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 (WA, OR, and CA), 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 1,300 dogs since its inception by its late founder, Roy Kabot.

What is the Young Professionals Board?

As DBL continues to grow and embark on their journey to better the lives of those with disabilities, pairing them with an Assistance Dog, they aim to cultivate the next generation of leaders in the Pacific Northwest region to become involved in carrying out their mission and vision.

The DBL Young Professionals Board (YPB) – Pacific Northwest is comprised of like-minded individuals in their 20s and 30s 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 Young Professionals Board?

It is essential that each of the Young Professional 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 Young Professionals Boards Located?

As of February 2021, we have successfully launched YPB – PNW and currently working to grow the board’s membership from across the northwest region, including Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Later in Spring 2021, we are planning to launch YPB – California. Looking at our long-term vision, as we expand with regional satellite offices, we anticipate YPBs will be launched to support key initiatives that support DBL’s presence in the region.

DBL to launch signature event with regional Young Professionals Boards

With the support and guidance of the regional Young Professionals Boards, DBL will host a yet-to-be-determined signature event with the Pacific Northwest  (WA, OR, ID) and California chapters, engaging donors, clients, and community partners.

YPB – PNW launched in 2020 and in Spring/Summer 2021 YPB – CA will launch. Eventually, we will have Young Professionals Boards across the country, working to support each of our planned regional footprints.

Board Structure

 Term Length

When committing to Dogs for Better Lives’ YPB, the term will last for one year (12 months), from the date that the YPB 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’ YPB will have a variety of leadership roles that will be voted on by the members of the YPB.  Those positions are: Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary.


1) Monthly Meetings; Dogs for Better Lives’ YPB will meet monthly, usually in late afternoon or early evening. The meetings will either be in person at a location in the Greater Seattle area or a Microsoft Teams video conference call hosted by DBL.

2) Fundraising; When committing to Dogs for Better Lives’ YPB, a member is committing to a minimum fundraising “give or get” of $1,500. This will be done through three (3) initiatives:

  • Event #1 – TBD
  • Event #2 –  TBD
  • Event #3 – TBD

3) Marketing; All members of the YPB 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 Young Professionals Board, 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 YPB, 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 YPB, you will have the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals that sit alongside of you on the YPB, 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 YPB Chair and Vice Chair will have the opportunity to attend one (1) Board of Directors meeting to report on the status of the YPB.
  • Acknowledgement on Dogs for Better Lives’ social media channels.
  • Recognized in Canine Listener magazine, DBL website, and in annual report.

Recent News about YPB – Pacific Northwest

How To Apply

Those interested in applying for DBL’s Young Professionals Board – Pacific Northwest should click on the APPLY button below.

Young Professionals Board (Pacific Northwest) – Board of Directors

Stacie Bianco

Chair, YPB Member

Stacie Bianco is a Global Technology Solutions Trainer at Covetrus, a global animal-health company, leading training for veterinary practices across the United States.

She grew up in Pennsylvania and completed her bachelor’s in Animal Science from Purdue University before traveling throughout the U.S. while working for Merial and VCA. Her professional experience spans the animal health industry with a focus on training and operations in her most recent roles.

Stacie has been involved with dogs her entire life, earning professional CPDT-KA certification, competing in dog agility as a national finalist, as a behavior consultant on dog aggression cases, and in various roles in animal care. Her involvement with animals has included working on sport horse breeding farms and rescuing and trialing off-track Thoroughbreds in Eventing.

She has been involved with the Assistance Dog community for the past several years as a Puppy Raiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind and as a campus volunteer for Guide Dogs of America and Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services (PAALS). Her experiences at Assistance Dog programs led her to become the Founder and Owner of The Good Dog Cause, a mission-based company helping fund projects for non-profit organizations that raise, train, and place Assistance Dogs across the U.S. through their collection of goods and apparel.

As an enthusiastic ambassador for the industry, Stacie is excited to continue her commitment to Assistance Dogs, the incredible organizations who place them, and the life-changing partnerships they create between people and dogs through her involvement with the Dogs for Better Lives Young Professionals Board.

"It's such an honor to be joining the Young Professionals Board to help serve the community and contribute to the mission and future of Dogs for Better Lives," stated Stacie. "Through the YPB, I'm eager to help raise awareness, engage in outreach opportunities, share my experience as a puppy raiser, and be an enthusiastic ambassador of DBL and the impact of the partnerships created between people and dogs."

She currently resides in San Pedro, CA and will be moving to the Portland, OR area in early 2021. Stacie and her husband enjoy hiking and finding the best dog-friendly spots (especially coffee shops) with their Border Collie and Guide Dog Puppy in Training. They are both passionate about serving the community and helping make a difference in the world.

Joining Stacie in photo is her Border Collie Briggs (left) and Labrador Retriever Dale, a Guide Dogs for the Blind puppy-in-training. Stacie joined the Dogs for Better Lives’ Young Professionals Board in December 2020.

Jo Caballero

Vice Chair, YPB Member

Jo Caballero is a Senior Planner at Seattle’s Amazon and joins the Young Professionals Board – PNW with an extensive project management, hospitality, and planning background. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest’s Kitsap County, Jo attended Central Washington University studying Behavioral Psychology and Communication.

Fresh out of college, Jo entered the world of luxury hospitality. Hotel management allowed for Jo to interact and share with many different people every day. Hospitality has also opened the door to living in places such as Aspen (CO) and Chicago (IL). In her hotel career, Jo has opened a luxury hotel, taken two through renovation, managed teams from 5-150 and once had a team that spoke 16 different languages between them! Jo welcomes a challenge and enjoys sharing success with others.

Jo has always been very curious and loved learning. In early 2020, Jo sought out her Certified Associate of Project Management certification through the Project Management Institute. Jo is a member of PMI and enjoys mentoring hopeful CAPM candidates. She thrives in an environment where she can share knowledge and experiences. Mentorship and coaching are two of her biggest passion projects in any role, big or small. Whether it was gathering the neighborhood children and her teddies, or supervisors and other hourlies, Jo truly finds that the ability to spread knowledge and help people grow feeds her more than money, on most days.

“After hearing both YPB and Dogs for Better Lives’ missions, who wouldn't want to be involved in something like this? I have a deep affinity for pups and Autism alike,” stated Jo Caballero. “I grew up around police dogs and really believe there is something to be said about a professional dog. They are some of the smartest and interesting animals.”

In addition to her professional career, Jo is incredibly passionate about both people and animals. In college, Jo volunteered with various organizations including Autism Speaks, The Red Cross, The Trellis Center, Seattle Humane Society, and PAWS. She has raised funds, planned dinners and events, and most importantly grew awareness.

While not currently a “dog mom”, Jo grew up with dogs. She currently has a sweet rescue kitty named, Stella who is all attitude and cuteness. Jo is waiting for life to slow down a little bit before adding a pup to the mix. She has a soft spot for furry friends and coordinated an event with Seattle Humane’s MaxMobile called Pups + Pops aimed to encourage people to adopt. Jo looks forward to being able to help connect incredible people with amazing Assistance Dogs.

Jo is very excited to join the Young Professionals Board and eager to grow with Dogs for Better Lives.

Mariah Kurpuis

Secretary, YPB 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, YPB 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.

Alison Cavaner

YPB Member

Alison Cavaner is a College and Career Advisor at Project Youth+, a non-profit located in Southern Oregon. Through the College and Career Advisor role, Alison mentors underrepresented youth with the goal of helping them make their way through high school and into college and careers.

Alison was born and raised in Northern California, but made the move to Southern Oregon with her family in high school. After high school graduation, Alison headed to Southern Oregon University where she received a Bachelors in Business Marketing. Alison has spent most of her professional career working for Southern Oregon local non-profits; Alison has a background in non-profit management, grant writing, fundraising, volunteer management, event planning, and youth mentorship.

“The Dogs For Better Lives mission is something near to my heart," stated Alison. "Since hearing about the organization years ago, I always knew I wanted to be involved somehow and I am so excited to have found a way - the Young Professionals Board! I am looking forward to working with likeminded professionals who are all so jazzed to support such a special organization.”

Alison has rescued three dogs in her adult life, all with special needs. In addition to her love for dogs, Alison has a brother with autism. She is passionate about the work being done by the organization and the impact they are making.

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

Meghan Heims

YPB Member

Meghan Heims is a marketing and advertising executive in Washington’s Puget Sound area, focusing on brand strategy and platform development to create memorable, engaging, and ultimately long-lasting brands. With a background in apparel design and fine art, she cultivates with an eye for creativity and taste. She hopes to utilize these skills and passions to create an everlasting brand with the young professionals board that will stand strong through the many goals that Dogs for Better Lives will tackle and can easily be adapted to suite all YPB branches across the country.

She was born and raised in Newport Oregon, A coastal fishing community and one of the many ports where her father runs his boat. The oldest of 4 daughters, she learned the importance of leadership and teamwork early on. Raised by parents that instilled the importance of hard work, perseverance and problem solving, but also the necessity for compassion and helping others. With this knowledge she has volunteered since a young age, eventually following in her mother’s footsteps and becoming a board member of the Newport Fishermen’s Wives, an organization that raises money for fishing families in need and creates awareness of the importance of the fishing community in their region and beyond.

As a volunteer for NFW she helped organize and execute many large and successful fundraising events. She hopes to offer her expertise on creating these events as a member of the YPB of Puget Sound and raise the ever-important funds that Dogs for Better Lives uses to do its important work.

An adventurous woman, Meghan has traveled all over the United States and Abroad, for work and play. She loves to go surf fishing and beach combing with her husband Jayson (an Army combat veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart and her personal hero), stepdaughter Alyssa (11) and their great dane Muddy Waters.

Meghan hopes to bring a collaborative, focused, co-leadership to the Young Professionals Board of Puget Sound. Utilizing the many unique aspects of her beautiful region to promote, fundraise and create general awareness of the amazing work that Dogs for Better Lives does. She is humbled by the appointment to co-chair and looks forward to working with all of the officers and eventually other YPB boards to fulfill the Dogs for Better Lives mission.

Meghan joined the Dogs for Better Lives' Young Professional Board - Puget Sound in July 2020.

Allison Int-Hout

YPB 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.

Elsa Remak

YPB 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.

Elena Tello Portoles

YPB 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.

Sara Torelli

YPB 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.

Matty Walsh

YPB Member

Matty Walsh is a freelance graphic designer, and currently the marketing intern for Corvallis Custom, a printing specialist for customers in, and around, the Corvallis, Oregon area. Overall, she assists with the creation of promotional materials, social media, and events for Oregon State and the city of Corvallis.

She was adopted from China, grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and moved to Portland, Oregon in 2015. Prior to graduating, she also studied Mandarin Chinese and Criminology at Kent State University. In 2019, she secured her bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Oregon State.

With a graphic design background, she has a passion for brand identity, package design, as well as illustration. With every project she has had the privilege of working on, she strives to bring her own unique skill set and perspective.

Aside from being a creative, she is a full time dog mom and crime show/horror enthusiast. She has a soft spot for bully breeds, and her favorite horror movies is Silence of the Lambs. With her free time, you will most likely find her long boarding with the pup, snowboarding, or baking.

She has had the opportunity to work with Dogs for Better Lives in the past, designing their print and digital ads, so the chance to join YPB was a no-brainer.

Matty Walsh is a small fry with a sense of humor, a diverse graphic designer, and a passionate individual who enjoys giving back to her community in which ever way she can.

Matty Walsh joined Dogs for Better Lives Young Professional Board in the spring of 2020.