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Meet the O&M Team

The O&M team at Leader Dog comes with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Our team prides itself on helping clients learn to navigate with confidence in our Orientation & Mobility Training, supporting GPS training, and dedicating themselves to building unforgettable experiences for teenagers who are blind at Summer Experience Camp.

Erica Ihrke, Extended Services Manager, Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist

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Erica started working for Leader Dog as a part-time resident assistant while attending Central Michigan University studying education. After graduation, she began working full-time, eventually becoming interested in formally learning about orientation and mobility. This led her to Western Michigan University, where she earned her master’s degree in orientation and mobility. Erica enjoys working at Leader Dog because the organization is progressive and always growing. She has been the manager of extended services since 2008, but she still enjoys working with clients. Her favorite part of working with clients is their “Ah-ha” moment that leads to them feeling empowered to travel independently.

Erica is married to Kevin, a guide dog mobility instructor at Leader Dog. They have two daughters, who keep them busy with school and competitive sports. They also have a career changed dog, Tenor, a black Labrador retriever who was raised as part of our Prison Puppies initiative.

Kristy Plesscher, Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist

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Kristy has her master’s degree in orientation and mobility from Western Michigan University. She completed her practicum at Leader Dog and her internship at Southeastern Blind Rehabilitation Center in Birmingham, AL. After spending several years working as an O&M specialist in Alabama and Ohio, she returned to Michigan in 2017 to join our extended services department. Kristy loves the spirit of teamwork and collaboration at Leader Dog. Spending an entire week on the Leader Dog campus during Summer Experience Camp is a highlight for her because of the opportunity to really connect with the teens.

Kristy has a dachshund named Diesel who needs some extra love and care since he was paralyzed. Kristy enjoys the outdoors, particularly camping, hiking and skiing.

Maggie Winn, Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist

Maggie smiles at the camera. She has dark blond hair. She wears a black shirt and a black cardigan.Maggie began working in the vision field in 2004 as an optician while an undergraduate student. Maggie graduated from the Honors Program at the University of Michigan-Flint and later returned to graduate school at Western Michigan University to pursue a master’s degree in orientation and mobility. Maggie has worked as a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist in a residential program in Pittsburgh and as an itinerant O&M in Chicago. These experiences allowed her to work with adults, children and people with vision loss who have other disabilities.

During graduate studies, Maggie attended a one-week practicum experience at Leader Dogs for the Blind and enjoyed the culture of Leader Dog. Maggie joined the team at Leader Dog in the spring of 2015. Her favorite parts of her job are working with clients and observing them experience additional independence each day of training as they work hard to achieve their goals, and working with graduate students during their practicums and internships.

In her free time, Maggie can be found baking, cooking, going to concerts, and hanging out with her female tuxedo cat, HoHo, whose furry coat looks just like the snack cake.

Lynn Gautreaux, Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist

Lynn served as the Director of Orientation and Mobility at the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired and the statewide Director of O&M and Visually Impaired Services for Louisiana until his retirement after 30 years of service. His first association with Leader Dog was as a guest orientation and mobility instructor in 2006. He was amazed at the Leader Dog campus and facilities as well as the passion, dedication and professionalism of the staff and agreed to work with the organization whenever possible. After his retirement in 2013, he began to work with Leader Dog’s O&M program on an "as-needed basis." He enjoys working with the diverse client base and especially loves to watch the clients' reactions and enthusiasm as their mobility skills improve.  Lynn received his O&M certification in the master’s program from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and has degrees from Northwestern State University and the University of Southern Mississippi.

Lynn married Angel, his college sweetheart, who was also a teacher of the visually impaired. They have two boys who have both married and blessed them with five grandchildren (identical twin girls as of July 2018). When not working at Leader Dog, Lynn enjoys biking, swimming and being controlled by his grandchildren… especially his granddaughters!

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