FSD President & CEO Michele Ostrander announces retirement

Search for successor has begun

Freedom Service Dogs President & CEO Michele Ostrander has announced her retirement and will be leaving FSD as of June 1, 2022.

Michele has been a true pioneer and innovator during her time at FSD. When she joined the organization in 2016, our annual operating budget was $2.24 million, our staff consisted of less than 20 people, and our mission placed equal emphasis on saving shelter and rescue dogs and serving our clients.

Over the past six years under Michele’s leadership—and despite two challenging years of a pandemic—FSD’s operating budget has grown to $5.38 million, and our staff has grown to 53 members. We developed a realigned, client-focused mission and vision, and implemented a diversity, equity, and inclusion statement and working committee.

During Michele’s tenure at FSD, we implemented a breeding program with a greatly improved success rate of 37.5% for FSD-bred puppies. We also met and maintained all the professional standards and requirements necessary to achieve accreditation from Assistance Dogs International (ADI)—a significant achievement for the staff and management of FSD—and thanks to Michele serving as treasurer on the ADI Board of Directors for the past three years, FSD has gained an international presence in the assistance dog industry.

With Michele as our leader, we established an operating reserve that ensures the financial stability of FSD, as well as an endowment that will support FSD’s long-term growth. With our strategic plan established through 2024 and a highly skilled and talented staff on board, FSD is set up for continued success.

Says Michele, “Leading FSD has been one of the most rewarding positions of my nonprofit career, and it has been an honor to work alongside each of you—our board members, staff, and volunteers—over the past six years. It is with mixed emotions that I leave FSD and embark on a new chapter of my life in Baja, Mexico, but I know beyond a doubt that our strong board of directors, leadership team, staff, and volunteers have the skills, expertise, and dedication to lead FSD into the future.”

We will greatly miss Michele’s leadership, compassion, and dedication to our mission. We are actively seeking a new president & CEO to fill her shoes, and our board of directors is working with an executive search firm to pursue exceptional candidates. In the meantime, our board and FSD staff will carry on, knowing that Michele is leaving us in a strong position to operate with confidence until we find her successor.

Contact Erin Conley at econley@freedomservicedogs.org for all media inquiries.