Laura O'Kane / Founder and Executive Director
Laura O’Kane founded Paws and Affection in August 2013. Laura is the Executive Director of the organization and spends her time raising funds to care for and train the P&A team of dogs as well as managing the day to day activity of the organization. She plans events, works with volunteers, interviews applicants, and helps with the training of dog/recipient teams. Laura is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and spent time in the classroom assisting in the training of in-home pets in basic obedience and manners prior to starting Paws and Affection. Laura was a manager at two different major retailers in the Philadelphia area over the course of 10 years and has a B.S. from Virginia Tech in Management with a minor in Business Administration. In September 2011, Laura completed the Teach the Teacher Course at Canine Assistants in Atlanta, GA under the direction of Jennifer Arnold. Laura and her husband Chad live outside of Philadelphia with their 2 children.
Cheyenna Wilde / Education and Training Director
Cheyenna Wilde is the Education and Training Director at Paws and Affection and a recent graduate of Bergin College of Canine Studies Summer Seminar Program. Before working for P&A, Cheyenna was the Program Assistant at Canine Partners for Life in Cochranville, PA as well as an Assistant Trainer for the pet dog training company, Polite Pooches. Cheyenna trains the dogs in our program for two years. Training begins when the puppies enter our program at 8 weeks old and continues through placement with their recipient at 2 years old. Cheyenna also works closely with the volunteers and foster families to ensure they understand what is needed to help our dogs succeed on their training journey. She is involved in educating the public on our work here at Paws and Affection, the role of service dogs in the community, and access rights for people with disabilities.
Jessica Gwiszcz / Marketing Coordinator
Jessica Gwiszcz is the Marketing Coordinator at Paws and Affection. Jess graduated from La Salle University in 2018 with a B.A. in Psychology. While in school, she volunteered at P&A starting in early 2017 and completed the P&A Internship Program that summer. She then returned as an experienced volunteer for the rest of the 2017/2018 school year. In May 2018, Jess was hired as our Marketing Coordinator. She works closely with Laura and Cheyenna to facilitate day to day tasks as well as help with events and outreach to increase awareness of the mission of Paws and Affection. Jess also helps run the P&A social media accounts so as to keep the community up to date on the great work being done at Paws and Affection.
Jen Flood / Exercise Coordinator
Jen Flood joined Paws and Affection as our Exercise Coordinator in March 2018. Her energy, lifelong adoration, and devotion to dogs, coupled with our exercise and training program, makes Jen the perfect Paws and Affection team member. All the pups took to Jen immediately due to her enthusiasm for all of their successes and just plain having fun! Jen graduated from the University of Hartford with a degree in Sociology. When she is not with our pups, she works as a local Realtor. Jen and her husband Dan have two children, Emma and Sam, which make Jen both a hockey mom and a barn mom. Her home is filled with animals to dote on: two dogs, three cats, one horse, hermit crabs, and Koi fish that enjoy being hand fed. There’s always plenty of love and fun to go around!