Amit Ahuja and Tashi
Amit lives with his guide dog Tashi, a black Labrador retriever, in Santa Barbara, California. Amit grew up in India, where he graduated from St. Stephen's College at the University of Delhi. For graduate study, Amit attended the University of London and then University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he received his Ph.D. in Political Science.
Amit is now an Associate Professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara and serves as Faculty-in-Residence for a coastal community of over 1600 undergraduate students.
An avid reader and a fan of British comedy, Amit also enjoys road trips and taking long walks by the Pacific Ocean with Tashi.
Leanne Bremner and Eva
Leanne lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband, young daughter, and fifth guide dog, Eva. Leanne has spent most of her professional career in financial services with CIBC, one of Canada’s largest banks. Within Corporate Communications, Leanne leads the bank’s external awards and recognition efforts and plays a key role in promoting the bank’s environmental, social and governance practices. She was previously a consultant with Monitor Company, a business strategy consulting firm.
Leanne received her first guide from GDB in 1995 while attending the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary where she earned a bachelor of commerce with distinction.
Prior to joining the GDB Alumni Association Board in 2013, Leanne served on the Board of the Ontario Foundation for Visually Impaired Children (OFVIC) from 2005 to 2012 and has been involved with several community organizations including the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).
Throughout her local and international travels, Leanne enjoys seeking out regional vegetarian fare and wines. She has visited 13 countries on 5 continents and hopes to explore many more.
Melanie Brunson and Sparta
Melanie Brunson’s current guide, Sparta, is her third from GDB since 1995. Melanie, along with her husband Lyle, enjoys reading, camping, and is a big fan of bluegrass music.
As Director of Government Relations for the Blinded Veterans Association, Melanie advocates for programs and services that aid blind and visually impaired veterans throughout the U.S. Prior to 2015, Melanie worked with the American Council of the Blind (ACB) where she first served as Director of Advocacy and then spent 11 years as Executive Director.
Previously, she practiced law in California for 14 years, primarily in private practice, specializing in estate planning for people with disabilities and their families. Melanie has a bachelor degree in political science from Whittier College, and a juris doctorate from Whittier College School of Law. She was admitted to the California Bar in 1984 and maintains her license in that state.
Melanie joined the GDB Alumni Board in 2012 and served as Chair from 2015-2017. She had previously been appointed to Virginia’s State Rehabilitation Council, a federally mandated body that advises the state’s Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired, where she served for 6 years including a term as Chair. In addition, Melanie spent 6 years on the board for the Spanish Trails Girl Scout Council, assisting with the revision of its program for serving girls with disabilities, and spent 8 years as an elected member of the school board that oversees operations of Whittier Christian Schools, a not-for-profit organization that operates campuses serving students from preschool through middle school.
Bruce Gilmour and Marley
Since 1985, Bruce has had 5 golden retriever guide dogs from GDB including his current guide, Marley. Bruce has a passion for healthy and active living that comes through recreation. In the winter, he enjoys downhill skiing and snowshoeing and - once snow melts - jogging, tandem cycling, water sports, and evening campfires at his family's lakeside cottage.
Bruce pursued his post-secondary education in community and regional planning. He currently works as a consultant in accessible tourism and inclusive design planning for transportation systems.
Together with his wife, Wendy, Bruce enjoys cheering on their daughter, Sarah, in competitive horseback riding.
John (Jack) Heim and Guillermo
John is a programmer and systems administrator for the Math department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he manages a cluster of research computers, web and file servers, and linux desktops. John has B.S. degrees in Math and Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
He is co-founder and President of the International Association of Visually Impaired Technologists, a non-profit that promotes employment and career advancement in the field of Information Technology for people who are blind or visually impaired. John is also active in his local NFB chapter - NFB of Dane County Wisconsin. He is past- President of the Madison Central Lions Club.
In his spare time, John likes to spend time with his wife, Judy, and their string of rescued Basset Hounds. He enjoys running and rock climbing and is an avid Green Bay Packers fan.
Deanna Lewis and Mambo
Deanna is currently working with her second guide dog, yellow Labrador retriever Mambo. She works for Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a local blindness agency/Braille Print House, as a Receptionist and has recently started her own pet-sitting business. Deanna is a Licensed Massage Therapist, working for chiropractors, clinics, and spas for over a decade. Her previous guide dog, Pascal, acted as the honorary office mascot.
Deanna is committed to volunteering and has served as President of the Ohio Association of Guide Dog Users since 2010. She is actively involved with GDB’s Alumni Chapters as a co-founder and past President of the Guide Dogs Handlers of the Midwest and Secretary for Guide Dog Handlers All Ways. She has held a range of Board leadership positions with both the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) of Ohio and the NFB Cincinnati Chapter. Deanna also volunteers with a local animal rescue and acts as a role model and mentor for blind youth.
Deanna enjoys reading, writing, walking on nature trails, cooking, and quilting by hand. Her current specialty is making quilts for newborns.
Deanna is passionate about guide dogs and GDB: “Traveling with a cane will get you places; but traveling with a guide dog makes the journey fun!”
Jason Mitschele and Kailua
Jason Mitschele lives in Toronto, Canada with black lab, Kailua. He has been practicing law as a Federal Prosecutor for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada since 2003.
Committed to equality for all, Jason is a proud advocate for the inclusion of persons with disabilities. He currently serves on the Advisory Board of CNIB Lake Joseph Centre, a fully-accessible recreational lakefront facility. From 2002-2005 Jason served as a member of the International Development Committee of the Counsel of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), where he advised the organization and the Canadian government on international law in policy. From 2002-2006, Jason served two terms on the board of directors of the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS).
As a graduate of the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto, Jason focused his studies on international law and development. Prior to attending law school, Jason completed an internship with Disabled Peoples South Africa where he gained valuable experience working with local and national organizations in shaping human rights law and policy in that country.
Jason’s hobbies include cycling, cross-country skiing, and spending time with family and friends. He is planning a trek up Mount Kilimanjaro in 2019 with friends, raising funds for both vision and cancer research.
Jessica Naert and Makiko
Jessica lives in Denton, TX with her partner, Steven, and first guide, Makiko, a black Labrador retriever. Jessica feels that Makiko has changed her life in so many ways and is absolutely the most perfect guide dog she could ask for.
Jessica is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) and serves as a Transition Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for Texas Workforce Solutions - Vocational Rehabilitation Services. She thoroughly loves her job, assisting high school students with disabilities to plan for their transition toward employment.
Jessica graduated from the University of North Texas in 2014 with a Master's degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. Jessica held several leadership positions on campus, including President of North Texas Rehabilitation Association. She was also a Graduate Assistant in the Department of Disability and Addiction Rehabilitation.
Jessica is co-founder and co-President of The Eyes of Texas GDB alumni chapter. She also volunteers with many advocacy projects, including web accessibility, promoting the rights and responsibilities of businesses and guide dog handlers, and raising awareness about the guide dog lifestyle. Jessica enjoys staying involved with the Deaf community and developing her skills in American Sign Language. She also maintains a personal blog on disability related issues.
In addition to her advocacy work, Jessica loves to cook, travel, and spend time with her friends and family.
Dorianne Pollack and Dime
Dorianne lives with her husband, guide dog Dime, and retired guide dog Yvette in northern Arizona. She works in the Disability Resources Department at Northern Arizona University where she supports and provides accommodations for students with disabilities.
Previously, Dorianne has worked for the Rehabilitation Services Administration supporting adults with disabilities through their education and into employment. She began her career working in public schools, first as a speech/language therapist in an urban Phoenix school district, then as a classroom teacher. In 1989, she earned the National First Year Teacher Award from Sallie Mae Corporation. Dorianne was a Principal, first in a rural elementary school and then in two alternative middle and high schools. She served on the school board in her community for 9 years, including as President for 8 years.
Dorianne has attended Arizona State University, University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University. She holds 2 master’s degrees with distinction - in curriculum and instruction, and in rehabilitation counseling. She has also completed her doctoral coursework and comprehensive exams.
When she is not working to improve the lives of others and better her community, she spends time with her children and grandchildren, and laughing with friends. She likes to snowshoe in the winter, take long walks with friends in the spring, tandem bicycle in summer, and listen to the leaves crunch under her feet in the fall. For Dorianne, reading and writing are year-round adventures.
Amy Salger and Marsala
Amy Salger lives in her hometown of Vinton, Iowa with her husband, Matthew, their two sons, Gavin and Reagan, and her first guide dog, Marsala, a black Labrador Retriever.
As a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Amy currently works primarily with adolescents and youth as a substance abuse counselor. She holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Northern Iowa in Clinical Psychology and Bachelors of Arts Degrees from Coe College in Elementary Education and Psychology.
Active in her community, Amy volunteers at her sons’ schools; is a member and past President of TTT, an organization committed to providing girls with the opportunity to attend camp; and has been involved for over 12 years with PEO, an organization that promotes the education and growth of women. As a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, Amy serves on the Board of Directors and as the Chairman of the Christian Education Board. Amy and her husband are part of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Legacy Society. She frequently gives talks to area schools and community organizations about the guide dog lifestyle.
Amy’s greatest enjoyment in life is spending time with her family and friends. She also enjoys reading, shopping and traveling.
Marcia Wick and Viviane
Marcia is enjoying retirement, exploring new routes and traveling with Viviane, her first guide dog. She volunteers with the Colorado Springs Community Transit Coalition and VIBeS (the Visually Impaired and Blind Skiers of Colorado Springs), in addition to serving on the GDB Alumni Association Board. Marcia and her husband enjoy skiing, swimming, tandem biking, hiking, and traveling.
Marcia holds a B.A. in journalism from the University of Northern Colorado. She enjoyed a long career in news reporting, corporate communications, public relations, and advertising; experiencing contrasting cultures from the mountains of Colorado to rural upstate New York and urban northern California. She also owned and operated a desktop publishing business serving clients in California and Colorado. Most recently, Marcia worked as an administrative assistant to the principals of a large public high school in Colorado Springs.
Getting back to her writing roots in retirement, she is now launching a freelance writing career in partnership with her sister as The Write Sisters. Marcia has two grown daughters and one grandson (so far).
Scott L. Wilcock and Senator
Scott is currently working with Senator, his first guide from GDB. Senator is a handsome male black Labrador retriever with an amazing personality. Professionally, Scott has served as a change agent for the federal government for the past three decades. Many of those years have been devoted to improving how the organization delivers its business processes and streamlining administrative burden. He holds a B.S. degree in Industrial Engineering Technology from Arizona State University and two Master’s degrees from George Washington University. He is also a certified Project Manager (PMP) with the Project Management Institute.
Scott has served on several non-profit boards and in many volunteer positions including: One Step Ahead Federal Child Care Board President, Arizona State University Curriculum Advisory Board Member; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints, District Executive Board Member; Boy Scouts of America, Unit Commissioner; National Federation of the Blind, Chapter Treasurer; and Guide Dogs for the Blind, Utah and Arizona, Chapter Presidents and Alumni Association Board of Directors.
A native of the Arizona desert, Scott, his wife Heather and their 5 children relocated to the East Valley of the Phoenix area in 2016. Previously, they lived in northern Utah; Sacramento, CA; Dallas, TX and Washington, DC. In his spare time, Scott enjoys spending quality time with his family, hiking, biking, reading, coin collecting, and cars. In 2017, Scott also became a first time puppy raiser for GDB and loves this new adventure!