Speaking with Glenn Kolb is like enjoying a pleasant stroll on a beautiful day. His easy, soft-spoken manner just feels good, while his intelligent, thoughtful discourse is fascinating — not unlike the things he values: friends, family, the arts — “music, literary arts, dance, plays . . . all add richness to our lives,” he says.
Indeed he is a rich man, personally and professionally. He speaks of two families: his large original family, and his “equally important” professional family — the veterinary community.
“For 26 years I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of working with intelligent, educated, compassionate people committed to advancing good animal health and welfare.”
How does a journalism grad end up leading a State veterinary association? Soon after graduating from the U of O with a degree in Journalism, Glenn went to work with what is now the Oregon Grocery Association, setting the roots for his role at the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA), which supports veterinary practices and veterinarians, and works to advance animal welfare laws and ordinances. Examples of the latter include working with OHS, HSUS, Animal Control, and Fences For Fido in the 2013 legislative session to pass anti-tethering legislation, and publishing a booklet to help veterinarians recognize, identify and report animal abuse.
Work at the grocers association, which was based in Eugene, required frequent travel to Salem, so his boss eventually opened a Salem office. There Glenn reconnected with a friend. When the ED position opened at the OVMA, she felt he was a good fit and encouraged him to apply. “I wasn’t looking to leave my job, but this came up and I checked it out, and well . . . they hired someone green and wet behind the ears and I got to grow with the organization and the position.”
Interesting twists in Glenn’s story include the fact that he didn’t grow up with animals at all, and he is not a Veterinarian. He is an animal lover and now pet parent: he and his wife Michelle Blake, who will soon celebrate their first anniversary, have a blended family of three rescue dogs and three cats. “It’s a handful at times,” he says. “How do we manage? Best we can,” he smiles. “For the most part they run us.”
Glenn grew up in the Bay Area as the middle and only boy among 10 children. His affection for family is deep. “I have nine sisters — four older than me and five younger.” Recently they gathered in California for a 90th birthday celebration for their mother, who’s an avid fan of baseball, the San Francisco Giants in particular. “Tim Lincecum of the Giants recently pitched a no-hitter — so I got on the phone with my mom to talk about the game. It’s fun.” Growing up with sports, including one sister who was two-time Olympic swimmer, Glenn says, “Oddly I’m the least sports-minded in the family.” He says he and his wife practice self-censorship by not having extended cable. “I’d watch too much food channel, too much sports. My wife wouldn’t like that,” he chuckles.
Glenn and Michelle enjoy “getting out to listen to live music. We have season tickets to the Symphony Classical Series when it’s in Salem . . . blues, rock . . . good American music. Recently The Holmes Brothers played at Mississippi Studios — Google them!” he enthuses. The studios closed to a gathering of about 50, and the band treated them to gospel, blues and country. “These guys are all mid to late 70s,” says Glenn. “Even they say they won’t be around long. They are exceptional.”
Glenn is also working on a series of short stories about . . . baseball. Maybe a little more sports-minded than he admits.
When asked what to him is a perfect day, he quickly replies, “Ah . . . there are too many. One, just being with my wife and friends, cooking and sharing good food and wine.” He says once a year he spends a day cooking mole and invites his friends over for dinner . . . clearly one of those many perfect days.
Speaking of which, hiking is another favorite pastime, hence the shoe that is “so him.”
“Those boots have taken me across the Galapagos Islands to Machu Picchu, to the bowels of the Grand Canyon, to Crater Lake, Steen Mountain, the Oregon Coast.” And to Linked In, where his photo shows a smiling Glenn in the Galapagos, holding an indigent artifact: the vertebrae of a whale.
As our time wraps up, Glenn’s thoughts return to family. “Growing up with all those sisters, people ask, ‘How did you survive.’ It’s just my disposition. We were raised to be generous, kind, benevolent. We all give back, volunteer for causes and organizations. We were really modeled by our parents.”
His mom enjoys lifelong friendships to this day —two of a group of five women whose friendship began in high school continue to get together, most recently for that special birthday.
Glenn’s dad, who passed 10 years ago, “worked two jobs for 35 years, and yet he was not an absentee dad.”
“He’d go to work at 7:30 as we got ready for school, come home around 4:30 for dinner, and go to his second job, his own business that we sometimes got to help with, from 7-11. I don’t think most friends of our family realized it. If it was important — a school function or event — he’d be there. It was remarkable.”
“My work ethic and relating to people . . . I thank my parents.”
For nearly 30 years of intelligent, humble— and successful — leadership of an organization vital to animal safety, wellness and welfare, we thank him.
About our Sponsor
Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years. In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare. Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood.
Kristan Dael is a freelance writer and the alter ego of Jennifer Mccammon. She lives in Portland with her 3-pack, and strives to produce articles that inform, edify, engage and entertain.