We place the dogs, beside the person, who wears the Medals…
We place the dogs, beside the person, who wears the Medals…
LaVonne Bower, President/Founder–LaVonne has a big heart and is a natural leader. 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. Whenever possible she helps pair an animal that has been “wounded” or is at a high risk for being euthanized as an emotional support and companionship for a veteran or first responder in need. She received her BA and her MCJA from the University of South Florida. Her past experience and training as a victim advocate and volunteer work with law enforcement doing death notifications has given her insight on the needs of first responders. 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.
Shannon Chiesa was born in Weisbaden Air Force Base in Germany and also lived at San Vito dei Normanni Air Station and at Patrick Air Force Base in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Her father was a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force and her grandfather was a CWO4 in the Army while serving during the Korean War. Her uncle was a Master Sergeant in the Army and served in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars and received the Bronze Star for his service. Her cousin was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army serving in the Gulf War. Shannon simply has the military in her blood. That fact has driven Shannon to dedicate much of her time to the military and the many issues that plague veterans post-service. It is no surprise that Shannon was drawn to Paws and Warrior. Her love for animals and our military veterans made PaWs the perfect fit. Although Shannon dedicates her time to dozens of other charitable entities, it is her time with PaWs that she most enjoys. Shannon comes from a long line of military and first responders and she has seen first hand the toll such service can take on a person. Shannon believes wholeheartedly that we all owe our Veterans and First Responders our gratitude for their unwavering sense of duty, honor and service to our country. Shannon looks forward to continuing to give her time to volunteer and to spread the word about the Paws and Warriors mission and vision.
Veronica Brandon Miller’s personal and professional accomplishments are a testament to her dedication, hard work, innovation and love for the community. With more than 30 years of creative vision and unparalleled expertise in community engagement, philanthropy, branding and marketing, Veronica is president of VBM Advancement, a full-service marketing company.
In the Sarasota-Bradenton area, Veronica is often referred to as a local celebrity and community connector. In fact, the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce awarded her the Leadership Impact in Action Award. She hosted her own radio show on WSRQ, “Tell Me Something Good”, where she promoted human interest topics that celebrate good news, philanthropy, and persons of interest in the community. She also hosted her own television show on SNN and was a bimonthly special guest star on ABC7’s variety show, "Suncoast View," where she shared her thoughts, views and “Good News in the Community”.
Sheri Turner, a 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.
Ms. Graham has been involved with training dogs for 34 years through her experience with Alberta Guide dogs, trick training, community therapy work, instructional workshops, personal training specializing in behavioural issues, and dog walking. Ms. Graham has also worked in rescue centers with training, rehabilitation and facilitating adoption processes. She has 5 years working with 4 organizations certifying and training dogs specializing in PTSD, mobility, medical including acclimations for clients and has developed a team of active trainers in Alberta, Canada.
Cedar Rebecca Santanna, Owner of Omega Service Dog Testing and Consulting. Cedar has been training dogs for over 30 years and also operates her own equine assisted therapy program. As a licensed facilitator, Cedar has worked very closely with various groups and forms of Government to help raise the standards for Service Dogs in Canada. She has received various awards for her accomplishments including The Minister of Veteran Affairs Accommodation
Ms. Antonelli created Dawg Phonics in 2010, changing the lives of approx 1300 canines through obedience training and behavior modification. Her experience in obedience training led Ms. Antonelli to gain better knowledge of task training, thereby expanding to therapy, service, and other working dog needs in 2015. Ms. Antonelli’s work in dog assisted rehabilitation therapy led to her induction into Tidwell Hall of Fame. One special canine, Phoenix, was honored to perform in 3 commercials for Manatee County, FL because of Ms. Antonelli’s task training. In 2018, Ms. Antonelli was nationally certified through Omega International for Service Dog Training. Ms. Antonelli is driven by the love and the sense of connection a dog can give their human.
Krystal L. U. Heller, (Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army) – 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.
PaWs Ambassador Sean Davis served in the Louisiana Army National Guard from 1999-2010. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, supported 4 hurricane relief efforts, and assisted in training the Japanese Ground Defense Force. After returning home, Sean battled the demons of service, with alcohol, prescription drugs, and eventually attempted suicide. After surviving such an experience, Sean found a passion volunteering with Mission 22 and gave him a new purpose for his life: reduce veteran (22 per day) and first responder suicide rates. Since then, Sean has completed a 22 kilometer road march, a 22 mile road march, and spoken at numerous events (from hundreds to a few thousands). Sean was also featured in a local rock music video to help promote the goals for Mission 22 and encourage others to never surrender to their demons. Proudly, Sean has also agreed to be an Official Ambassador of PaWs, with the shared passion to reduce the 22!
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