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What PAWS does would not be possible without the dedication and hard work of our team. Each manager, staff person and board member plays a role in helping each Assistance Dog Team be successful.

Paws with a Cause

  • PAWS


    Meet the team guiding PAWS


  • PAWS


    Meet the leaders of our organization


  • PAWS


    Meet the people helping make it all possible


  • Executive Committee

    Libby Child, Board Chair
    Douglas J. Dok Jr., Esq., Vice Chair
    James C. Hesseman, Secretary
    James Nichols, Treasurer
    Nidal Kanaan, Board Member at Large
    Judye Reed, Board Member at Large
    Melanie Yanchuk, Board Member at Large

    Full Board

    Charles Archie, Jr.
    Carol Danhof
    Faye Richardson Green
    Michael Slack

    National Advisory Committee

    Larry Bennett
    David Christensen
    Nancy Cluley
    Sarah Holland
    Gerald House
    Frank Jeffreys
    Ronald Koscierzynski
    Paul Lane, PhD
    Don Meyers
    Craig Niemann
    Lane Phalen
    Barbara Rapaport
    Curt Reppuhn
    John D. Swaney
    Phil Tower
    Stephen M. Turner
    Barbara Washington
    Heidi Wasserman
    Pamela Werner
    Dan Wiljanen
    Gary Wilkes
    Richard Ziebart


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    Paws with a Cause



    “PAWS is a family. We’ve always been a family and always will be one.”

    Karen, PAWS Director of Human Resources

    CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER,  Michael D. Sapp, Sr.

    PAWS Co-Founder and CEO has over 34 years of experience in the Assistance Dog industry. Mike guides the day to day operations of the organization, including acting as a resource in temperament testing, client services and research and development. He is skilled in all aspects of the training and placement process, as well as administrative and financial processes and procedures. With 41 years of experience personally training dogs and 5 years apprenticing for other instructors, he's become an expert in the industry. He assisted the State of Michigan in drafting legislation related to Assistance Dogs and helped establish four other Assistance Dog organizations across the country.


    Joe leads PAWS' development initiatives based on the creation and implementation of an open system of philanthropy. He brings to PAWS more than 30 years of experience as an executive leading nonprofit organizations in West Michigan focused in education, the arts and human services. His career in the nonprofit sector includes 22 years as the Managing Director of Circle Theatre and 3 years as the Director of Development at the Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan. Joe completed his undergraduate and graduate studies at Indiana University.


    Kathleen Ribbens serves as the Interim Operations Director of PAWS. This responsibility involves the oversight of the program portion of the organization. Operations includes the Veterinary, Breeding and Breeding Stock Volunteer, Foster Puppy Volunteer and Education, Canine Custom Training, Client Services and Field Representative Network and the Building Maintenance programs. Kathleen brings to PAWS a breadth and depth of leadership experience, having led teams in a senior management capacity in the education, healthcare and insurance industries. She is also trained as an executive coach and has worked with numerous organizations -- including PAWS -- in both the non-profit and for profit arenas. Kathleen has earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from Eastern Michigan University, a Master’s in Leadership from Michigan State University and a post-graduate certification in Executive Leadership from the University of Michigan.


    Karen's 23 years of experience help PAWS create an environment where employees feel valued and fulfilled by their work. She aligns PAWS' corporate culture, leadership and structure with business strategies. This includes helping to develop the organization's vision and mission, planning and maintaining business objectives, creating corporate policies and facilitating effective interpersonal communication. She also implements recruitment and retention strategies, evaluates work-related issues, determines effective remediation methods and trains staff in effective communication techniques. Karen pursued her Business Management/HR Management undergraduate studies at Davenport University. Her professional experience includes years as a Legal Assistant for several local attorneys.

    FINANCE DIRECTOR,  Teri Crosby

    Teri directs and coordinates PAWS' financial management according to standards accepted in the United States. She directs and prepares financial analyses of operations for the guidance of management and the Board of Directors. Teri also manages multi-state tax filings, quarterly and year-end tax filings. She has over 25 years of finance experience. Teri pursued her undergraduate studies at Aquinas College in Accounting/Finance. Her previous career experience includes Beene Garter and Echelbarger, Himebaugh, Tamm & Cummins, P.C.

    DIRECTOR OF ADMINISTRATION,  Portasue Hendrickson

    Portasue directs, plans, coordinates and supervises the administrative functions of the organization. This includes maintaining communications from PAWS clients and supporters, developing and implementing policies and procedures to assure clarity, consistency and maximum efficiency. She maintains PAWS' legal compliance throughout the country, accreditation through Assistance Dogs International and acts as Recording Secretary and liaison for the Board of Directors. Portasue has over 25 years of administrative and customer service experience, having worked in the banking industry and legal offices prior to joining the PAWS staff over 18 years ago.

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    Paws with a Cause



    Office Staff

    Mary Blain, Community Engagement Coordinator
    Kim Blozinski, Mail/Shipping Receiving
    Jennifer Boan, Development Events Coordinator
    Lori Bright, LBSW, Client Relations Manager
    Becky Canale, National Client Services Coordinator
    Deb Davis, Community Outreach Manager
    Mary Dine, Administrative Assistant
    Kelsey Haldane, Development Administrator
    Carol Manshaem, Receptionist
    Paula Pasma, Fund Development Coordinator
    Annette Prentice, Donor Communications Manager
    Tara Starback, HR Representative


    Training Staff

    Crystal BeVier, Trainer Assistant
    Sara Crockett, Apprentice Trainer
    Mike Hanna, Program Process Quality Manager
    Barb Kozminski, Senior Staff Trainer
    Emily Martin, Apprentice Trainer
    Anna Rhea, Apprentice Trainer
    Shari Tolan, Apprentice Team Leader


    Canine Staff

    Dawn Bohan, National Breeding Program Coordinator
    Connie Bowne, Canine Liaison
    Carol Dobos, Equipment Stitcher/R&D
    Linda French, Regional Foster Puppy/Client Services Representative Southeast Michigan
    Debby Gaylor, Canine Administrative Assistant
    Dawn Hunter, Foster Puppy Assistant, Southeast Michigan
    Wendy McIntosh, Breeding Program Technician
    Julie Thorington, National Foster Puppy Coordinator
    Donna Venner, Canine Administrative Assistant


    Animal Care Staff

    Dr. Jeanne Klynsma, Staff Veterinarian
    Theresa Peck, Licensed Vet Tech
    Jackie Koloseik, Groomer


    Building Care Staff

    Kevin Thiel, Building Care Supervisor
    Doug Hollebeek
    Sara Jager
    Heather Miller
    Lauren Reed
    Michael Reurink
    Michael VanLent
    Diane Williams


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