Board and Leadership


Executive Leadership | National Board Officers | Directors

Paul Mundell, CEO

Paul Mundell joined Canine Companions for Independence in 1989 as an instructor in the Northeast Region after studying at Ruprecht-Karls-Universitat Heidelberg in Germany. He later became the Northeast Region executive director. He’s held the role as national director of canine programs for the last 17 years, making far-reaching and critically important contributions to the profile of the ideal Canine Companions assistance dog, and is today an internationally recognized authority in the field of canine genetics and behavior.

Paul has developed partnerships with a variety of organizations that assist in the development of the canine program, including Duke University Canine Cognition Center, Eukanuba Dog Foods, The Buck Institute, Emory University, Georgia Tech and Texas A&M University. Additionally, Paul is a consultant for the United States Marine Corps, assisting to develop specialized search dogs that will remotely detect improvised explosive devices. Recently, Paul’s leadership led to Canine Companions being chosen as a contractor to furnish dogs for a study to be performed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to determine the potential benefits of canine support for Veterans with PTSD.

National Board Officers

John Miller, Chair

Board Chair John Miller was first introduced to Canine Companions by Jean Schulz in 1998. John became more deeply involved when Jean asked him to serve on the Northeast regional board when he moved back to New York.

John went on to serve as the Northeast regional board president and has been on numerous committees. John took a lead role in securing a new location for Northeast headquarters and helped make the dream a reality through rigorous fundraising as a lead donor. The training center is called the Miller Family Campus in honor of John and his wife Kristin.

John’s professional background includes practice as a CPA in both New York and California before starting a successful medical device company in Santa Rosa, which was eventually sold to Medtronic Corporation.

John’s civic leadership and community involvement includes trustee emeritus at Hofstra University, past chairman and current board member at Hofstra, Winthrop University Hospital board member, and board member of Waldorf School of Garden City. John has been awarded numerous community service awards.

He and Kristin continue their efforts on behalf of Canine Companions with the hope that ‘’we can grow to be financially secure enough to continue to provide quality service dogs free of charge to all who need them.”


John McKinney, Vice Chair

In 2005, John McKinney retired from his career as a management consultant in the health care industry. He decided to become actively involved with Canine Companions, having witnessed firsthand the wonderful work of our assistance dogs through his nephew’s Canine Companions assistance dog.

Today, John serves as vice chair of the board. He is immediate past chair of the Canine Companions finance committee, and an active member of the personnel committee. John has also contributed to a number of special projects, including funding for the Northeast Training Center, revision the organization’s regional board charter, selecting an investment consultant for the organization’s funds and negotiating with Baylor Scott & White Health to develop a new training center in Texas.

John brings an extensive healthcare background to his work for Canine Companions, having served on the Board of Marin Community Clinic and as chair of its finance committee, and as the chief financial officer for an international professional organization for ophthalmologists. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Trinity College, a Master’s degree in Counseling from Boston University and an M.B.A. in Healthcare Administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

It is John’s desire that “Canine Companions can continue to produce exceptional quality dogs at no cost to individuals who can significantly benefit from such a relationship.” He also hopes that Canine Companions will continue to be a leader among assistance dog organizations, as well as recognized as one of–if not the preeminent–organization in the field.


Bob Street, Treasurer

Bob Street describes his long term vision for Canine Companions for Independence as a three legged stool: the placement of one thousand teams annually; financial autonomy through substantial endowment growth; and a sustained quality in Canine Companions’ superb training, follow up support and community service.

Bob became involved with the organization in 2000 after meeting Yonkers, a friend’s Canine Companions hearing dog, and witnessing first hand the dog’s amazing capabilities. He joined the Southwest Region board of directors in 2000, and a year later, was invited to the national board. During his tenure, Bob has assisted in puppy training functions, helped with release dog placement and team placement, and worked tirelessly to promote and fundraise for the organization in the Colorado region.

Over the course of his professional career, Bob has served as a principal in investment and commercial banking. Additionally, he has been owner and principal in a Houston facility founded to care for children with severe developmental disabilities. Currently, Bob is engaged in antennae placement for broadcast and cellular companies, internet service companies, and federal, state and local governmental agencies.

In addition to his work on behalf of Canine Companions, Bob is a member and vice-chair of the board of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic Orchestra and a current member of the El Paso County Search & Rescue, a first responder mountain rescue team serving the Pikes Peak region.

Commissioned as an officer, Bob trained in Airborne and Ranger capacities, and served as an Adjutant for the U.S. Military Advisory Group, Korea. His educational background includes degrees from Washington and Lee University, post-graduate studies at Columbia, and an M.B.A from Harvard Business School.


Dr. Pauline Parry, Secretary

Pauline Parry was first introduced to Canine Companions for Independence by Service Dog Nance and her partner Bob. Following several years as an enthusiastic supporter, she served on the Southwest Regional Board from 2003 – 2005, and joined the National Board in 2007.

Pauline has led start up companies and worked for industry leaders in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry. She started her career as a scientist and was awarded a PhD for her work in molecular biology. Pauline has a history of active volunteer work, from fundraising to officer-level board service, in non-profit organizations.


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Wm. Stephen Boyd, National Board Member

Steve Boyd joined the Canine Companions national board in 2016. He is the chief legal officer for Baylor Scott & White Health. In his capacity as chief legal officer, Steve serves as Baylor’s general counsel and corporate secretary. He is responsible for all legal and risk management functions, as well as the company’s security force.

Prior to joining Baylor Scott & White, Steve served as managing partner for the Texas offices of Hunton & Williams and had 26 years of experience representing various regulated industries in federal and state courts as well as administrative venues. Active in the community, he is a member of the Salesmanship Club of Dallas and the Committee for Qualified Judiciary. He has served on the board of directors for the Salesmanship Club of Dallas, the board of trustees of Dallas Heritage Village and the board of directors of Salesmanship Club Youth and Family Centers, and he currently serves on the board of Baylor Health Care System Foundation, SCF Charitable Properties, Inc. and the Executive Board for SMU Dedman School of Law.

Steve is passionate about the Canine Companions mission and is thrilled to be part of such an incredible organization.


Joann Elliott, National Board Member


John Elliott, National Board Member

Serving on Canine Companions’ national board since 2001, John Elliot is currently chairman of the audit committee and a member of the development committee. John has also served as president of the North Central Region board.

For the past 41 years, John has been employed in the student transportation industry, holding a number of senior management positions including CEO of National Express Corporation. In 2006, he was honored as Contractor of the Year by School Bus Fleet magazine. In his early career, John worked as a teacher and administrator in public education.

In addition to his leadership roles within Canine Companions, John has served on the board of Provena Health, the Red Cross, the United Fund, and the National School Transportation authority.

John looks forward to seeing Canine Companions for Independence continue as the standard bearer and ‘epitome of excellence’ in the assistance dog sector.


Anne Gittinger, National Board Member, Board Chair Emeritus

Anne Gittinger became involved with Canine Companions because she strongly believed in the mission—a marriage of excellent dog breeding and commitment to helping people with disabilities—and saw an opportunity to further the work of the organization. She has served on the national board since 1994, as vice president 1995 through 2007, president 2007 through September 2014, and now as immediate past president.

Anne and her late husband Wayne built Gittinger Hall and Gittinger Park at the Northwest Training Center. She is an active alumna of the University of Washington as a member of the Tyee board of advisors, as well as holding prior tenure as the president of the executive board from 2005 through 2007. Via her work in corporate contributions through retail giant Nordstrom Inc., Anne is well known as a tireless supporter of many causes and non-profits. She was honored with the Gates Volunteer Service Award from the University of Washington.

Anne’s goal for the future of Canine Companions is simple and clear, “to increase our ability to breed, train and provide dogs for those in need.”


Mel Gottlieb, National Board Member

Mel Gottlieb joined the national board in 2011. He is a member of the development committee and serves as a corporate ambassador for Canine Companions.

As founder and chairman of Response Systems International, Mel has earned a world-class reputation as a marketer and innovator, having established and managed a wide variety of client relationships with major financial services organizations and their senior executives over the past 40 years in 19 countries.

Mel also volunteers his expertise with other international assistance dog organizations in Australia, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium and Spain. And Response Systems International Trust has sponsored 10 service dogs to date for Canine Companions and its international affiliates.

For his services to the military, in 1988 Mel became the first Honorary Life Member in the history of the Returned and Services League of Australia, Australia’s largest veterans organization. Canine Companions Southwest Region recently presented him with the Paws of Distinction Award. He has also been named Australia’s Direct Marketer of the Year.


Barrie Graham, National Board Member

Barrie Graham was an early and fervent admirer of Canine Companions and became involved with the organization in the 1990’s while working at Exchange Bank. Although active with other non-profits providing services to people with disabilities, Canine Companions’ unique focus in teaming dogs with people with disabilities appealed to Barrie.

Barrie has worked in the banking and financial services industry for more than 25 years, including tenure as president and chief operating officer of Exchange Bank, and senior vice president of Wells Fargo Bank. Currently, he is chief operating officer of WR Hambrecht & Company, a San Francisco based investment bank.

In addition to his volunteer work with Canine Companions, former Marine Infantry soldier Barrie is or has been the chairman of the Marines Memorial Association, a member of the Investment Advisory Committee of the Community Foundation of Sonoma County, and board member of Empire College and Empire Law School. Barrie holds degrees in Industrial Engineering from Clarkson University and an M.B.A. from Golden Gate University.

He sees Canine Companions for Independence as “the most respected and recognized provider of highly trained assistance dogs.”


Russ Gurevitch, D.V.M., National Board Member

Russ Gurevitch is a veterinary surgeon and the owner and chief of staff of Veterinary Referral Surgical Service in Petaluma, California. He has been a Canine Companions donor and providing surgical care for Canine Companions dogs since 1978.

Russ is the past president and current secretary of the international organization AVORE (Association for Veterinary Orthopedic Research and Education), a published author in veterinary journals and a lecturer in national and international surgical courses. Asked to join the national board in 1991, Russ brings a wealth of veterinarian input and knowledge to the organization.

Russ formerly served as chairman and is now a member of Canine Companions’ research committee, helping choose research projects and advance our services as the premier assistance dog organization.


Leslie Hennessy, National Board Member

In 1998, Leslie Hennessy became a puppy raiser for Canine Companions based on her desire to give back to the community in a sustained and positive way. She found the Canine Companions mission “compelling.” For Leslie, the joyful work of raising puppies was an important and wonderful way to share time with her teenage daughter.

Currently vice president of an international corporation, Leslie graduated with a Bachelor’s in English, followed by an M.B.A. from the University of San Diego, an M.A. in Global Studies from Denver University, and a PhD in Leadership Studies at the University of San Diego. Leslie has spent most of her professional life in international marketing and operations.

Leslie was engaged in board leadership at the regional level before becoming involved at the national level, and in various aspects of committee work. She works hard to meet her own goal of growing Canine Companions in such a manner that it can “continue to meet the needs of all people who would benefit from an assistance dog.”


John Wm. Hopen, National Board Member

John Hopen is a retired corporate jet captain and lives in Sebastopol, California. He currently enjoys his hobbies of woodworking, cars, flying, golf, fishing, and travel. Of particular interest to John is music and music production. To that end he has formed Wild Turkey Recording. Through recording and artist
development John looks to support musicians and their music at a grass roots

John moved from Seattle, Washington to retire in Sonoma County, CA to be closer to all of his passions, and Canine Companions tops that list. He has been involved with Canine Companions for some 25+ years and is currently serving proudly as a National Board member.

John's non-profit background started in his late teens when he started volunteering at Children's Hospital in Seattle. Through his years there he also served on the board of the Ronald McDonald House Children's Charities. John's passion for the mission statement of Canine Companions is born out of his mother's involvement in the organization. "Mom got me wrapped up in this amazing organization many years ago now. I can't thank her enough as nothing gives me more pleasure than being a part of a team that does so many amazing and wonderful things for people with disabilities every single day. I'll stay with Canine Companions as long as they'll have me and/or as long as I'm able!"


Carolyn Hrach, National Board Member

National and North Central Board Member Carolyn Hrach joined Canine Companions for Independence in 1993 as a puppy raiser. Since joining the organization, Carolyn has raised 12 puppies for the North Central Region of Canine Companions. Even beyond her commitment as a member of the board of directors, Carolyn is a motivated and enthusiastic volunteer. She has also assumed the role of co-leader for the Penn-Ohio volunteer group of Canine Companions.

Carolyn holds four degrees: a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Purdue University, a Masters of Science in Mathematics from the University of Illinois, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master’s in Taxation from Robert Morris University. Carolyn held the position of chief financial officer for a small technology company, as well as specializing in wage and salary management as a management consultant and tax preparer for a Pittsburgh accounting firm.

Carolyn is a dedicated volunteer, board member and a true asset to Canine Companions for Independence. “I know Canine Companions will remain the leader in its field as it grows and will continue to provide the highest quality assistance dogs to people with disabilities,” Carolyn says. “I am confident that Canine Companions will continue to ensure the success of each and every team it partners.”


Judge Ed Kinkeade, National Board Member

Judge Ed Kinkeade was appointed to the federal bench of the Northern District of Texas in 2002 by President George W. Bush, where he still serves today. Previously, Judge Kinkeade served as a County District and Appellate Judge in Texas from 1981 to 2002. Judge Kinkeade earned his undergraduate and law degrees at Baylor University. He earned a Master of Laws degree from the University of Virginia. Judge Kinkeade is the jurist in residence at Baylor University School of Law where he teaches professional responsibility. He also currently serves the Baylor Scott & White Health Care System as a trustee and he served as chairman of the board for Baylor Health Care System from 2006 to 2008.

A little known fact about Judge Kinkeade is that he was the batting and bench coach for Prince Fielder early in his baseball career.

As a volunteer, Judge Kinkeade trained his yellow lab, Bo, as a pet therapy dog. He and Bo worked with patients with disabilities at various Baylor Health Care facilities in the area. This is where he and Bo met a service dog that led Judge Kinkeade to seek out Canine Companions as the premier training program in the country.

Judge Kinkeade collaborated with Baylor Scott & White Health and Canine Companions for Independence to partner and build the new $10 million dollar Canine Companions training center at Baylor Scott & White Health – Kinkeade Campus in Irving, Texas. The nine-acre campus will graduate up to 60 teams per year providing highly trained assistance dogs to children and adults with disabilities.


Chris Kittredge, National Board Member

Inspired in 1989 by an article about Canine Companions in Life Magazine, Chris Kittredge immediately applied to be a puppy raiser. Shortly thereafter, her first puppy arrived and the journey to national board membership in 2007 began.

Chris has since been integral to the success of many projects for Canine Companions. She has served on the Northwest board and founded, chaired, or served on committees for multiple fundraising events. Chris currently volunteers as a breeder caretaker and serves as a member of the breeder caretaker council and the advancement and program committees. Of these many roles, Chris calls bringing new puppies/heroes into the world the all time “high.” Chris has shared this excitement with millions of viewers all across the country by hosting live webcams of litters she has raised in partnership with Eukanuba dog foods.

Additionally, Chris has donated countless hours and traveled across the country to offer her talents as a professional photographer for the benefit of Canine Companions acclaimed annual report and various marketing projects. With a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, Chris has been self-employed for thirty years, working in the fields of television, public relations and photography. She resides in Santa Rosa, California with her husband, Bob.


Jill Leverton, National Board Member

Jill is a powerhouse volunteer, a two-time Canine Companions graduate, and a great asset. With her current, successor service dog, Willhemina, Jill gives hundreds of presentations to educate the community about assistance dogs and Canine Companions. In addition to her work with Canine Companions, Jill volunteers for the Napa Valley Opera House League and the Napa County Library.

“Having my two Canine Companions service dogs has increased my independence by decreasing my dependence on others, and this helps me to be more myself,” explains Jill.


Juergen Rottler, National Board Member


Robin Sanchez, National Board Member

Robin Sanchez joined Canine Companions for Independence as a volunteer in 2006 after attending a graduation ceremony in Orlando. Robin has volunteered thousands of hours in many roles in the organization.Since 2007, Robin has prepared and served lunch on the first day of Team Training to new students. She has chaired the Southeast Region’s Tales & Tails Gala and has worked on many Canine Companions events.

Robin was invited to join the Southeast Region board of directors in 2008, serving as the president from 2011-2013.In 2015 she joined the national board of directors. Robin is passionate about raising awareness of the need for volunteer puppy raisers and she leads by example, currently raising her 5th puppy.

Robin inspires many and her passion for volunteering and her ability to establish relationships has prompted many others to become involved with Canine Companions.


Nancy Sawhney, National Board Member

While living in San Diego in 1988, Nancy Sawhney chanced upon a display booth for Canine Companions and was thrilled to realize that a Canine Companions assistance dog could help compensate for her own physical limitations. According to Nancy, the four-year wait for her first service dog was well worth it. Nancy has had a long partnership with Canine Companions, and soon will receive her fourth assistance dog.

In 1993, Nancy moved to Northern California and became active with the Canine Companions Gold Rush Chapter, demonstrating her service dog's many skills at service clubs, church groups, and private and state workplaces.

Prior to moving to California, Nancy worked in counseling at Arizona State University and the University of Pennsylvania, helping students assess and hone their career options. In addition to her board service, Nancy has been a long time public library volunteer.

A graduate of San Diego State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, Nancy claims her highest honor is recognition as a Canine Companions graduate with a highly trained dog by her side. “I want Canine Companions to grow and thrive thereby ensuring this remarkable organization can continue to improve the lives and gladden the hearts of future generations of graduates, staff and volunteers,” explains Nancy.


Jean Schulz, National Board Member, Board Chair Emeritus

Former President and Secretary of the Board Jean Schulz became involved with Canine Companions for Independence in 1986. Her late husband, renowned cartoonist Charles Schulz, thought the dogs ‘marvelous,’ and so did Jean.

Many years later, as the organization continues to grow, Jean is confident Canine Companions will retain its legendary “family feeling,” even as it explores new science and concepts that will enable Canine Companions to place more highly trained assistance dogs with the people who need them.

For the past 50 years, Jean has dedicated herself to numerous community projects and has served on multiple boards. Jean attended Pomona College and graduated from Sonoma State University with a Bachelor’s in English, later receiving an honorary doctorate from her alma mater.

Among her many accomplishments, Jean holds a pilot’s license and was Nevada’s mixed doubles tennis champion in 1979.


Dennis W. Sproule, National Board Member

Dennis Sproule was matched with Hearing Dog Harris, his first hearing dog, in May 1997. As a national board member, he’s made numerous live and media presentations on behalf of Canine Companions. In his professional life, Dennis has been a special education teacher for the Aphasia Program, a program specialist, coordinator and director of Special Education, SELPA director, and Due Process special education specialist.

Dennis earned undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Speech Pathology from the University of California, Los Angeles and a Master’s degree in Science, with a major in Education from California State University, Fullerton. He also holds credentials in both speech language pathology and school administration. While at Fullerton, Dennis was honored as the Outstanding Graduate in Educational Administration.

When not fulfilling his Canine Companions board duties, Dennis works in leadership at the First Presbyterian Church in San Pedro, as the Clerk of Session.


Emily Williams, National Board Member

In 1989, National Board Member Emily Williams responded to an ad in a local newspaper to adopt a Canine Companions for Independence breeder dog. Since answering that first call, Emily has been a caretaker for 11 Canine Companions female breeder dogs and their 43 litters of puppies. She has also raised 14 puppies, making Emily a champion of rare scale in the Canine Companions breeding and puppy raising programs.

During her tenure with Canine Companions, Emily has been the co-chair of the breeder caretaker council and a program and research committee member. Her degree in Zoology from the University of California at Davis contributed to her immediate attraction to and success with Canine Companions. “I hope we always maintain the quality of the gift that we give our graduates, and never lose sight of the needs of those waiting for our dogs,” says Emily, about her work with Canine Companions.

In 1995, Emily was honored with the prestigious Community Service Award for Education from the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County. She was also recognized by Canine Companions as a Heart of History designee in 2000, and was the recipient of the Jack Warnock award in 2002 granted annually to one outstanding Canine Companions volunteer. Emily and her husband Dan live in Santa Rosa, California, and own and operate a successful auto repair business.


William White, National Board Member

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Honorary Board Members:

Terry Levin

Mark Steffens, LPCCI

Judy Allen
Jack Hanna
Dean and Gerda Koontz
Madeleine Paulson
Jon Provost


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