Board of Directors

Meet our Board of Directors

Meet the 2021 Board of Directors! 

Our leadership consists of WMTD members who volunteer their time to serve on our board apart from volunteering with their dogs. They help us ensure our organization operates smoothly and continues to grow and improve. 

President

President

Paula Nelson

A lifelong dog-lover, Paula was thrilled to discover WMTD in 2004. As a retired Social Worker and Certified Senior Advisor, Paula can put her passion into action through volunteering with WMTD. Her first therapy dogs were Aslan and Bella, both shetland sheepdogs. They visited Mary Free Bed, DeVos Children’s Hospital, Ruff Readers, and more. After Aslan passed, she got Emma, a cocker spaniel she found through WMTD that needed a home. Emma is now ten years old and loves to visit DeVos Children’s Hospital, the Courthouse program, Ruff Readers, College Stress Visits, and Visually Impaired Sports Day. People remember her for her “wiggle butt.” Paula has been on the board since 2007 and has served as the Director of Projects, Vice-President, and now President. She is proud to be part of WMTD and looks forward to seeing it grow further.

Secretary

Secretary

Margie Kindel

In 2014, Margie worked at the Ronald McDonald House and loved seeing the WMTD teams visit with the families and staff. Preparing to retire, she had a seven-year-old Labrador Retriever named Barley and felt WMTD was a way for them to stay active in the community. The two volunteered for many years at Clark Retirement Home, and they enjoy the Dog Wash at White Caps Park, Starlite Cancer Camp, and WMTD picnics. In 2017, Margie joined the board as a Member at Large and became our Secretary in 2018. Since then, she and a fellow Board Member launched the monthly member newsletter.

Treasurer

Treasurer

Steve Tanyko

Steve and his Golden Retriever Jack have been members of WMTD since 2017, and in 2018 Steve joined the Board of Directors as the Treasurer. He currently works in Corporate Finance at Wolverine Worldwide, and his knowledge and passion for finance are a great asset to our team as the Treasurer. He and Jack enjoy spending time with his wife Lindsey and children Joseph and Juliet. 

Director of Programs

Director of Programs

Heather McCormick

Working alongside a veterinarian for 10 years and owned countless dogs over the years, Heather is known as a dog enthusiast and bully breed lover. She discovered early on that where you go, dogs want to go and enjoys sharing her dogs with the community. Her first West Michigan Therapy Dog was Clarence,  a French Bulldog who spent 12 years volunteering with WMTD alongside his sister Fiona. Heather now has two new dogs joining the family legacy of therapy dogs. Through her time with WMTD, she's had the privilege to volunteer at colleges, the Airport, and several hospitals. She looks forward to the accomplishments of the next generation of therapy dogs in her family. 

Director of Membership

Director of Membership

Sandee Hermann

After working for 42 years in an office, Sandee was looking for something to do for fun while being a productive member of her community. In 2012, she joined WMTD with her dog Chewy. They visited nursing homes and worked with physically and mentally challenged adults. After Chewy crossed the Rainbow Bridge, she got Nala, her three-legged golden retriever. Because of Nala's handicap, they settled into the Ruff Reader program, where Nala shines. Along with therapy visits, Sandee also loves helping and instructing WMTD classes. 

Director of Education & Training

Director of Education & Training

Jeanne Lewis

For the past 30+ years, Jeanne has worked in many different capacities with dogs and their handlers, whether it's puppy socialization or therapy dog training. Jeanne is one of our cofounders, and back in 2001, she and a friend saw a need in the community for pet therapy, and our organization was born. Her first West Michigan Therapy Dog, Indigo Blu girl, was a magnificent Great Dane born with an old soul. Jeanne truly believes if it hadn’t been for Indigo, there would be no WMTD. Today, Jeanne serves on the board as our Director of Training and volunteers with her dog, Rosie. Rosie is a great role model to her younger sister, Pearl, who dreams of being a therapy dog one day too. 

Director of Projects

Director of Projects

Liz Fahnenstiel

Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Liz spent 15 years working in marketing for General Motor's Buick Division before retiring at 38 years old. She began volunteering with Community Spay/Neuter Initiative (CSNIP) and served on their Board of Directors for a few years. After she got her first Golden Retriever, she got involved with WMTD and has been since 2003. She is now volunteering with her fifth therapy dog. Liz opened and ran Pawsitive Canine Training Center in Lowell for twelve years, which gave her great experience in the dog therapy world. She always wanted to volunteer, and Liz feels fortunate that she has been able to for the past 20 years. 

Members at Large

Members at Large

Bill Foster

Julie Eilenberg

Kate Clark

Kathleen Feeney

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