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Board Members and Staff

2023 Board of Directors

Benjamin Bennink, MS, CDBC, CPDT-KA | APDT Chair

Benjamin Bennink, MS, CDBC, CPDT-KA

APDT Chair

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Benjamin Bennink, MS, CDBC, CPDT-KA | APDT Chair

Ben has been training dogs professionally since 2010, certified CPDT-KA since 2012, and CDBC since 2018. He has served on the APDT membership task force, education committee, and legislative task force. He is a veteran of the US Navy and currently owns and operates Good Doggy Saratoga in upstate New York.

Ben completed an MS in neurobiology and undergraduate work in biology and psychology at the University at Albany. He is now seeking ACAAB certification. He is passionate about spreading science literacy and science-based ethical dog training to improve the industry for dog trainers and dog owners everywhere.

Heidi Meinzer, JD, CPDT-KSA, CNWI | APDT Vice Chair

Heidi Meinzer, JD, CPDT-KSA, CNWI

APDT Vice Chair

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Heidi Meinzer, JD, CPDT-KSA, CNWI | APDT Vice Chair

Heidi Meinzer, JD, CPDT-KSA, CNWI. Heidi’s background is unique as she is both a practicing attorney and a trainer. She obtained her law degree in 2000, initially serving as a public defender for six years before joining a civil litigation law firm for seven years. While at the firm, Heidi’s practice naturally gravitated to animal law. In 2013, Heidi established her own law firm to focus on animal law and small business and nonprofit law.

Heidi has devoted her efforts to civic activities, including with the Maryland State Bar Association’s Animal Law Section and on various legislative work groups studying companion animal law issues in Virginia. Heidi’s civic work includes serving on the boards of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies, and Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, Inc.

In 2011, Heidi began her work as a dog trainer with the award-winning company Fur-Get Me Not. Since 2013, she has been a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and a Certified Nose Work Instructor. She learned a tremendous amount from her beautiful but reactive German Shepherd, Sophie, and her amazing partner, Boomer, an English lab who achieved his ELT-CH title in 2020. Heidi has continued the lab/Shepherd combination with her current canine companions, Hannah and Arwen.

Curtis Kelley, CPDT-KA | APDT Secretary/Treasurer

Curtis Kelley, CPDT-KA

APDT Secretary/Treasurer

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Curtis Kelley, CPDT-KA | APDT Secretary/Treasurer

Curtis has been working in the pet industry since 2013. Curtis taught group obedience and agility classes, worked in big box stores and neighborhood businesses and taught independently. He has experience working in shelters and as a veterinary technician. He has mentored dozens of young professionals to enter the pet care industry throughout his career. Curtis started Pet Parent Allies in 2018 and currently offers private training sessions around the Philadelphia area. Curtis is certified CPDT-KA and works with reactive, aggressive, and fearful dogs in urban environments. He utilizes positive reinforcement, science-backed methods to enhance dog and human relationships and takes a holistic approach to each family he trains.

Curtis is passionate about bringing positive reinforcement training to underserved communities. He sees the importance of reaching communities not previously granted access to force-free training. He strives to impact the positive reinforcement training community to become more inclusive and increase educational opportunities.

Sandy Modell, B.S., CPDT-KA | APDT Director

Sandy Modell, B.S., CPDT-KA

APDT Director

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Sandy Modell, B.S., CPDT-KA | APDT Director

For over 20 years, Sandy has been training dogs using rewards-based, positive reinforcement methods. She is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA), an AKC CGC/CGCA Approved Evaluator, a Mentor Trainer for the Animal Behavior College, a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), a licensed certified Family Paws Parent Educator (FPPE), a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), and on the list of national Truly Dog-Friendly Trainers. Her mentors include some of our industry’s pioneers of positive training such as, Patty Ruzzo, Leslie Nelson, Sue Sternberg, Pat Miller, Kathy Sdao, Robin Bennett and others.

In June 2017, Sandy opened Alexandria Virginia’s first and only, and now award-winning premier training and learning center for people and their dogs. The Academy offers programs and activities for pet dog owners and their dogs, pet care professionals, and other professional dog trainers. Sandy’s mission includes empowering her clients by teaching them how to communicate with their dogs, how to reinforce the behaviors that they want, and how to respond to both their dog’s good and the bad behaviors. One of her goals is to teach people how to train their dogs to make incredibly brilliant choices, so that they can both live better, happier, and easier lives together. In June 2018, Wholistic Hound Academy was voted the Best Dog Trainers in Northern Virginia by Northern Virginia Magazine. Earlier this month, the Academy was selected as a finalist in the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce Best in Business Award in the Small Business category.

Heather Mishefske, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA | APDT Director

Heather Mishefske, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

APDT Director

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Heather Mishefske, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA | APDT Director

Heather opened emBARK and began serving dogs and their owners in 2005, but the journey that led to this labor of love began long before that. In 1983, Heather stepped into a simple 4H project and began sharing life with an English Springer Spaniel. That special relationship became the driving force behind emBARK many years later. While Heather has a degree in Dietetics from UW-Madison, her love for all things dog conquered her career goals, and in December of 2005, she left the healthcare field to pursue her vision of working with dogs. The business, which has grown in the past 15 years from a single proprietor (Heather) to employing 26 dog care professionals, offers daycare, training classes, grooming, massage, and behavior consulting. It didn’t take long before Heather racked up dog training credentials: CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator, Living and Learning with Animals Applied Behavior Analysis course certificate of completion, is a certified level II Canine Sports Massage provider and hosts her own podcast. She is a member of APDT (premium professional), IAABC, Upper Midwest Flat-Coated Retriever Club vice president, Flat Coated Retriever Club of America and has served as a Learning Theory and Behavior guest lecturer at the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire and presented a lecture on body language to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Heather is a steward of her farm and acreage in west central Wisconsin with her husband and her Flat Coated Retrievers. She is an avid hiker, a certified Master Naturalist, cyclist, mountain biker, backpacker, cross country skier, gardener, reader, and curious observer of the natural world. She has shown and competed with her dogs in multiple venues since the age of 13. Her passion for learning in all things is endless, and there is a huge force within her heart to do good for all creatures.

Erica Marshall, CPDT-KA | APDT Director

Erica Marshall, CPDT-KA

APDT Director

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Erica Marshall, CPDT-KA | APDT Director

Erica is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the CCPDT, a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant through the IAABC, and a premium professional member of the APDT. She is also a committee member of the Membership Task Force for the APDT. She is from the East Coast, currently living in the Middle TN area where she is the owner/trainer for Wicked Good Dog Training. She has been working with animals for over 20 years and has worn many hats in the animal field, working in veterinary clinics, boarding kennels and humane societies.

Erica’s passion has always been dog behavior and training. She most enjoys helping the bond develop between owner and dog as they learn to communicate better through positive training and interactions. She especially enjoys working with families and helping them raise their puppies to be excellent family companions.

She has trained and titled her own dogs in Rally Obedience, Agility and Tricks. She currently has 4 wonderful dogs: a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a terrier mix, a Great Pyrenees and a cattle dog mix, 7 cats, 2 teenagers and a very understanding husband.

Ines McNeil, CPDT-KA | APDT Director

Ines McNeil, CPDT-KA

APDT Director

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Ines McNeil, CPDT-KA | APDT Director

Ines McNeil, B.S. Biology, CPDT-KA, is a dog training industry expert with over 15 years of experience. She has operated her own dog training businesses in Texas and New York state in addition to working for a multitude of organizations as a professional dog trainer teaching group classes, private in-home lessons, and providing board and train services. She was an early adopter of virtual dog training back in 2014 and helped trainers make the leap to virtual training at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

She founded the industry-leading dog training business coaching company, The Modern Dog Trainer, in October 2014, to mentor other trainers on the business side of being a dog trainer. She now has an incredible team that supports her mission and her students which made it a perfect time for her to join the board of the APDT.

Outside of work, Ines is a mom to a talented and curious 3 yr old. She also shares her home and life with her supportive husband, Sean, her dog, Clark (a Cardigan Welsh Corgi,) and a rescue cat named Kiwi ("Kitty" in toddler speak).

Fanna Easter, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP, CSAT, CDBC | APDT Immediate Past Chair

Fanna Easter, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP, CSAT, CDBC

APDT Immediate Past Chair

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Fanna Easter, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP, CSAT, CDBC | APDT Immediate Past Chair

Fanna has been instructing group classes and in-home behavior consults for more than 29 years with a special focus on separation anxiety. She owns Positive Pooch Dog Training and Behavior, which offers virtual, in-home and off-property consultations in the Dallas, Texas area. Also, Fanna teaches reactive dog classes and offers private consultations with the only veterinarian, that specializes in behavior, in the North Texas area.

Because of her love to write, Fanna has written dog training class curricula and dog trainer courses for large pet box chains and nationally recognized dog training schools. Also, she’s authored several articles for Dogs Naturally, Animal Wellness, Chronicle of the Dog and numerous online magazines and blogs. When not working with clients and their dogs, Fanna volunteers at the Bridge, the only homeless shelter that allows dogs, where Fanna and her co-workers offer group classes and one-on-one training for pet guardians.

Fanna shares her home with Miss Stella Mae (Miniature Bull Terrier), Eli Joseph (Miniature Bull Terrier) and Rick, her “darling hubby.”

APDT Staff

David Feldner
David Feldner
Executive Director
Tricia Louque
Tricia Louque
Director of Marketing and Communications
Nita Briscoe
Nita Briscoe
Exhibitor Relations Manager
Jennifer Franco
Jennifer Franco
Director Of Educational Programs
Devon Hubbard
Devon Hubbard
Chronicle Of The Dog Editor
Abby Davis
Abby Davis
Events Manager

Board Meetings

All APDT members are welcome to attend the Board meetings – we just ask that you notify us ten days in advance so that we can arrange for an appropriate-sized room for the meeting. Please contact the President and CEO to announce your intent to attend the meeting.

Interested in Serving on the Board of Directors?

Interested candidates should contact the Nomination Committee at nominatingchair@apdt.com for more information.

Suggestions?

Contact the board at board@apdt.com. Your message will be received and responded by the board of trustees.

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