Ana, Melissa, Allison, Juliana and Jim of the client services team at Leader Dog stand with their arms around each other smiling at the camera in front of a tree

Contact Client Services

Whether you have questions before you apply or need follow-up services after you complete training, our client services team is here to guide you through every step of your experience with Leader Dog. We're here 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Call Us: 888-777-5332

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Meet the Client Services Team

Melissa Priester, Manager of Client Services

Headshot of Melissa Priester

Melissa joined the Leader Dog team in 2016 as the Client Services Supervisor before becoming the Manager of Client Services. She is responsible for managing all aspects of the Client Services department, client admissions and metrics. Her favorite part of her job is improving the department processes through innovation and technology… and being around dogs all day.

Prior to Leader Dog, Melissa was the Director of Client Services at General Sports and Entertainment, a sports-management company that focuses on sponsorship consulting services and the acquisition and management of sports teams. During her eleven years at General Sports, she supported all divisions of the company and played an active role in the development of the United Shore Professional Baseball League and the construction of Jimmy John’s Field in Utica, Michigan. Melissa was drawn to Leader Dog because she wanted to be a part of an organization whose main purpose was to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Melissa has a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from Northwood University. She and her husband have three children and a yellow Labrador Retriever named Rocky. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, playing sports, reading and being outdoors.

Jim Dugan, Manager of Outreach Services and Community Engagement

Headshot of Jim Dugan

Jim joined Leader Dog in 2016 as the Manager of Client Services before becoming Manager of Outreach Services and Community Engagement, bringing with him nearly three decades of experience in the guide dog industry. Jim is responsible for our traditional “field” actives such as home delivery of Leader Dogs and client support as well as a more defined and strategic focus on agencies and other engagement activities in the community.

Jim began his career in the guide dog industry in 1989 at Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, CA, and became a qualified Guide Dog Mobility Instructor in 1992. He was part of the team responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of training instructors as well as ensuring the high training standards of the organization. After 26 years with the organization, Jim left to take on the role of Dog Services Manager at Guide Dogs SA/NT in Adelaide, Australia, where he was responsible for all aspects of the dog services provided through the organization’s programs. When the opportunity to work at Leader Dog presented itself, Jim jumped at the chance to return to the United States and to be closer to his family.

Prior to joining the guide dog industry, Jim spent 8 years in the U.S. Army where he was a member of the Military Police K9 Corp. His military career culminated in the rank of E6 Staff Sergeant and a certified US Military Customs Inspector and Kennel Master.

Jim earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Central Texas College.  In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family, boating and being outdoors.  

Ana Donato, Client Services Coordinator

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Ana became involved with Leader Dog in 2009 as a volunteer, providing translation services for our Spanish-speaking clients. She assisted clients in becoming oriented with the Leader Dog facility upon arrival for training, accompanied them on shopping trips, and volunteered at evening events.  She transitioned to a Leader Dog team member in 2012 as a Resident Assistant, where she assisted clients during their stay on-campus for training. Ana joined the Client Services team in 2016 as a Client Services Coordinator. In this role, she is responsible for processing applications for all Leader Dog programs, ensuring that clients complete and submit each piece of the application to be considered for training. Ana assists our International clients with the travel logistics for their training, and serves as a liaison between Leader Dogs and our Spanish-speaking partner organizations. She also provides support to our clients after they have graduated.

A native of Saltillo, Mexico, Ana received a degree in Business Administration from Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon in Monterrey, Mexico. Prior to joining Leader Dog, she was a Material Planner for Chrysler in Mexico, where she met her husband. They moved to the United States in 1997. Ana had witnessed the lack of guide dog services in her home country of Mexico, and was drawn to Leader Dog because of the organization’s commitment to serving international clients. Ana’s favorite part of her job is getting to speak with clients from all over the world.

Ana and her husband have three children, and a Lhasa Apso/Poodle cross-breed dog named Lily. In her free time, Ana enjoys cooking and spending time doing volunteer work with her children.

Allison Jones, Client Services Coordinator

Headshot of Allison Jones smiling at the camera

Allison began her career at Leader Dog as a volunteer in 2009, where her duties consisted of walking dogs and providing administrative support to the Puppy Development department. The following year she joined the organization as a paid team member of the Dog Care team, caring for the dogs in training and providing support at the front desk of the canine center. In 2012 she joined the Client Services team as a Client Services Coordinator. She is responsible for providing information on Leader Dog programs to potential clients, overseeing the department volunteers, and providing support services to our graduate clients. Allison enjoys educating, advocating for, crying with and encouraging clients as they navigate the world with a Leader Dog.

Allison earned a Bachelor’s of the Arts degree from Michigan State University, and worked for 20 years in the publishing industry prior to joining Leader Dog. Her journey to the organization began out of curiosity when she participated in a public tour of Leader Dog and was so impressed with the organization that she made the decision to volunteer.

She has two dogs at home, a mixed-breed named Franna, and a retired Leader Dog named Cocoa. Allison is a self-described “foodie” who loves expanding her palate with foods from different cultures. She also enjoys spending time in Northern Michigan and dog-sitting for family and friends.

Sarah Osaer, Extended Services Coordinator

Headshot of Sarah OsaerSarah works with our clients, our orientation & mobility (O&M) specialists, and the client services department. She is responsible for a variety of functions including providing GPS support to clients, scheduling O&M clients, processing applications and overseeing registration for Summer Experience Camp.

Sarah has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Oakland University and worked in the medical insurance field prior to coming to Leader Dog. Sarah grew up in the Rochester area and thought working at Leader Dog would be the perfect fit for her love of helping people and her love for animals. She enjoys spending time with her husband, her son, and their two dogs, Howard and Dexter.

Juliana Whitted, Client Services Coordinator

Headshot of Juliana Whitted smiling at the camera

Juliana joined Leader Dog in 2014 as a Resident Assistant and Food Services Aide, assisting clients during their stay on-campus for training. In 2016 she joined the Client Services team, where she is responsible for providing information on Leader Dog programs to potential clients, assisting clients who have been approved for training, and providing support to clients after they have graduated. Juliana’s favorite aspect of her job is witnessing the clients’ journey from application through to graduation and hearing how the experience changes their lives for the better.

Juliana holds a degree in Graphic and Commercial Art from Macomb Community College. Prior to Leader Dog, she started her own freelance art business called The Painted Pony, with a focus on painting murals and furniture. She also worked for several years in the Kingsbury Country Day School system in a variety of roles. Juliana was drawn to Leader Dog because of the organization’s mission to empower people with visual impairments. She and her husband have three children, and a black Labrador Retriever named Hank. Hank frequently joins Juliana at work and can usually be found sleeping at her feet under her desk.