What is Dogs for Better Lives?

Dogs for Better Lives (DBL) is a national nonprofit organization, based in Central Point, Oregon, whose mission is focused on the procurement, training and placing of Hearing Assistance Dogs (nationally), Autism Assistance Dogs (regionally), and Facility Dogs (nationally).

Accredited by Assistance Dogs International (ADI) and recognized by Charity Navigator as a 4-star nonprofit, DBL has been rescuing dogs, bettering lives, and providing Assistance Dogs since 1977.

Since its founding in 1977, DBL has grown from placing Hearing Assistance Dogs to also include Facility Dogs, and more recently, Autism Assistance Dogs. DBL has nationally placed more than 1,500 dogs since its inception by its late founder, Roy Kabot.

What is a Regional Advisory Board?

As DBL continues to grow and embark on their journey to better the lives of those with disabilities, pairing them with an amazing Assistance Dog, they are also working on cultivating the next generation of leaders across the country, currently targeting the Pacific Northwest, Northeast, and Southwest regions to become involved in carrying out their mission and vision.

DBL’s Regional Advisory Boards (RAB), formerly Young Professionals Boards, are comprised of like-minded individuals in their 20s, 30s, and 40s that have a passion for dogs and giving back to people with disabilities in their communities.  Members will be responsible for marketing the mission of DBL, participating in outreach events, as well as planning and fundraising through a variety of initiatives.

Am I a Good Fit for the Regional Advisory Board?

It is essential that each of the Regional Advisory Boards encompass a rich and diverse mix of backgrounds and skillsets. We’re currently looking for members who share a passion for DBL’s mission, love dogs and how they better others’ lives, and want to collaboratively participate in something much bigger than themselves.

Where Are the Regional Advisory Boards Located?

As of August 2022, we have successfully launched RABs in the Pacific Northwest, Northeast, and in California, and currently working to grow their respective memberships, while continuing to look for new strategic locations/regionals to grow. Looking at our long-term vision, as we expand with regional satellite offices, we anticipate RABs will be launched to support key initiatives that support DBL’s presence in the region.

DBL to launch signature event with Regional Advisory Boards

With the support and guidance of the regional Regional Advisory Boards, DBL will annually host signature events around National Service Dog Month in September, in the Pacific Northwest, Northeast, and California chapters, while engaging volunteers, clients, donors, and community partners.

Regional Advisory Board – PNW launched in Fall 2019, Regional Advisory Board – NE launched in January 2022, and Regional Advisory Board – CA launched in August 2022. Eventually, we will have Regional Advisory Boards in strategic locations across the country, working to support each of our planned regional footprints.

Board Structure

 Term Length

When committing to Dogs for Better Lives’ Regional Advisory Board (RAB), the term will last for one year (12 months), from the date that the RAB approves the new member.  As long as the member fulfills all of the commitments throughout the year, members will be welcome to apply for an unlimited number of terms.

 Leadership Roles

The Dogs for Better Lives’ Regional Advisory Board (RAB) will have a variety of leadership roles that will be voted on by the members of the RAB.  These positions are: Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary.


1) Meetings; Each RAB chapter will meet monthly with an internal meeting with its respective members, at a time that works for the entire group. Quarterly, RAB chapters will meet with DBL leadership via Microsoft Teams to provide updates, participate in continuing education opportunities, provide strategic planning discussion on upcoming events, and engage their respective Board Mentor from DBL’s national board.

2) Fundraising; When committing to Dogs for Better Lives’ Regional Advisory Board, a member is committing to a minimum fundraising goal of $1,500, through their direct support and/or by engaging others to support the nonprofit. This can also be done through the support of the four following (annual) initiatives:

3) Marketing; All members of the Regional Advisory Board are expected to assist Dogs for Better Lives in spreading the word about their brand and mission, whether that be through word of mouth, sharing social media posts, and/or introducing new members to our community.

4) Benefits; By being involved in DBL’s Regional Advisory Board (RAB), there are number of benefits you will receive for your participation:

  • Being a part of something that is larger than yourself. As a member of the RAB, you will have a DIRECT impact on Dogs for Better Lives’ ability to provide our services to people in the Puget Sound region that could benefit and qualify for an Assistance Dog.
  • As a member of the RAB, you will have the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals that sit alongside of you on the RAB, as well as having access to the network of Dogs for Better Lives, which includes being introduced to the Board of Directors and key staff. Please note, the RAB Chair and Vice Chair will have the opportunity to attend one (1) Board of Directors meeting to report on the status of the RAB.
  • Acknowledgement on Dogs for Better Lives’ social media channels.
  • Recognized in Canine Listener magazine, DBL website, and in annual report.

How To Apply

Those interested in applying for DBL’s Regional Advisory Board should click on the APPLY button below. In the application itself, please be sure to indicate which region you are interested in applying to.

Regional Advisory Board – Pacific Northwest

Elena Tello Portoles

Chair, PNW Member

Elena Tello Portoles is a Spanish Teacher at University Prep and has served in a variety of roles, Head
of the Languages Department for six years, and currently serving as 11th Grade Dean of Students.
Elena also mentors students through her role as an advisor and supports their development as
human beings.

Elena was born and raised in Lleida, a city about two hours away from Barcelona (Spain). Passionate
about French language and literature, she participated in a University exchange program - Erasmus -
and she had the opportunity to finish her degree in Paris (Sorbonne Nouvelle and Paris Saint-Denis)
and obtained her BA in French from the Universitat de Lleida (Licenciatura en Filología Francesa).

Elena has worked at University Prep in Seattle for the past 16 years and earned a Master in Applied
Linguistics to the Teaching of Spanish as a Foreign Language by the Universidad de Jaén while
teaching full time.

Elena enjoys drumming, dancing, drawing and painting, and, of course, spending time with her dog
Eiffel. She also enjoys daily walks in nature and the joy of the little things in life.

Elena joined the Young Professionals Board – PNW in September 2021.

Mariah Kurpuis

Vice Chair, PNW Member

Mariah Kurpuis is a Customer Success Manager at a software company in Wenatchee, WA and is also a Certified Child Life Specialist.

Mariah grew up in Burlington, WA and attended Central Washington University where she competed her bachelor’s in Family and Child Life before moving to California to attend Azusa Pacific University to obtain her master’s degree in Child Life. Through her scholastic career, she received hands-on experience working with children and their families dealing with a large array of healthcare stressors at Seattle Children’s Hospital, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, and Miller Children’s Hospital of Long Beach.

“Being a member of DBL's Young Professionals Board is significant to me because of the mission and values it encompasses, as well as the opportunity it provides to serve others in such an special way. I am eager and excited to work alongside the DBL team!”

While in graduate school, Mariah saw first hand the impact animals can have in the lives of those who are struggling with physical, emotional, and mental stressors and hurdles. As a result, she became a certified pet therapy handler through the American Kennel Club so she could volunteer alongside the pet therapists within settings such as children’s hospitals (Dexter obtained his certification from the AKA in 2018, which they were both very excited about). This has played a large role in Mariah sharing the mission and passion behind DBL.

Outside of her professional life and academics, she is an avid baker, interior designer, movie watcher and traveler. She currently resides in Wenatchee with her husband and three dogs Dallas (Pomeranian Yorkie), Dexter (Mini Aussie) and Penny (Bernese Mountain Dog).

Mariah joined the Young Professionals Board - PNW in June of 2021.

Corey Wise

Treasurer, PNW Member

Mr. Corey Wise is the founder and CEO of StruggleBear, a company that inspires people to own their struggle not only through humor and relatability but through cultivating a community that is bonded by vulnerability and courage. In fact, StruggleBear’s vision is to help create a world where humans allow their “selves” to be worthy of self-love while connecting people through their real-life struggles and their true journeys to triumph.

Prior to StruggleBear, Corey pursued a passion and attended Central Washington University in 2003 to pursue his BA in Flight Technology to become a commercial airline pilot.

In 2008 he enlisted in the US Air Force to become a special operations combat medic. Air Force Special Warfare Pararescue (PJ) specialists rescue and medically treat downed military personnel all over the world and that’s exactly what Corey wanted to do. He answered the call of the PJ motto: “These Things We Do, That Others May Live” but an injury sustained early in training resulted in a surgery that involved a plate and 8 screws installed in his leg, a medical discharge, and the end of his military career crushing those dreams. The PJ motto has served as a lifelong source of inspiration for Corey that drives his efforts to help others to this day.

After the Air Force, Corey’s passion for challenge landed him at the University of Washington to study Business and Marketing. From there he pursued a career in digital marketing, project management, and entrepreneurship, which has provided him with the skills he has applied to StruggleBear.

Corey has lived all over the Pacific Northwest, notably with a year in Squamish, BC where he spent the days outdoors rock climbing. He now lives in Seattle, WA, and can be found running and cycling around Lake Washington, spreading his message of positivity, climbing, and mountaineering the surrounding mountains, as well as working with his Dogs for Better Lives’ future assistance black Labrador, named “Gunther”.

Staying true to the PJ motto, community service has always been a central theme to Corey’s mindset. Even as a youngster, Corey showed leadership qualities as he coached and refereed youth hockey, while later in life serving with various food banks and organizations, as well as assisting in the management of a YMCA community youth garden.

The opportunity to be part of Dogs for Better Lives will allow Corey to fulfill his mission to give back to the community, helping both people and dogs to have better, more fulfilling lives. Corey joined the Dogs for Better Lives Young Professional Board in the spring of 2020.

Rita Brennan

PNW Member

For as long as Rita Brennan can recall, she has been fascinated with working dogs and wanting to be involved with them. In 2020 when Rita found an opportunity to “Raise a Future Assistance Dog,” through Dogs for Better Lives’ (DBL) puppy raiser program, she jumped right in. A short time later, DBL field representative, Jess Taluth was dropping off Rita’s first puppy in training, Guinness.

Thanks to the close collaboration with her DBL trainer, over the course of 12-months, Guinness transformed from silly puppy to focused adult (with a side of wiggles and wags). Rita’s first puppy-raising experience was very rewarding, and she signed up to raise another, a yellow lab pup named Meadow.

Although neither of her puppies ultimately became Assistance Dogs, they are both life-changing and adored companions. Both Guinness and Meadow were career changed and now Guinness has been placed in a forever home in Oregon, while Meadow was adopted by Rita and resides with her in Washington State.

Rita’s life has changed for the better, witnessing first-hand the patience, resources, and commitment that DBL devotes to the development of these life-changing dogs. “Joining the Regional Advisory Board - PNW is another way I can contribute to DBL’s important mission,” stated Rita. “I’m honored to be a small part of making a huge impact.”

Rita joined the Young Professionals Board – PNW in January 2023.

Allison Int-Hout

PNW Member

Allison Int-Hout is an estate planning attorney at a law firm based in Seattle, Washington. Allison’s law practice includes estate planning and estate administration, and her favorite part of her job is working with clients to create estate plans that meet their goals and bring them peace of mind.

Allison obtained a degree in Communication: Journalism and a minor in Spanish from the University of Washington in 2012, and then attended Seattle University School of Law and graduated in 2019. Before Allison became an attorney, she worked for several years in marketing at a tech startup in Seattle.

Allison grew up in a small town in Central Washington and then lived in Seattle for about 12 years. She recently moved back to the Wenatchee Valley with her husband and two dogs, a golden retriever named Kona and an Australian cattle dog mix named Smokey Bear.

“I’ve always said that my dream would be to raise a house full of service dogs. I feel so fortunate for this chance to volunteer on the DBL Young Professionals Board (and one day soon become a puppy raiser!) and contribute to the incredible service that DBL and these wonderful dogs are providing.”

When Allison isn’t working, she enjoys taking long walks along the river with her dogs, traveling to new places, eating sushi, and reading mysteries.

Alison joined the Young Professionals Board – PNW in October 2021.

Danielle Meadows

PNW Member

Danielle Meadows is an American Sign Language teacher at Wenatchee High School in Wenatchee, WA.

Danielle was born in Hood River, OR before moving to the Wenatchee Valley when she was seven years old. Growing up in the Apple Capital of the World, agriculture and farming are a big part of her life. Prior to moving to Wenatchee, her family managed a small farm and fruit stand in the Columbia River Gorge. Many of her fondest memories are about her time on the farm.

Danielle took ASL in high school and quickly became fascinated with the language. After getting a taste of ASL in high school, Danielle decided to venture out of state to pursue a degree in Secondary Education and a minor in ASL Studies. She graduated from Western Oregon University in June 2021 and will pursue her Master’s Degree soon.

In college, Danielle worked as a mentor for first-year students. She educated students on what it means to be holistically well and how to be the best versions of themselves. Much of what she learned in this position has helped her in her role as an educator. Her favorite part of working with her students is building relationships with them.

One of Danielle’s proudest accomplishments is receiving the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award in Volunteer Service, which she earned her senior year of high school for volunteering more than 4,000 hours in her lifetime. Because of her vast involvement in service, she has extensive knowledge about fundraising, event planning, and community building.

Danielle has two dogs, which are her world! She has a senior boxer named Pippa, who her family adopted in 2014 and a French Bulldog puppy named Cooper, who keeps everyone he meets on their toes! Danielle has a soft spot for dogs and knows how valuable it is to have a pet. Danielle has always been fascinated with the work Assistance Dogs do and is excited to learn more during her time on the Young Professionals Board.

Danielle enjoys traveling and hopes to see more of the world as she gets older. In her free time, she enjoys shopping around town and snuggling her dogs.

Danielle joined the Young Professionals Board – PNW in January 2022.

Elsa Remak

PNW Member

Elsa Remak is a public relations professional with a passion for executing creative communications strategies to start a public dialogue and inspire social change. She is currently an Account Supervisor at C+C, a Seattle-based, national communications agency. At C+C, Elsa drives media and influencer relations for consumer, nonprofit and public sector organizations. She’s eager to leverage her background and passions to drive awareness and action for Dogs for Better Lives.

Elsa grew up in Kirkland, WA – a suburb east of Seattle. She ventured out to Indiana University for college – where she received her journalism degree, with a concentration in public relations and advertising. Elsa began her professional career in Chicago – first working at Easterseals, a national nonprofit that supports people with disabilities; and later growing her PR chops at some of the city’s agencies.

After seven great years in the Windy City, Elsa (and her beloved dog Maddie) recently made the move back to Seattle. Elsa is thrilled to be home in the PNW – working for her “dream” agency (C+C) and now supporting Dogs for Better Lives, an organization that intersects the causes she is most passionate about.

Elsa is an advocate for equal access and opportunity for people with disabilities. Following her time at Easterseals, Elsa joined the organization’s Young Professionals Board – serving as communications chair.

She grew up with a love for dogs – growing up alongside her beloved parents’ two Siberian Huskies and an American Eskimo dog. In college, Elsa developed a passion for supporting animal adoption. She volunteered as an adoption counselor for the City of Bloomington Animal Shelter. Elsa is now a proud dog mom to Maddie – a four-year-old rescue, super-mutt who has changed her life for the better.

“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to merge these passions together as a member of Dogs for Better Lives Young Professionals Board,” stated Elsa.

Elsa Remak joined the Young Professionals Board – PNW in August 2021.

Caroline Roers

PNW Member

Caroline Roers resides in Seattle (WA) and is currently a program manager at Amazon.

She grew up in the Midwest and graduated with a degree in Corporate Communication from Marquette University. Prior to working at Amazon, she held a public relations role at a global marketing and communication agency and program manager role at a Seattle-based Saas company. Her experience has provided her a wealth of knowledge in event planning and program management.

Caroline is passionate about giving back to the community. Volunteering with Dogs for Better Lives gives Caroline a great opportunity to fulfill that passion while sharing the benefits that dogs can bring to people's lives, like reducing anxiety and depression - something she's experienced firsthand with her own dog. She's thrilled to work with Dogs for Better Lives and looks forward to helping support the great programs the board is planning for the coming year.

When not volunteering in the community or fostering dogs, you will most likely find Caroline running, hiking with her dog or devouring a book.

Caroline joined the Young Professionals Board – PNW in February 2022.

Shannon Salverda

PNW Member

Shannon Salverda comes to DBL to marry her love of animals and her commitment to supporting equitable access. A speech-language pathologist since 1997, Shannon’s work has provided her opportunities to support people of all ages as they find pathways to make the world work better for them.

Shannon received her Bachelor of Arts in Speech and Hearing Sciences with a minor in Elementary Education. She received her Master of Science in Communicative Disorders with an emphasis in Pediatric Neurology. She is an avid reader, outdoor enthusiast, foodie, and student of Universal Design for Learning.

Shannon and her family spend much of their time in nature hiking, kayaking, swimming and snowshoeing. They are consistently accompanied by their dog, Hazel, a rescue from a local agency. Dogs as family members amplify the joy and unconditional love in daily life. Shannon is passionate about improving access for those who will benefit from the practical support of a guide dog but also the joy of companionship and connection.

"Accessibility allows us to tap into everyone's potential,” stated Shannon. “I am excited to join the Regional Advisory Board-PNW as I believe that everyone deserves love and access. This is an opportunity for me to take action on that belief and provide a positive impact in the lives of others.”

Shannon joined the Young Professionals Board – PNW in January 2023.

Sara Torelli

PNW Member

Sara Torelli is a School-Based Mental Health Counselor at Issaquah High School (WA) through a partnership with Swedish Medical Center. She provides services to the 2,500 student population as well as community education surrounding mental health.

Sara grew-up in Seattle, WA and graduated from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. After working and volunteering in the social service field for a few years post college, she moved to Chicago to pursue her master’s degree in Social Work at the University of Chicago. After graduation, Sara returned to the Pacific Northwest and has worked in a variety of settings including Medical Social Work in the Emergency Room, Child Welfare as a CPS Social Worker and School-Based Social Work.

As a Social Worker, Sara has witnessed the therapeutic impact animals have on humans and has a strong interest in animal therapy. Outside of work, Sara has spent the majority of her time advocating on behalf of animals and volunteering with a number of local animal rescues including Seattle Persian Himalayan Rescue, Old Dog Haven and Oregon Saint Bernard Rescue. There is no greater joy for Sara than transporting animals from shelters to their forever homes and learning of their transformations over time.

“I’m excited to begin volunteering with DBL’s Young Professionals Board, as the organization fully embodies my interests in both human and animal welfare and the therapeutic bond between them,” stated Sara.

Sara Torelli joined the Young Professionals Board – PNW in April 2021.

Regional Advisory Board – Northeast

Elizabeth Cincotta

Chair, NE Member

Elizabeth (Beth) Cincotta has 15-years of experience in marketing, development, and communications. Having spent much of her career working for nonprofits, she has an appreciation for mission-driven organizations and the passion that motivates much of their nonprofit work.

“I am excited to join Dog for Better Lives’ Regional Advisory Board – Northeast, as I have seen firsthand the incredible benefit that Assistance Dogs have in the lives of people they are matched with,” stated Beth Cincotta. “From young kids with autism to people with hearing impairment, dogs offer amazing independence and support.”

Beth served as the Director of Marketing for another Assistance Dog organization, and later as the Vice President of Marketing and Development for an agency that assists people with disabilities, giving her unique insight that will prove useful for Dogs for Better Lives and the Regional Advisory Board – Northeast.

Currently, Beth serves as the Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Giving for Coastline Technologies, a managed IT company owned by her husband.

Beth, husband Gregory, and her two young boys reside near the Falmouth campus of Dogs for Better Lives. A goofy Golden Retriever named Tuukka and two black cats named Smidge and Dr. Claw complete their family.

“I love how Dogs for Better Lives uses both purpose-bred and shelter dogs,” stated Beth. “Saving the lives of shelter dogs and giving them new purpose is just another thing to celebrate.”

Beth joined the Young Professionals Board – Northeast in November 2022.

Janelle Suckley

Vice Chair, NE Member

We all dream of becoming veterinarians when we were children...or was that just Janelle? Since she was a young child, Janelle had a variety of animals in her home, including cats, dogs, chickens, hamsters, gerbils, rats, among others. It was only natural to her that she would follow the footsteps of other animal lovers.

Janelle attended Salem State University (MA) where she focused on entrepreneurship in their School of Business. It was only after attending university that Janelle realized what career would truly fulfill her life. As she was exploring multiple ideas and sorting out thoughts of where to go next, Janelle felt a head-butt press against her leg, and as she looked down to her beautiful cat, Topanga, an epiphany of sorts came over her. It was in that moment, Janelle realized what would make her feel most successful; Veterinary Technology.

After hard work and determination, and many challenges along the road, Janelle completed the Veterinary Technology program at North Shore Community College (MA) in 2020. Today, with her business and veterinary technology background, Janelle is rewarded with the opportunity to work with animals while operating her successful and growing pet sitting business.

“As a part of the Young Professionals Board, I look forward to the opportunity to support Dogs for Better Lives and their efforts in providing enrichment to animals’ lives, while helping to establish a trusted, professional bond between dogs and humans,” stated Janelle.

Janelle joined the Young Professionals Board – NE in February 2022.

Nick Bierley

Treasurer, NE Member

Nick Bierley is originally from Michigan, born and raised just outside of Ann Arbor. He is one of three children, all of whom attended Michigan State University (as well as both his parents). He graduated in 2016, earning his Bachelor of Arts in Finance.

Nick began his career in investment banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in NYC, where he spent two years as an Analyst in the Global Healthcare Group. Following his time at BAML, Nick moved to Chicago where he spent two years as an Associate with Beecken Petty O'Keefe, a healthcare services focused private equity fund.

Following that, Nick moved back to NYC to work as a Senior Associate with Assured Healthcare Partners, another private equity fund focused on healthcare services. In the summer of 2021, Nick moved over to Veterinary Emergency Group as the Director of Finance, where he currently serves.

Nick currently lives in Manhattan, but travels back to Michigan every chance he gets to spend time with his family and their two dogs (Leo and Stella).

"I was raised in a family that always had a dog, there is nothing that comes close to the companionship and love you feel when you have a furry little friend in your life," stated Nick. "I am truly lucky to be a part of an organization like Dogs for Better Lives, whose sole focus is pairing that companionship with a purpose for those with needs."

Nick joined the Young Professionals Board – NE in February 2022.

Brianna Barry

Secretary, NE Member

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Brianna Barry has (proudly) worked for Boston Children’s Hospital since 2016, as a Senior Project Manager within the Program for Patient Safety and Quality.

Brianna attended Lafayette College in Easton, PA and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Neuroscience. As she progressed professionally at Boston Children’s Hospital, Brianna simultaneously pursued and completed a Master of Science degree in Healthcare Administration from Saint Joseph’s University. Through her academic endeavors and professional experience, coupled with additional Lean Six Sigma certifications, Brianna has developed a robust and diverse background rooted in project management and process improvement skillsets.

Brianna pursued volunteering on Dogs for Better Lives’ YPB with the belief of fulfilling an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals that are equally as passionate as she is in regards to assisting others, all while uniting under a shared love of dogs. At the age of 19 Brianna was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and her Mini Goldendoodle Denali has been an incredible enhancement in her life. Brianna and Denali recently completed a Canine Good Citizen certification together. Brianna feels beyond lucky and thankful that she is able to work with Dogs for Better Lives to help support the mission and values of this organization.

“I believe that Assistance Dogs are unsung heroes; they are unconditional and unwavering in their love and support,” stated Brianna. “Joining the Young Professionals Board and spreading awareness is something that I am honored to be a part of, particularly as the organization develops in the North East”.

Brianna was born and raised in the South Shore of Massachusetts, and recently purchased a home in Whitman, MA where she resides with her boyfriend and their one-year-old Denali. When the warm weather comes around to the North East, they like to hop on the Harley and cruise- Denali included!

Brianna joined the Young Professionals Board – NE in April 2022.

Caitlin Hughes

NE Member

Caitlin joins Dogs for Better Lives' Young Professionals Board - Northeast after several years in the rare disease space, working with families impacted by Duchenne muscular dystrophy. She specialized in grassroots development and fundraising, as well as program management. Prior to that, she earned her B.A. in Psychology from Mount Holyoke College and an LL.M. in International Human Rights Law from the National University of Ireland, Galway, with a focus on Disability Law. She has seen firsthand the impact that quality interventional services have for families who need them.

In her current role with the Fletcher School for Law and Diplomacy, Caitlin helps manage Employer Relations in global networks. A skilled relationship-builder, she is excited to assist in spreading the mission of DBL. With her background in nonprofit fundraising and event management, she believes she will be an asset to the growing Young Professionals Board.

Caitlin is a dual citizen of the United States and Ireland, and lived abroad for several years with her sidekick Symba. Symba was a gifted companion and grew Caitlin’s passion for canine assistance. She looks forward to playing a small role in matching more people with their own sidekicks.

Caitlin grew up in Vermont but has called South Shore Massachusetts home for several years now. In her free time, she enjoys puzzles and crafts, comedy shows, taking in the seasonal perks of New England, and playing with her enormous cat, Toast, who she swears is very dog-like.

Caitlin joined the Young Professionals Board – NE in June 2022.

Blake Joh

NE Member

Blake Joh was born and raised in Metro Detroit and after graduating from college moved to New York City.

Blake is a Vice President on the Healthcare Investment Banking team at SVB Leerink where he serves as an advisor to several animal health companies. Prior to joining SVB Leerink, Blake worked in Corporate Strategy and Business Development at Zoetis. Blake has a B.A. in Finance from Michigan State University.

Blake resides in New Jersey with his wife, son and two dogs, Panda and Kaya. “The joy my dogs bring is immense and I hope to help harness that power to assist others in need,” stated Blake.

Blake joined the Young Professionals Board – NE in February 2022.

Jessica Sexton

NE Member

Jessica has dedicated her professional career to enhancing the human-animal bond. She currently is the program coordinator for an in-hospital based center which provides research, education and animal assisted therapy to patients, staff and students in Richmond, VA. In this position Jessica is works with 90+ registered therapy teams while they work their magic in bettering the lives and experience of those in the hospital. Jessica also participates in research to study the effects of animals in our lives. She believes a large part of the evolving animal welfare world is educating the public on proper methods, safety, and ways to bond with their pets. Community education and outreach is very much valued in her work.

After Roanoke College, Jessica attended Triple Crown Dog Training Academy where she graduated as a Certified Dog Trainer and Behavior Specialist. While in school, Jessica studied therapy work with canines. Enjoying the therapy side of the dog world so much, she continued on training and raising two dogs to become Diabetic Alert Dogs.

After working in Texas as a behavioral specialist for a few years, Jessica moved back to her hometown of Richmond, VA to be closer to family. Shortly after moving home, Jessica joined the Richmond SPCA and served as the Coordinator of School for Dogs, a program to help families train and build relationships with their four legged children. In addition to her role in the School for Dogs department, she has worked with the community in various facets including hosting 'Bringing Home Baby' courses, teaching group classes from basic manners to agility, and educating the campers on positive reinforcement and positive relationships.

Jessica has been certified as an American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen evaluator, Paws for Health Evaluator and has earned her Certification for Professional Dog Trainers, Knowledge Assessed. On a personal note, Jessica shares her home with her husband, two children, and her two fur-babies; Jackson the boxer and Harper the hound.

Jessica finds canine therapy work through the practice of positive reinforcement such a rewarding field that not only puts a smile on the faces of people who need it most, but also strengthens the bond of each dog and human team.

"I am honored to be invited to serve on the Dogs for Better Lives’ Young Professionals Board – Northeast,” stated Jessica. “My professional and personal mission in life is to strengthen the human-animal bond through education, community outreach, and service. Surrounding myself with like-minded individuals aligns with my values and I look forward to seeing what is to come!"

Jessica joined the Young Professionals Board – NE in March 2022.

Regional Advisory Board – California

Hana Kim

Chair, California Member

Hana Kim is a dynamic leader with demonstrated experience in marketing products and services across CPG and Retail industries. She has held several senior level marketing roles, at The Coca-Cola Company, Safeway, BevMo! and is currently at Tailored Brands, where she leads omni-channel marketing for Rental/Wedding businesses.

At BevMo!, Hana spearheaded BevMo! Loves Pets and partnered with five regional animal rescue organizations across California, Arizona, and Washington. She raised more than $100K over two years through tasting events and planned adoption drives in BevMo! parking lots, expanding the partnership beyond donations.

Hana has two rescue dogs, Pinot and Sauvi, who accompany her to the office and help with her workload. She enjoys going on hikes with them and her partner, Wojciech, and also likes to travel internationally, experiencing different cultures. She also likes to golf with her family but needs more time to practice.

“Being so passionate about dogs, I jumped at the opportunity to get involved with DBL’s Regional Advisory Board – California, focused on helping to provide Assistance dogs to those in need,” stated Hana. “I’m excited to work with others who share the same passion and wish to make a difference in peoples’ lives.”

Hana joined the Regional Advisory Board – California in August 2022.

Brooke Sutter

Vice Chair, California Member

Brooke Sutter is a California native. She grew up in Northern California and recently moved to Southern California, now residing in the very sunny (and dog-friendly) Santa Monica. Her family has always had dogs and is the proud owner of a Corgi named Lily. She hopes to add a new furry member to the family in the near future.

Brooke graduated from San Francisco State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business with a concentration in Management and is an alumni of Alpha Phi Fraternity. She is currently the Operations Manager at an employment law firm that specializes in fighting for equal pay and against discrimination in the workplace. There, she also produces the podcast The Women's Advocate.

In her free time, Brooke can usually be found at a local coffee shop with a good book or tending to her vast collection of house plants. She loves creating digital art as well as yoga and traveling to new places.

“I decided to join the Regional Advisory Board - California because I am very passionate about advocacy work and want to help make a difference in people's lives, regardless how big or small,” stated Brook. “I believe the Regional Advisory Board is an excellent way to combine two of my passions - dogs and helping a cause greater than myself - to enact positive change in this community I'm honored to be a part of.”

Brooke joined the Regional Advisory Board – California in August 2022.

Viviana Mendoza

California Member

Viviana Mendoza is a social media manager that helps user-focused companies reach, attract, and retain customers through creative solutions. She has worked for small marketing agencies that serve companies like HelloFresh and Amplitude. As well as working as in-house marketing and social media for Men's Wearhouse, Jos. A Banks & Moore's Fashion. Currently she leads the social media team at Every Man Jack, a men's grooming company while also managing her own boutique digital marketing collective for independent music artists.

She has a background in psychology and is a registered behavior tech who worked with children with autism to help them develop skills that would help them become independent and succeed in school. She enjoys working with children and learning to develop programs that are entertaining and beneficial for them.

Viviana has two rescue dogs, Hobo and Jesse James, who love to go on hikes through national parks and long road trips. She is also passionate about music, enjoys attending concerts and music festivals and also has been a concert photographer for close to 3 years. She likes good coffee, good food & talking about music and the occasional spin or pilates class.

“I decided to join the Regional Advisory Board - CA because I am passionate about dogs and know how beneficial having a dog in your life can be,” stated Viviana Mendoza. “I am also passionate about helping those with disabilities and creating opportunities to improve their lives, while collaborating with people who share similar interests as me.”

Viviana joined the Regional Advisory Board – California in September 2022.