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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

Douglas J. Dok Jr., Esq., Board Chair
Libby Child, Past Chair
Melanie Yanchuk, Secretary
Bart Merkle, Treasurer  

Full Board  

Greg Bonner
Faye Richardson Green
Mark Hofstee
Jane Hoggard
Janey Ladd
Liam Sullivan, D.O.
Jane Timmer
Scott Winters

National Advisory Committee

Larry Bennett
Libby Child
David Christensen
Nancy Cluley
Jose Hernandez
James Hesseman
Sarah Holland
Gerald House
Mark Hunting
Frank Jeffreys
Ronald Koscierzynski
Paul Lane, PhD
Don Myers
Craig Niemann
Lane Phalen
Judye Reed
Barbara Rapaport
Curt Reppuhn
Michael Slack
John D. Swaney
Phil Tower
Stephen M. Turner
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


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.

VP OF PROGRAM GROUPS,  Kathleen Ribbens

Kathleen serves as the Vice President of Program Groups for PAWS. This responsibility involves the oversight of the Veterinary, Breeding and Breeding Dog Volunteer, Foster Puppy Volunteer and Education, Prison Puppy Program, Canine Custom Training, Client Services and Field Representative Network 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 27 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.


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.


Catherine Rogg, CFRE joins PAWS as Development Director having served in philanthropy for over 22 years. She brings experience as a director of development, alumi relations and an institutional foundation to lead the advancement program at PAWS. Cat's career has been predominantly in higher education; and she is thrilled to be working for PAWS where education and advocacy are a part of the greater mission of enabling independence through Assistance Dogs. As a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), Catherine is an advocate for ethical fundraising. She enjoys building relationships with people whose values align with the mission of the organization she serves, and she is looking forward to working with and knowing our great donor friends and PAWS Dog Volunteers. Cat earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts from Central Michigan University and is a passionate student of life. 



As Special Gifts Officer, Colette Beighley, CFRE works to connect PAWS donors to giving that creates the legacy they envision. Colette’s role at Paws With A Cause is a perfect marriage of her past advocacy for marginalized communities and her pervasive love of dogs. Throughout her career, Colette has been passionate about making more lives livable by advocating for underrepresented communities. Additionally, Colette and her family are an approved foster home for three different rescue organizations that specialize in finding homes for dogs with disabilities. In the ten years prior to coming to PAWS, Colette has been engaged in fundraising in the nonprofit sector. In 2014, Colette received the Milton E. Ford Leadership Award from Grand Valley State University; and, in 2013, GVSU’s prestigious Maxine Swanson Diversity Award. Colette received a Master’s degree in Counseling from California State University.

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Paws with a Cause



Office Staff

Mary Blain, Community Engagement Coordinator
Kim Blozinski, Mail/Shipping Receiving
Jennifer Boan, Annual Fund and Communications Manager
Becky Canale, National Client Services Coordinator
Tony Clementi, Field Rep Network Coordinator
Deb Davis, Community Outreach Manager
Jill Ver Lee, Executive Assistant
Carol Manshaem, Receptionist
Paula Pasma, Fund Development Coordinator
Haley Pomorski, Client Relations Administrative and Applicant Coordinator
Kimberly Nabozny Pubanz, HR Assistant
Carrie Simmons, Event and Volunteer Coordinator


Training Staff

Crystal BeVier, Apprentice Trainer
Kristina DenBoer, Apprentice Trainer
Mike Hanna, Program Process Quality Manager
Emma Hill, Apprentice Trainer
Barb Kozminski, Senior Staff Trainer
Shari Murdock, Apprentice Team Lead
Anna Rhea, Staff Trainer
Brad Rowe, Apprentice Trainer
Catherine Towers, Apprentice Trainer
Maddison VanEgmond, Apprentice Trainer


Canine Staff

Dawn Bohan, National Breeding Program Coordinator
Connie Bowne, Canine Liaison
Taylor Contreras, Canine Care Specialist
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
Jennifer Hill, Foster Puppy Assistant, Southeast Michigan
Wendy McIntosh, Breeding Program Technician
Mike Reurink, Trainer Assistant
Julie Thorington, National Foster Puppy Coordinator
Donna Venner, Canine Administrative Assistant


Animal Care Staff

Nicole Hall,Veterinary Technician
Dr. Jeanne Klynsma, Staff Veterinarian
Karlie Vander Kolk, Groomer


Building Care Staff

Kevin Thiel, Building Care Supervisor
Doug Hollebeek
Allison Lake
Heather Miller
Michael VanLent
Diane Williams

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