Board of Directors

LaVonne Bower, President/Founder

LaVonne Bower, President/FounderLaVonne has a big heart and is a natural leader. She believes in taking action and follows through on the promises made. LaVonne is uniquely positioned by her love for animals and love and respect for those who serve to protect us and fight for the freedoms of others. In October 2016, LaVonne was diagnosed with breast cancer and required immediate surgery. She found herself receiving pet therapy from her own dogs which inspired her vision to help pair area veterans and first responders with an animal that has been “wounded” or is at a high risk for being euthanized, enabling emotional support and companionship for the veteran or first responder in need. Her understanding of how to run a business, be an advocate, and her ability to work with and inspire others will place the development of Paws and Warriors in loving and capable hands.

Krystal L. U. Heller, Vice President (Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army)Krystal splits her time between the U.S. Army Reserves and her duties as an employee of the U.S. Government. She has 11 years serving in both Active Duty and Reserve positions and a deployment supporting Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF). Krystal is married to Sergeant First Class Jason J. Heller, retired, and has two dogs. She found a passion in networking and connecting people with like interests or those in need. This passion has driven her to PaWs, bringing together her sense of duty to the Veteran and First Response communities and her love for rescuing animals. She has since gratefully accepted the role of Vice President in order to expand her reach.

Karen Anne Praetorius, CFO/CIO (Industrial Corporate Controller) Karen brings a unique set of skills to PaWs as both the CFO and CIO. Her contribution as a Corporate Controller in the manufacturing industry, alongside her many years of experience in non-profit volunteering through the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation and penchant for all things technology make Karen a formidable asset to Paws and Warriors. Karen’s interest in PaWs blossomed upon learning that her daughter’s mental health needs could benefit from a Service Dog. She was lucky enough to have the opportunity to discuss Service Dogs with LaVonne who proved to be an amazing resource. Karen is both honored and privileged to accept these positions with PaWs alongside some amazing people helping even more amazing people and animals.

Sheri Turner, Administrator Small business owner, founder, and President of ProFinders, Inc. since 1996. Prior to moving to Bradenton, FL she was involved in many civic activities in Central FL including serving on the Orlando Chamber of Commerce Small Business Board, graduate of leadership Orlando class 45, and Co-Chair of Leadership Orlando Class 51. Additionally, Sheri has participated in many fundraising events over the years from Breast Cancer walks to JA Bowl-a-thons, to United Way fund raisers, UCP Chili Cook-Offs, numerous March of Dimes Walk-a-thons and more. An avid dog-lover, she and her husband currently have 2 boxers, 1 of which (Newton) is a certified Therapy Dog. Sheri is thankful for her role on the Board of Directors to help drive PaWs’ mission forward.