FALMOUTH, MA ‒ In early March, Jessica Sexton joined Dogs for Better Lives’ (DBL) Young Professionals Board (YPB) – Northeast becoming their fourth member since January. Joining Jessica on the YPB-NE, include Blake Joh (NY), Janelle Suckley (MA), and Nick Bierley (NJ).
“We’re thrilled to see the Young Professionals Boards continuing to grow and expand across the country,” stated YPB – PNW chair, Stacie Bianco. “With the PNW chapter launching nearly two years ago, it’s exciting to the recently launched Northeast chapter continued to expand and now adding it’s fourth member. Jessica will play an instrumental role 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 Young Professionals Boards are augmenting this focus by playing a key role in raising awareness and advocating for community support and education.
“We’re jazzed to have Jessica join the YPB – NE and know with her respective background, community building 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 DBL Young Professionals Boards (YPB) 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 are engaged in helping to market the mission of DBL, participating in outreach events, as well as planning and fundraising through a variety of initiatives.
With the support and guidance of the regional Young Professionals Board in both the Pacific Northwest and Northeast, DBL will host key events nationally around September’s National Service Dog Month, engaging volunteers, and community partners. Eventually, DBL will have Young Professionals Boards across the country, working to support each of national nonprofit’s planned five regions. Currently DBL has satellite offices in Washington, California, Arizona, and New Hampshire.
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!”