Izzie Lerer's The Dodo: Blast from Past, Now Fully Alive

Izzie Lerer
Izzie Lerer

Izzie Lerer is the founder of The Dodo, a Web site with a passionate community committed to improving relationships with animals and protecting them.

This week on Dreaming Made Simple, Izzie shares how a lifelong interest led her to a bigger dream of making a difference and about the importance of sticking with that dream.

Dreaming Made Simple: What’s your professional dream for The Dodo, or otherwise? How did your dream originate?

Izzie Lerer: My dream is for The Dodo to grow to be the go-to site for people who care about animals. Of course, it’s key for The Dodo to celebrate animals and to be entertaining and informative, but my larger aspiration is for it to have a part in raising awareness about animal welfare issues. My dream is that The Dodo plays a role in changing the way people think about animals from an ethical perspective, and helps to push animal issues more and more mainstream. Ultimately, if we could serve to make an actual difference in the lives of animals, that’s the real dream.

My passion for animals has been a lifelong thing. I grew up spending lots of time with dogs and horses and have always felt deeply connected to animals emotionally. But it’s grown massively through my pursuit of a PhD in Philosophy at Columbia. I’ve been able to focus my doctoral research on animal ethics and human/animal relationships, and it’s turned my connection to animals into a real guiding force in my life and career.

Dreaming Made Simple: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Izzie Lerer: I’m most proud of the time and effort I’ve put into my graduate work in Philosophy. I’m proud that I followed my gut and focused my research on animals, even though it’s not a traditional focus for Philosophy doctoral students - and so grateful that I have worked with an adviser who has allowed and encouraged me to pursue what I care most about. My doctoral work gave me the background necessary for founding The Dodo so by making my education be about what I care the most about, I’ve been able to use that to transition into a career I’m passionate about too.

Dreaming Made Simple: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?  What advice do you have for others in pursuit of their dreams?

Izzie Lerer: I don’t feel like I have much of a right to answer this question - The Dodo just launched in January so I’m not sure how valuable my advice is! But I guess I would say that if you feel passionately about something, take it seriously and pursue it. Don’t let people tell you you’re too sentimental. If you feel deeply about something, don’t downplay it or give it up if you run into some people who don’t get it.