Meet the Guide Dog Team
Our guide dog training team is committed to helping each of our dogs reach their potential and finding the best match for each client. Their years of experience and passion for what they do mean that each guide dog client will receive thorough training that is personalized to your environment, experience and future plans. Here are some of the dedicated individuals who make our guide dog program a success.
Jenny came to Leader Dog in 2008 as an apprentice GDMI. She became a GDMI in 2011 and now supervises the Deaf-Blind GDMI team. Jenny is a Child of Deaf Adults (CODA) and she is fluent in and passionate about American Sign Language (ASL). Her favorite thing about being at Leader Dog is working with the clients and knowing that she can help make a difference in their lives. Jenny has her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from Michigan State University. Outside of work she enjoys spending time with her golden retrievers, Summer and Holly, both career changed Leader Dogs. She also enjoys traveling and eating other people’s cooking.
Sarah started working at Leader Dogs in 2013 as an apprentice GDMI shortly after graduating from college. With a degree in Sign Language Studies for Interpreters from Madonna University in Michigan, she quickly found her niche working with our Deaf-Blind clients. Leader Dog has been a part of Sarah’s life since a young age as her family were puppy raisers who raised five Future Leader Dogs. She is currently hosting a Leader Dog ambassador dog, Vader. When not at Leader Dog, Sarah likes wine tastings, watching documentaries and playing the flute in her local community band.
During a summer of 1990, Phil Griffin found himself applying to be a member of the dog care team here at Leader Dog while finishing school. What started out as “just a job” became a 28 year long career. It all just happened by chance when he was approached with a GDMI apprenticeship opportunity. By 1994 things were official and Phil had fallen in love with the job. Seeing the clients get paired with their dogs and watching their success inspires him as an instructor. Phil and his wife have a retired Leader Dog named Reggie, who he raised as a puppy, trained and graduated. When he’s not working, Phil likes to spend his time in nature, camping, fishing and hunting along with motorcycle trail riding.
Carrie Pryce was driving home from work one day when she heard a public service announcement for Leader Dog's puppy raisers. She went home and told her husband about the opportunity and a week later they had a puppy in their home. Together they have raised six dogs, hosted two female breeding stock moms and are currently hosting a male breeding stock dog. In 1998, Carrie became more than a volunteer when she began working in the puppy development department here at Leader Dog. Not long after, she decided to become a GDMI. She learns something new every day from each dog and client. Born and raised in Michigan, Carrie lives in the area with her husband, their two retired Leader Dogs, and their cat.
Ashley came to Leader Dog after working as the coordinator for a college campus puppy raising program in Georgia through another guide dog school. She is from Georgia and has been raising puppies since her sophomore year of college. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in theater, but her passion for guide dogs lead her to seek out a GDMI apprenticeship. She started working at Leader Dog in October 2015 and is almost finished with her apprenticeship, where she is always learning because “no two [training] cycles are alike.” She stays busy when she is not at work by taking care of her career changed guide dog from a different organization at home named Ronnie, who is a German shepherd/collie cross; a golden retriever career changed Leader Dog, Elliot; a Pyrenean shepherd named Gryffindor; and a cat named Horton. Some of her hobbies include reading, hiking and doing theater when she can find the time.
Meredith is finishing her second year of her GDMI apprenticeship and is looking forward to learning more skills as a guide dog instructor. She received her bachelor's degree from Michigan State University in animal sciences. After helping her friend raise a puppy in college, she decided to pursue working at Leader Dog as a career. During her time working here, she has learned far more than she could have imagined and still loves seeing clients get excited about their new form of mobility. At home, she has a career changed dog, Merlin, and two cats, Norbert and Grindelwald, who are named after Harry Potter characters. She loves hiking, camping and reading when she isn’t busy at work.
Kate began at Leader Dogs in 2012 as a GDMI after finishing her master's degree in mental health and rehab counseling at the University of Iowa. Throughout college and grad school, she worked in a kennel. She decided to come to Leader Dog because it combined her love of animals and helping people. Having a background in mental health and being a certified rehab counselor helps her connect with the clients and tailor training to meet their specific needs. Walking the dogs under blindfold is her favorite part of training because she likes to see what she has taught the dogs. She currently has a Weimaraner/Lab mix named Rio that she loves to play with at home. In her off time, she likes to try new recipes and work out.
After retiring as high school American Sign Language teacher, Lauren came to Leader Dog in the spring of 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in deaf education from Michigan State University. Having previously volunteered at Leader Dog for our Summer Experience Camp where she helped develop activities for the teens, she decided to pursue opportunities here. Being an instructor allows her to use her teaching skills to benefit both the clients and animals. She loves working here because it is always challenging, there are always ways to improve, and sending her clients and dogs off as a successful team is always rewarding. Lauren has always loved dogs. She currently has two dogs, Jasmine, a career changed Leader Dog, and Ernie. In her leisure time, you can find her reading, traveling, going to the movies and relaxing at home with her husband.