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.
FSD primarily works with shelters and rescue groups to identify potential service dog candidates, taking in nearly 200 dogs annually. 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.
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 disabled veterans with trained service dog companions.
Service dogs can help 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
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 for the Audubon Society of Greater Denver 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 Friends of Women’s Studies at the University of Houston, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303-922-6231.
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!”
Addison & Maxwell Real Estate Brokerage
Blake Johnson 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.”
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP
Margaux Trammell is an attorney and shareholder at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP, where she specializes in corporate law. She is a former member of the finance committee for Denver Zoo’s Do at the Zoo and a current member of the Dumb Friends League board of directors.
Margaux and her husband have two sons and two English springer spaniels, Baxter and Bailey. Her hobbies include Pilates, Peloton cycling, and spending time with her children.
“I love dogs, and they bring joy to my life. When I learned about FSD, I immediately loved the fact that FSD uses dogs to train them for the purpose of helping humans in a variety of ways. I visited FSD and saw a girl with autism who would come to the facility and pet the dogs for hours, and I heard they were training a dog for a client who needed to be turned in his bed at night. After my visit, I knew I wanted to be involved with FSD and help the organization grow. That was nine years ago, and the rest is history.”
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.”
Ryan Godsil is director of value positioning at Infor Nexus. With previous positions as director of management consulting at PriceWaterhouseCoopers and senior manager of advisory services at Ernst Young, Ryan brings more than 12 years of experience in finance, supply chain, and operational performance to FSD. He also served as a supply officer in the U.S. Navy.
Ryan and his wife share their home with a miniature Australian shepherd named Geronimo. In his free time, Ryan enjoys travel, watching sports, and reading.
“As a veteran, an uncle to two wonderful special-needs boys, and a dog lover, I have a sincere passion for FSD’s mission. I began as a volunteer and then a foster, and eventually joined the board because FSD checks so many boxes for me.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
Taylor Anderson LLP
Lee Mickus is a partner at Taylor Anderson LLP, a national trial and appellate law firm. Previously, he was a partner at Snell & Wilmer LLP and a director at Wheeler Trigg & Kennedy PC. Lee brings guidance on legal issues, as well as expertise in organizational and strategic planning, to the FSD board.
Lee is married with two children and two dogs: Tory, a black Labrador retriever, and Stella, a Pomeranian/silky terrier mix. He enjoys dog training, sporting clays, and bird hunting with Tory.
“I was working with a rescue organization bringing dogs in from rural shelters and encountered FSD when some of those dogs were placed there. Once I learned of FSD’s mission of developing the skills of once-abandoned dogs into service animals capable of enhancing the functional capabilities of people in need, I just had to become part of FSD and do what I could to help achieve its goals.”
Debra Nelson is branch administrative manager at Baird Private Wealth Management and brings years of experience in financial advising, management, and staff coaching to FSD. She is a U.S. Navy veteran who served in Grenada, Operation Desert Storm, and Operation Desert Shield.
Debra has two cats named Dublin and Skylar, and she enjoys traveling and scuba diving.
“Freedom Service Dogs focuses on several areas that I am passionate about: veterans, animals, and children. I personally suffer from PTSD, and knowing what that feels like gives me a special insight into what the individuals that FSD helps go through on a daily basis.”
Four Seasons Hotel
Josh Robbins is the director of finance for Four Seasons Hotel Denver, prior to which he served as assistant director of finance for Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole. Josh bring expertise in finance, accounting, and business strategy to the FSD board.
Josh and his wife have a smooth-coated Chihuahua named Peanut. In his free time, Josh enjoys skiing, hiking, and travel.
“I joined the FSD board to be a part of something great that makes a difference in people’s lives. I have seen the love that a companion animal can give to its owner, and I want to be able to share the power of professionally trained dogs with those in need.”
Retired, Brigadier General US Air Force
Tom Scanlan, retired brigadier general, U.S. Air Force, has been serving as FSD’s board chair since 2016. Following his military service, he was vice president and general manager of special programs at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. Tom brings military experience, as well as expertise in program management and business administration, to FSD.
Tom and his wife have one child and a variety of pets and horses, including Chase, a border collie, Dazzle, a Percheron paint, Nativo, an Andalusian, Joey, an African grey parrot, and Rosie, an eclectus parrot. His hobbies include scuba diving, cycling, skiing, hiking, woodworking, and stained glass.
“I love the mission and the people of FSD, and I wanted to help the organization complete their transition to a new facility and establish an endowment. Both of those goals have been accomplished and will help FSD continue changing the lives of people in need far into the future.”
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.”
Noel Wickwar has been a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley for 15 years. He brings expertise in financial management and estate planning to FSD, along with previous board experience at Denver Urban Scholars.
Noel and his wife have a borderdoodle named Chuy and a puppy on the way. 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, and working with shelter and rescue dogs to do so.”
Karen Aalund, Director of Philanthropy
Patricia Al-Abssi, Administrative Assistant
Ailbe Astor, Veteran Services Coordinator
Erin Conley, Director of Communications
Lisa Davenport, Content Coordinator
Laura Edwards, Director of Dog Operations
Kate Goble, Donor Relations Coordinator
Stephanie Guild, Animal Health Manager
Kelsey Holbeck, Client Services Manager
Ryan Holman, Volunteer Manager
Morgan Karol, Dog Training Manager
Kelly Lazarczyk, Dog Intake Coordinator
Karen Moldovan, Grants & Foundation Relations Manager
David Neff, Puppy Program Coordinator
Nadine Pace, Events & Community Partnerships Manager
Allison Peltier, Dog Intake Manager
Laura Rogers, Business Operations Manager
Amanda Vallo, Client Services Manager
Anne Burgess, Dog Trainer II
Lisa Krieger, Dog Trainer II
Laura McGaughey, Dog Trainer II
Irene Fobe, Dog Trainer I
Deborah Hunter, Dog Trainer I
Sam Graeff, Prison & Puppy Programs Trainer
Ruby Purdy, Animal Care Coordinator
Shelby Casey, Dog Caretaker
Brooklyn Clare, Dog Caretaker
Carolyn Gentile, Dog Caretaker
Amy Medina, Dog Caretaker
Hannah Perruccio, Dog Caretaker
Brittney Peterson, Dog Caretaker
Jason Smith, Dog Caretaker
Desiree Valles, Dog Caretaker
*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.
Please check back for open positions.
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 onsite inspections to ensure that we meet strictly defined ADI standards for assistance dog training. ADI is 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 the ADI service dog training organization.
Shelter and Rescue Partners
Dumb Friends League Buddy Center
Foothills Animal Shelter
Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region
Humane Society of the South Platte Valley
Midland Humane Coalition
Peaceful Animal Adoption Shelter (PAAS)
Prison Trained K-9 Companion Program
Sam Coffey Animal Rescue