Four Leader Dog instructors, three women and one man, sit with legs outstretched on the floor in a hallway. Beside each one of them is a lab or golden retriever in harness

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.

Two women walk down a sidewalk on a sunny day. One woman is wearing a Leader Dog polo while the other one walks with a guide dogJenny came to Leader Dog in 2008 as an apprentice guide dog mobility instructor (GDMI). She became a GDMI in 2011 and supervised the Deaf-Blind GDMI team before becoming manager of training. 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.

Two women, one older and one younger, walk outdoors on a sunny day. The older woman is walking with a yellow lab guide dog in harness. The younger woman is beside them, smiling and observingSarah 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.

Headshot of Phil Griffin

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 30-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.

Meredith 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 chocolate lab named Emmit, who is a Leader Dog Ambassador Dog, a career changed dog, Merlin, and two cats, Norbert and Grindelwald (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.

A smiling Carrie sits at a desk. She is scratching the chin of a yellow lab standing next to her while a black lab sits in front of her legsCarrie 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 kneels on a lawn, smiling, with her arms around a yellow lab wearing a Leader Dog harness. The dog is sitting next to her and looking at the camera

Ashley grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and began puppy raising for a different guide dog organization when she was a sophomore in college. Once she graduated, she began working as a puppy coordinator in the same college puppy raising program that she had volunteered for as well as with a prison puppy program. Ashley was so excited to move onto an apprenticeship with Leader Dog in 2015 and is happy to be working here as a GDMI today! Since she has been at Leader Dog, Ashley has graduated the Karen Pryor Academy Dog Training Professionals Course with her Pyrenean shepherd, Gryffindor. Ashley enjoys spending time hiking and kayaking with Gryffindor and her two career changed adoptees named Ronnie and Elliott.

Ashley is a contributor to the Leader Dog blog! Her posts include answers to reader questions, communicating with dogs, how to use a clicker in dog training and more.

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