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Board of Directors

Retired, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development at Convergys

Helena Brooks
Board Chair Finance Committee

Helena joined the 4 Paws Board in December of 2014. In her professional life, Helena works at Convergys, a global call center provider, as the senior vice president of corporate development. She is in her 27th year of service with the company.

On the board, Helena is a member of the Operations Committee, which focuses on ways to support the organization in the streamlining of various workflow processes, so the organization is prepared for future growth. In her personal life Helena is the mother of two children, a daughter in medical school, and a son who works in the finance group for a company in Cleveland. Her husband’s sons are also grown, and live on opposite coasts, one in Rhode Island, and the other in Los Angeles. Helena also has an autistic niece who is now an adult, and Helena realizes what a great help a 4 Paws dog would have been in her childhood had Helena known about the organization.

With the children grown, Helena and her husband share their home with two rescue dogs, a chocolate lab and a miniature dachshund.

Ralph Brueggemann
Systems and Governance Committee

Ralph joined the 4 Paws for Ability Board of Directors in the summer of 2017. He is the Chair of the Governance Committee. In his professional life, Ralph managed commercial and application software product development and quality improvement projects for local, national, and international corporations. He was formerly Director of Data Systems in the James Anderson Center for Health Systems Excellence at Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center.  He currently teaches part-time at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. Ralph is the former faculty advisor and founder of the student organization, 4 PAWS for Ability at the University of Cincinnati that socializes service dogs in training. Ralph graduated from Miami University and the University of Cincinnati. He is a Tae Kwon Do Blackbelt and a former marathon runner who now competes in 5K races.  He served in the United States Army Reserve in a M*A*S*H unit during the Vietnam War era.

Ralph is married to Diane, retiree of the University of Cincinnati’s Department of Public Safety with three sons. Kyle, a graduate student at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, and a recipient of the Eagle Scout Award based on a project that was done in support of 4 PAWS for Ability on service dog awareness. Erik is an employee of the Hamilton County Public Library and is married to Colleen, who is a children’s disability evaluator for the Cincinnati Public School system, with three children, Lena, Eliot, and Isabel. Kurt is an emergency medicine physician and is married to Tonya, a nurse, with two children, Eloise, and Hazel.

Ralph’s family has socialized three service dogs who all had the same father: Gliss (Dagny & Zeke), golden doodle, was adopted during her advanced training and is a great family dog. Frigga (Dot and Zeke), golden doodle, was trained as a tracker and placed with an autistic child, and Nasreen (Dot & Zeke), became a seizure alert and tracking service dog.

Hannah Carver
Systems and Community Outreach Committee

Hannah joined the 4 Paws Board in March of 2021 after experiencing firsthand how amazing service dogs can be for a family. Growing up, her younger brother who is deaf and has cerebral palsy and social learning disabilities, had service dogs. Beyond helping him physically, the dogs were such an amazing bridge for the family, helping her brother interact with other kids.

In her professional life, Hannah is a Branding & Communication Consultant serving a variety of clients, including those in the nonprofit, healthcare, hospitality and retail sectors. Prior to working in consulting, she worked as a journalist in Lexington, Kentucky, and Cincinnati. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University.

Hannah married her husband, Mark, in 2017, and they have a golden retriever named Sammi, who shares the same birthday as Hannah.

Beth Cesta
Fundraising and Community Outreach Committee

Beth began volunteering at 4 Paws in August 2018 as a result of meeting 4 Paws service dogs at church. After talking with the clients, who also volunteer, she began serving 4 Paws in numerous ways, primarily the Puppy House. Beth joined the Board of Directors in March 2019.

Beth brings more than 30 years of healthcare and legislative experience through her former responsibilities of; commercial and government contract negotiation, advocacy, practice management and revenue cycle enhancement. During her fifteen (15) years with TeamHealth (formerly Premier Physicians Services, Dayton, OH) she served as Vice President of Government and Payer Relations until November 2018.

Beth has been actively engaged with profit and not for profit healthcare organizations as a passionate advocate at both the state and federal level. She was a member of the Board of Directors for Emergency Department Practice Management Association (EDPMA) for 7 years and served a 2 year term as Chairperson of the Conference Planning Committee. She also served as Chairperson of the EDPMA PAC and CoChair of the State Regulatory and Insurance Committee. In 2015, EDPMA honored Beth’s passionate advocacy for Emergency Physicians and dedication to the members of the organization by presenting her with the prestigious EDPMA Meritorious Service Award.

Beth and her husband Joe live in Lebanon, OH. They have 3 adult children, 5 grandchildren and a 8yr. old English Springer Spaniel, Isabella.

Madeline Hutchinson
Systems and Fundraising Committee

Madeline joined the 4 Paws Board in March of 2021. In her professional life, Madeline leads a portfolio of programs called Tech for Social Good at JPMorgan Chase focused on lifting up communities around the world by leveraging the power of people and technology. In her role, Madeline manages a global volunteerism program to help nonprofits get access to technology to address their biggest challenges. Prior to this role, Madeline worked as a business manager in the Investment Bank, supporting securitized products and municipal bonds. In her personal life, Madeline is married to her husband Michael, and they enjoy traveling and building a variety of community-based entrepreneurial ventures. Madeline is also the proud aunt to 3 of the cutest puppies you will ever meet!

Owner, Business and Technology Consulting Firm

John Jolley
Fundraising Committee

John developed a love for animals growing up on his family’s horse farm in central Ohio, which included a small herd of cattle… and dogs! In addition to the family dogs, which were often his partners in crime and adventure, his family also spent a number of years fostering for a Seeing Eye Dog Program. After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Actuarial Science and Applied Mathematics from The Ohio State University, John enlisted in the United States Armed Forces. During this time John became fascinated with the capabilities of military working dogs, specifically the German Shepherd Dog (GSD). After leaving the Armed Forces, he went on to earn an MBA and to establish a career in strategic consulting, including technology. In the early 2000’s the family found their first GSD from a professional K-9 breeder and had the opportunity to work with an experienced K-9 trainer (and officer) to train Gus in personal protection and volunteer early responder tracking. The Jolley family quickly fell in love with the breed. John currently owns his own business and technology consulting firm based in a central Ohio suburb. He is husband to one and father to five (three human and one all black, partially coated GSD, Max). John currently serves as a 4 Paws board member and chairs the Fundraising Committee.

Jake Persky
Finance Committee

Jake joined the 4 Paws Board in December of 2017 and serves as the Chair of the Finance & Governance Committees. He is a dog lover at heart and was attracted to 4 Paws for Ability because of the amazing quality of life difference a 4 Paws dog can make for families.

In his professional life, he works in Global Strategic Marketing at Leica Biosystems, shaping the global marketing strategy around the service portfolio. Prior to Leica Biosystems, he worked at Johnson & Johnson and Ernst & Young. He is a Certified Public Accountant and holds a Master’s degree from the University of Kentucky. Jake married his wife Sonya in 2016, and they have a black Labrador mix named Jesse.

Amy Wilcox
Program Committee

Amy’s family was forever changed by 4 Paws for Ability in June of 2013 when their son Joel received Flame, his seizure alert dog. The peace and comfort Flame has brought to her family is beyond measure.

Over the last several years Amy’s family has volunteered at 4 Paws through the breeder foster program and the service dog in training program. Over a dozen 4 Paws Service-Dogs-in-Training have lived in the Wilcox home. Joel and Flame, as well as Amy have made several appearances at local businesses and high schools on behalf of 4 Paws for Ability. In 2014, they shared their story with Medikidz (medical comic book for teens) to help get the word out about epilepsy and 4 Paws for Ability seizure alert dogs.

Amy holds a Bachelors in Business Administration from Ohio Dominican University. She has been at Safelite AutoGlass for 22 years and is currently a Claims Management Project Manager in Strategic Planning and Analysis.

Amy joined the 4 Paws for Ability board in April of 2016, and is volunteering on the Program Committee.

She lives in Blacklick, OH with her husband Jeff, three children, Alex, Joel and Ava and 4 dogs, Flame (famous seizure alert dog), Bella Blue, Ghost (service dog breeder), and Minnie Mouse.

Randy Lytes
Human Resources Committee

Randy joined the 4 Paws Board in August 2020 and serves on the HR Committee. In his professional life, Randy works for Allstate where he serves as Inclusive Diversity & Equity Business Analytics Lead Consultant. Outside of Allstate, Randy does contract work for a local organizational development consulting firm known as Rice Education Consulting.

In his personal life, Randy loves volunteering, serving on the board of directors for two nonprofit organizations and leading a small networking group for young HR/DEI professionals known as Aspiring People Partners. Randy’s educational background includes degrees in Psychology, Business Administration and HR Management. Randy loves all people and animals and is happy to be a part of an organization that brings value to both.

Julie George
Fundraising and Human Resources Committee

Julie started volunteering and puppy raising for 4 Paws for Ability in 2015 after a family member had gone through a long process to receive a service dog. She was excited to help children and veterans through puppies and was looking for a meaningful volunteer opportunity – she immediately fell in love with the 4 Paws mission. 

In her professional life, Julie is a Partner and Executive Recruiter with Gilman Partners in Cincinnati. She has been with the firm for over 25 years and heads up the firm’s Manufacturing, Operations and Supply Chain Practice as well as the Engineering Practice. Julie received her bachelor’s degree in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources from Miami University of Ohio. She also serves on the board of the European American Chamber of Commerce Cincinnati chapter. 

Julie and has two adult children, Alex and Kevin and lives in Cincinnati with her husband, Scott and their 2 golden retriever “Fabulous Flunkies”, Shungun and Pervis.

Linda Davis
Governance and Fundraising Committee

Linda joined the 4 Paws Board of Directors in December of 2021.  She is a member of the Governance Committee and Fundraising Committees.  

In her professional career, Linda held numerous civil service managerial positions at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in the fields of Logistics Management and Program Management.  Her work was focused on the acquisition, sustainment, and modernization of numerous military weapon systems. She has a B.A. in Business Administration & Management and has an M.S. in Acquisition Logistics.  

With over 36 years of federal service, Linda retired from the Base in 2014 and began searching for local volunteering opportunities.  In February 2015, she heard about 4 Paws for Ability on the local news and, coincidentally, saw 4 Paws socializers with puppies at The Greene the following day.  Linda inquired about 4 Paws volunteering opportunities and began working immediately.  She is a huge dog lover and knew she had finally found the perfect volunteering job.  Linda volunteers weekly at 4 Paws. She is passionate about her job of helping puppies become comfortable during their initial handling and first bath processes.  

Linda loves to share her excitement and dedication to the 4 Paws for Ability mission whenever an opportunity presents itself.

Tanya Mahon Gantzer
Systems and Human Resources Committee

Tanya is one of our newest board members, joining in January 2022.  She is recently retired, having spent most of her career in marketing research and the call center industry.  Her final professional role was in the building of a non-profit, Education at Work. There she served as Chief Development Officer of an organization whose mission is to provide a path to college graduation with less debt and the skills needed to be successful in a post-graduate workplace.  Over the course of seven years as the leader of sales, account management and marketing the entity moved from a negative bottom line to $20M in revenue.  As a key member of the executive team she wore many hats while building a marketing brand which attracted new clients (revenue source), universities (call center locations) and a student population served by the mission.

On the board, Tanya is a member of two committees.  As a member of the Systems Committee she will provide input into website design and functionality, customer relations management, and social media. As a member of the Human Resources committee Tanya will bring her years of people management experience to bear on personnel, recruiting and training related matters. In her personal life Tanya is a wife, mother of one, stepmother of two, and pet owner of two Siamese cats and a Golden Doodle.

With a year of retirement under her belt, Tanya was looking for a way to give back in the non-profit space.  The mission of 4 Paws for Ability struck a chord with her. She gained first-hand experience as to what goes into training a puppy when she adopted her puppy in 2021.  Understanding the impact a well-trained dog has on a deserving family made it an easy choice to join the board.

Kathy Barnes
Finance Committee

Kathy joined 4 Paws Board in March of 2021.  She is the Chair of the Finance Committee. In her professional life, she is Chief Financial Officer at Skylight Financial Group.  She manages all forecasting and budgeting for the firm, as well as oversees the preparation of all financial reporting. Cincinnati native Kathy Barnes graduated from Miami of Ohio with a degree in sports medicine and has been with an agency of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) since 2001.

Kathy has a son with Bainbridge Ropers Syndrome who has a service dog himself.  Her name is Mimosa.  Their family also has a client companion named Kahlua.  Their dogs have made such a huge impact in their lives. 

Kathy remains very active with her community, supporting organizations like the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and serving as treasurer on the board of the Skylight Foundation. Outside the office, Kathy is a cross-fit enthusiast who enjoys cheering on the Bengals and spending time with her husband Bobby and their children, JJ, Lexi, and Chase.