FALMOUTH, MA ‒ In March, Melissa Cusson (MA) joined Dogs for Better Lives’ (DBL) Regional Advisory Board (RAB) – Northeast, becoming their eighth member since launching in January 2022. RAB members in the northeast region currently represent Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland.
“We’re excited to see the Regional Advisory Board – Northeast continuing to grow and expand across the northeast region,” stated RAB-NE Chair, Beth Cincotta. “Joining the Pacific Northwest and California chapters, the Regional Advisory Board – NE is quickly beginning to create momentum and impact in our region. Melissa will play an instrumental role along with the rest of YPB-NE members, in advocating for and supporting DBL’s critical outreach work in the Northeast region.”
As DBL continues to grow and expand on its mission to better the lives of those with disabilities by pairing them with amazing Assistance Dogs, Regional Advisory Boards are augmenting this focus by playing a key role in raising awareness and advocating for community support and education.
“We’re pleased to have Melissa join the Regional Advisory Board – NE and know with her respective background, grassroots volunteering experience, and passion for the mission, she will help to elevate DBL’s community presence in the region to the next level,” stated CEO, Bryan Williams.
The Regional Advisory Boards are comprised of like-minded individuals, championing DBL’s mission and have a passion for dogs and giving back to people with disabilities in their communities. Volunteer members are engaged in helping to promote the mission of DBL, participating in outreach events, as well as fundraising through a variety of initiatives.
With the support and guidance of the Regional Advisory Boards in the Northeast, Pacific Northwest and California, DBL hosts a number of signature events nationally, including September’s National Service Dog Month, Puppy Love (February), and Bone AppeTREAT (May), all while engaging volunteers, corporate sponsors, and community partners.
Eventually, DBL will have Regional Advisory Boards across the country, working to support each of DBL’s planned five regions. Currently DBL has campuses in both Oregon (headquarters) and Massachusetts, with regional satellite offices in the Pacific Northwest (WA), West Coast (CA), and in the Northeast (NH).
Melissa Cusson is a Massachusetts licensed Loan Officer (NMLS MLO2274866) working with individuals and families purchasing/refinancing a home or investment property.
Prior to entering the mortgage industry, Melissa earned a BS in Finance & Accounting from Bentley University and went on to gain 14 years of corporate and nonprofit program management experience. Melissa always made time to volunteer in various capacities within her community – from participation in animal welfare organizations to human services, to engagement in environmental sustainability projects.
In 2012, Melissa and DBL’s Regional Advisory Board – NE Chair, Beth Cincotta, created The Daily Dog Blog (DDB) to inspire responsible pet ownership. The DDB hosted several small-scale fundraising events which were so well-received by the local community. Continuing on the same path, Melissa then launched an inaugural Animal WelFair event for her colleagues to learn about the benefits of pet adoption, to promote volunteerism, and to highlight the important work of Service Dogs. Initially planned in lieu of a Take Your Dog to Work Day, the Animal WelFair ran for four years and helped connect numerous potential volunteers to 30 different organizations.
By 2014, Melissa co-founded the grassroots nonprofit, FIDO of Natick Inc. She spent 7 years tirelessly working with friends and volunteers to achieve their goal of building healthy pet/owner relationships and opening Natick’s first official dog park. Melissa and the FIDO crew hosted fundraising events at local businesses, coordinated litter and Poop Patrol cleanups around the town, and secured a $250K grant from the Stanton Foundation to make the dog park a reality. FIDO also received an incredible outpouring of support from the friends and family of neighbor and fellow dog lover, Eddie Kramer, who passed away unexpectedly at the all too young age of 18 months. The park opened in 2020 and is known as Eddie’s Park, in his memory.
Outside of work and being a certified Crazy Dog Lady, Melissa spends time with her husband-to-be, Brian, loving on her own beloved pups, Cooper and Finn, spending time with family, practicing yoga, gardening, and crocheting dog bow ties, among other odds and ends.
“I am humbled by the opportunity to advance Dogs for Better Lives’ mission,” stated Melissa. “I am most enthusiastic to collaborate on the development of the Northeast Signature Event by growing community engagement, leveraging my network and optimizing resources.”
In addition to further growing the Northeast chapter, DBL is continuing to look for new members to join the Pacific Northwest and California chapters. New for 2023, DBL will shortly be working to launch a new Regional Advisory Board in Texas.
To learn more about the Regional Advisory Boards and/or to submit your application for consideration, please visit… https://dogsforbetterlives.org/young-professionals-board/.