About Freedom Service Dogs

At Freedom Service Dogs, we unleash the potential of dogs by transforming them into custom-trained, life-changing assistance dogs for people in need. The clients we serve live with disabilities like autism, traumatic brain injury (TBI), multiple sclerosis (MS), muscular dystrophy (MD), Down syndrome, cerebral palsy (CP), spinal cord injuries, and more. We also serve veterans with post-traumatic stress (PTS); however, we do not provide service dogs for non-military civilians diagnosed with PTS. FSD has been recognized nationally for its innovative approach and life-changing work.

Since 1987, FSD has graduated hundreds of client-dog teams. Dogs that are not suitable for service dog work—or “career change” dogs, as we lovingly refer to them— are adopted into forever homes.

History

Freedom Service Dogs was founded in 1987 as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization by Michael and PJ Roche. The Roches worked tirelessly to transform FSD from a local, two-person organization to one of the leading service dog training organizations in the country at a time when the assistance dog industry was in the early stages of development.


As FSD expanded, its leaders recognized a need for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to have additional support as they entered civilian life, leading to the launch of Operation Freedom, a program that provides custom-trained service dogs to veterans with disabilities.

Services

Service dogs can perform a multitude of tasks that increase the independence and self-sufficiency of their human partners. People with service dogs show significant improvement psychologically, socially, and even economically—and the benefit is mutual for both human and service dog.

SOME OF THE WAYS FREEDOM SERVICE DOGS HELP OUR CLIENTS

Retrieve and carry dropped objects
Push medical alert or 911 button
Find and retrieve phone
Go for Help
Retrieve items from refrigerator
Push handicap buttons
Turn lights on and off
Open and close doors
Enhance balance while walking or using stairs
Provide brace for transfers
Assist in pulling wheelchair
Retrieve adaptive equipment
Carry items in mouth or service packs
Specialized tasks, such as tug coat off, pull client upright, and more
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Our Organization

 

Michele Ostrander, President and CEO

Michele Ostrander joined Freedom Service Dogs of America in January 2016 as president and CEO. Ostrander has more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit leadership. Most recently, she served as CEO for Susan G. Komen® Colorado. Prior to Komen, Ostrander served as executive director for Tahoe Women’s Services, helping survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Honors include being named one of the 50 most influential people in Denver by 5280 Magazine in 2010 and an Out Front Power Player in 2012.

Ostrander holds a master’s degree in psychology from St. Bonaventure University. She currently serves as a board member and treasurer for Assistance Dogs International (ADI) and as a mayoral appointee for the Denver Judicial Discipline Commission. Previously, she has served as a mayoral appointee on the Denver Women’s Commission, board director for the Audubon Society of Greater Denver, and vice president of the Clayton Neighborhood Association. Ostrander lives in Denver with her wife, Sofia Aguilar, and her dogs, Toodles and Scout, all of whom love to camp, hike, and enjoy the beauty of Colorado.

To contact Michele, email mostrander@freedomservicedogs.org or call 303-922-6231.

Board Chair
Michelle Search
Jefferson Wells

Michelle Search has been the director of sales and client services at Experis Finance for 15 years. Previously, she served as a senior manager at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Michelle brings expertise in business development, finance, accounting, and audit—as well as experience on the boards of American Lung Association of Colorado and Susan G Komen Colorado—to the FSD board.

Michelle has one son and several dogs: border collies Zena and Stella, American Staffordshire terriers Iggy and Layla, and miniature poodle Foppa. She enjoys yoga, kickboxing, motorcycles, rollercoasters, and spending time with her human and canine family in Colorado.

“I wanted to expand my not-for-profit board participation to an organization that is focused on improving lives and creating brighter futures. FSD does that for humans and canines with compassion and professionalism, so I knew they would be a great fit!”

Vice Co-Chair
Blake Finley
Addison & Maxwell Real Estate Brokerage

Blake Finley is an associate broker at Addison & Maxwell Real Estate Brokerage. Previously, she was regional sales trainer and division manager for Forest Pharmaceuticals. Her areas of expertise include sales, negotiation, communication, and real estate.

Blake lives with her dog Sigma, a Great Dane/American bulldog mix. Her hobbies include fly fishing, camping, hiking, and reading.

“My love for dogs and my passion for helping veterans is what drew me to FSD as a volunteer dog walker and part of the speakers bureau originally. As I learned more about the work FSD does for many types of people, giving shelter dogs a second chance, and changing the lives of clients, I wanted to do more—and joining the board was another way to help.”

Vice Co-Chair
Lani Kessler
Write Occasions

Lani Kessler is the owner of Write Occasions, a business that specializes in creating custom invitations for weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, and special events. Prior to founding her business 22 years ago, Lani worked as corporate, local, and regional director of customer services for McCaw Cellular, AT&T Wireless, and TCI Cable. She brings expertise in customer service, marketing, and human resources management—along with experience on the boards of Rose Women’s Organization, Jewish Family Service of Colorado, and Aish/Ahavas Yisroel—to her role as an FSD board member.

Lani and her husband have one daughter and two dogs: Simba, a poodle mix, and Lulu, a cockapoo. She enjoys hiking and biking in her free time.

“My family takes great pride in being involved with FSD for 32 years. Seeing firsthand the impact of FSD on both human and canine lives is the most life-changing experience and one that I wanted to be more actively involved in to help make a meaningful difference in the lives of both people with disabilities and dogs.”

Treasurer
Brian Frevert
Retired, CPA/CFP

Brian Frevert is retired from his position as a partner at RubinBrown LLP, a regional CPA firm. He brings expertise in finance, income taxation, and investments, along with previous board experience at Disco’s Dogs, Inc., and Mount Princeton Home Owners Association, to the FSD board.

Brian and his wife have three children and an Australian shepherd, Sydney. He enjoys biking, hiking, skiing, traveling, and reading.

“I believe in the mission of FSD to help children and veterans with disabilities acquire tailor-trained service dogs they could not otherwise afford, and support the master trainers in the Colorado prison system who help train FSD dogs.”

Board Members

Kristen Deevy
Pensionmark Financial Group

Kristen Deevy is managing director of Pensionmark Financial Group, where for more than 20 years, she has made it easier for businesses to help their employees achieve a successful retirement by providing financial wellness, investment, and fiduciary support for corporate retirement plans. Kristen brings expertise in finance, fiduciary governance, and investment strategy to the FSD board, as well as experience on the boards of Grant Ranch Swim Team and the Alpha Chi Omega Advisory Board.

Kristen and her husband have two children and a white English Labrador named Kelby. In her free time, she enjoys skiing, beach time with her family, and supporting her kids at swim meets and basketball games.

“The mission of the FSD board really resonated with me. My father is a veteran and my mom worked with special-needs children most of her career. I really wanted to find an organization that I can give back to that helps transform the lives of so many people, and I felt Freedom Service Dogs was a perfect fit. Also, any chance to work with dogs is a big plus and adds a smile to anyone’s day!”

Laura Fitch
Centura Health–Porter Adventist Hospital

Laura Fitch is chief development officer at Centura Health–Porter Adventist Hospital. She was previously director of events for five of the hospitals within the Centura Health network, where she created, developed, and executed all aspects of fundraising events. In addition to her expertise in special events and fundraising, Laura has served on the boards of the University of Denver, Girls Inc., Cancer League of Colorado, Junior League of Denver, and Kempe Children’s Foundation.

Laura and her husband have two daughters and two lovable “Shichons” (shih tzu/bichon frise) named Bella and Riley. She enjoys hiking, biking, travel, and spending time with her family.

“I have been involved with nonprofit organizations for over 25 years. I enjoy giving back to the community and making a difference in the lives of others. The mission and purpose of FSD is a life-changing one, and I look forward to being a part of those heartfelt and meaningful moments!”

Kristi Graning
Loan Stop

Kristi Graning is a partner at LoanStop Acquisitions LLC, having previously served as senior vice president at RE/MAX LLC for 21 years. Along with expertise in executive leadership, contract negotiations, technology strategy, branding, and marketing, Kristi brings experience on the Colorado Technology Association Board of Directors to her role at FSD.

Kristi has two sons and three dogs: Millie, a black Labrador retriever mix who is a career-change dog from FSD, Zerbit, a chocolate Labradoodle, and Omie, a cavapoo. She enjoys reading, boating, water and snow skiing, and spending time with her boys.

“With my lengthy experience in executive management, I feel I can contribute to FSD business strategies. At the same time, I have a personal connection to FSD’s mission because I have a son with autism and a Freedom Service Dog in our home. Both of these positions lend value when determining the mission, future, and growth of FSD.”

Gabe Koroluk
Private Wealth Management

Gabe Koroluk is a private wealth manager who was previously a business intelligence manager for public sector/human services clients at Deloitte Consulting. He has been lending his expertise in finance and investments to help FSD create a path to financial sustainability for years to come.

Gabe and his wife have two sons, as well as a third-party service dog from FSD’s Disco’s Dogs program for children with autism and developmental disabilities. His hobbies include hiking and snowboarding.

“I joined the FSD board after we got a service dog for our son and I saw the amazingly positive impact that it had on his life. We felt very fortunate, and I wanted to do something to help make this gift more accessible to others.”

Tom Krysa
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP

Tom Krysa is a shareholder at Foley & Lardner LLP, where he advises clients in securities litigation and enforcement matters, government investigations, and complex commercial disputes. He previously held various positions as an attorney for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in Denver. Tom brings expertise in legal affairs and board governance to FSD, along with nonprofit experience at Tennyson Center for Children.

Tom and his wife have three children and two dogs: Rocco, a chocolate Lab, and Spike, a Boston terrier. He enjoys fly fishing in his free time.

“I support and believe in FSD’s mission, and I love dogs.”

Peter Meyers
Black Creek Capital Markets

Pete Meyers brings a wealth of experience in financial services to FSD. He is currently senior vice president of internal sales for Black Creek Capital Markets, prior to which he served as vice president of the national sales desk at Jackson.

Pete and his wife have two children and a Berniedoodle named Griffey. He enjoys camping and sports in his free time.

“I joined the FSD board to help make a difference in the lives of people in need. The connection that can be formed between a dog and a human is remarkable; they can quite literally save each other. To witness this bond and know that you may have played a small part in it is very satisfying. The passion that everyone associated with FSD brings to this great cause is infectious, and I love being a part of it.”

Brian Sward
Jackson National Life Distributors

Brian Sward is supervisor of product and investment management at Jackson National Life Distributors. He brings expertise in financial services and experience on the board of the Secure Retirement Institute to his role on the FSD board of directors.

Brian and his wife have two children and a goldendoodle named Rockie. In his free time, Brian enjoys skiing, hiking, and biking.

“I am a dog lover and enjoy spending time with dogs. While living in Denver, I spent time with the FSD dogs as a volunteer and also fostered some on weekends. I really love the fact that the organization takes in shelter dogs and turns them into assistance dogs for people in need. Additionally, both my father and father-in-law served in the military, and supporting FSD allows me to give back to veterans who have given so much to our country.”

Keith Trammell
Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP

Keith Trammell is a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP. He brings experience in corporate governance and transactions, as well as expertise in organization strategy, risk management, and capacity building, to his role on the FSD board. Keith previously served nine years on the board of STRIVE Charter Schools, including three years as board chair.

Keith and his wife, Margaux, a former FSD board member, have two children and two English springer spaniels, Baxter and Bailey. Keith’s hobbies include skiing, endurance sports, wine collecting, and cooking.

“My wife was a longtime FSD board member, and I have been very familiar with and supportive of FSD over the years. Although the clients of FSD extend well beyond the Armed Forces, my father was a career Army officer, my grandfather was a career Air Force officer and fighter pilot (before being killed in the line of duty), and I am also a lifelong dog owner. For me, and our family, board service with FSD seems uniquely well suited to our lives, passions, and beliefs.”

Noel Wickwar
Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

Noel Wickwar has been a vice president at Morgan Stanley for 15 years and has previous board experience at Denver Urban Scholars. 

Noel and his wife have two borderdoodles, Chuy and Ziggy. In addition to being a Broncos fan, Noel enjoys running and fly fishing.

“I have a passion for the FSD cause of helping children and adults in need.”

Young Professionals Council

Young Professional’s Council Chair
Melissa Morrow
FirstBank Holding Company

Melissa Morrow is chair of FSD’s Young Professionals Council (YPC) and a non-voting member of our board of directors. As assistant vice president of human resources at FirstBank Holding Company, she brings expertise in human resources management and customer service to the council and board. Melissa has been a volunteer at FSD for nearly five years, primarily as a Diamonds in the Ruff Committee member, and more recently as a member of our Community Outreach Team and a puppy raiser.
Melissa and her husband have a boxer/Lab mix named Ruger and a chocolate Lab named Gunner. She enjoys hiking, travel, creating custom cakes and cupcakes, and spending time with her husband and fur babies.

“My slight obsession with dogs is what drew me to FSD, but FSD’s mission is what has kept me involved. I have enjoyed every minute of my involvement with FSD, and it’s been amazing to see the growth of the organization! I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of the creation of the new Young Professionals Council for FSD and to be the chair. I hope that through the YPC, we will further FSD’s mission while providing young professionals the chance to grow personally and professionally, including myself.”

Karen Aalund, Director of Philanthropy
kaalund@freedomservicedogs.org

Patricia Al-Abssi, Administrative Assistant
palabssi@freedomservicedogs.org

Ailbe Astor, Veteran Services Coordinator
aastor@freedomservicedogs.org

Ashley Ayers, Puppy Program Trainer
aayers@freedomservicedogs.org

Shelby Casey, Animal Health Assistant
scasey@freedomservicedogs.org

Erin Conley, Director of Communications
econley@freedomservicedogs.org

Shelby Cramer, Client Services Coordinator
scramer@freedomservicedogs.org

Lisa Davenport, Content Coordinator
ldavenport@freedomservicedogs.org

Laura Edwards, Director of Dog Operations
ledwards@freedomservicedogs.org

Kate Goble, Donor Relations Coordinator
kgoble@freedomservicedogs.org

Stephanie Guild, Animal Health Manager
sguild@freedomservicedogs.org

Kelly Lazarczyk, Neonate Coordinator
klazarczyk@freedomservicedogs.org

Becca Overlock, Client Services Assistant
boverlock@freedomservicedogs.org

David Neff, Puppy Development Manager
dneff@freedomservicedogs.org

Nadine Pace, Events & Community Partnerships Manager
npace@freedomservicedogs.org

Brenna Palen, Client and Volunteer Trainer
bpalen@freedomservicedogs.org

Allison Peltier, Reproduction and Genetics Manager
apeltier@freedomservicedogs.org

Hannah Perruccio, Volunteer and Community Outreach Coordinator
hperruccio@freedomservicedogs.org

Bailey Powell, Puppy Development Trainer
bpowell@freedomservicedogs.org

Laura Rogers, Director of Finance and Administration
lrogers@freedomservicedogs.org

Desiree Valles, Dog Operations Coordinator
dvalles@freedomservicedogs.org

Amanda Vallo, Director of Client Services
avallo@freedomservicedogs.org

Lea Wilson, Grants & Foundation Relations Manager
lwilson@freedomservicedogs.org

Anne Burgess, Dog Trainer II

Emily Burlingame, Dog Trainer II

Irene Fobe, Dog Trainer I

Deborah Hunter, Dog Trainer II

Dominic Medina, Dog Trainer II

Ann Spader, Dog Trainer II

Ruby Purdy, Animal Care Coordinator

Sarah Armatruto, Kennel Technician

Haley Caldwell, Kennel Technician

Meredith Corey, Kennel Technician

Jaclyn Grimwade, Kennel Technician

Juan Hernndez, Nursery Kennel Technician

Courtney Mathers, Nursery Kennel Technician

Sydney McAndrew, Nursery Kennel Technician

Erin Mills, Nursery Kennel Technician

Andrea Stone, Nursery Kennel Technician

Claire Taylor, Kennel Technician

2019 Annual Report

2019 Audited Financial Statement

2019 990

2018 Annual Report

2018 Audited Financial Statement

2018 990

2017 Annual Report

2017 Audited Financial Statement

2017 990

2016 Annual Report

2016 Audited Financial Statement

2016 990

2015 Annual Report

2015 990

2015 Audited Financial Statement*

Privacy Policy

*In 2015, Freedom Service Dogs, Inc. began an initiative to spread our mission across the country using multiple different means, including nationally aired public service announcements, printed marketing materials, and email marketing campaigns, to both educate the public about the work of Freedom Service Dogs, Inc. and to request contributions. These efforts help advance our mission to rescue, train, and provide service dogs to those in need. As a result, in accordance with the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) guidelines and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance, Freedom Service Dogs, Inc. allocated a portion of our fundraising costs to program services in 2015. As a nonprofit organization that is exempt from federal taxation, we ensure our donors’ money is spent as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Employment Opportunities

Please note: We are not able to respond to application status inquiries. No phone calls, please.

Kennel Technician – Part-Time

Provide comprehensive care to the dogs that are being trained by the Organization to assist individuals with disabilities. Ensure the physical and mental well-being of dogs by monitoring their behavior and physical condition, interacting with them continuously and constructively, and providing food, water and other items or care as needed. Responsible for maintaining clean kennel environments. Must be able to communicate any problems or issues in caring for the dogs to the appropriate personnel, and recommend any changes in care. Reports to the Animal Health Manager. View full job description.

To apply, please email your resume and cover letter to info@freedomservicedogs.org with the subject line “PT KENNEL TECH”.

Office Administrator

Provide administrative and clerical support to the Director of Finance & Administration, President & CEO, and to others as the Organization requires. Provide reception and answer phones, routinely communicate and work with volunteers, donors, employees, visitors, vendors and other individuals of significance to the organization. Type, file, schedule, coordinate meetings and conferences, order supplies, oversee building maintenance, assist with accounts payable and receivable, and perform other routine clerical functions. Reports to the Director of Finance and Administration. View full job description. 

To apply, please send your resume and cover letter with the subject line “Office Administrator” to Laura Rogers, Director of Finance & Administration, at LRogers@freedomservicedogs.org.

Service Dog Training Manager

Under the direction and guidance of the Director of Dog Operations, this position will cultivate a productive and cohesive assistance dog training team by implementing strategies for both human and canine participants aimed at meeting or exceeding Freedom Service Dogs (FSD) client placement goals. The Service Dog Training Manager will manage, lead and provide direct supervision to assistance dog trainers who provide advanced dog training, including the design of programs aimed at meeting FSD’s placement goals consistent with Assistance Dogs International standards (ADI). View full job description

To apply, please email your resume and cover letter to info@freedomservicedogs.org with the subject line “Service Dog Training Manager”.

Equal Opportunity Employment

Freedom Service Dogs is dedicated to the principles of equal employment opportunity in any term, condition, or privilege of employment. We do not discriminate against applicants, clients, graduates, or employees on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status, physical or mental disability, or any other status protected by state or local law.

Freedom Service Dogs is proud to be an accredited member of Assistance Dogs International (ADI) and has passed regular on-site inspections to ensure that we meet strictly defined ADI standards for assistance dog training. ADI is the nonprofit organization that sets and promotes standards and ethics for assistance dog training organizations around the world: www.assistancedogsinternational.org. FSD is a voting member of  Assistance Dogs International. 

Partners

Foundation Partners

Corporate Partners

News

Wag While you Work

Videos

Freedom Press

Looking for the latest news and information from FSD? Read our Freedom Press. Below is a list of past newsletters that you can download in PDF format. Interested in receiving these on a regular basis? Send your mailing address to info@freedomservicedogs.org.

Request a Speaker

Thank you for your interest in having a Freedom Service Dogs representative speak at your event. In order to help us facilitate your request, you must complete and submit the following form at least four weeks prior to the date you are requesting. Please allow 10–12 business days for a response, and please note that due to the number of requests we receive and limited staff/volunteer resources, we may not be able to accommodate your request.

Speaker Request Form

  • Event Information

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
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  • We will do our best to accommodate this request. Since our number one priority is to ensure our service dog candidates receive all the training they need in order to successfully graduate with their human partner, we may not be able to meet the request of showing a dog demo.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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