Tricia Zarro, Chair, Board of Directors
Tricia has been an educator in a co-taught, inclusive classroom for 20 years. She is a fierce advocate for all children, particularly those with special needs. Tricia knows firsthand the many benefits of having an autism service dog as her family received the first one placed by Caroline McCabe-Sandler in 2008. In addition, service dogs in training regularly visit Tricia’s classroom; they interact with children and help to facilitate learning. When not teaching or with her family, Tricia can be found working at various summer camps as an inclusion specialist. She has a BS in Therapeutic Recreation from Lehman College, a MS in Education from Fordham University and is currently completing her MS in Special Education from Manhattanville College. She lives in Ossining with her husband Ernie, children Maddy, Kylie and Danny, and their autism service dog, Shade. She believes very deeply in something that Mother Teresa once said: “In this life we cannot always do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”
Julia Lancian, Treasurer, Board of Directors
Julia is an experienced Finance Director and Compliance Officer at a health care focused investment banking firm in New York City, where she has been since 1999. She is responsible for all compliance with local, state and federal regulatory bodies as well as all aspects of accounting. Julia earned the equivalent of an M.B.A. with focus on Finance and Marketing at the European Business School, Oestrich-Winkel. In addition, Julia completed advanced business studies at the University of California, Berkeley, Universidad de Navarra (Spain), and New York University. Julia is bilingual in English and German and is an avid traveler. Over the past 20 years she has been a passionate volunteer for Special Olympics, Coalition for the Homeless, New York Cares, BOS Foundation and Guiding Eyes for the Blind. Julia believes that the powerful bond found between canines and humans has unmatched potential in changing lives profoundly.
Maura A Smith, Secretary, Board of Directors
Maura is an experienced attorney and business executive. Her professional career spans four decades, first in private practice and later as the general counsel, corporate secretary and head of government affairs for various public companies, including Owens Corning, International Paper, PepsiCo, and Delhaize Group. At each of these companies, she participated in the development and execution of business strategies, led large legal teams, and oversaw significant legal matters. Maura has recently returned to private practice, opening her own law firm with a unique focus on alternative dispute resolution and corporate law. She is also an arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association®.
Maura graduated from Vassar College with a BA in Economics, and earned her M.Phil. in Economics from Oxford University where she was a Rhodes Scholar, and her JD from the University of Miami School of Law. Maura believes deeply in the work of organizations that provide service dogs to those in need, and has participated in fundraising efforts for guide dog, therapeutic horseback riding and animal rescue organizations. She and her husband adopted Trader, a retired guide dog, in 2004, and currently live in New Canaan, CT, with their two dogs, Tucker, a released service dog, and Alfie, a rescue.
Michael Ryan, Board of Directors
Mike is an accomplished marketing executive with more than 20 years of experience driving growth for many of America’s favorite food and beverage brands. Mike has a strong track record of building brand equity, market share and profit across multi-million and billion-dollar businesses.
Mike is recognized for his unique combination of strategic thinking skills coupled with his inspiring and energetic personality. He enjoys partnering with others to solve complex business challenges that help people live better, more independent and fulfilling lives. Mike shares a passion for utilizing service dogs to help people reach their full potential. For several years, he volunteered his professional services at a major guide dog organization where he made significant contributions in marketing and strategy. Mike graduated with a BBA in Marketing and Business Management from Northeastern University. He lives in Yorktown Heights, NY with his wife Andrea, two daughters and their dog.
Dr. Jody Sandler, Board of Directors, President & Chief Executive Officer
Jody has been a practicing veterinarian for 28 years. He graduated from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine with his DVM in 1988, after receiving his BS in Biology from Binghamton University. He was a staff clinician at a private veterinary hospital on Long Island for two years before becoming the first Director of Veterinary Services for Guiding Eyes for the Blind in 1990. He remained in that role until 2014, when he assumed the role of Chief Operating Officer in which he supervised 55 staff members and provided leadership in the strategic planning process and implementation of new programmatic initiatives.
After twenty-five years with Guiding Eyes, Jody founded BluePath Service Dogs, Inc., which focuses on providing service dogs to children with autism. Jody has co-authored numerous papers with researchers and clinicians at Cornell University, as well as with researchers at the San Diego Zoo’s Institution for Conservation Research. He has lectured at conferences at Cornell University, Virginia Maryland Veterinary College, and local veterinary medical association chapters. In 2013, Jody's veterinary department was awarded the Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine’s Booker Willoughby Service Award. In 2016, Jody was recognized as the Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
During his career, Jody has served as a mentor for over 50 veterinary students from 11 different veterinary medical colleges in the US, and has been coaching youth soccer and baseball for the past 10 years. He lives in Hopewell Junction, NY, with Caroline, their four children, three dogs and four cats.
Caroline McCabe-Sandler, Vice President of Training Programs
Caroline was the founding director of an autism service dog program that placed 90 dogs with families since 2008. She began her career as a guide dog instructor and was certified as a master trainer in 2002. She then served as a training supervisor, providing leadership and guidance to junior staff and apprentice instructors.
In 1999, Caroline placed a guide dog named Salty, who navigated his way out of Tower One on September 11, 2001, saving his handler’s life. Caroline has presented at professional conferences and industry events throughout the country. She has also been invited to lecture about the impact of autism service dogs at Yale University, Cornell University, University of Pennsylvania, and Rochester Institute of Technology. She has a BA in English from Clark University. Caroline lives in Hopewell Junction with her husband, Jody, their four children, two horses, three dogs and four cats.
Michelle Brier, Vice President of Marketing & Development
Michelle is the Director of Field Marketing and Fundraising Resources at the American Red Cross, with responsibility for market planning and activation process in the Northeast, North Central and Crossroads Divisions of the US, as well as driving marketing and fundraising best practices, expertise and innovation. Prior to her current role, she was Director of Strategic Development for Greenburgh Nature Center, where she was a member of the leadership team and developed and executed plans for all aspects of the Center’s fundraising efforts. In the past, Michelle served as the Director of Marketing and Communications for Guiding Eyes for the Blind, where she developed a deep passion for service dogs and their ability to profoundly transform people’s lives.
Michelle is on the Board of Directors for the Katonah Bedford Hills Ambulance Corps, where she also regularly volunteers as an Emergency Medical Technician. Michelle has a BS in Business Economics from the State University of New York at Oneonta. She lives in Bedford, NY with her German shepherd, Dina.