Beth Becker – Development Director
Beth brings 20+ years of development experience to Support Dogs, Inc. Her career has been dedicated to higher education, spanning a broad spectrum of development activities, including senior leadership positions. She worked for 14 years at her alma mater, Saint Louis University. GO BILLIKENS! Beth decided to focus the next part of her development career at a non-profit agency, and this brought her to Support Dogs. She believes that a passion for an organization’s mission is of utmost importance to her work, and she has found that passion at SDI. Beth looks forward to meeting the current friends of Support Dogs, as well as encouraging others in the community to embrace its mission. Dogs have been an important part of her family since childhood. She grew up with her loyal companion, Murphy, an Irish Setter who thought he was a lap dog! Simon, an adopted shepherd mix is currently the much loved canine member of her family.
Marie Traczyk – Volunteer Coordinator
Marie grew up and resides in the City of St. Louis. She has a passion for working with nonprofit organizations and helping them fulfill their mission. The experience she brings from her past work at the YMCA of Greater St. Louis will help grow and enhance the volunteer program here at Support Dogs. Throughout her time at the YMCA she held a variety of roles including volunteer coordinator for the literacy programs and director of the city youth in government program. Marie has a successful track record of recruiting volunteers and supporting them throughout their work. In addition to her YMCA work, she spent two years working in the business department assisting faculty at Fontbonne University while obtaining a degree in corporate communications. Outside of work she enjoys spending time with friends and family. Marie is excited to be at Support Dogs and is eager to meet all of the volunteers that make this an amazing organization.
Cindi Blanke – Programs Coordinator
Cindi grew up with a love of animals. She spent several years working in a vet clinic and kennels. Cindi was involved in the rescue community for 9 years, most of which had been rescuing Golden retrievers. In November 2001, her first TOUCH dog graduated from the program and she entered the realm as the human half of a volunteer TOUCH team. She has since gone on to graduate a few more. Cindi and her crew are active in the TOUCH and Paws for Reading Programs. Cindi and her dogs enjoy interacting with people. “I am very happy to be here doing what I love to do.
Tracy Lister – Client Services Coordinator
Having been licensed in physical therapy since 1992, Tracy had made a career out of helping people. After witnessing the work of Support Dogs, she was so moved that she and her family became involved with Support Dogs in 2009 as Volunteer Puppy Raisers. Her continued passion and furthered belief in Support Dogs’ mission led her to accept a position as a clerical assistant in 2011. Tracy and her family continue to be active volunteer puppy raisers for the Assistance Dog program. She is the proud owner of one of SDI’s released dogs, a very large and loveable black Labrador named Rigg. Tracy and Rigg volunteer with the TOUCH and the Paws For Reading programs. When she is not working or volunteering for SDI, Tracy can usually be found on the sidelines of the soccer fields cheering on her girls.
Assistance Dog Program
Nadine Wenig – Assistance Dog Program Manager
Nadine joined the Support Dogs, Inc. team in 2001 as the Lead Trainer for the PAWS program at the Greenville Federal Correctional Center. In 2008, she transferred to St. Louis and joined the training department at SDI headquarters. Nadine has been training dogs for over 20 years, first German Shepherds and Blue Heelers as working farm dogs and now assistance dogs for Support Dogs, Inc. She is an evaluator for the Canine Good Citizen test and is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (NADOI), and the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP). Nadine was certified by Assistance Dogs International in 2010.
Christina Rustenhaven – Assistance Dog Trainer
Christina grew up on 20 acres with woods, creeks, and a multitude of animals. Through her experience with nature, she brought home and saved many stray dogs, squirrels, rabbits, and other animals in need of rescuing. These were in addition to her own personal pets, which included dogs, cats, salamanders, guinea pigs, and hamsters. One ‘saved” squirrel learned to ride on Christina’s shoulder during nature walks, until one day he decided to stay behind in the woods. Christina’s kindness and ability to ‘recognize and read’ various animals makes her a wonderful, effective, and kind dog trainer. Her years of experience working with assistance dogs in training, specifically Support Dogs, and her knowledge of our training methodology made her the logical choice to join the Assistance Dog Training team.
Christina Smith – Assistance Dog Trainer
Christina is a native of Missouri has had dogs her entire life. As a child, Christina brought home many strays and as an adult, she always had at least two pets, taking them everywhere she went. Needless to say, Christina is an avid animal lover. She was born in Missouri and attended Mineral Area College. She has an apprenticeship certification through the United States Department of Labor as a service dog trainer, which consists of 5,000 hours of hands-on and classroom training. She also has certification as a Vocational Technician Advanced Animal Trainer through Century College, logging over 500 hours in this program. Christina has been training dogs for over eight years and has personally trained many assistance dogs for Support Dogs. She has assisted with the teaching and mentoring of over 60 human participants at the Federal Correctional Institution Program in Greenville, Il. Christina has a deep admiration for our canine friends and enjoys teaching them new skills.
Greg Hogan – Kennel Manager
Greg joined the Support Dogs team in April 2005. He has participated in many volunteer services over the years, including animal rescue efforts during the flood of ’93. Now he serves as manager of SDI’s kennel department, seeing to the overall physical and emotional well-being of the program dogs. In his spare time Greg enjoys drawing, crafts, and spending time outdoors with his two Labrador Retrievers, Kennedy and Ben.
Janice Brennan – Obedience Instructor
Janice has been a dog obedience instructor and trainer professionally since 1993. She started to work at SDI in 1999 as a service dog trainer and has certified over 55 service dog teams. She taught the service dog and TOUCH classes from 2000-2005. She has been an instructor for the PAWS Prison Program at FPC in Greenville IL since its inception in 2001. Since 2005 her other responsibilities include educational presentations and teaching community obedience classes. She is a member of National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (NADOI) and an AKC CGC evaluator. “I really enjoy working with people and their dogs. It’s wonderful to see what they can do for each other.”
Amy Woolston – Obedience Instructor
Amy came to Support Dogs, Inc. with a degree in education in 2000 and began working with the kennel dogs. She has been teaching community obedience lessons since 2005. She is a member of APDT and an AKC CGC evaluator. Her children enjoy socializing dogs, especially Skittles, who they adopted in 2010 after she was released from the service dog program. “It’s important to build relationships based on trust and mutual respect.”