About Energize

Energize is a program of Adisa and provides training, resources and consulting in strategic volunteer engagement. Energize has assisted organizations of all sizes and types to start, expand, or strengthen volunteer involvement — whether in nonprofit health and human service organizations, cultural arts groups, professional associations, schools, government agencies, businesses — anywhere volunteers are found.  

Energize was founded in 1977 (it became a program of Adisa in 2020) and has an unparalleled reputation for producing and sharing the highest quality resources, trainings and assessments grounded in advocacy for the profession of volunteer engagement and the power of volunteer contributions.

Our clients are incredibly diverse because the things volunteers do are limitless. We have worked with nonprofits, public agencies, and businesses working on behalf of causes ranging from human services to cultural arts to environmentalism to animal protection. 

The Energize Team

Betsy McFarland, CVA
Sheri Wilensky BurkeBetsy McFarland smiling

Executive Director

Betsy McFarland is a strategist and problem-solver who has forged a unique professional niche focused on empowering staff and volunteers committed to tackling challenging societal issues.

She spent 18 years at The Humane Society of the United States where she devoted her energy and passion to supporting and collaborating with the tens of thousands of animal shelters and rescues working to save homeless pets. Betsy led the growth and transformation of one of the largest programs as vice president of companion animals, winning accolades for developing a series of pioneering programs.

Passionate about engaging the community, Betsy is a Certified Volunteer Administrator and has extensive experience in engaging and growing volunteers within organizations large and small. She began her career developing the first-ever volunteer program for a local animal shelter and went on to spearhead the launch of The Humane Society National Volunteer Center, the first broad-scale coordinated volunteer effort in the history of the organization, which now engages thousands of volunteers globally. Betsy specializes in providing training, coaching, and assessments in effective volunteer engagement and guides organizations through strategy development to ensure program effectiveness at all levels. She is also a facilitator for the National Alliance for Volunteer Engagement.

Betsy is the author of Volunteer Management for Animal Care Organizations and has published research on staff-volunteer relationships. She worked with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to develop a research-supported Volunteer Program Assessment model that serves nonprofit volunteer programs across the U.S. and Canada.

A collaborator and bridge-builder with a proven track record of navigating diverse viewpoints, often in emotionally charged situations, Betsy is skilled at gathering input and synthesizing it to identify common ground and implement innovative solutions. She is a trained facilitator, with an Executive Certificate in Facilitation through Georgetown University’s Institute for Transformational Leadership.

Betsy holds a degree in psychology from George Mason University, is a Certified Animal Welfare Administrator (CAWA) and has completed an Executive Certificate in Organizational Consulting and Change Leadership through Georgetown University’s Institute for Transformational Leadership.


Kristin Floyd

Photo of Kristin

Online Program Director

Kristin Floyd has worked with Energize for over 30 years, starting as a publications director and ultimately directing the development of Energize’s strong online presence.

Experienced in strategic planning and online development of web platforms, Kristin developed the original learning platform for Energize’s online training program and continues to develop and support the platform. Kristin works with the Energize team to strategically meet volunteer engagement training and resource needs.

In the 90s, Kristin founded her own online development firm, supporting Energize as well as other companies. One of her projects involved partnering with IKEA to test the viability of a global network of country-based employee websites. She trained and supported project managers in 13 countries on the platform. The platform was eventually adopted for the entire company.

Early in her career, she worked at the Center for Literacy in curriculum development, developing the “Learning for Life” series to train adult literacy volunteer tutors to use real-life materials when teaching reading and writing. She also worked with an instructional development firm writing self-paced instructional manuals for U.S. Foreign Service officers: researching regulations, interviewing key State Department officials and writing user-friendly text, exercises and case studies.


 Susan J. Ellis

Energize's Founder

In 1977, Susan J. Ellis founded Energize, as a training, consulting, and publishing firm specializing in volunteerism and assisted clients throughout the world to create or strengthen their volunteer corps. She had an international reputation as a passionate advocate for the power of volunteers and those who lead them.

Susan passed away on February 24, 2019 at which time the Susan J. Ellis Foundation was established.