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.


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.


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

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 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 mostrander@freedomservicedogs.org or call 303-922-6231.

Board Chair
Michelle Search
Experis Finance

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 Chair
Blake Finley
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.”

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.”

Board Members

Brian Frevert
Retired, CPA/CFP

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.”

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.”

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.”

Lee Mickus
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

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.”

Josh Robbins
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.”

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.”

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.”

Karen Aalund, Director of Philanthropy

Patricia Al-Abssi, Administrative Assistant

Ailbe Astor, Veteran Services Coordinator

Shelby Casey, Animal Health Assistant

Erin Conley, Director of Communications

Shelby Cramer, Adoption & Foster Program Coordinator

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

David Neff, Puppy Program Coordinator

Nadine Pace, Events & Community Partnerships Manager

Allison PeltierDog Intake Manager

Laura Rogers, Business Operations Manager

Amanda Vallo, Client Services Manager

Lea Wilson, Grants & Foundation Relations Manager

Melissa Yank, Lead Dog Trainer

Anne Burgess, Dog Trainer II

Dominic Medina, Dog Trainer II

Laura McGaughey, Dog Trainer II

Irene Fobe, Dog Trainer I

Deborah Hunter, Dog Trainer II

Sam Graeff, Prison & Puppy Programs Trainer

Ruby Purdy, Animal Care Coordinator

Brooklyn Clare, Dog Caretaker

Carolyn Gentile, Dog Caretaker

Joel Glisczinski, Dog Caretaker

Amy Medina, Dog Caretaker

Hannah Perruccio, Dog Caretaker

Brittney Peterson, Dog Caretaker

Jason Smith, Dog Caretaker

Desiree Valles, Dog Caretaker

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.

Development & Events Assistant

Provides excellent, efficient, and energetic administrative and fundraising support to assist the Development team in creating and implementing strategies that ensure sustainability and organizational growth. This full-time staff member reports to the Director of Philanthropy and supports the Director of Philanthropy, Events & Community Partnerships Manager, Donor Relations Coordinator, and Grants & Foundation Relations Manager. Read full job description.

To apply, please send your resume and cover letter to info@freedomservicedogs.org with the subject line “Development and Events Assistant”.

Dog Trainer II 

Provide basic obedience and custom task training to meet the needs of clients using positive reinforcement and clicker training. Train 5-7 dogs at a time including outings & evaluations for each dog assigned in accordance with FSD and Assistance Dogs International standards. Provide training to clients during placement classes. Help train and mentor volunteers that are assisting in dog socialization, walking and training. Reports to the Dog Training Manager. View full job description. 

To apply, please email resume and cover letter to info@freedomservicedogs.org with subject line “Dog Trainer II”. 

Communications & Philanthropy Intern

Freedom Service Dogs is seeking an intern to assist both the Communications and Philanthropy teams. They will help us tell stories about our life-changing work in an innovative way, and assist with a variety of projects. The ideal candidate has a great deal of work ethic and a desire to learn and be involved in multiple projects at once. Someone who is an excellent creative writer who thrives on creating meaningful content that moves people to action. Someone who is well-versed in using social media effectively, extremely organized with strong time management skills and attention to detail. Must work within the guidelines, policies and mission of the organization and will be accountable and responsible for specific projects as assigned. Preferred areas of study include: journalism, communications, marketing, or public relations. This is an unpaid internship. Read full internship description. 

Please submit your resume, cover letter, and at least two (2) relevant writing samples to Erin Conley, Director of Communications at econley@freedomservicedogs.org. The position will remain open until filled.

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.


Foundation Partners

Corporate Partners


Wag While you Work


Freedom Press

Looking for the latest news and information from FSD? Read the 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.

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