Christine (Chris) joined Guide Dogs for the Blind in April of 2014. Chris brings a wealth of non-profit and for-profit experience to her role. Prior to joining GDB, she spent 17 years leading the Humane Society Silicon Valley. During her tenure there, she and her team’s progressive approach helped save the lives of tens of thousands of animals and greatly reduce pet overpopulation problems in Santa Clara County. Under her leadership, the organization was also able to raise $25.5 million to build The Animal Community Center -- the first facility of its kind in the country.
Chris honed her business skills as an auditor with Arthur Andersen & Co. as well as in her 15 years with Hewlett Packard Corporation. At HP, Chris held managerial positions in the U.S. as well as in Europe. She holds an M.B.A. from Stanford University.
Chris gives back to the community through her role on the board for non-profit Wildlife Impact, which is passionately committed to protecting the diversity of wildlife and natural habitats throughout the world.
Chris loves to ride her bike, hike, and travel. Chris loves dogs and has four of her own: Theia, a career change Golden Retriever, who now serves as an ambassador for GDB as well as Hank, a Basset Hound, Bess, a three-legged Cattle Dog mix, and Petey, a Chihuahua.
Cathy has over 25 years of experience with financial management, business planning, corporate development and equity and debt financing for Humane Society Silicon Valley as well as many rapidly growing technology-based companies and venture capital firms in Silicon Valley. She also has 13 years of public accounting experience, culminating in partnership status at Coopers & Lybrand (now Pricewaterhouse Coopers), an international accounting firm.
Cathy holds an MBA in Finance from the New York University Stern School of Business along with a BS in Accounting and Quantitative Methods from the University of Oregon.
Cathy gives back to the community through her role on several non-profit boards. She serves on the Board of Merit Partners and spent many years as Chair of the Board of the San Jose Symphony.
Susan is responsible for the staffing, supervision, and training of personnel in the Training Department on the OR campus, as well as the Nursing, Dormitory Services, and Research and Development Departments. She also shares dual responsibility with the VP of Training Operations CA for personnel within the Client Services Department and ensures that GDB provides a graduate follow-up program that promotes the useful life and effectiveness of each team.
Susan is originally from Wisconsin and spent her childhood training dogs and volunteering at the Humane Society. She has a BS in Biology/Zoology from Portland State University and a Master’s degree in Orientation and Mobility from Western Michigan University.
Susan loves to travel and is excited to be an assessor for the International Guide Dog Federation. She is also an avid sports fan, poker player, and student of photography. She lives in Portland, Ore. with her partner and their enthusiastic, photogenic Border Collies.
Tom Horton was GDB's planned giving director for 15 years prior to taking on the role of VP of Philanthropy. Tom leads the Development Department team, overseeing all aspects of GDB's fundraising efforts including planned giving, corporate and foundation giving, special events, major gifts, direct mail and online giving, and donor relations and stewardship.
Prior to entering the gift planning field more than 20 years ago, Tom practiced law in the Boston area. He attended Boston College as an undergraduate and attended Boston College Law School and University of Utah College of Law. He is a member of the California, Massachusetts, and Washington Bar Associations and served on the Board of the Northern California Planned Giving Council. Tom is past president of the San Francisco Estate Planning Council. He is on the faculty of the UC Berkeley Extension where he teaches a course titled "Philanthropy as a Wealth Management Tool." He lives in Oakland, Calif. with his wife Michelle and son Matt.
Rachel comes to GDB with a background in non-profit management and corporate finance. Rachel worked as the Director of Operations at the East Bay SPCA where she was responsible for the daily operations of a staff of 50, the animals and budgets for two non-profit animal shelters, as well as two spay/neuter centers and one full-service veterinary clinic. Prior to her role with the East Bay SPCA, Rachel served as an auditor for leading organizations including Barclay's Global Investors and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
Rachel has a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and Economics from UC Santa Cruz and an MBA with a concentration in non-profit management from UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business.
Rachel lives in San Francisco's East Bay with her husband, son, twin daughters, and pet cat, Zeke. She volunteers her time at a number of community organizations including Wildwood Elementary School, Piedmont Swim Team, and Fix our Ferals.
Kristin is responsible for the staffing, supervision, and training of personnel in the Training Department on GDB's California campus, as well as the California campus Nursing Department and GDB's Apprentice Program. She also shares dual responsibility with the VP of Training Operations OR for personnel within the Client Services Department and ensures that GDB provides a graduate follow-up program that promotes the useful life and effectiveness of each team.
Kristin has a BS in Psychobiology with a concentration in Neuroscience from the University of California at Riverside, and always had a strong interest in teaching, coaching, and mentoring as she progressed through college. She holds an MA in Special Education, with a concentration in Orientation and Mobility from San Francisco State University.
Kristin loves to cook for people, grow fruits and veggies, and hike. She lives in Petaluma, Calif., with her wife and daughter and their two dogs.
Katie brings more than 30 years of human resources experience to her leadership role at Guide Dogs for the Blind. She has enjoyed working in a broad array of industries in the for-profit world ranging from retail to architecture to advertising, as well as in the non-profit sector through her time with the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael.
Katie is responsible for providing overall strategic leadership to Guide Dogs for the Blind’s HR initiatives such as recruitment, compensation, benefits, training, and employee relations. She also ensures policies, procedures, and HR programs are consistently administered, aligned with organizational goals, and are in compliance with professional standards, state and federal regulatory requirements, and employment laws.
When not working, Katie enjoys spending time with family and friends, baking, hiking and walking her dog, Chipper.
Brent Ruppel began his tenure at Guide Dogs for the Blind in 1996, supervising the Puppy Raising Program. Currently, Brent oversees all of the GDB programs and departments that manage the care and well-being of our dogs and puppies (other than guides), as well as the volunteers who house and care for them. His management includes the Breeding, Puppy Raising, Career Change, and Volunteer Departments. In addition to quality dog care and socialization, a primary goal of Canine Community Programs is to build a nationwide volunteer organization, uniting GDB's human and canine partners into community building efforts, spreading GDB's message, and improving quality of life for our clients, constituents, and the public.
Brent came to GDB with an education, employment and hobbies that have proven valuable to his role here. He attended post-graduate school with an emphasis on community organization at California State University, Fresno. As Cultural Arts Supervisor for the City of Fresno, Brent served as the director of a city-wide program of creative arts classes and managed a historical home and a municipal theatre site. Brent also worked in the pet food and products industry for almost 15 years prior to coming to GDB. His passion has always been dogs; he got his first dog at the age of 4. He has shown and trained dogs for 38 years—teaching public obedience classes; breeding and exhibiting winners of top national awards; judging his breed's North America trophy show; and serving on the Boards of Directors of numerous dog clubs. He sees the value of dogs and people working together to change people's lives in a positive way.
With two daughters now successfully out on their own, Brent lives in San Francisco's North Bay with his wife and son, two horses, a couple of cats, and a happy, loving pack of dogs.
Theresa Stern holds a BA in liberal studies from the University of California at Riverside and a master’s degree in special education with an emphasis in blind rehabilitation from San Francisco State University. She has worked in the field of blind rehabilitation for over 20 years, including at the Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco as a rehabilitation teacher and director of its Enchanted Hills Camp. To meet the growing need for comprehensive access to technology sales and training, she helped to create AccessAbility Inc., an access tech company and served as the low vision products sales manager.
Theresa began her tenure at Guide Dogs for the Blind in 1999 as the Outreach manager. In this position she traveled extensively around the U.S. and Canada educating people with visual impairments about the unique benefits and responsibilities of living and working with a guide dog. In 2005 she took on the challenge of developing GDB's Alumni Association, the first of its kind for a guide dog school. In her current role, Theresa oversees GDB’s Outreach and Admissions Departments. She currently serves as Immediate Past President of the Northern California chapter of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired. Dedicated to the future development of the blindness profession, Theresa enjoys teaching part-time at San Francisco State University in the Special Education Department.
Theresa has been blind since birth and travels with her guide dog, Wills, who she received in December of 2014. Wills is her fourth guide dog.
Karen brings a wealth of marketing experience to GDB having served as director of marketing for Prophet Brand Strategy, a worldwide strategic brand and marketing consultancy, as well as key positions with McCann-Erickson, one of the world’s largest advertising agencies and J. Walter Thompson, a renowned marketing/communications agency with offices in more than 90 countries.
Karen’s areas of expertise include development and implementation of brand and marketing strategies, corporate communications, social media, public relations, and advertising agency and stakeholder partnerships.
Karen holds an MBA in Marketing from the Haas School of Business, University of California at Berkeley.
Her interests include architecture and design, stand up paddleboarding, tropical islands, and watching her kids compete in soccer and karate.