for animal advocates as a place that will inspire, empower, and educate others to make change in our society and recreate their model worldwide. Alaqua’s primary forefront will always be the same and they will continue to do the most important, life-saving work of animal rescue, rehabilitation, finding new homes for animals, and providing educational and community programs to serve a wide variety of audiences.

Hood isn’t going anywhere. She will continue in her current role as founder and president, setting the vision for the Refuge in the years to come. She is looking forward to expanding the magnitude of Alaqua’s mission with Arthur by her side running the operations.

With Arthur leading the team and inspiration from Hood, Alaqua is prime to see its vision turn into reality. In fact, it is already underway. As Hood explains, “we want our new facility to also be an alternative to a zoo for our community and for tourists that visit our area.”


Arthur achieved his MBA in 2019 and loves to continuously learn about living creatures, wild and not so wild. He and his wife Heather have three grown children and reside in Freeport, FL. While at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center, Arthur helped guide consistent growth with annual increases of student visitors, public event offerings, and community awareness of the organization’s mission. His prior experiences include owning a nationwide moving company, the creation and owning of a coffee shop, teaching at the elementary school level, and other entrepreneurial enterprises.