Meet the ADI Assessors
Assistance Dogs International would like to thank all of the volunteer assessors and their programs that allow them to participate. Without these hardworking individuals the ADI accreditation process could not happen.
General Manager, Operations
Assistance Dogs Australia
Alex Ivic (trainee)
Manager of Development
Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind
Saint Francis Service Dogs
Cabell Youell is the Executive Director of Saint Francis Service Dogs. She graduated from the University of Virginia and earned her law degree at Washington and Lee University School of Law. After practicing law for several years, she joined Saint Francis Service Dogs in 2003. Cabell has been an ADI Assessor since 2017. In addition, Cabell has served on the Board of Directors of ADI and ADI North America. She lives in Roanoke, VA with her husband and two dogs.
National Director of Client Services
Canine Companions for Independence
Clark Pappas joined Canine Companions for Independence in 1988 and became the National Program Director in 1992 where he implemented new programs and enhanced existing ones. In his current role as the Director of Client Services, he oversees all national and regional client operations. Over the years, he has served on several ADI sub-committees including the initial ADI Accreditation Committee. In 1999, he authored the first working draft of the accreditation manual and helped facilitate three years of spirited committee collaboration prior to its implementation. In 2002, he coordinated the logistics of the first wave of accreditation surveys. The following year, he formed the Accreditation Review Committee (ARC) to promote objectivity and transparency in the accreditation process. He lives in Northern California with his wife and three children.
Service Improvement Lead – Canine Assisted Services
Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (UK)
David joined Guide Dogs For The Blind in 1985. He has worked at a number of Guide Dogs sites in the UK and has also worked for the South African Guide Dogs Association. During his time there he qualified as an Animal Behaviour Consultant and is an Honorary Life member of the ABC of South Africa. He spent 7 years working for Canine Partners UK as Director of Operations before returning to Guide Dogs to work on their dual dog program. David was an IGDF assessor and is now an ADI assessor and part of the Accreditation Review Committee.
Director of Programs
Helping Paws, Inc.
Founder and Managing Director
Verein Partner Hunde Österreich
Elisabeth Faerbinger has always been fascinated by dogs and could hardly wait to get her first dog at the age of 13. She grew up "living the dream" of watching trainers and taking part in several dog competitions. After finishing school she started to study biology, but was drawn back to dogs. This led her to start the first assistance dogs program in Austria. In the thirty plus years the program has been helping people, the program has placed over 350 assistance dogs all over the German-speaking area is Europe (Germany, Switzerland, and Italy). Her program offers assistance dogs for children and adults with a focus in service, hearing, diabetes, and autism dogs.
Chief Canine Care Officer
America’s VetDogs and Guide Dog Foundation
Grete Eide is Chief Canine Care Officer of the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc.® and America’s VetDogs®. She earned her BS in Biological Sciences with a concentration in animal anatomy and physiology from Cornell University. She also studied in the PhD program in Physical Anthropology with a focus on primate ecomorphology at Stony Brook University. At the Guide Dog Foundation, Grete leads the Breeding, Veterinary Services, Volunteer Services, Canine Care, and Consumer Services teams. She plays an active role in Assistance Dogs International, having served as a founding member of ADI’s North American Breeding Cooperative and an international accreditor since 2017. She is an instructor in the School of Professional Studies and Young Visionaries Academy at Long Island University. Grete shares her home with a menagerie of dogs, cats, chickens, honeybees, and one very patient spouse!
Assistance Dogs Specialist
Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind
Hannah holds a Hons degree in Anthropology (Anthrozoology) and a MSC in Biology (Canine behavior), as well as a diploma in Project management. Since joining the assistance dog field 17 years ago Hannah has been training Dogs and adults and children with a range of impairments for charities such as Hearing dogs for Deaf People UK, Dogs for the Disabled IE and now Irish Guide Dogs for The Blind in both team leader and management roles. Hannah is a great believer in empowering confidence within people and using positive reward based approaches in her training. She has served as an ADI accreditation assessor since 2014, and finds this to be a rewarding and enriching experience. When she is not working and assessing, Hannah enjoys nothing more than running her two dogs on the beautiful Irish beaches and idyllic countryside, and enjoying a pint of Beamish by the fire in her local traditional Irish pub.
Director of Training and Development
Dogs for Good
Helen McCain is Director of Training and Development at Dogs for Good. Over many years Helen has led the development of assistance dog services to help adults and children with a wide range of disabilities and also children with autism. She personally trained the charity’s first autism assistance dog in 2007.Helen was instrumental in developing Dogs for Good’s Community Dog service, training therapy and activity dogs to work alongside specialist handlers in schools and communities. Together they help adults and children to overcome specific challenges and develop life skills. Helen has played an integral role in setting standards for Assistance Dogs International and is also an assessor.
Inge has had dogs all of her life, starting with a German Shepherd she received at age 12. She started her path with assistance dogs as a foster family for a Labrador Retriever. After the second assistance dog she fostered, she was asked to become an Instructor. She started in 1995 and after the merger of 3 foundations in 2001, she now works for Stichting Hulphond Nerderland. She has done several jobs within the foundation; She started as a trainer for the assistance dogs, then helped the foster families raising the puppies, and now she is a Client Instructor. Her current position has been her favorite: helping the clients with their dog to become a great team.
Inge has been an ADI assessor since 2015. She enjoys seeing how other foundations work and giving them some advice, if necessary, and, of course, learning from them too. She is very happy that Hulphond Nederland gives her the opportunity to be an ADI assessor!
Client Services Director
Ability Center Assistance Dogs
Jenny joined Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence as the Client Services Director in August, 2007. She is responsible for interviewing potential clients, organizing and facilitating team training and graduate activities, graduate follow up visits, certifications, and re-certifications. Since ADAI’s merger with the Ability Center of Greater Toledo in 2011, she has also worked in development for ADAI and the Ability Center. Jenny’s background includes working with animals, as well as working in education and government. She came to Assistance Dogs after working as the Clinic Director for Humane Ohio, a low cost spay/neuter clinic. Jenny and her husband live with their two dogs and two cats. Her hobbies include watching movies, reading, traveling, running 5K’s and spending time with family and friends. Jenny has been an assessor for ADI since 2015.
Jo Baker (trainee)
Righteous Pups Australia
Head of Programs, Instructor
After working as a psychiatric nurse, Joop started working with assistance dogs at Hulphond Nederland in 2003 as a Client Instructor and Manager of Client Care. While working there he helped start a pilot program for seizure dogs for those with epilepsy. After having clients inquire about training their own assistance dogs, which was not offered at his current program, Joop was inspired to co-found his own assistance dog program in 2008. Joop knew from his time as a nurse working in a rehabilitation center where it was always the goal to get people motivated to work together in solving their ‘problems’ or issues that what you can do yourself, do it yourself, in a way that’s fitting with your situation; he knew it would be possible for a person to train their own assistance dog. He now enjoys working with people to train their own assistance dogs as well as being an assessor for ADI. He believes we all can learn a lot from each other and that the bonding is important in growing together - just as it is between a person and it’s assistance dog!
Kyria Henry Whisenhunt (trainee)
Founder and Executive Director
Kyria founded paws4people in 1999. Kyria serves as Executive Director of paws4people. She is the Program Director and Instructor of the University of North Carolina Wilmington Assistance Dog Training Program, the first and only comprehensive Assistance Dog academic certificate program at a state university. She has also served as an adjunct faculty member of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry. Most importantly, she is mom to her Ambassador Assistance Dog, WYATT, and her Scent Detection Facility Dog In-Training, HOBBS. Kyria started as an assessor for ADI in 2019.
Founder and Executive Director
Patriot PAWS Service Dogs
Lori Stevens is the Founder and Executive Director of Patriot PAWS Service Dogs. In 2005, while working as a professional dog trainer, she was asked to help a group of disabled veterans train their dogs. After working with these veterans and visiting the VA Hospital in Dallas, she realized just how many of our disabled veterans are in desperate need of assistance dogs and she knew she had to help. With the help of a few friends and family, she started Patriot PAWS Service Dogs in Rockwall, TX, training only about 8 dogs at a time. Patriot PAWS has grown to train and house as many as 25 dogs and place about 10-15 Patriot PAWS Service Dogs with disabled veterans each year. Lori began as an assessor for ADI in 2017.
Director, Head Trainer
Scale Dogs asbl
Marianne is the Director and Head Instructor of Scale Dogs, a small guide dog program in Belgium. After giving pet dog classes at Scale Dogs as a volunteer, she decided in 2003 to leave behind her professional career in the commercial sector in order to start as a guide dog instructor. Over the years she took on more responsibilities and, since 2009, has been sharing her time between the management of the program, training dogs, and coaching the instructor team. The team at Scale Dogs during her time has grown from 3 people to 7 people and the program has started an autism dog program in addition to their guide dog program. Additionally, Marianne is a board member at Dyadis, another service dog program. Marianne became an assessor in 2014. She enjoys working with new programs, sharing experiences while verifying whether they are right on track, and helping programs by providing advice.
K9s 4 Mobility
Michelle was one of the founders of K9s 4 Mobility in 2012. She became an Assistance Dogs International Certified Instructor in 2002 after completing a three-year training program with an Assistance Dogs International Accredited Program. She has been involved in the breeding, training and placement of Assistance Dogs since 1997. She has also served as a board member for the North American region of ADI from 2008-2012. Michelle has worked with ADI as an Accreditation Assessor since 2009, traveling to many different programs around the world. She is the CEO for K9s 4 Mobility located in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Client Services Manager
Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS)
Sally J. Irvin, PhD
In 2001 Sally founded Indiana Canine Assistant Network (ICAN). For 19 years she served as Executive Director and VP of Programs. Her heart and focus have always been on maximizing the potential of each dog and student. Additionally, she served as a board member of Assistance Dogs International. In this role she served as an assessor and a committee member on the training, legislative, veterans affairs and advocacy committees. In 2017 Sally was the first Executive Director of Assistance Dogs International. Her focus was to develop practices and processes that supported membership and accreditation. Throughout her service dog career Sally has served as a subject matter expert in legal cases and as a mentor to many new and growing programs. Sally has been an ADI assessor since 2012.
Director of External Relations, Quality Assurance and Program Development
America’s VetDogs and Guide Dog Foundation
Sheila O’Brien began her career in the Assistance Dog Industry in 1978 training Hearing Dogs. She created a canine test to assess the potential of shelter dogs for hearing dog work that is still used in the industry today. She became a Charter member of ADI and served four terms on the ADI Board of Directors as its 1st Vice President. She presently is serving a 5th term on the International Board and Chairs the Board of Directors for the North American Region. She serves on numerous committees and introduced many new concepts into the Assistance dog Industry. These achievements include: a voluntary “Program of Excellence” that that became the basis for the ADI accreditation standards, becoming an assessor, serving on the Accreditation Review Committee, leading a delegation to South Africa to further introduce the concept of assistance dogs, chairing the committees that created the standards for Prison Puppy Programs and military-related PTSD placements, and developing a service dog training program for wounded veterans, which developed into a Trauma Alert Dog program that also serviced veterans with PTSD. Presently she is working with the airlines as well as Senators and Congressmen to make the airlines accessible for all those who travel with Service Dogs.
Service Dog Program Manager
Valerie has volunteered and worked for the Guide Dog Foundation and America’s VetDogs since 2003. For over 15 years, Valerie's passion for working with dogs began as a volunteer puppy raiser for the Foundation and eventually lead to a career as a Certified Guide Dog Mobility Instructor in 2005. After seven years working as a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor, Valerie transitioned to a service dog apprentice program in 2012 earning her certification as a Service Dog Instructor in 2014. Valerie has placed more than 175 assistance dogs with U.S. Military Veterans and individuals that are blind and as of 2019 has become an ADI Assessor. During her tenure, Valerie’s most notable accomplishment, was the training and placement of Sully, former President George H.W. Bush’s service dog, who now serves at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Valerie is also responsible for creating and implementing the Combat Stress Control Dogs (COSC) program where specially trained canines are deployed in theater to provide emotional support for active military personnel as well as Facility Dogs that provide animal assisted therapy intervention to wounded soldiers and active duty personnel during their recovery at various military hospitals and veterans' medical centers.
Vanessa lives in Belgium, though a piece of her heart is still in Switzerland. Her first contact with dog training was when she followed lessons with Vaya, her own beautiful Flat-Coated Retriever, in a dog school when she was just a teenager. She trained her first service dog, Alissa, as a volunteer in 2000. Vanessa moved to Switzerland two years later, where her focus was on positive training for dogs. She obtained a Federal Certificate as Dog Trainer and also continued to train and follow-up on service dogs in Belgium. Her thesis focused on the relationship between dogs and young offenders in teenage prisons. She wanted to prove that dogs can help to create and build human relationships, develop communication skills and build self-esteem. When she came back to Belgium in 2010 she founded Os'mose. Os'mose trains dogs to react and work with as few commands as possible. Her organization was first accredited by ADI in 2015 and they are currently building a beautiful dog training center from natural elements: wood, straw and natural rubber. Vanessa, who has been employed as director of Os'mose since 2016, is also fighting an ongoing battle for the right to access public spaces with a service dog. Vanessa enjoys being an assessor for ADI stating, "To be an assessor is a big chance for me to evolve constantly. A chance to improve my method and to create links with other organisations in Europe. A great opportunity, sometimes stressful or tiring, but to be better and better each day and mostly to meet a lot of interesting people."
Director of Service Dog Program
Tender Loving Canines/Guide Dogs of America
Victoria began as a volunteer dog trainer with Tender Loving Canines Assistance Dogs (TLC) in January of 2013, as a way of giving back to the community. Her love of training dogs and passion for making a diﬀerence, prompted her to join the TLC staﬀ. In November 2014, Victoria helped launch the Prisoners Overcoming Obstacles & Creating Hope training program as a way to increase the population of trainers available to help raise and train TLC’s service dogs. Victoria’s experience is in the overall development, implementation and oversight of the program. She works closely with prison staff to develop all policies and procedures, has taught classes to program participants and volunteers and works to secure future sustainability of the program. In 2014 Victoria became a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Professional (CTP). Victoria has been an assessor for Assistance Dogs International (ADI) since 2019. She also serves on ADI’s Standards Committee. In 2020, TLC merged with Guide Dogs of America and Victoria is now the Director for the Service Dog Program.
Zuhey Medina-Gonzalez (trainee)
Genetics, Reproduction and Puppy Care Director
Southeastern Guide Dogs
Zuhey Medina-Gonzalez is the Director of Genetics, Reproduction and Puppy Care at Southeastern Guide Dogs. She has been with SEGD since September 2013 and has experience in breeding, whelping, puppy education and production management. During her tenure as director, she has created a team to elevate breeding techniques at SEGD and has helped create a high quality puppy education program. Before she joined the assistance dog world, she worked at Nestle Purina at their Product Technology Center in Missouri. There, she worked with cats and dogs and developed a passion for nutrition and puppy development. Zuhey has a B.S. in Animal Science from New Mexico State University and has experience working in different kennel settings and veterinary clinics. Zuhey became an ADI assessor in 2019.