Board and Leadership

Meet Canine Companions for Independence board of directors and leadership

Executive Leadership

Paige Mazzoni, CEO

Paige Mazzoni joined Canine Companions for Independence as CEO in 2018 and brings more than 25 years of professional experience, concentrated in corporate strategy and management, strategic initiative development and marketing implementation, including directing product and company positioning. Click here to read more about Paige Mazzoni.

Jack Peirce, CFO & Corporate Treasurer

Jack Peirce joined Canine Companions for Independence as chief financial officer and corporate treasurer in 2016. Jack leads the financial, accounting and business operations of Canine Companions and assist with corporate governance matters, strategic initiatives and major operational projects. Canine Companions' mission appealed to his desire to join the organization. Click here to read more about Jack Peirce.

Barbara Barrow, Chief Development Officer

Barbara Barrow first joined Canine Companions for Independence in December 2011 as the Executive Director of the Southwest Region. Under Barbara’s leadership, the Southwest Region’s operating income grew from $3 million in 2012 to over $5 million in 2016. In March 2017, Barbara assumed her current role as chief development officer and is responsible for shaping the organization’s overall fundraising strategy. Click here to read more about Barbara Barrow.

Sarah Birman, National Director of Training and Client Services

Sarah received her bachelor’s degree in neurobiology and animal behavior from Cornell University. Sarah first started working with Canine Companions in 2010 as a member of the training staff, training approximately 100 assistance dogs in her time as an instructor. Click here to read more about Sarah Birman.

Brenda S. Kennedy, DVM MS, National Director of Canine Health and Research

Dr. Brenda Kennedy joined Canine Companions as their national veterinarian in 2014 and was promoted to her current position as the director of canine health and research in 2016 - a role that combines her passion for research with her love of veterinary medicine. Click here to read more about Dr. Brenda Kennedy.

Jeanine Konopelski, National Director of Marketing

Jeanine Konopelski joined Canine Companions in 2006, leading the organization’s marketing and public relations efforts. Jeanine manages the overall Canine Companions brand marketing strategy, with the core objective to engage more people in Canine Companions' mission. She oversees the creation and execution of integrated marketing campaigns and programs to grow, mobilize and steward the broad and diverse family of Canine Companions stakeholders. Click here to read more about Jeanine Konopelski.

National Board Officers

John McKinney, 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. Click here to read more about John McKinney.

Dr. Pauline Parry, Vice Chair

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. Click here to read more about Dr. Pauline Parry.

Leslie Hennessy, Treasurer

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. Click here to read more about Leslie Hennessy.

Wm. Stephen Boyd, Secretary

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. Click here to read more about Wm. Stephen Boyd.

Directors

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. Click here to read more about Anne Gittinger.

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. Click here to read more about Barrie Graham.

Bob Street, National Board Member

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. Click here to read more about Bob Street.

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. Click here to read more about Carolyn Hrach.

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. Click here to read more about Chris Kittredge.

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. Click here to read more about Dennis Sproule.

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. Click here to read more about Emily Williams.

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. Click here to read more about Jean Schulz.

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. Click here to read more about Jill Leverton.

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. Click here to read more about John Elliott.

John Miller, National Board Member, Immediate Past 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. Click here to read more about John Miller.

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. Click here to read more about John Hopen.

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. Click here to read more about Judge Kinkeade.

Juergen Rottler, National Board Member

Juergen Rottler is a proven business executive, inspirational leader, independent director, and advisor. He has served organizations ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies, such as Oracle Corporation and Hewlett-Packard. Click here to read more about Juergen Rottler.

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. Click here to read more about Mel Gottlieb.

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. Click here to read more about Nancy Sawhney.

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. Click here to read more about Robin Sanchez.

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. Click here to read more about Russ Gurevitch.

Honorary Board Members:

Associate:
Terry Levin

Ex-Officio:
Teresa Hart, LPCCI

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