About Us

Maureen Bennett, Sharon Owsley and retired co-founder Angela Ross bring a combined twenty years of experience of service dog training to the program. The co-founders’ experience includes dog breeding and early puppy socialization, puppy raising for a nationally known assistance dog school, and graduation from programs where the disabled train their own service dog. Additionally, Maureen has served on the Board of Directors for three non-profit organizations in the assistance dog field. Many of our board members and volunteers also have personal experience with the challenges that the disabled confront on a daily basis.

As the school has grown, we have been fortunate to add to our all-volunteer staff. We now have certified professional dog trainers, experts in marketing and finance, information technology volunteers, persons experienced in multiple areas of early puppy socialization, consulting veterinarians, and professional business management personnel.

Board of Directors

Maureen Bennett
President and Treasurer


Maureen is one of the co-founders of IDEA, and manages the curriculum, student application process, school finances and leads the board and volunteers. She frequently provides community education about assistance dogs, government protections for the disabled, and the challenges of daily living with disabilities. Maureen’s own disabilities took her from a corporate executive career in operations and program management to her current passion of assistance dog training and non-profit organizations. Her formal education includes a degree in Business and Accounting from California State University – Fullerton. She lives in Denton with her husband, a golden retriever service dog and an elderly collie mix. They also have two grown sons who are married and live in the DFW area.

Sharon Owsley
Vice-President and Co-Founder


Sharon is one of the co-founders of IDEA and manages dog breeder relationships and puppy sourcing. She is responsible for puppy temperament testing, breeder evaluation and photography. She also provides hands-on training and covers canine health topics.

Sharon met Maureen in 2008 when Maureen temperament tested Sharon’s Labrador retriever puppies for a friend who needed a service dog. Sharon was impressed with the two years of training that Truffles pursued and is proud to be a part of IDEA today. She and her husband live in Grapevine with their two labrador retrievers. They have a daughter and married son in the metroplex and a married daughter in Oklahoma.

Karen Brookman
Vice-President and Secretary


Karen’s chocolate lab is a sister of Truffles who was the first service dog trained by IDEA Service Dogs. After noticing a social media request, Karen became a volunteer for IDEA in 2013. She assists with administrative duties, such as taking Board Meeting minutes and fundraising, as well as assisting with dog handling during classes and field trips.

Karen and her husband live in Keller with their two labradors. They have owned a successful financial services business in Hurst for over thirty years and have two grown children and several grandchildren in the area. Her formal education includes an undergraduate degree from the University of North Texas and several financial services designations. Karen has volunteered with many organizations over the years, and her lifelong love for dogs makes her work with IDEA a labor of love.

Barb Gadola
Vice-President


Barb is a professional and certified dog trainer that assists IDEA by providing hands-on training for our student teams. She also assists with curriculum planning, identifying and maintaining our video library, canine behavior and training advances, equipment evaluation, puppy enrichment techniques and puppy temperament evaluation.

She and her husband live on a small farm in north Fort Worth with a variety of animals. Barb’s undergraduate degree is in education with graduate work in behavioral psychology. She enjoys spinning alpaca fleece when she is not training dogs.

Alice Church
Director


Alice uses her skills as a professional and certified dog trainer by assisting IDEA with lesson planning, classroom instruction and individual team coaching. She also plays a significant role in the school’s social media management, community awareness activities and fundraising.

Alice is a graduate of Texas A&M University and Karen Pryor Academy. She began training dogs six years ago when she discovered her hidden talent and made a career change to follow her passion. Since then she has trained everything from chihuahuas to alpacas. In her free time she loves to do crossfit athletic activities. She lives in Keller with her family.

Jerry Bennett
Director


Jerry is married to IDEA’s President and has been instrumental in the growth and support of IDEA Service Dogs since the school’s inception. He functions as facilities coordinator and liaison with the community, as well as being an integral part of the overall management of the school.

Jerry was raised in Iowa on a multi-generational family owned farm, and is an alumni of Central College in Pella, Iowa. He retired from a long career in electrical and medical equipment sales. When Maureen gives him some time off, he enjoys golf, playing softball and watching baseball, especially the Texas Rangers.

Claire Scherer
Director


Claire develops the off-site training portion of our program. She is responsible for the scheduling and leading of all field trips based on the needs and skill level of the current teams in training. Additionally, Claire provides support to the board of directors in the ongoing development of the IDEA program and the teams we serve.

Aside from her role at IDEA Service Dogs, Claire works as a personal business manager and volunteers with a local high school band program. Her formal education includes degrees in communication and psychology from the University of Colorado. She lives with her husband, son and their two golden retrievers in north Fort Worth.

 

Volunteer Opportunities

We are grateful to the many volunteers who also assist the school in many areas, including dog training and handling, graphic arts, fundraising and many other skills. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact us for more information.