About Us

Watch Our Short Film: Our Name, Our Promise

About Us

Dogs for Better Lives is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded in 1977 by the late Roy G. Kabat. Roy worked with exotic and domestic animals for movies and television and had a small traveling circus. After retiring to the Applegate Valley in southern Oregon, he was contacted by the American Humane Association and their headquarters in Denver, Colorado.

A deaf woman in Minnesota had owned a dog that trained itself to let her know when sounds were occurring in her home. As she lost more of her hearing, her dog alerted her to more and more sounds. After her beloved dog died, the woman realized how much she had come to depend on the dog and began a search for someone to train a new dog for her.

The American Humane Association initiated experimental work trying to train dogs to help people who were deaf, and they contacted Roy for advice. After spending two weeks in Denver, Roy returned to Oregon and began Dogs for the Deaf.

Our first location was outside Jacksonville, Oregon, then moved in 1989 to our current 40-acre site at the base of lower Table Rock in Central Point, Oregon.

In 2017, Dogs for the Deaf was renamed Dogs for Better Lives and we are celebrating our 40th anniversary, recognizing the more than 1,300 dog placements that have occurred during our years of operation.

Why We Do It

At Dogs for Better Lives we believe it’s an honor to be a part of something bigger than ourselves and we’re impassioned with what we do. Operating as a team, we put the mission above the individual, trusting in one another to break through challenges and obstacles to maintain our mission of bettering lives by matching people with the amazing dogs we train.

Learn more about our dogs, heroes, and supporters

Go To Insiders Blog

Our Mission:

Dogs for Better Lives’ mission is to professionally train dogs to help people and enhance lives while maintaining a lifelong commitment to all dogs we rescue or breed and the people we serve.

Our Values:

Care for the dogs

by keeping their wellbeing (physical, emotional and mental) at the root of all decisions.

Care for clients

by providing our services with kindness, compassion and patience.

Care for donors

by being responsible stewards of our “donor dollars” through mindful and conscientious use of company time and money.

Our Commitment:

Dogs for Better Lives prides itself on being fiscally responsible, fully transparent, and is a top-rated 4-star nonprofit with Charity Navigator, seven years running.

Continuing to be thoughtful stewards of our donor’s dollars, we’re proud to share that $.86 of every dollar raised goes towards programmatic services.

Learn more about our financial commitment to our clients and donors in our Financial Report and Annual Report.

Say hello to your Dogs for Better Lives team

Harvey Potts

Development Director

Harvey Potts has more than 20 years of professional experience in the nonprofit sector and since 2016 has successfully overseen Dogs for Better Lives’ (DBL) development, marketing, and communication programs. Harvey received his Bachelor of Arts in European History and Masters in Environmental Education and Planning from Pacific Lutheran University.

Prior to joining DBL Harvey worked in senior managerial positions within several national nonprofit organizations, including Restore America’s Estuaries, National Wildlife Federation, and Washington’s National Park Fund. Earlier in his career Harvey worked internationally, serving a 3-year term with the U.S. Peace Corps in Poland, working in Bialowieza National Park (second oldest national park in the world to Yellowstone), overseeing their first-ever national grant funding program.

Outside of DBL, Harvey enjoys peak bagging our PNW volcanoes and is engaged with several nonprofit boards including Sanctuary One and Northern California Weimaraner Rescue. Harvey rescued two of his five Weims, one of which came from NCWR, who now reside on his sheep ranch in southern Oregon.

“Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.” - John F. Kennedy

Meagan Steahly

Finance Director

Meagan Steahly has been the Finance Director at Dogs for Better Lives since September 2018. Prior to that Meagan was the Finance Manager, a position she had held at DBL since 2015. Previous to DBL, Meagan had spent ten years in finance management within the medical industry. Meagan received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Southern Oregon University.

Meagan always wanted to help her community, so joining DBL was a desirable transition. She grew up hearing about Dogs for the Deaf and the impactful difference the national nonprofit has on hearing clients, among others and knew that she wanted to join their team. Meagan sees her contributions as part of something bigger, bettering dogs and their client’s lives every day. For several years, Meagan fostered one of DBL’s demo dogs, Keen, who is still a special rescue dog in her life.

Meagan grew up locally in beautiful Rogue Valley, where she met her husband Kenny, in elementary school. They enjoy spending their free time traveling, being on the water, and spending time with friends and family. Meagan and Kenny live on a hobby farm in the Applegate Valley with their animals and in November of 2018, welcomed their first child, their son Finn.

Trish Welch

Operations Director

Trish Welch is a graduate of Oregon State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Exercise and Sport Science. She worked in the fitness world for nearly 10 years as a Group Fitness Instructor, Exercise Specialist and Fitness Director.

Looking to further express her passion for serving people, Trish made a career change to the non-profit sector by becoming the Executive Director of The Arc Jackson County, For People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. During her 20 years at The Arc, Trish led the development of new programs and services unique to the area as well as other parts of Oregon and the United States. One of her signature community events was the creation of Live to Dance with The Arc Stars – an evening showcasing the talents and abilities of people who experience disabilities, while educating the local community that people who experience disabilities are no different from you and her.

Trish currently serves as a member of the Rogue Valley After Five Rotary Club. In her free time, she enjoys a variety of indoor and outdoor activities such as traveling, fishing, camping, golfing, water sports, and spending quality time with her rescue dog Floyd and close friends. Trish, along with her husband Jim, have three children – the oldest two are now attending her alma mater.

Bryan Williams

President & CEO

Bryan Williams became Dogs for Better Lives’ fourth President and CEO in August 2018. Prior to DBL, Williams was Canine Companions for Independence’s (CCI) Southeast Regional Executive Director in Orlando, FL since 2016.

During his time at CCI, the region achieved record-breaking placements including hearing dogs, significantly increased revenue, welcomed a new Chapter to the region, and unveiled and implemented a plan to improve campus grounds. Bryan is passionate about analytics and metrics, introducing several operational dashboards. He also served on the national Strategy and Systems Team which focused on improving business processes. Prior to CCI, Bryan was the Executive Director of the Community Foundation of South Lake (Clermont, FL), a nonprofit which focuses on providing leadership to enhance the quality of life in South Lake County by identifying community needs and seeking philanthropic support to meet those needs.

Preceding the Foundation, he worked as the Development Director and then CFO for Halifax Humane Society (Daytona Beach, FL), a nonprofit that exists to protect animals from cruel, neglectful and exploitative treatment.

Bryan and his wife Rachel have three young children and are looking forward to exploring southern Oregon and the Pacific Northwest as a family.

View The Whole Team

Fernando Ayala

Facilities Manager

Logan Balko

Kennel Technician

Logan Balko grew up in Ashland, Oregon for most of his childhood and has always had at least one dog in the house for as long as he can remember. Logan graduated high school in Tucson, AZ and went on to continue his education in college for one year in the Culinary Arts, followed up by an internship at Skyline Country Club .

Logan eventually moved back to Jacksonville, OR where he worked at the restaurant, Bella Union for two years and then Caldera in Ashland for 1-1/2 years. He left the restaurant industry (but still loves to cook for his family and for DBL monthly all-staff lunch) to work at a canine/pet resort and boarding facility for more than two years.

Eventually, Logan found his Middle School sweetheart and got married in 2016 and together are raising a 10 year old son and two dogs Milo & Dahlia. Logan has worked for DBL since 2018 as a Kennel Technician. Logan enjoys being outside in the summer at lakes, playing cards and games in the park with his family, and dining out or watch a good movie with family.

Kelly Cancilla

Development Coordinator

Kelly Grew up in Grants Pass and has lived in Southern Oregon her entire life. She started working for Dogs for Better (DBL) lives in 2009 as the receptionist. After 2 years she advanced to Office Assistant where she was working for both Finance and Development. In 2017 She moved full-time into the Development department as the Development Coordinator, working on graphic designs, leading the tour program, supporting event planning, and stewarding donors in the Helping Paw recurring donor program. Kelly fosters Lucy (14 yrs), one of DBL's retired Hearing Dogs turned Demonstration Dog for the last 8 years, until her retirement in January 2019, when she officially adopted her.

Kelly enjoys working for DBL because of the wonderful work they do in helping people and dogs. She also loves the people she works with that share the same passion for DBL’s mission as her. Outside of work Kelly enjoys traveling, camping, and hanging out with her husband Scott, their two dogs Lucy and Wolfgang (who she also adopted from DBL), as well as close friends.

“We become what we think about” - Earl nightingale

Danielle Cloutier

Kennel Technician

Wanda Cockey

Development Manager

As Development Manager, Wanda Cockey supports the Development Department in all aspects of fundraising and donor stewardship. She ensures the individuals who support the mission through corporate, major, and estate gifts are informed of the most pressing needs when considering their philanthropic impact. Wanda joined Dogs for Better Lives in the winter of 2017, marked by the worst winter snowstorm in Medford since 1917.

Wanda holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and has served in the nonprofit sector since 1985. Her passion for philanthropy was cemented when she secured a $5 million grant to build an internal development department at Public Health Foundation Enterprises in Los Angeles County. That experience led her to a position at a major medical center in Long Beach, California where she directed the Annual Giving programs and event staff.

Originally from the Medford area, Wanda relocated to Southern California at the age of 18 to marry her high school sweetheart. Three children soon followed. In 2014, Wanda and her husband returned to Southern Oregon and purchased a 100-year-old home near the Rogue River.

Currently, Wanda serves on the board of the Central Point Rotary and volunteers with a national nonprofit that offers college scholarships for women and girls. When Wanda is not caring for her Great Pyrenees dogs, Samson and Sierra, she enjoys horseback riding, church, and singing.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

Hannah Crane

Puppy Program Coordinator

When it comes to dog professions, I have almost done it all! I have been a Vet Tech, Kennel Tech, Bather, Groomer, Grooming Salon Manager and have dabbled in clicker training. My goal in my adult life, obviously famous rock star didn’t pan out, was to find somewhere where I could give back to the community with a focus in the animal world and DBL checked both of those boxes! I am the Foster Puppy Program Coordinator (best job ever) and I work to find find suitable foster homes for our puppies in training and work hard to create successful foster raiser/foster puppy teams.

“Work hard in silence, let your success be your noise.” - Frank Ocean

Sarina Duncan

Kennel Manager

Born and raised in Juneau, Alaska, Sarina Duncan and her fiancé moved to Southern Oregon in 2014 and have not looked back. A lifelong dog enthusiast, Prior to moving to Oregon, Sarina had researched organizations and discovered Dogs for Better Lives (DBL) online and became very excited about their mission and focus. Upon arriving in Oregon's Rogue Valley, Sarina started as a Kennel Technician and more recently has advanced to the position of Kennel Manager and Volunteer Coordinator.

In addition to working with all the dogs, Sarina loves working with all of DBL's wonderful volunteers and is the first to acknowledge, without them we wouldn’t be able to accomplish all that we do here.

Sarina has always found herself around dogs. with her first one being a Labrador Retriever/Cocker Spaniel mix named Tasha. She was the first dog Sarina trained and had responsibility for and launched her love affair with caring for dogs. Sarina has four dogs at home: Fife, a Lhasa Apso mix, is a Career Change dog from Dogs for Better Lives; Bramble is a Shih Tzu; Darius is a Saluki; and Charlie, a Lhasa Apso mix. I love them all!

Laura Encinas

Program Field Representative

Michelle Erwin

Media and Outreach Specialist

Michelle Erwin, now in her fourth year at DBL, brings a passion for storytelling and a commitment to building DBL’s brand and fundraising ability through social media campaigns.

Michelle focuses on applying her life-long love of movies with social media in order to empower the organizations fundraising efforts and purposefully acknowledge the clients, trainers and dogs that create the work done by DBL. Further, she focuses on weaving in filmed storytelling, showcasing the dramatic changes in the lives of recipients of service dogs provided by the foundation.

Michelle created the DBL series entitled, Better Lives, and has introduced a number of other content media campaigns in support of programs at the nonprofit. The programs demonstrate high end production values and wholly authentic DBL client experiences, while showcasing how well-trained Assistance Dogs impact the clients’ life with the support of staff, volunteers, and donors across the organization. The programs have featured such titles as Rescue Road Trip and Career Change, which follow DBL’s efforts to obtain dog “talent” and the applications of its unique services.

Prior to arriving at DBL, Michelle had just produced a documentary film entitled “A River Below.” The film tells the story of two South American zoologists and their efforts to save the Amazon Pink River Dolphin. Launched at Robert DeNiro’s Tribeca Film Festival, the film has received international acclaim, and won a number of the world’s most prestigious documentary film festivals including Sheffield Doc Fest (the largest documentary festival in Europe at which the film won Best Environmental Film), Hot Docs, Zurich Film Festival (Audience Award) and numerous others. The film, which has been given a rare 100% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, was also honored by The Hague in its “Movies That Matter” series across Europe, during which run it was viewed by several Royal Families and the body of the European Union representatives. After its film festival runs, the film was then featured on Netflix for an exclusive run and will soon be available on Amazon Prime and all worldwide platforms. In making the film, Michelle received an unprecedented education in the power of filmed narrative.

Married for more than thirty years and the mother of three boys, two of her sons are social workers and her third son is a recording artist/songwriter and producer. She has traveled extensively in China and South America, and has her sights set on exploring the European continent.

“Trask – radio – Trask – radio.” - Working Girl

Kayla Galvan

Kennel Technician

Kayla Galvan has always had a passion for working with animals and more recently had decided that she would like to incorporate that passion into her professional career. Kayla recently moved back to southern Oregon and began working with Dogs for Better Lives as a Kennel Technician and sees this as one of the best decisions she's ever made. Kayla feels so fortunate to be able to be a part of an organization that not only benefits animals, but the clients we serve. Kayla looks forward to and embraces the knowledge she's continuing to gain and the role she's playing in changing the lives of the dogs we love and the clients we serve.

``Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole``. — Roger Caras

Brittany Jensen

Finance Manager

Brittany Jensen is the Finance Manager at Dogs for Better Lives, ensuring the organization remains financially healthy while championing the needs of the clients, donors, and dogs. Brittany began her career at DBL in November 2015 as Staff Accountant and moved to her current position in September 2018.

Previous to DBL, Brittany spent time as a Staff Accountant at Moss Adams, a large CPA firm. With a desire to do more for her community, Brittany made the switch from the corporate to the nonprofit sector. Being able to combine her love of numbers, statistics, data, and finance with an organization that changes the lives of people and dogs for the better was a perfect match.

Brittany completed her BS in accounting with a minor in economics at Southern Oregon University. While in her accountant role at DBL, Brittany returned to SOU and earned her MBA degree with a concentration in Information Analysis & Decision Making. In addition to her daily duties as Finance Manager, Brittany also created the finance and development dashboards for use in analyzing the trends of the organization.

Brittany met her husband, Jeffrey, while they were both completing degrees at SOU. They have been enjoying parenthood since September 2018 and have one chocolate lab fur baby.

“The great thing in this world is not so much where you stand, as in what direction you are moving.” - Oliver Wendell Holmes

Destiny Johal

Kennel Technician

Sena Johnson

Client Services Administrator

Linda Kendrick

Kennel Technician

Katie Knutson

Program Field Representative

I started training dogs in 4-H when I was about 14 years old. In 4-H you focus on obedience and showmanship and you compete at you local county fair and if you get a blue ribbon or higher you can move onto the state fair. Fast forward to my senior year in high school and I have to do a community service project so I decided to become a puppy raiser for Autism Service Dogs of America in Portland, OR. The year that I had with Sophie (a beautiful golden retriever) was awesome because she came to school with me every day, she got her own picture in the in the yearbook (where she was voted most likely to get a job after high school) and she walked with me at prom. This experience really kicked off my interest in getting into the world of service dog training because I love training dogs and I like helping people so this is the perfect mixture of those two passions.

A few years later I found out that DBL had a 3-year paid apprentice program! Its very rare to find a service dog training school that has a paid apprenticeship so I decided to apply right away! The rest is history. I am currently the Field Representative for the Greater Charlotte (NC) Area.

“I am and always will be the optimist, the hoper of far-flung hopes and the dreamer of improbable dreams.” - The Doctor

Elise McGlone

Apprentice Assistance Dog Trainer

Elise started with Dogs for Better Lives in August of 2019. Prior to joining DBL as an Apprentice Assistance Dog Trainer, Elise worked as a Dog Trainer at a pet store in Beaverton, Oregon.

While Elise’s passion for working with dogs truly began in high school as a Puppy Raiser with Guide Dogs for the Blind, it was the success of the positive reinforcement methods with a wide variety of dogs in the pet store that inspired Elise to pursue a career in the dog training field.

Elise learned about Dogs for Better Lives when she overheard DBL staff inquiring about potential rescue dogs while she was visiting the Oregon Humane Society. When Elise learned about DBL’s mission to train rescue dogs to be assistance dogs; thereby changing the lives of both humans and animals, she knew this was the place for her.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” - Mary Oliver

Emily Minah

Client Services Manager

Emily Minah has been with Dogs for Better Lives for 15 years, first joining the organization as an Apprentice Assistance Dog Trainer in 2004. After completing her apprenticeship, she worked as a Certified Assistance Dog Trainer for 6 years. In 2012 she became the Apprentice Instructor. In this capacity she worked with new apprentice trainers and also created the first manual and curriculum for the apprentice program. Then, in 2014, she moved into Client Services as the organization’s first Field Representative where she helped develop the position and created the DBL follow-up program. During her years as a field representative, she traveled all over the country following up on dozens of our assistance dog teams and providing training support.

Originally from Maryland, Emily moved to Oregon for college, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Geography from the University of Oregon. Her love of the outdoors and the Pacific Northwest has kept her in Oregon ever since. Prior to working at DBL, Emily worked with teens as a Crew Leader in a workforce preparedness youth program. The experience of coaching and teaching job readiness skills is closely aligned with training dogs to learn new skills. Learning is learning, whether human or canine. Her philosophy of training is built around establishing a relationship of respect and trust.

Emily shares her life with her partner Alli and their two rescue dogs Jemma and Baxter. When not working, Emily enjoys being outdoors as much as possible – on a trail, on a bike, or on a boat.

Grace Mitchell

Dog Acquisition Manager

Grace Mitchell began her career working with dogs in Virginia, where she volunteered with local animal rescue groups. After graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in Animal Science, she moved home to apprentice under an established dog obedience trainer. Over the next few years she gained the knowledge and the skills to become a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and a Pet Partners therapy dog handler. Helping people through animal assisted therapy became her passion and she followed it into the field of service dog training.

Grace spent the next two years training service dogs with Canine Companions for Independence in California and Ohio. Grace made the journey out west again to join the team at Dogs For Better Lives in October 2019. As Dog Acquisition Manager, Grace enjoys building relationships with rescues and shelters through our R.A.D. (Rescue Assistance Dog) Alliance to recruit future assistance dogs for DBL. “Every dog that is selected for our program is a testament to the mission and to a dog’s endless potential”. Grace has two dogs of her own, Duncan and Nova who enjoy hanging out in her office at DBL.

“Never grow a wishbone where your backbone should be” – Clementine Paddleford

Jenny Nickelson

Client Services Field Representative

Jenny Nickelson originates from “Cajun Country”, better known as Louisiana, and is the Client Services Field Representative at Dogs for Better Lives. She joined the team in 2012 as an Apprentice Trainer, worked her way up to Certified Assistance Dog Trainer, and more recently landed in the Client Services Department in 2018.

Jenny is a Certified Obedience Trainer and has been training dogs professionally for more than 10 years. After school, she started a private dog training business. Jenny has always been fascinated by animal behavior and loves working with people. Growing up, she volunteered regularly at animal shelters, always feeding the stray animals that came around her home and parks and had a natural connection with the animals she encountered.

She knew she wanted to work at DBL because of the opportunity to fulfill her desire, to help people and animals and create a better world for both! Jenny is thankful to have the opportunity to give back.

“Love the earth and sun and animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others... And your very flesh shall be a great poem.” - Walt Whitman

Jackie Nielson

Finance Assistant

Brittany Peery

Apprentice Assistance Dog Trainer

Amy Perrow

Operations Coordinator

Prior to starting at Dogs for Better Lives in 2018, I worked in the hospitality industry for 10 years at Discovery Cove, a sister park to SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. While working in Central Florida, I studied Environmental Science focusing on Applied Ecology and Resource Management as well as minoring in Fisheries and Wildlife through Oregon State University’s Distance Learning Bachelor’s Degree Program.

I learned about Dogs for Better Lives through a friend who raised puppies, and worked, at Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) with Bryan (DBL’s CEO!) in Orlando. Seeing her raise puppies and visiting the CCI campus really spoke to me and made me feel proud of what she and CCI were doing. I knew I wanted to be apart of that culture and work for DBL.

I moved to Oregon in September of 2018 and waited very patiently for a spot to open, and applied as soon as I saw one pop up. I am currently the Operations Coordinator and Safety Committee Chair here at DBL. I support all departments here on campus, with the help of my Operations teammates, to make sure all jobs run as smoothly and efficiently (my favorite word) as possible.

“Until we can extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace” - Albert Schweitzer

Terrie Pinkerton Fuller

Systems Specialist

Mike Poremba

Apprentice Assistance Dog Trainer

Mike Poremba has been training dogs professionally for nearly 14 years, though dogs have been a part of his life since early childhood. Mike chose to work for Dogs For Better Lives because of its meaningful work. He decided he wanted to have a job that was helping to make a difference, training shelter dogs to assist those people who need help was just the best of many worlds! Mike is an Apprentice Assistance Dog Trainer, now two years into his three-year apprenticeship. Mike feels fortunate to work with many other very talented trainers, and together they're expanding what DBL can accomplish, and the lives they can collectively change, every single day.

“Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference” - Dr. Jane Goodall

Jess Reichmuth

Program Field Representative

Jess Reichmuth is the Program Field Representative for Dogs for Better Lives in Washington State, with a focus on Seattle and the larger Puget Sound region. Prior to working as a Field Rep she worked as a Certified Assistance Dog Trainer with DBL since 2015 and has been training Assistance Dogs professionally since 2012. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and holds a certification as a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.

Jess knew she wanted to work for Dogs for Better Lives when she heard that they rescued shelter dogs and trained them as assistance dogs. Growing up Jess and her family were involved with dog rescue and foster puppy raising. Working at DBL meant she could still be involved in both the rescue world and assistance dog world. She and her partner live in Tacoma, WA with their 4 dogs and an occasional DBL canine guest.

“In every age, no matter how cruel the oppression carried on by those in power, there have been those who struggled for a different world. I believe this is the genius of humankind, the thing that makes us half divine: the fact that some human beings can envision a world that has never existed.” - Anne Braden

Jon Richards

Human Resource Coordinator

Prior to Dogs for Better Lives, I worked in restaurant operations for over 22 years. I served in roles as Restaurant General Manager, trainer, mentor and operations successor for multiple locations in Idaho, Oregon and California. Working in remote areas, I developed my human resources knowledge supporting and developing my teams to achieve desired results.

While working and raising my family, I also found time to volunteer for youth football & baseball programs in various positions, volunteered at my church, and was a volunteer firefighter while serving on their board as the secretary. I transitioned to the Human Resource field as a HR Manager and Office Manager for an in-home care company in 2014. I currently serve on the local board of directors for Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and will be the board’s Treasurer in 2020.

I chose to work at Dogs for Better Lives because I wanted to be surrounded by people with the same passion that I have. Being a part of the DBL team, I work to create a positive & supportive culture for my team and organization as we all strive to better people’s lives.

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” - John Lennon

Juan Ramos

Apprentice Assistance Dog Trainer

Originally a San Francisco Bay Area native, I've worked in various fields, longest being in customer service and hospitality. I graduated from Animal Behavior College as a Certified Dog Behavior Instructor in 2017. The reason I chose to become part of DBL was their vision, the location, and I had just moved to the area and wanted to train Assistance Dogs and better others' lives. Currently I am participating in DBL's 3-year Apprentice Dog Trainer program, further pursuing and perfecting my craft in becoming a Certified Assistance Dog Trainer.

``There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.`` -C.S.Lewis

Mary Rosebrook

Corporate and Foundation Grants Associate

Mary Rosebrook is the Corporate & Foundation Grants Associate at Dogs for Better Lives, connecting grant makers with DBL projects and programs that align with foundations’ missions.

Mary holds a B.A. in Psychology from Southern Oregon University and a B.S. in Communication Disorders from Utah State University. After college, she began working in the nonprofit world serving children and families, first as a prevention specialist and then a resource advocate at local elementary schools. Later, she became a grant writer for a drop-in center for homeless youth. Now, Dogs for Better Lives serves as the perfect blend of her love for animals and belief in helping people to become the best version of themselves.

Mary is a certified Master Recycler and serves on the Green Team at DBL, bringing eco-friendly and sustainable practices to the organization. When not working, Mary loves to travel but also enjoys spending time at her little home in the woods with a cup of coffee, a good book, and her pets, Wybie and Java.

“Go simple, go solo, go now.” - Audrey Sutherland

Ashley Rosenberger

Certified Assistance Dog Trainer

Emily Sanders

Apprentice Assistance Dog Trainer

Prior to DBL, I had worked within animal shelters and another nonprofit organization that trained mobility/PTSD service dogs in partnership with a women’s prison. Although I’d had the opportunity to work in dog behavior and training in these jobs, my ultimate goal was to be a service dog trainer and help to better the lives of individuals through the power of the human-animal bond. While in college I had raised puppies for a nonprofit organization that trained service dogs and from that point forward, I knew that this was ultimately the field I wanted to build a career in. At DBL, I have found a career as an Apprentice Trainer that supports this dream and allows me opportunities to grow.

“I’m ready, I’m ready!” - SpongeBob SquarePants

Monica Schuster

Marketing and Communications Project Lead

Monica Schuster is originally from southern California and worked for a major Fortune 500 company for many years until relocating to Oregon. She joined Dogs for Better Lives in 2016 to lend her marketing and project management talents, and enjoys supporting the mission, the dogs, and the people who work and volunteer here.

Continuous learning is important to Monica: she has a Bachelors degree in business, a Masters in Environmental Studies, an MBA in Sustainable Business, and she is a certified Project Manager. She has extensive experience in developing and leading project teams, and has a history of successfully planning and implementing innovative marketing and IT initiatives.

Monica has traveled internationally for work and pleasure, preferring to stay in AirBnB accommodations to engage with people, art and regional cultures. One of her most memorable trips was to Peru where she hiked the (grueling!) Inka Trail to Machu Pichu, stayed with a local family in Cusco , marveled at the reed boats of Bolivia, and visited remote villages in the Amazon jungle. Amazing!

Living in the center of Applegate Valley’s wine country, Monica shares her life with longtime friend and husband John, and their two rescue cats Smokey and Missy.

Kaylynn Shaw

Kennel Technician

I’m a kennel technician here at Dogs for Better Lives. I help with the daily cleaning and care for our dogs and our two cats. I’ve worked for restaurants, gas stations, nannying and my last job I worked for a clinic. I never felt like I was doing what I loved so I looked for a new career. I came across Dogs for Better Lives and I instantly knew this was the place for me. My dream has always been to buy my own property and rescue dogs that would otherwise sit in shelters, or worse, be let go due to overcrowding and this organization goes above and beyond that dream!

“Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”

Jenna Stafford

Donor Services Associate

Nicole Tallman

Staff Accountant

Nicole has been with Dogs for Better Lives since 2014, first joining the team as the receptionist where she gained a strong understanding of the workings of the organization. She then became the Staff Accountant in July 2018, supporting the Finance Department with data entry, bequests, accounts payable, and gift shop inventory, among other things. She also holds a spot on DBL’s Green Team, working together with others to make DBL more environmentally-friendly.

Prior to DBL, Nicole worked in and around Minneapolis, MN, where she grew up, in customer service, banking, and as part of the administrative team at a law firm. She then moved to southern Oregon and worked with her dad in home restoration, and finally landed a spot at DBL that allowed her to be a part of something that works for the greater good. Nicole is very passionate about helping others and feels grateful to work for an organization that combines her love of dogs and helping people.

Nicole now works remotely from Tacoma, WA, where she lives with her partner, Jess, and their four rescue dogs, Teddy, Simon, Teva, and Sydney.

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.” - Amelia Earhart

Bill Taylor

Grounds Maintenance

Andrea Woodcock

Training Manager

Dana Wheeler

Apprentice Assistance Dog Trainer

Prior to working for DBL 8 years ago, I did not have experience training dogs. I became an apprentice trainer and worked for 1.5 years. learning the process of training Assistance Dogs. I left the organization and more recently came back to complete my 3-year apprenticeship. I’ve always had the joy of working with animals since I was a little girl. It is my calling, I would say.

The opportunity came when I was asked by trainers when they came to visit the local shelter where I worked. I swooped up the opportunity to do more with animals. I’m not just saving lives, I am helping people in need while having the chance to bond and work with dogs. Seeing how they grow and learn is very fascinating.

Currently, I'm an Apprentice Trainer working for DBL certification, focusing on training Assistance Dogs to either alert to sounds or to help children with autism.

``Life is for living not just existing.``

Board of Directors

Tom Dobry

Board Member

Tom Dobry grew up in West Michigan and fell in love with the Pacific Northwest after graduating from college. Since then, he and his wife raised a family while relocating across the country a few times between Detroit, MI and the Rogue Valley.

Tom is the Chief Marketing Officer for Lithia Motors Inc., one of the nation’s largest automotive retailers operating dealerships across the U.S. Prior to joining Lithia, Tom practiced branding and regional marketing at advertising agencies BBDO and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. Tom has a B.A. in Advertising from Michigan State University and a M.B.A. from the University of Oregon.

Throughout his career, Tom has served a variety of non-profit organizations. “The commitment of the Dogs For Better Lives team to their clients and their dogs is impressive. I’m eager to support them to help even more people.”

Tom and his wife have three children and a German Shepherd named Nala. “I’m amazed by the symbiotic relationship between people and dogs and I believe we’re just beginning to understand the full benefits of these partnerships.”

Matt Dunbar

Board Member

Matt Dunbar graduated from Oregon State University in 2007 with a BA in Management and a minor in Spanish. He was fortunate to further his education by living abroad for several years teaching English in Spain and studying economics in Mexico.

Upon returning to Medford, Oregon, Dunbar established his career in the health insurance industry where he eventually opened his own agency, Rogue Benefit Planning. At RBP they specialize in helping employers understand the rules and regulations of the Affordable Care Act and finding a suitable benefit program that meets the needs of the business and the employees.

Dunbar is excited to be a member of Dogs for Better Lives’ board, a part of the organization, and its growing model in helping dogs and people alike. Dogs and people hold a special place in Dunbar’s heart. He knows the many values a dog can bring into a person’s life, whether living with a disability or not. He also feels that everyone should have the opportunity to live a full and happy life and enjoys helping people achieve that.

Dunbar and his wife are parents to two beautiful little girls, and owners of a Black Lab, Shi-Tzu, and a Calico Cat. In their spare time, they love going to the mountains, fishing, and backpacking.

Doug Hexter

Board Member

A dog owner all his life, Doug is proud to have joined the Dogs for Better Lives’ board of directors in August 2018.

Doug Hexter was raised in New England and currently resides in Western Massachusetts. He is CEO and founder of WoofTrax, a brand engagement platform that promotes healthful dog ownership by connecting pet brands, pet parents and animal non-profits in a mutually beneficial way. WoofTrax is a pet-focused fitness app designed to engage pet owners around their daily dog walk, by linking each walk with the chance to earn donations for their chosen animal non-profit.

Prior to founding WoofTrax, Doug was in technology development for several small and large companies including America Online and GE Capital.

Doug received his Masters from Cornell University and a BA from Franklin and Marshall College.

David Hollingsworth

Secretary, Board Member

David Hollingsworth is a founder and VP of Business Development at Ascentron, a company that rose from the ashes of the high‐tech industry crash of 2001. Ascentron supports customers throughout the country in the aviation, medical, military, industrial and instrumentation industries by providing Electronic Manufacturing Services (EMS).

David holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration/Marketing from Southern Oregon University. Founder of two sales representative businesses, he has been active in the electronics industry since 1987.

David and his wife Sandy own Mother Earth Pet Products, makers of SuperEssentials, a health supplement for dogs. A holistic veterinarian recommended the product to them to boost the health of their pet boxer, Tucker, following two bouts of cancer in 2012.
They purchased the business in 2016, after the founder moved to Europe. Since Tucker is alive and barking today, Sandy and Dave
want to make sure other pet owners can use the product to help keep their dogs healthy.

David and Sandy are known to spoil their animal companions, including their horses, dogs and cats. They love their Boxer Boys, Tucker & Bodie. Tucker is a rescue dog that enjoys singing and opening the front door, while Bodie just wants to play all day.

Community service has always been important to David. He currently serves on the Board of Craterian Performances in Medford and formerly served on the Board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Rogue Valley. David spent many years coaching youth soccer in Southern Oregon and enjoys working with young people.

Being involved with Dogs for Better Lives enables David to give back to the community, helping both people and dogs to have better lives. David joined Dogs for Better Lives’ national board in Winter 2019.

Ron Holzkamp

Vice Chair, Board Member

Ron Holzkamp was born in South Dakota and raised in Salem Oregon. Upon graduation from Oregon State University in 1964 with a degree in Finance and Accounting, Holzkamp served a 3 ½ year term in the Finance Corp in 6th Army in Europe, from April 1965 to August 1968 as a Captain.

Once Holzkamp returned to civilian life in Oregon he worked for Yergen and Meyer a CPA firm in Portland for 4 years before moving to Medford Oregon as a partner in 1973. In 1999 the firm merged with Moss Adams, a large regional CPA firm. Holzkamp retired from the same firm in June 2006.

Holzkamp and his wife Carole have three daughters and sons-in-law, and nine grandchildren in the Portland area. He has served on numerous boards over the years in Medford, including: Asante Hospital Foundation Board, Ascension Lutheran Church Council (twice), Southern Oregon CPAs, Rogue Valley Country Club Board, The Peter Britt Board, Medford Jazz Festival Board and the Medford Rotary Board, to name a few.

Al Lane

Chair, Board Member

Al Lane was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, received his BA in Economics from The Ohio State University in 1990. Following that, Lane received his MBA from Baker University, based out of Baldwin, KS.

Lane began his career working in the insurance industry, though found his true calling in the mid-1990’s when he accepted a position in the movie theater industry. Lane currently serves as President/COO of Coming Attractions Theatres, Inc., based out of Ashland, OR. In this capacity, he oversees 17 movie theaters, 2 fun centers, and 1 mall, across a 4-state west coast region of Washington, Oregon, California, and Alaska.

Lane and his wife Kim, and their beloved rescue dogs, Barney and Ziggy, moved to Oregon in 2013. They have long had a passion for animals, working with various rescue and nonprofit groups (canine, feline, and equine) over the years in the Kansas City area. The mission and goals of Dogs for Better Lives align closely with their hearts, as they love the idea of helping dogs help people.

Lane is excited about his forthcoming opportunities, continuing to work with such a wonderful organization!

Brian J. McQuade

Board Member

Brian McQuade worked as a Design Engineer for five years after college, followed by operating his own business for a period of time, and more recently working 33 years as the Corporate Sales Manager for Umpqua Dairy in Oregon. McQuade retired in 2012 after 50 years in private industry.

McQuade’s education and professional experiences are helping him in contributing to Dogs for Better Lives as the nonprofit grows and adds a new training facility. Currently McQuade serves on three nonprofit boards, including Dogs for Better Lives. Being a Board Member with DFD is tremendously rewarding for him as he enjoys helping and being a part of such a well-run organization.

Brian McQuade lives in Ashland, Oregon. Married, with 3 children and 5 grandchildren, he has owned many dogs over his lifetime and in recent years has enjoyed two Labs, Royceman and Siskiyou (over 20 years combined) as his running partners each morning. McQuade’s wife was a Speech Pathologist, and continues to help him better understand the needs of our Dogs for the Deaf clients.

Keva Meyer

Board Member

A lifelong animal lover, Keva joined the Dogs for Better Lives’ board of directors in April 2019.

Keva currently resides in the Twin Cities. She is the Director of Marketing for Amplifon Hearing Health Care where she works with health insurance companies to provide hearing benefits for their members. Prior to joining Amplifon in September 2016, Keva did both marketing and product strategy for Blue Cross plans in North Carolina and Minnesota, as well as pharmaceutical sales. Keva uses her diverse experience to uncover new ways to make health care better, easier and affordable. She welcomes the opportunity to do the same thing for DBL.

Keva graduated from Marquette University with a BA in Marketing and Public Relations, and earned her Master of Business Communications degree from the University of Saint Thomas in 2009. She is passionate about learning and truly believes, “the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do (Steve Jobs).”

Keva and her significant other, Rick, are proud parents to their three dogs, Jack, Russell, and Lucy, and their cat, Angel.

Bill Pritchett

Board Member

Bill Pritchett is a Senior Commercial Banking Relationship Manager and Vice President for Banner Bank. Bill started at Banner Bank in April of 2016 where he worked with clients in a wide array of industries including those in the medical community, non-profits, professional service businesses and many more throughout southern Oregon. Bill has worked in the finance industry since 2000 and in banking since 2007.

Bill holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in History with a minor in Business Administration from Southern Oregon University. Bill and his wife are raising four daughters and have a small Maltese/Poodle named Toby who was a career change dog.

Bill's family has been involved in serving families affected by disabilities for years and looks forward to helping as Dogs for better Lives continues to expand in this area.

“I am very honored and humbled to join the board. Having grown up in southern Oregon I have a great love for this area and the community and certainly have a familiarity with this great organization. I look forward to contributing to DBL for many years to come.”

Jeff Rhoden

Board Member

Jeff was raised in the Rogue Valley, graduated from Ashland High School and went on to earn his BA in Business Administration/Marketing from Southern Oregon University (SOSC at the time) in 1994.

Jeff started his business career working as the office manager for a small Southern Oregon office furniture manufacturer, Muvag Trading Company, putting his education to use immediately after graduation. About one year later he departed Muvag to team up with longtime friend, Scott Hansen, in his newly formed telecommunications brokerage, GCW Communication Consultants, LLC. Jeff and Scott proved to have a strong working relationship and continued building GCW even when Jeff lived in Corvallis, Oregon for a period of three years while his wife DeAnna attended Oregon State University’s College of Pharmacy.

While living in Corvallis, Jeff continued to expand his knowledge of sales, marketing and technology while working for Pacific Coast Publishing and for Arch Wireless.

Upon returning to Medford, OR in 1998, Jeff and Scott were again in full force. GCW had expanded at this point to encompass a full suite of telecom products for their customers and was continuing to grow. In 2000 they accepted positions with Rio Communications (later known as Rio Networks) a completive local exchange carrier (CLEC) and Jeff become the regional sales manager of what was at that time one of the first statewide facilities based private phone companies in Oregon.

After nearly a 3 year stint with Rio, Jeff and Scott joined together in 2003 with longtime friend and NFL veteran Chad Cota to form Prime Time Ventures, LLC and purchase InfoStructure, a longstanding and reputable ISP in Southern Oregon and began its transformation into a telephone service provider or CLEC. Jeff still maintains GCW and some of its agent channel activities, but his primary focus is building InfoStructure, its client base and service offerings which now include traditional Local & Long distance phone service, Web Conferencing, Conference Calling, Business VoIP and SIP Trunking. InfoStructure also provides business Internet services like DSL, Cable Modem, T-1, DS3, Fiber, Ethernet over Copper, Private Line, MPLS, Web Hosting and Email.

Today InfoStructure has grown into a flourishing telecom and internet service provider and in July of 2013 completed the acquisition of Rio Networks – the same company which inspired its endeavor into the telecom industry. Serving thousands of customers throughout Oregon as well as across the US, the company has grown steadily and profitably, even through economic downturns, to become the reputable telecommunications enterprise that it is known as today.

Jeff has also partnered with Scott and Chad in other endeavors - most recently the drive-thru specialty coffee business, where together they own and operate The Human Bean of Reno with two successful locations in Reno, NV. Jeff and Chad bought out Scott’s Human Bean shares at the end of 2017 and are currently building two new locations – one in Reno and one in Sparks, NV. Plans are currently in place to build an additional 4 locations in and around Reno over the next 3 years.

Through perseverance and dedication with ample doses of integrity and faith, Jeff has accomplished a high level of success in business and yet has the drive and ability to not only continue in that success but strive for more.

He is a dedicated family man and shares four vibrant young children with his wife of 24 years, DeAnna Rhoden. Also dedicated to community support projects, Jeff invests his personal and company resources toward those efforts as often as possible. Over the years he has donated time and money to projects and organizations such as Living Waters Church, Boy Scouts of America, Rotary International, CASA, Compassion International, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Crater Foundation, Red Cross, Kids Unlimited, Hearts with a Mission, Mobility Unlimited, Sparrow Clubs and many more.

Jeff is a long time Chamber member and served two terms on the Medford Chamber Board. He has been a member of or served on boards for other local business organizations as well including; Sothern Oregon Regional Economic Development, Northwest Telecom Association, Talent Chamber, Rogue Nexus and Southern Oregon High Performance Enterprise Consortium (SOHPEC) and Central Point Rotary.

Dr. Danielle Rose

Board Member

Dr. Danielle Rose came onto Dogs for Better Lives’ national board in Fall 2018.

Dr. Rose is an MD Physician and joined Salisbury Pediatric Associates in 2012. She has a special interest in special needs children and integrative medicine. Dr. Rose has studied with several Naturopathic physicians and integrates supplements, herbs and homeopathic treatment into her pediatric treatment plans.

Dr. Rose completed her undergraduate studies at Salem College and medical studies at Medical College of Georgia followed by the completions of her internship and residency at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

Since 1996, Dr. Rose has been a Hearing Dog client of Dogs for Better Lives. Now with her third Hearing Dog Delight, a 3-year old black Labrador, Dr. Rose continues to be alerted to the phone, smoke alarm, oven timer, alarm clock, name call, and door knock. Delight does this by tapping Danielle’s leg with her nose and then leading him to the sound. With bringing her Hearing Assistance Dog to work each day, Delight is not only able to benefit Danielle, but also comfort the young patients she visits with who may have anxieties about visiting the doctor’s office.

In addition to being a Dogs for Better Lives’ client, Dr. Rose also serves as a National Ambassador for DBL, regularly presenting about the organization to local and regional community groups, such as her state chapter of Hearing Loss Association of America.

Dr. Rose is excited about Dogs for Better Lives’ development of their Autism and Facility Dog programs for people who experience Autism and other disabilities. Serving as a Board Member for Dogs for Better Lives is providing Dr. Rose with a wonderful opportunity to speak with community groups about the value of an Assistance Dog and how they better people’s lives, including her own.

Dr. Rose lives in Mooresville, NC with her husband Cameron, Hearing Assistance dog Delight, and their cat Earl Gray.

Loree Seibert

Board Member

Loree Seibert has lived in the Rogue Valley for over 30 years. She is a Registered Nurse and spent much of her professional life working in the specialty field of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing. Seibert has worked most of her professional career for a local hospital, home health, and hospice. Seibert is currently an RN Surveyor for The Joint Commission which allows her to do one of her favorite hobbies---travel.

Seibert and her family have had a love for dogs for many years. Her daughter raised puppies for both Guide Dogs for the Blind and Dogs for Better Lives while in high school. Both her daughter and son have also volunteered at Southern Oregon Humane Society. Her daughter now lives in Florida with a career change dog from Dogs for Better Lives, named Barnum. Her son lives here in Southern Oregon with his best friend whom he adopted from SoHumane, Louie.

Local community service keeps her busy and she has volunteered in training events with ACCESS and is an active member of the Rogue Valley After Five Rotary Club.

She is a graduate of Fresno State where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and earned her Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership at Gonzaga.

Blake Thurman

Treasurer, Board Member

Blake Thurman joined Dogs for Better Lives’ board of directors in August 2018.

Blake joined Rogue Credit Union in 2013 and in 2014 assumed his current role as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. He received his Masters of Accountancy from Brigham Young University and received his CPA designation in 2001. In his current role with the bank Blake oversees Investment Services, the accounting department, investments, asset liability management and business analysis functions of the Credit Union.

Blake has more than 18 years of experience in financial services including auditing of community financial institutions while with Price Waterhouse Coopers and Deloitte & Touche. He also held positions as a Controller for six years and a Treasurer for two years at two different community banks.

More recently Blake has sat on several boards and been engaged in his local community, including a homeless shelter for women and children, working with United Way, involved with Junior Achievement, and volunteering with the Boy Scouts of America.

Stacy Tollie

Board Member

Stacy Tollie grew up in New York, just outside New York City, and after living a few other places landed in North Carolina, where she currently makes her home. After graduating from Albany Law School she became a member of the NC & NY bars and spent 20 years as a magistrate judge before returning to school in 2016 to obtain a master’s degree in health & exercise science from Wake Forest University.

Stacy is an avid runner, having completed a dozen marathons, as well as a long-time motorcyclist and former motorcycle instructor. She enjoys traveling to explore new places and after many years of supporting DBL finally got to tour the facility and see its growth while on a 27-state cross-country road trip in early 2019.

Stacy has served on a number of nonprofit boards in the past and is excited to help lead DBL into the future. Dogs have brought joy and richness to her life and she is constantly awed by what they can do for people as part of a DBL team.

``I'm always amazed at what dogs can do in service of us humans, and I'm thrilled to join the board of an organization I've long supported to help guide it in the continuation of its excellent work.``

Garrett West

Board Member

Garrett West is an Oregon lawyer specializing in appellate litigation and property law. He grew up in Southern Oregon and is an active member of the local community. His family owns a Jack Russell Terrier named Gromit and a cat named Nala.

Garrett received his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the Georgetown University Law Center, where he served as an Executive Editor of the Georgetown Environmental Law Review. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Classics, Political Science, and History from the University of Oregon’s Robert D. Clark Honors College, where continues to be active in supporting the mock trial team and forensics program.

“DBL is a forward-thinking organization that is actively working to transform the way that persons with disabilities and dogs interact with the world,” said Garrett. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of such a cutting-edge program and to help change lives. I am committed to ensuring both its growth and long-term success.”

Apply to the Board

Dogs for Better Lives is a founding member of Assistance Dogs International.

The Assistance Dogs International Standards and Ethics Committee has developed minimum standards and ethics which all member programs must follow. This active committee updates existing standards and develops new ones. These standards are the backbone of the ADI accreditation and guide programs.