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. She manages the day to day activity of the organization planning events, working with volunteers, and meeting potential donors. She works closely with the Program Director, Susie Daily, writing curriculum, creating marketing materials, and planning for the future. Laura is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT). Laura spent time in the classroom assisting in the training of in-home pets in basic obedience and manners. She worked with clients, helping them understand the basics of positive dog training, making their relationships with their dogs easier and more rewarding. 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. She has a BS 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.
Susie Daily / Program Director and Head Trainer
Susie Daily is the Head Trainer and Program Director at Paws and Affection. She created and maintains the training program for the dogs as well as the education programs for the foster families and recipients. She spends her days teaching the pups new skills, taking them on socialization adventures, and working with Executive Director, Laura O’Kane reviewing applications, creating marketing materials, and planning for the future. Prior to working at P&A, Susie was the lead trainer for a prominent dog training company on the Main Line. While there she:
- Wrote and taught 11 different group class curricula ranging from New Puppy Training to Therapy Dog Training to Tricks and Agility.
- Offered in-home private training sessions and behavior consultations
- Helped families create behavior modification plans to improve their relationships with their dogs.
Michaela Greif / Trainer
Michaela Greif stepped down from the P&A board of directors to join us as the Assistant Trainer. Michaela is a certified pet dog trainer who does private dog training and worked for a prominent dog training company in the Philadelphia area for 10 years. She is also the creator and director of an animal assisted education program for at-risk youth, Community K9. Michaela holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania, and has worked as a mental health therapist with children and adults in both outpatient and residential care. In addition, Michaela holds an Associate degree in Service Dog Training from the Bergin University for Canine Studies, where she trained dogs for individuals with disabilities. She has worked with animal assisted activity programs for homeless teens, children in foster care and juvenile detention centers. She created a service dog manual for a prison program, New Leash on Life, and continues her education through numerous animal behavior and training workshops and seminars. Michaela is the owner of Noble Hound Training. She expertly trains dogs of all ages, temperaments and issues, ranging from basic manners to aggressive behaviors. Learn more about Noble Hound Training at: www.noblehoundtraining.com
Jessica Gwiszcz / Marketing Coordinator
Jessica Gwiszcz is the Marketing Coordinator at Paws and Affection. Jess is a recent graduate from La Salle University with a degree in Psychology. While in school, she volunteered at P&A starting in early 2017. That summer, she completed the P&A Internship Program. 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 Susie 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 followers up to date on the great work being done at Paws and Affection.