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Runs Nonprofit Vanderpump Dog Foundation, Which Creates More Humane World for Dogs

Dr. John Sessa
2015, Doctor of Business Administration in Business Administration
Argosy University, Online Programs
Executive Director of the Vanderpump Dog Foundation

“I feel like it’s a privilege to do work that matters. When I look at the faces of the dogs we rescue—and the faces of the people who adopt them—I know we’re helping [to] make the world a better place.”

Runs Nonprofit Vanderpump Dog Foundation, Which Creates More Humane World for Dogs

Dr. John Sessa is the executive director of the Vanderpump Dog Foundation, a southern California non-profit with the mission to create a more humane world for dogs. The organization’s 500-square foot, neon pink Los Angeles rescue center offers retail, food, grooming services, a dog café and an adoption facility.

In its first month of operation, the foundation placed 40 dogs in loving homes. In addition to his work at the dog foundation, Sessa is a co-founder and chief operating officer of Vanderpump Pets, which produces a line of premium pet accessories sold across the United States.

Sessa rose to stardom after meeting philanthropist, entrepreneur, “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and “Vanderpump Rules” television star Lisa Vanderpump and her husband, Ken Todd. Sessa had just completed his Doctor of Business Administration and was focused on advising for start-up and mid-level businesses. The friendship developed into a work partnership—leading Sessa to relocate from Florida to California.

Sessa chose to pursue a doctoral level degree because he believed that a terminal degree was essential to career development. “I was often in meetings where I was the youngest person by 20 years,” Sessa stated. “I also look younger than I am, so when I met prospective clients or associates, I could always sense they were wondering ‘Who’s the kid?’ I knew I that in order to be taken seriously and establish the career I envisioned, I was going to have to get my doctor level degree.”

He chose Argosy University, Online Programs because it was the best fit for his goals. Sessa earned a Doctor of Business Administration in Business Administration in 2015. “The admissions team and [my] advisor were so accommodating and easy to work with,” added Sessa. “Before I knew it, I was beginning my classes, which was great because I was really motivated to get started.” He chose a concentration in global finance and business and worked to meet a self-imposed target date for graduation.

“I knew when I wanted to graduate and what I’d need to do in order to make it happen,” he said. Completing his doctorate was challenging while working full-time. “There were plenty of Sundays when I would spend 15 hours studying while my friends were out [relaxing]. But the effort and sacrifice were absolutely worth it.”

Over time, Sessa discovered that his doctoral degree paid off in a broader context than just earnings. “The process of earning [it] gave me a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence that [was] every bit as valuable as anything I learned in any class,” Sessa stated. “It’s done more than enhance my career. It’s enhanced my life.”

Sessa grew up on a farm and came full-circle to advocate for the well-being of animals.

“[I grew up] loving and having empathy for animals,” added Sessa. “I pinch myself that I get to do work I’m passionate about. If someone had told me even five years ago that I’d travel to Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress in support of a resolution my partners and I drafted with Congressional allies to condemn the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, I would never have believed them. I also never imagined that I’d travel to China to rescue animals and co-write and direct a documentary like The Road to Yulin: and Beyond. The twists and turns my career—and my life—have taken in the past few years continue to amaze me.”

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