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 custom-trained service dogs to veterans with disabilities.
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
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 [email protected] or call 303-922-6231.
Michelle Search is the director of sales and client service at Jefferson Wells, having been with the firm since 2004. Previously, she served as a senior manager at PwC. 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 human son and several canine kids: border collies Zena and Stella as well as American Staffordshire terriers Iggy and Layla. She enjoys yoga, kickboxing, motorcycles, rollercoasters, and spending time with her human and canine family in Colorado.
“It is a privilege to work with the incredible team at FSD and witness first-hand how the organization improves lives and creates brighter futures. I can’t think of a better use of my experience than to contribute to FSD’s mission and community impact.”
Kessler Personal Development Coaching
Lani Kessler is a personal development life coach whose style is collaborative, insightful, and fun. She helps individuals gain clarity on where they are now, where they see themselves in the future, and how to create a successful, balanced life. Prior to coaching, Lani was a member of senior management teams within the customer service and marketing departments in the telecommunications industry. She then launched her own business in the events industry, where she was able to work with a diverse group of individuals helping to turn their visions into reality. 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 a poodle mix named Simba. She enjoys hiking, riding her Peloton, and playing pickleball in her free time.
“My family takes great pride in being involved with FSD for 34 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.”
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.”
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.”
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!”
John DellaSalle is CEO of Tennison Group, a national executive search and consulting firm specializing in the recruitment of senior staff, management, and senior management positions for all industries ranging from Fortune 100 companies to early-stage enterprises. John brings expertise in executive recruiting, human resources, finance, and accounting to the FSD board, as well as experience on the boards of Susan G. Komen, Project Angel Heart, Redline Denver, and Vistana Desert Willow.
John and his wife have two children and two dogs: Ruby, an Airedale terrier, and Mozzie, a Jack Russell terrier. In his free time, John enjoys tennis, hiking, and skiing.
“I have worked on a few recruiting assignments for FSD and have found the staff to be very professional and competent. I have learned a lot about the mission and the service that FSD delivers and have been very impressed with this well-run organization.”
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!”
Spearhead Mortgage Company
William Foy is co-founder and partner at Spearhead Mortgage Company, a commercial mortgage brokering firm, with previous experience in commercial banking at Wells Fargo, Bank of the West, and Sunflower Bank. He brings expertise in finance, lending, equity, and underwriting to the FSD board.
William and his wife have three children, a yellow Lab named Skeeter, and a tabby cat named Cognac. A second-generation Colorado native, he enjoys skiing, hunting, hiking, and traveling.
“Being an active volunteer and committee member for FSD’s Faces of Freedom fundraising event has shown me the impact this organization can make on veterans, people with other disabilities, and kids with autism. The companionship and support these dogs provide to veterans and kids is particularly close to my heart since I have friends and family who benefit from service dogs. I want to donate my time to FSD to further the success of the organization so every veteran, person with disability, and kid with autism will have an opportunity for a life-changing service dog!”
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.”
Foley & Lardner 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.”
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.”
In addition to being a board member, Melissa Morrow is chair of FSD’s Young Professionals Council (YPC) and a member of our board of directors. As 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.”
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.”
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
Erin Conley, Director of Communications
Laura Edwards, Director of Dog Operations
Laura Rogers, Director of Finance and Administration
Amanda Vallo, Director of Client Services
About the Young Professionals Council (YPC)
The Young Professionals Council is a network of young professionals in the Denver-metro area, whose goal is to help build and ensure the future of Freedom Service Dogs. The YPC furthers FSD’s mission through fundraising, advocacy, community awareness, volunteer support, and much more.
YPC Members are Expected to:
- Serve a minimum one (1) year term, which can be renewed annually
- Actively participate in one YPC sub-committee
- Commit to fundraising support, volunteer support and community awareness & advocacy
- Be an ambassador for Freedom Service Dogs
YPC Member Benefits:
- Connect and network with other like-minded young professionals who are looking to make a meaningful impact in our community
- Professional development opportunities, such as learning what it takes to be on a non-profit Board
- Support FSD’s mission in a fun and engaging way
Join Our Young Professionals Council:
Membership on the YPC provides an opportunity to grow personally and professionally through volunteerism, networking, leadership development, and more – all while supporting Freedom Service Dog’s mission to transform lives by partnering people with custom-trained assistance dogs.
If you are interested in joining our YPC, please submit an application.
Completed applications will be reviewed at the monthly Executive Committee meetings. You will hear back from our Membership Chair with next steps, which may include an interview with two of our Executive Committee members.
Meet the Executive Committee
Melissa Morrow, Chair
Melissa Morrow is chair of FSD’s Young Professionals Council (YPC) and a member of our board of directors. As vice president of human resources at FirstBank Holding Company, she brings expertise in human resources management, project management, risk management, and customer service to the council and board. Melissa has been a volunteer at FSD for six 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. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys camping, hiking, baking, travel, and spending time with her family and fur babies.
“My slight obsession with dogs is what drew me to FSD, but FSD’s mission and the lives that are changed as a result are what has kept me involved. Through serving on various committees, I knew I wanted to get more involved and join FSD’s board, but as a young professional, I didn’t have board experience. So what better way than to start with a Young Professionals Council, and better yet, help to develop one for FSD? I am happy to say that I was able to join the board in January 2021 and look forward to being the liaison between the board and the YPC. 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.”
Gabby Richmond, Vice Chair
Gabby Richmond is vice chair of FSD’s Young Professionals Council (YPC). As executive director of Denver Petroleum Club, she brings expertise in events, marketing, communications, public relations, and employee and volunteer engagement to the council. Gabby’s volunteer experience includes being a puppy raiser for Freedom Service Dogs, as well as work for Project PAVE and Holdsworth Community Center.
When not walking the Cherry Creek trails with Dundee, her yellow Lab, Gabby enjoys tennis, watching “The Bachelor,” and rooftop happy hours.
“I joined the YPC to be a part of a group of like-minded young professionals who are passionate about FSD’s mission to transform the lives of people in need through custom-trained service dogs. As a foster volunteer with FSD’s Puppy Raising Program, I’ve seen firsthand the extensive training and investment it takes for a puppy to become a service dog graduate, and I’m excited to be able to support the program in any way I can, especially through recruiting new fosters through the YPC and our communal network! I believe being a part of YPC will strengthen the volunteer community at FSD and be a resource and network for all young people looking to give back to this great organization.”
Megan Beigl, Membership Chair
Megan Beigl is membership chair of FSD’s Young Professionals Council (YPC). As consultant engagement lead for Insight Global, she brings specific expertise in recruiting, as well as public relations and marketing, to the council. Megan’s volunteer experience includes various positions at FSD, such as helping out in the kennels, fostering dogs, and being part of the Diamonds in the Ruff Committee. She also has served on the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society YPC and as philanthropy lead at Insight Global.
Megan and her boyfriend have a black Lab/shepherd mix named Nebco who is an FSD career-change dog. In her spare time, Megan enjoys cycling, reading, and cooking.
“When I moved to Colorado four years ago, I wanted to get involved in the community with something that blended my love for dogs and working with children with autism. Fortunately, I stumbled across Freedom Service Dogs and immediately fell in love. At first, I was going to the facility to help care for the dogs at night. I then started fostering and adopted my sweet Nebco and then started getting involved with the Diamonds in the Ruff Committee. Being able to be involved in so many different parts of FSD made me love the organization even more. Now as a member of the YPC, I’m able to continue to be a part of something bigger than myself, and I hope to share my love and passion for FSD with some special individuals who will become part of the organization long term and make a lasting impact.”
Lauren Burton, Event Chair
Lauren Burton is event chair of FSD’s Young Professionals Council (YPC). As marketing campaign manager for TIAA, she brings expertise in marketing strategy, public relations, and event planning and promotion to the council. Lauren’s volunteer experience includes work for the National Stroke Association, Denver Art Museum, Rocky Mountain Food Safety Conference, Denver Children’s Home, and Freedom Service Dogs, where she has assisted with event planning and support.
Lauren and her husband have two huskies, Jane and Etsio, and a mastiff mix named Scooby. In her spare time, Lauren enjoys gardening, watching and playing sports, reading, and home decorating.
“This cause really grabbed my heart from day one. I care deeply about supporting both veterans and people with diverse abilities, in addition to loving dogs, so FSD brings together many of my passions in one place. I am excited to help further the wonderful mission of FSD and connect with other young professionals who have also been touched by the amazing work that FSD does. As a YPC member, I hope to help grow FSD’s incredible network of donors and volunteers. This organization has so many dedicated and passionate people working to support it, and I believe in the power that this ancillary community can bring to furthering FSD’s mission and building its future.”
Megan Pagnotta, Fundraising Chair
Megan Pagnotta is fundraising chair of FSD’s Young Professionals Council (YPC). As a consultant for Slalom, she brings expertise in strategy and operations to the council. Megan’s volunteer experience includes work for Freedom Service Dogs, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and Special Olympics.
Megan, her husband, and their son have two dogs, a cocker spaniel mix named Frida and a Carolina dog named Finn. In her spare time, Megan enjoys travel, volunteering, and spending time with her family.
“I am very passionate about this organization, and I want to be able to use my skillset to advance FSD’s mission and impact in any way that I can. I also want to be involved in starting the Young Professionals Council from a career development perspective. I have had a unique opportunity to learn a lot about fundraising tactics, and I’d like to put that to good use and train others. I also hope to get the word out about FSD as much as possible to bring attention to the incredible work it does.”
*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 note: We are not able to respond to application status inquiries. No phone calls, please.
Animal Health Coordinator
Coordinate with Animal Health Manager, Dog Operations staff, veterinary professionals, puppy raisers and other volunteers to ensure that all dogs, puppies, and three cats under the care of the Organization receive comprehensive healthcare and required health evaluations. Ensure the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of the dogs by monitoring their physical condition and behavior, communicating and documenting pertinent information. Assist with vet exams, treatments, planning, appointment scheduling and coordination. Reports to the Animal Health Manager. Read full job description.
To apply, please send your resume and cover letter to Stephanie Guild, Animal Health Manager, at [email protected].
Kennel Technician: Full-time & 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. Responsible for providing food, water, maintaining clean kennel environments, and care as needed. Must be able to communicate health and behavioral observations to the appropriate personnel. Reports to the Kennel Coordinator and Animal Health Manager. Read full job description.
To apply, please send your resume and cover letter to Stephanie Guild, Animal Health
Manager, at [email protected].
Nursery Kennel Technician: Full & Part Time
Under the supervision of the Reproduction and Genetics Manager, this position will provide comprehensive care to the puppies that are being raised by the Organization to eventually assist individuals with disabilities. Ensure the physical and mental well-being of puppies 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 problems or issues in caring for the dogs and puppies in FSD’s care to the appropriate personnel, and recommend any changes in care. Read full job description.
To apply, please send your resume and cover letter to [email protected] with the subject line “NURSERY KENNEL TECH”.
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.