Service Dog Trainers & Staff
Dan Warren Founder and President of Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers. He believes that individuals, who struggle with invisible disabilities often will benefit from having a canine companion in their lives to enhance a quality of life, provide hope, independence, and peace of mind. It is Dan’s personal goal to bring hope and peace until a cure is found for these disabilities and does believe until there is a cure – there is a dog.
Lucinda, Development Director
As Development Director for SDWR, Lucinda Williams has over two decades of nonprofit management experience. She has served as the Executive Director of the Brain Injury Association of Delaware, Director of Development for the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation, Executive Director of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, Executive Director of the Garrett Lakes Arts Festival, and Vice President of Artistic, Education and Community Outreach with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
During her two-plus decades of nonprofit management, Lucinda has raised over $15 million dollars to support the various organizations for which she has worked. Lucinda lives in Gilmanton, NH, with her husband, retired Army Colonel, Richard Nowak. Richard served as a Special Forces Green Beret for 26 years. Lucinda is the grandmother of Lucien Gautreaux who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 18 months. Lucien, now 6, is the proud “boy” of his Diabetic Alert Service Dog, Shadow.
, Executive Assistant to the President
My name is Sarah Gibson I came to SDWR in early October of 2015, I am 26 years old and a single mother of two. I have spent most of my Working / Personal life in the world of Equine , Horses have always been my passion as well as my comfort zone. I am a huge animal person and always have been, Dogs are a big part of my life and I have always looked at mine as a family rather than a pet. On October 15 when I made the decision to start a new chapter in my life I found SDWR or even better they found me, I knew then that this was the place for me! I have never worked for an Organization like this one, These are not just employers to me they are a new found family that I never knew I had. They have given my children and myself love and opportunities that I would have never thought were possible! I am honored to call myself a part of the SDWR team!
, Client Services
My name is Heather. I am 35, Mom of 3, a newlywed, a new homeowner, and now a new employee for SDWR. However I am not new to the organization itself. I volunteered for SDWR before ever even imagining working for them, and after seeing not only how amazing the organization is, but how they all have a family like bond when the chance arose I jumped on it! I feel excited and proud to be able to help families\ individuals with invisible disabilities to have peace of mind. I have family members who suffer daily from invisible disabilities, and I firmly believe “Until there is a cure there is a Dog”! I finally found a place where I feel as if I belong, and after searching for this for so many years I can’t explain how great it feels. I look forward to helping others feel a sense of “relief” as I have numerous of times through my short time thus far with SDWR!
Kimberly, Director Of Volunteer Services
I am a graduate from the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business. I am very excited to be starting my professional career within the nonprofit sector. As the director of volunteer programs I will help ensure that our puppy raisers have the adequate support and fundraising they need. This path is important to me because I believe we all should find purpose in our work. With SDWR I will have the opportunity to see human lives radically transformed. My energy is fueled by being surrounded by passionate likeminded people. I am honored to be a part of such driven team and I look forward to developing lifelong friendships and becoming a part of the SDWR family.
, Training Director
In 2001, Cheri began her career in the Department of Corrections. Beginning 2005, she became a Narcotics Canine Handler, where her duties included searching cells for narcotics in multiple correctional facilities, as well as inmates, visitors and employees of the Virginia Department of Corrections.
In 2007, Cheri’s experience in dog training strengthened, when her career as a Narcotics Canine Handler Instructor began. She participated in the Narcotics Canine Handler Schools teaching new Handlers and their dogs on how to do searches as well as training the dogs on how to locate Narcotics.
After years of working alongside canine training, Cheri finally joined SDWR, starting off training puppies at the facilities. She described her duties,
“[Training puppies] included Socializing them, teaching them sit, down, stay, come and proper leash walking. I then progressed to delivering the puppies into the homes of our clients. I have been delivering and training Diabetic Alert Dogs, Seizure Response Dogs, and Autism Service Dogs. I am currently the Training Director for SDWR. During my time with SDWR I have trained over 300 very successful Service Dogs.”
Cheri has also helped to supply dogs for the local Police Departments as well as USDA.
, Senior Trainer
Phil has been a trainer for over eight years. Phil’s father, grandfather and grandmother were diabetics, so he is familiar with invisible disabilities. He was the District Trainer in Tidewater for PetSmart for 6 years. Phil trained and evaluated other trainers. Phil was introduced to Warren Retrievers through one of our families. Little did he know Riley-Anne was only the first Warren Retriever he would meet.
“I love making life easier for those with Diabetes through training D.A.D.s and their families. All of the staff is very knowledgeable. Trainers make visits to further training of dogs every 90 days and are not relegated to distance. There is no age limit to receive one of our dogs as with most other organizations. Constant contact is kept with our dog owners to ensure they have the assistance they need. Our dogs are guaranteed for 10 years. Great care is taken to make sure our clients receive a healthy dog. There isn’t an organization that cares more about our clients than we do.”
I have 2 dogs that I have had since they were 8 weeks old, a 7-year-old Rottweiler and a 7-year-old Bullmastiff. Both dogs have had extensive obedience training and both received their Canine Good Citizenship through the AKC and were registered Therapy Dogs with Therapy Dog International up till this current year when I retired them due to their ages. Also, I performed private obedience training with friends, family, and acquaintances. I started working at Petsmart in Norfolk, VA as a Pet Trainer for over a year. There I assisted families with basic obedience training as well as assisting several people with training their service dogs. After learning of the opportunity at Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers in 2012, I welcomed the opportunity to train dogs and help families at the same time. I have now worked with Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers for over 3.5 years and plan to continue for a long time which is why I am looking to relocate to this area. I have worked training dogs full time for the past 5.5 years and prior to that worked part time training dogs and worked full time in social work and counseling as I have my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.
, Trainer Apprentice
“I graduated from Virginia Tech in 2015 with a degree in Animal and Poultry Sciences. My focus was in Equine Business and Production. After completing an internship at Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Woodbine, Md, I realized that I wanted to branch out from the equine industry. Last spring I heard about SDWR and made the decision to become a puppy raiser. Being a puppy raiser has been an amazing experience and I have greatly enjoyed working with my puppy to prepare him for his life as a service dog. I have always loved animals and can’t imagine life without them. I want to pursue a career through which I can serve others. It is my hope that joining the SDWR family will give me the opportunity to combine my love for animals and my desire to serve in order to make a difference in people’s lives. This is just the beginning of a wonderful journey.”
, Facilities Trainer Apprentice / Kennel Staff
“My name is Emily Meszaros and I’m 16 years old. I absolutely love animals and cannot see a future without them. I own one horse and two dogs which I have trained myself. I started questioning what direction I should take with my life? That’s when I discovered SDWR’s Puppy Raiser Program. I thought it would be a great step in the direction of deciding whether this would be something to make a career. I filled out an application and received my first puppy within a couple weeks. I really enjoyed the experience of being a puppy raiser and it’s taught me so much. Through the Puppy Raiser Program, I discovered that they were hiring and jumped at the opportunity. I started working for SDWR in March of 2016 and am loving every minute of it. I work full time in the summer and half time throughout the school year due to my schooling. I am so lucky to be working for a great organization and with great people! I hope to continue working with SDWR as a future career. Being a member of the Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers family has benefitted me by changing my life in immeasurable ways.”- Emily
, Puppy Raiser Coordinator & Volunteer Recruiter
“As a recent Virginia Tech grad, I am very excited to be a part of the SDWR team. I have always been passionate about helping others and have always wanted to work with animals, so I think I found the perfect combination here at SDWR. My mother and my sister are both special education teachers, so through them, I have seen what it is like to work with someone with a disability. I truly believe that dogs are great companions and it is an honor to work with such an amazing organization.”
SDWR Board Of Directors
Originally from western Pennsylvania, Jacob “Jake” Dudek is a licensed realtor in the state of Virginia. Jake graduated from Monacan High School and lived five years in the Midlothian VA area. He is now a ten-year resident of Virginia where he owns and operates a thriving 300-acre agribusiness. Jake’s hobbies are beekeeping, photography, and renovations–to both modern and historical properties. Jake is also actively-involved in volunteering for organizations that serve the disabled community especially people with Diabetes, Autism, PTSD and Epilepsy. Jake serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors for SDWR.
Ira, MBA, PMP©
A native Chicagoan, now 15 years a Northern Virginia resident, Ira, MBA, PMP is an accomplished IT Executive and Program Manager with extensive expertise in managing multi-million dollar public and private enterprise programs. He currently provides executive consultation for Attain, LLC, a Management Consulting Organization located in McLean, VA.
In his career, Ira has managed programs spanning several industries, counseling blue chip and key federal clients. His ability to successfully manage programs within tight budgets and timeframes has earned him multiple awards and recognitions from the organizations he has supported. Ira seeks to leverage this experience, and his passion for Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers(SDWR) to support the growth, and world-class service that SDWR provides.
Ira currently resides in Haymarket, Virginia, with his wife of 25 years, Elaine. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Northern Illinois University, and Masters in Business from Lewis University. Their two children, David, a law student at Georgetown, and Sara, a pre-med student at University of Virginia, consume most of their available free time.
His personal challenges with diabetes drives his understanding with how SDWR impacts the lives of thousands of individuals. While Ira thoroughly believes that a cure for diabetes is in the not-to-distant future, he firmly stands behind the statement that “Until There’s A Cure, There’s A (Warren Retriever) Dog.”
Aaron is the City Manager for Birdsboro, PA. He has been married to his wife Michelle for 24 years. They are proud parents of two children and one foster child. Aaron, a Veteran of the United States Air Force, has had an uncontrolled seizure disorder since 1993 which was determined to be 100% service connected.
Aaron has been involved with Christian non-profits for his entire professional life. He has raised funds, overseen various building projects and provided oversight. His non-profit work has taken him to Haiti and Africa. After the earthquake of 2010, Aaron and his wife raised over $45,000 for relief work and rebuilding in Haiti going to the region just 3 days after the earthquake to set up humanitarian efforts and check his charity’s orphanage and other ministries.
Aaron and his wife are both active in their church where they are group leaders on Sunday mornings, and Aaron has his ordination credentials. Aaron’s foster son is in his thirties; he is a veteran of the United States Navy and currently lives in PA. Aaron’s son and daughter are attending college at Robert’s Wesleyan College. Aaron has been a volunteer cross-country and track coach since 2008 at the Birdsboro middle and high school and because of his work with children, Aaron has both a PA State Police and FBI child abuse clearance. Aaron has a seizure response service dog from SDWR named “Dexter.”
Harold is an accomplished litigator practicing throughout Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. Harold represents a diverse array of clients, ranging from individuals to small businesses to Fortune 100 corporations. Clients look to Harold for cost-effective, practical legal representation.
Harold is committed to serving his community. Harold recently completed a two-year term as president of Congregation Olam Tikvah, in Fairfax, and presently serves on the Board of the Jewish Community of Northern Virginia. In addition, he serves as a Commissioner on the Fairfax County Consumer Protection Commission. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors appointed Harold as a Commissioner in 2008 and has reappointed him three times.
Harold and his wife Cheri live in Fairfax Station with their two school-age children and two dogs. Their oldest child attends the University of Virginia where she is a puppy raiser for SDWR.
Dr. Jonathan, MD
Dr. Jonathan is an endocrinologist who lives and operates his own practice in Plattsburgh, New York. Dr. Jon has had Type 1 diabetes since the age of 4 and because of that diagnosis, Dr. Jon feels he has the unique advantage of being able to educate and guide his newly-diagnosed diabetes patients in their own day to day management of the disease. Dr. Jon is an avid outdoor enthusiast who likes to ski, swim, and go boating. He is also involved in white water rescue organizations. Dr. Jon has a diabetic alert dog from SDWR that he has named “Banting.”
Dr. Virginia is a practicing veterinarian in the Culpeper/Madison area. A graduate of Brown University, Dr. Rushing cares for and treats animals of all sizes, from family pets to farm animals. She is also a member of the Semper Fi Fund Community Athletes—a group of individuals who hold and compete in athletic events that raise funds for our nation’s veterans. She is also a member of the Royal Vets Farm Animal Society and a member of the Blue Ridge Hunt Club based in Clarke County of Northern Virginia. Dr. Virginia cares for SDWR breeder dogs as well as the service dogs in training and has been a part of the SDWR family for several years.
SDWR Chapter Managers
, North Alabama Chapter Manager
My name is April Reno I am 38 years old and the mom of two children with type one diabetes. I was a substitute teacher for two years where I worked with special needs children. I am a very active supporter of the Daring To Defeat Diabetes organization. I started my journey with SDWR in May 2014, when I decided to receive a DAD (diabetic alert dog) for my children. I am currently North Alabama Chapter Manager. My children and I are proud owners of Miracle our diabetic alert dog. My favorite part of working with SDWR is meeting other families with invisible disabilities. I love hearing their stories and I am always ready to share mine.
Michelle, Southern California Chapter Manager
I am Michelle Hyman. I have owned dogs all of my life and I love helping people! I have had my own Diabetic Alert Dog, SaveHer, for over four years. I live in the Southern California region.
, Kentucky Chapter Manager
Tracy Stakely began her career in the field of Social Work as a Case Manager and Therapist to the chronically mentally ill at her community’s mental health facility for 20 years. It wasn’t until her daughter’s diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes in 2008 did things change for her. She found SDWR after researching ways to help maintain her daughter’s new diagnosis and shortly thereafter obtained a Diabetic Alert Dog for her daughter. “I was amazed at these dogs and the life-saving abilities they possess. I knew I had to be a part of this organization.” She began working for SDWR in 2013 in support services and joined the Chapter Manager team shortly afterward. “I love seeing how these dogs change lives! I know what our Diabetic Alert Dog has done for my family and am excited to see how they can improve the lives of others as well.” Being a Chapter Manager for Tracy helps provide support to other families in KY who are also seeking a Service Dog. “My family grew immensely when I joined the SDWR team!”
, Michigan Chapter Manager
Ben started his journey with S.D.W.R in April 2013 when he signed on to receive a Diabetic Alert Dog. He was diagnosed with T1D at the age of 12. After hours of research, and searching for the right organization to get a D.A.D from he decided upon S.D.W.R due to his initial conversation with Dan, his enthusiasm and passion for the cause were contagious. Since receiving Max – Ben’s D.A.D, he has been training non-stop, and have had the pleasure and blessing of being amazed each and every day by his abilities. Ben’s bond with Max is such a beautiful gift to the family, we simply cannot imagine our life without him.
In October 2015 Ben was excited to announce to family and friends that he was given an opportunity to share in his passion for S.D.W.R by becoming the Michigan Chapter Manager of this wonderful organization! He believes as Dan does that “Until there is a cure, there is a Dog”. Ben and his family have witnessed firsthand the life saving and life giving a gift that a service dog has to offer and are very excited, blessed and grateful to have the opportunity to walk beside families as they start on the same journey he did in 2013 and advocate for such a stellar organization as S.D.W.R.
, Central California Chapter Manager
My name is Patti Kasper. I live in Central California. I have a BA in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA, an MA in Professional Psychology from Geneva College in Beaver Falls, PA and two Masters from Messianic Bible Institute in Hampton, Virginia, one in Messianic Studies and one in Rabbinic Studies.
I have worked as a social worker for visually impaired individuals, a drug and alcohol counselor in both inpatient and outpatient settings, a therapist in private practice, a therapist in an adult in-patient hospital in Canonsburg, PA and Clinical Director of that unit, a therapist in a child/adolescent psychiatric hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a social worker for a non-profit foster care agency in California and an adoption home study writer for that same agency.
I became involved with Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers in 2012 to obtain my diabetic alert dog, who has placed with me that October. I have been partnered with my service dog for 3-1/2 years and she has saved my life no less than 39 times since June 2013, when I began documenting her “critical saves.”
I am also a Board Member of Central California Type One Diabetes Foundation and am active in the local Type One community, raising awareness and advocating for blood or urine testing to rule out Type One when flu symptoms present in clinics and emergency rooms.
Chris and Carrie
, Oklahoma Chapter Manager
Chris and Carrie Chastain live in Enid, OK with their two children Tripp (5) and Quinn(3). Jake joined the family in January 2016 to serve as an autism service dog for Tripp who was diagnosed at age 4 with autism. Jake and the team from SDWR made such a positive impact on the entire family’s lifestyle that they jumped on board as chapter managers for the Oklahoma area.
, Missouri Chapter Manager
“I have been a diabetic for since 2000 and was able to live independently until a few years ago. I had a very hard decision to make, quit teaching after 28 years and move to live with my parents or find a solution to help me stay independent. After much research and medical intervention, I decided to get a diabetic alert dog. The year before Vidal came into my life I had been hospitalized more than 15 times. Since Vidal, I have only had one medical emergency. Vidal has allowed me to be more independent and my parents know that Vidal will be by my side to keep me safe.” -Lori
, Missouri Chapter Manager
In May of 2011, our world changed forever when our son Nathaniel, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Being an over-protective mom I started researching ways to help him manage his diabetes and keep our sanity. After several searches and many phone calls to different places I decided to make the call to SDWR. I was terrified of making the call as I had already experienced disappointing calls but from the moment Dan answered the phone my fears were put to rest and I knew that this man and this company had true compassion and understood what we as a family were going through. We signed up the next day and started fundraising for our miracle with 4 paws. In September of 2011 our wonder dog, Malachi arrives at our home and alerted to a low with in 15 mins. now years laterNathaniel has been diagnosed with several medical problems including Autism and Sensory Processing to Central Nervous Tremors. I never dreamed that Malachi would help in these areas of Nathaniel’s life but he has. From turning on the lights to calming him when he can no longer process the world around him. Malachi has proven himself time and time again, the same goes for Dan he total stands behind his word and has gone above and beyond when we needed him. Being a Chapter Manager for Tennessee means not only do I get to tell more people about how wonderful Malachi is but how I can help them get the miracle dog they so desperately need. Who wouldn’t want to help other parents feel the same relief that we feel every night when we close our eyes. Becoming an SDWR family member was the happiest thing diabetes ever gave to us.
, ArkansasChapter Manager
We love our DAD Noodle. He is apart of our family. Our daughter Raylee was diagnosed November 11,2014 T1D. Our lives changed dramatically. We were scared confused sad angry and many more emotions. But with time and support, we found SDWR and they have been a life saver and now family
Kami, Eastern Virginia Chapter Manager
My name is Kami Brown. I am a teacher in Chesapeake Public Schools. I have been teaching for 17 years. We have a diabetic alert dog named Rylie Ann. My daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2008 when she was 3 years old. Rylie Ann joined our family in September 2011. We spent years searching for the right company that we felt comfortable getting a service dog from before we found SDWR. We got so much more than a service dog to help our daughter. With SDWR, we got a family which provides unending friendships and support
Markeeta, South West Virginia Chapter Manager
“I have been married to Jason for 8 years, with two children Carter, 6 and Erin, 4. I am a kindergarten teacher. I have a graduate certificate in autism intervention. We received our service dog Happy in April 2015. He is an autism service dog for my son Carter. He helps with meltdowns, elopement, and speech! We live on a farm in southwest VA. We enjoy trips to Dollywood and Asheville. I also enjoy running and Happy makes a great running partner! “
Don & Kathy
, Ohio Chapter Managers
Kathy is a surgical diabetic due to an insulinoma (benign tumor in and through the pancreas). Three quarters of the pancreas was removed. Currently on an insulin pump. Tried a CGM for 6 months but was always so far off it could not be trusted. As you may know there are complications with diabetes. One of which is hypoglycemia unawareness. This means Kathy cannot sense when her blood sugar is high or low, this is a very serious complication. To help combat hypoglycemia unawareness, Duncan(our DAD – Diabetic Alert Dog) alerts to lows and highs. Giving back more freedom and letting Don not worry as much when he goes into the office to work.
Don is a T2 diabetic and experienced lows when the doctors tried using oral drugs to control the BG. Now on just a weekly shot to keep the BG level without the lows.