Rick Yount, Executive Director
Rick Yount has served in the field of social work for 25 years. He has involved Animal Assisted Therapy in his practice for the past 15 of those years. Rick holds a B.A. degree from West Virginia University and a M.S. degree in Assistance Dog Education. He combined his social work knowledge and experience with his service dog training background to develop a novel intervention to help Service Members with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Rick pioneered the first therapeutic service dog training program at the Palo Alto, CA Veterans Hospital in 2008.
Rick’s new program concept, involving Veterans with PTSD in the training of mobility service dogs for fellow Veterans, yielded very positive results. He has presented the program concept at forums including the VA National Mental Health Conference and the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies.
Molly Morelli, Director of Dog Programs
Molly Morelli earned her B.S. in Behavioral Psychology at West Virginia University.She has been involved in service dog training for 10 years after first working with Golden Rule Assistance Dogs as part of her field placement. Molly has also been purpose breeding Golden and Labrador Retrievers for mobility service work for more than a decade. Molly works closely with renowned breeders around the country to continually improve Warrior Canine Connection’s breeding program.
Robert Koffman, M.D., Chief Medical Advisor
Retired Navy Captain Robert Koffman, M.D. supports Warriors as they go through the application and matching process with service dogs, and participates in service dog training research studies. During his service, he accumulated 17 years of operational experience as a Naval medical officer in Operation Desert Storm, Antarctica’s McMurdo Station, several aircraft carrier and amphibious vehicle deployments, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Other previous positions include Senior Consultant for Integrative Medicine and Behavioral Health at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE), Director for Psychological Health to the Navy Surgeon General, Navy collaborator and investigator to the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and Department Chief for Clinical Operations at NICoE. Among the many honors bestowed upon him is the U.S. Special Operations Command Patriot Award, which is annually given to one individual or organization that provides significant and enduring support to wounded Warriors and their families.
Allison Proctor, MSW, Director of Mission Based Trauma Recovery
Allison Proctor was introduced to the service dog training profession when she certified her Corgi, Echo, as a professional therapy dog for children with autism. Realizing the deep impact that animals could have on others, Allison felt compelled to understand the human animal connection on a deeper level. Allison received her Masters of Social Work degree from the University of Denver in 2013 with a certificate in Animal-Assisted Social Work. This unique program allowed her to focus her education on exploring the integration of animals in therapeutic settings. She is excited that Warrior Canine Connection has provided her with the perfect opportunity to help others through the healing relationship of the human-animal bond.
Jennifer Wilder, Director of Development
Jennifer Wilder is the Director of Development at Warrior Canine Connection. An Air Force spouse for 20 years, she has dedicated extensive professional and volunteer service in support of military families and military children’s pursuit of higher education. Jennifer has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy, and a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Stephens College in Columbia, MO.
With two decades of experience in development, marketing, communications, and volunteer management, Jennifer has worked in the non-profit, higher education, government and corporate sectors. Her work in these areas has earned many national industry awards, including a Daily Points of Light award from the Points of Light Institute—the world’s largest organization dedicated to solving serious societal problems through voluntary service. Today Jennifer lives in the Washington, DC, area with her husband, David, and two sons.
Meg Daley Olmert, Research Advisor
Meg Daley Olmert is a leading subject matter expert on the biology of the human-animal bond. Her ground-breaking book, Made For Each Other: The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond (DaCapo, 2009) is the first book to explain the brain chemistry that flows through—and between—all mammals forging deep social bonds between the species. This newly discovered brain network also activates a powerful anti-stress response that creates the physical and psychological sense of wellbeing we experience through friendly contact with animals. Meg lectures widely and is a media consultant on this subject. She has also produced and written documentaries for Emmy Award-winning series such as Smithsonian World, National Geographic Explorer, The Discovery Channel Specials, and PBS’ The Living Edens. Meg lives on the Eastern shore of Maryland with her husband and kayaking cats.
Katie Gorman, Client Services Liaison
Katie Gorman is a Certified Brain Injury Specialist (CBIS) who is experienced in direct therapeutic interactions with individuals and groups of Veterans with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress. Katie brings important leadership and team-building skills to her role as Warrior Canine Connection’s liaison for service dog applicants and recipients, with whom she works hard to build a therapeutic rapport.
Katie’s work as Lead Life Skills Trainer with Neurorestorative National Capitol and Warrior Canine Connection led to her receiving The Mentor Network Community Champion Award in 2014. She is a lifelong volunteer with the District of Columbia Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Disabled American Veterans (DAV). She is also the Puppy Parent to WCC Facility Dogs Navi and Breeze.
Jamie Williams, Communications Manager
Jamie Williams has been in the strategic marketing and communications field for more than three decades, working for both profit and non-profit organizations as a consultant, manager and staff member. She began her work for Warrior Canine Connection as an enthusiastic volunteer and quickly expanded her role to writing, website management, electronic communications design and production, media relations, and pretty much anything else that supports WCC’s mission.
Cheryl Bingham, Puppy Parent Program Manager and Trainer
Cheryl Bingham has been training dogs for most of her adult life. She started specializing in Service Dog Training five years ago after meeting a Veteran with his service dog and learning what a positive change it made in his life. Since that meeting, she has raised two dogs for a service dog organization in Virginia and served as that program’s Director of Client Services. Cheryl completed certificates in the Service Dog Training Seminar and The High School Assistance Dog Program. She is currently enrolled in the Karen Pryor Dog Trainer Program, an intense curriculum focusing on positive reinforcement training.
Having been a puppy parent herself, Cheryl brings a valuable perspective to her role as WCC’s Puppy Program Manager. Cheryl lives in Maryland with her loving canine family of three; a Lab, Golden/Lab cross and a Basenji.
Thomae Jones, LCSW, Clinical Service Dog Training Instructor
Thomae Jones is a former U.S. Army veterinary technician and former Behavioral Health Officer. He holds a BA in Educational Psychology from Northeast Louisiana University and attended the U.S. Army’s School of Social Work at Fort Sam Houston, TX. He completed his Licensed Clinical Social Work internship at Tripler Army Medical Center and Schofield Barracks, HI in 2014, with an emphasis on post-traumatic stress and the effects of multiple deployments and combat trauma on military families. As a social worker and a Veteran, Thomae finds great satisfaction utilizing his experience, education and love for dogs to assist wounded Warriors recovering from their injuries.
Emily Mittelman, MSW, Clinical Service Dog Training Instructor
Emily Mittelman grew up in a military family and knew from an early age that she wanted to work with Service Members in some capacity. While working closely with wounded Warriors through employment and volunteering at a therapeutic riding program, she was introduced to social work. As a result of this experience she decided to pursue her Masters of Social Work with a certificate in Animal-Assisted Social Work at the University of Denver. She successfully completed the program in 2015.
It was during an internship at this program that she was introduced to the concept of training service dogs in a therapeutic setting. The organization incorporated therapeutic dog training with shelter rescues in group and individual settings with children and youth who were considered at risk. During her time at this agency, Emily also aided in the training and evaluation of many of the adoptable professional therapy and service dogs to help with successful placement, as well as trained and certified professional therapy dogs.
Ellen Fisher, Program Manager Palo Alto VA
Ellen Fisher brings Warrior Canine Connection a wealth of experience in service dog training, animal-assisted therapy, and animal welfare. She spent three years working for an animal shelter in Oakland, CA as the Humane Education Coordinator, where she managed a violence prevention program called “Teaching Love and Compassion.” The program teaches at-risk middle school students through a combination of shelter-dog training and empathy-based classroom curriculum. Ellen also managed the shelter’s animal-assisted therapy program, starting a therapeutic reading program for non-native English speakers and shy readers.
Prior to her work at the shelter, Ellen trained diabetic alert dogs at a service dog organization. She has an Associate of Science degree in Assistance Dog Education; is currently enrolled in the Academy for Dog Trainers, a world-renowned, scientific-based applied dog behavior program; and is a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her two rescue dogs, Sage and Modoc.
Jennifer Blessing, Service Dog Training Instructor
Jen Blessing’s love for dog training became evident while she was attending her first college, where she obtained an Applied Animal Science degree. It was during this schooling that she had the benefit of working hands-on with shelter dogs, training them to increase their opportunity for adoption. Prior to graduation, Jen researched jobs working with canines, which led her to the world of service dogs.
To get a better understanding of service dogs, Jennifer then attended a second college, where she graduated with an Associates Degree in Assistance Dog Education and a certificate in Dogs Helping Veterans. Her enthusiasm for training dogs quickly elevated into a passion for working with dogs that help people,, especially service members. Warrior Canine Connection’s mission is in perfect alignment with Jen’s vision and passion.
Daniel Fudge, Service Dog Training Instructor
Daniel Fudge was honorably discharged in 2012 from the Marine Corps, where he was a part of the presidential support program and deployed with 1st Battalion 4th Marines. Daniel has an A.S. degree in Business and Companion Dog Studies, and a B.S. degree in Cynology (canine studies). Between school years, he took a dual-purpose explosive detector dog handler’s course and helped to train police K9 teams in the Northern Bay Area of San Francisco. Daniel has trained dogs in agility, rally and AKC obedience, search and rescue, and nose work. He also co-founded the Dogs Helping Veterans Certificate Program which helped Veterans in Sonoma County, CA reconnect with the world. Daniel adapted a released service dog, Kolenko, and enjoys spending his free time hiking with him in Northern Virginia.
Kaitlyn Fudge, Service Dog Training Instructor
While pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Kaitlyn Fudge spent a great deal of time volunteering at a service dog organization. This experience led her, after graduation, to earn an additional degree in Canine Studies, with an emphasis on business and companion dog studies. During this time, Kaitlyn’s most gratifying and fulfilling experience was taking part in a program that utilized dog training as a therapeutic intervention for Veterans with post-traumatic stress. This work inspired her to pursue a career helping wounded Warriors. She has also trained and assisted in the placement of dogs for individuals with PTSD, mobility service dogs, and facility dogs, and has worked in animal-assisted and social therapy programs.
Rachelle Miller, Service Dog Training Instructor
Rachelle Miller has been working with dogs for the past decade as a dog trainer with experience in pet and trick training, search and rescue, patrol, guide dog work, and now service dogs. Rachelle also served honorably with D co. 1/150th Assault Helicopter Battalion in the New Jersey Army National Guard as a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter mechanic for five years. Her drive to create human and working dog partnerships combined with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a Minor in Art from Rutgers University allows her to creatively apply her knowledge to help recovering Warriors reconnect with their lives.
Rachelle’s extensive knowledge of dogs, drive, and ambition, coupled with her military background make her a perfect match for fulfilling Warrior Canine Connection’s mission and has allowed her to excel in all aspects of her position as a Service Dog Training Instructor. Rachelle lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her German Shepherd, Rhyme and enjoys spending her free time teaching Rhyme tricks and staying active.
Marshall Peters, Service Dog Training Instructor
Marshall Peters served honorably in the United States Navy for six and a half years as a Hospital Corpsman. During that time, he deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Upon returning to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in 2010 from his deployment to the Role 3 Multi-National Medical Unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan, he volunteered to handle one of Walter Reeds Facility Therapy Dogs, Gunnery Sergeant Archie.
Witnessing the overwhelmingly positive impact Archie had on recovering Warriors, and with mentorship from a dear friend, he was inspired to follow a new career path. In November 2012 he finished his commitment to the Navy and pursued a career in Animal Assisted Therapy with Warrior Canine Connection. Having certifications in both service dog training and canine behavioral psychology in addition to his years of service in military medicine, he is uniquely equipped and passionately motivated to help fulfill the mission of Warrior Canine Connection.
Danielle Young, Service Dog Training Instructor
Danielle Young’s passion, for as long as she can remember, has been to share the therapeutic benefits of dogs and watching them transform lives. Growing up, her family bred Golden Retrievers – it was during this time that she trained her first Golden through Therapy Dogs International, working with high school students with reading challenges. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Canine Studies, including certification in therapeutic dog programs for female juvenile offenders and for Veterans with post-traumatic stress.
Prior to joining the WCC staff, Danielle operated the Client Services Department at a different service dog organization, evaluating applicants and matching them with the right dog. In addition to service dogs, Danielle has trained dogs for scent detection, tracking, search and rescue, obedience, agility, hunting, police and protection. She has also worked with many different breeds of dogs in shelters, problem solving behavioral issues to increase adoption rates. Danielle is excited to bring her passion and wealth of experience to WCC, and to help change the lives of recovering Warriors through the power of the human-animal bond.
Tim O’Boyle, Property Maintenance and Program Assistant
Tim O’Boyle joined Warrior Canine Connection upon completion of an internship with The Mission Continues. After a decade of service in the US Army, including multiple deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, Tim was medically discharged and earned his Associate of Science degree in Assistance Dog Education. In his role, he assists WCC’s Service Dog Training Instructors. Tim is also responsible for maintaining a safe environment for staff, clients, volunteers and dogs at WCC’s Brookeville Healing Quarters and the new Germantown location. Tim gets great pleasure renovating the new Healing Quarters, knowing that it will be a special place for Veterans to work with dogs, spend time with their families, and enjoy a peaceful time in rural Maryland.