Board and Leadership


Executive Leadership | National Board Officers | Directors

Paul Mundell, CEO

Paul Mundell joined Canine Companions 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.

Mundell 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, Mundell is a consultant for the United States Marine Corps, assisting to develop specialized search dogs that will remotely detect improvised explosive devices. Recently, Mundell’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.


Alan Feinne, CFO

Alan Feinne joined Canine Companions for Independence in 1990. He brings an extensive accounting and non-profit sector experience and sense of humor to Canine Companions’ team as the chief financial officer.

Alan’s previous experience includes 12 years with the American Heart Association’s San Francisco Chapter where he served as director of finance and development. He served on state and national direct mail campaign committees for the organization and participated in all development duties.

Prior to American Heart Association, Alan was an accountant for Straight Arrow Publishers, the corporate parent of Rolling Stone magazine. Alan’s proudest achievement at Rolling Stone was reaching 8th in seniority amongst a staff of over 100 in just two years. Under Alan’s leadership, Canine Companions for Independence has distinguished itself through excellence in its audits.


Return to top

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 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.


Return to top


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 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


Barrie Graham, National Board Member

Barrie 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, National Board Member


Leslie Hennessy, National Board Member

In 1998, Leslie 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

In addition to the Canine Companions for Independence National Board, John serves on the Board of Directors for the Ronald MacDonald House of Seattle. Outside of community service, he works with SUHRCO, assisting clients with real estate and investment needs. He spent twenty years teaching aviation and working as a Captain of Corporate Aircraft for several different local companies and was awarded a national special achievement award from the Business Commercial Pilots Association for his piloting safety record and outstanding work in the area of aircraft management.


Carolyn Hrach, National Board Member


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 with her husband, Bob.


Jill Leverton, National Board Member

Jill is a powerhouse volunteer, a Canine Companions graduate, and a great asset. With her service dog Jewell, 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 Jewel 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


Nancy Sawhney, National Board Member

While living in San Diego in 1988, Nancy 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 own dog was well worth it, and today, she’s enjoying her third service dog, Becky.

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 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.


Additional National Board Members:
William White

Return to top


Honorary Board Members:

Terry Levin

Jim Purton, LPCCI

Judy Allen
Jack Hanna
Dean and Gerda Koontz
Madeleine Paulson
Jon Provost
Jason Taylor, P & G PetCare
Bruce Thorn, PetSmart


Return to top

Copyright © 2015 Canine Companions for Independence, Inc. All rights reserved.