Board Members

Colleen with Liam and Lila

Colleen grew up around animals: riding horses, working on ranches, and volunteering at the local humane society in Temple. After college graduation, she moved to Austin in 2005 to work as a wildlife biologist at an environmental consulting firm. Her journey with therapy dogs began in February 2014, when her Irish Doodle (also known as an O’Doodle), Liam, graduated from Divine Canines training class and began volunteering at local Austin hospitals and schools. In November 2014, Colleen graduated from Divine Canines training class with her second dog, Lila. Serving on the Divine Canines board is one way for Colleen to give back to an organization that gives so much to her and her community.
Karaline

Karaline

Karaline grew up in Texarkana, Texas, surrounded by pets, and has been an animal lover her whole life. She moved to Austin in May, 2012, and worked in marketing for three years. She now works in sales at BWI Companies, Inc. and loves spending time with her Basset Hound Zooey and Husky Lance. After learning about Divine Canines, Karaline couldn’t think of anything she and Zooey would love more or be better suited for. They graduated from Divine Canines Therapy Dog Training in February 2016, and are so grateful to be part of such an amazing group of people and dogs.

Biography will be here soon
Shannon

Shannon

Shannon grew up in Austin and attended the University of Texas at Austin where she got her bachelors and masters degrees in accounting.  She now works for the largest local accounting firm in Austin.  Her sister is allergic to dogs so growing up she was never able to have one of her own.  As soon as she went to college she got her first dog, a chiapoo named Sam.  A later experience with Sam and her grandmother really planted the seed for her passion for the Divine Canines mission.  She enjoys spending time with her husband, Ryan, daughter, McKayla and yellow lab, Moose.
Jacki

Jacki

Jacki has worked for St. David’s Medical Center for more than eight years in several roles and since 2014 as Manager of Volunteer Services and Patient Relations. Jacki has been instrumental in recreating and streamlining both areas of responsibility to include policy review, reporting, staff and volunteer education, as well as process and procedures, while coordinating with her counterparts at other St. David’s facilities.

Jacki grew up with a house-full of cats and dogs. More recently, Tootsie, a black-lab mix rescue was a beloved family member, along with their cat Binks, a tortoiseshell Persian, for more than 13 years.

Married for almost 35 years to Michael Allen, they have two daughters, Kirsten, a graphics designer living in Austin, and Lindsey, a construction project engineer in Seattle.

Evelyn

Evelyn has been in the marketing communications field for six years, having worked with Fortune 500 companies, small start-ups, and nonprofit organizations. She is currently the Communications Manager at Greenlights for Nonprofit Success, where she is responsible for writing, email marketing, social media, and community management. In her role, she supports fundraising, event, and brand communications for the nonprofit. Along with her love for dogs (especially her rescue pup, Hazel), Evelyn is also a farmers’ market aficionado and avid baker.

Lisa Mitchell

Lisa is an attorney currently working as an Environmental Project Manager for the Texas Department of Transportation after serving as their environmental litigation attorney for 10 years. Lisa has been involved with animal welfare organizations for 20 years, during which time she fostered dogs and helped Austin draft its No-Kill Implementation Plan. Lisa believes that the Divine Canines dog-and-handler teams can reach people in need in a unique way, providing much-needed unconditional love without judgment. When she’s not busy with work, Lisa enjoys day trips in the Texas Hill Country with her husband Michael.
Malari Smith

Malari

Malari was born with a love of animals and turned her love into a career. She graduated from Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010. While an undergraduate at A&M, she began therapy dog work with her Beagle, Abby, through Aggieland Pets with a Purpose. Malari also served four years on the board of Aggies for Animal Rescue, a student organization aimed at spreading animal awareness. Together with her husband Trevor, a dog trainer, they have two Divine Canines: Merci and Simon, both rescue mutts. When not at work or doing Divine Canines site visits, they enjoy playing agility with their other canine companions, Suki, Daisy, Enya and Yoshi.

Mike

Mike grew up on a farm in Kansas where he developed a life-long love of animals and the outdoors. A move to Texas lead him to the University of Texas in Austin in 1984. He fell in love with the town (as well as Lisa, now his wife) and never left. From his junior year at UT through the present he has been immersed in the business realm. Mike was at Dell, Inc. for 17 years with the majority of that time as an executive in four different disciplines. He is now Chairman of the Board for a small private company in San Diego. While he has had dogs all his life, Amstel – a Yellow Labrador rescued from the side of the road – seemed to have a personality destined to socialize. Mike and Amstel were certified for therapy work in June of 2009 through Austin State Hospital, and then through Divine Canines in September 2011. Amstel passed in 2017 after logging over 250 visits. Shiner, a Black Labrador rescue, was certified through Divine Canines in December 2012 and has logged 400+ visits which puts her in the “ Distinguished” AKC level of Therapy dogs. When not in Austin, Shiner and her family enjoy spending time at a Hill Country ranch on trail runs, 4-wheeler rides, swimming in the ponds, and bird hunting.
Dick Young

Dick

Dick Young joined the Divine Canines Board in 2014. A dog owner since childhood, he has observed how much joy and empathy dogs bring to people. Most recently, a family member’s dog became a therapist and valued companion during a period of grief. He and his wife Ann share their home with Buster, a rescued Boxer. When not working as a Senior Area Consultant for the Texas Methodist Foundation, Dick enjoys woodworking, hiking, photography, traveling and hanging out with his family. Dick is a Texas Tech graduate and also earned an MBA from Texas State University. Dick hopes to bring organizational fundraising skills to Divine Canines so that we might continue to bring ‘Ordinary dogs, extraordinary service’ to our clients.
Paul

Paul

Paul became interested in therapy dog training after searching for ways to fuse his love for animals and his desire to help individuals with disabilities, inspired by his early experiences accompanying his father (a teacher and Lutheran minister) on visits to nursing homes and hospitals. He began working with dogs through the Lee Mannix Center for Canine Behavior (LMCCB) in 2005. Impressed by LMCCB’s methods for improving the relationship between dogs and people, Paul interned under Lee and became a senior trainer and behaviorist for LMCCB, now the Canine Center for Training and Behavior (TCCTB). Paul specializes as a therapy dog trainer, and is an evaluator for the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen program and a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. He has a degree in Psychology from the University of Texas and has worked with individuals with mental retardation and multiple disabilities at the Austin State School and at special education programs in public schools. He has volunteered for Safe Place and the Austin Humane Society/SPCA. Paul enjoys spending time with his wife Krislyn, their son Henry, and their dogs, Tricksy and Farmer. He also loves to play music, camp, hike and fish.

Other Leaders

Tori

Tori

Tori is an attorney currently working in the legal search, staffing and eDiscovery industry.  She is the Executive Director of the Austin office of Special Counsel, the nation’s largest legal search company.  Although no longer the proud human of Eudora, the Divine Canines late mascot and inspiration (shown pictured with Tori), Tori remains committed to the mission of Divine Canines and dogs as unique and important therapy tools.  When not recruiting legal professionals or Divine Canines volunteers, Tori spends time keeping up with her young son, practicing yoga and exploring new places in town.
Anna

Anna

After more than 10 years working with non-profit agencies and academic institutions, Anna moved to Austin to pursue her passion for animal welfare and wildlife rehabilitation. Anna has a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and joined Divine Canines so she could combine her love of animals with the ability to help persons in need. In addition to volunteering with her dog Romy, Anna currently serves as Volunteer Coordinator
Max

Max

Max joined Divine Canines as executive director in February 2013 after 15 years in a similar position with EarthShare of Texas. He is well known in the Austin nonprofit community, having served as co-manager of the City of Austin’s Combined Charities Campaign for eight years during his tenure at EarthShare of Texas. Max also brings years of public service experience to Divine Canines, along with outstanding writing credentials. He was the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan’s speechwriter during the seven years prior to her death in 1997. If Max doesn’t return your call or email immediately, it may be because he’s out for his daily run around the Hike and Bike trail with his rescue dog, Rosebud

Advisory Council

Heidi

Heidi

Heidi was appointed to chair the advisory council when her final term on the Divine Canines board ended in May 2014. Heidi served as Board Chair from 2011 to May 2014. She is a self-employed medical device consultant. Her passion for dogs began at a young age, and she began handling and training dogs in 1994 after becoming involved with the Texas Greyhound Adoption Program. In 2004 she rescued her divine canine, Bella, from Town Lake Animal Shelter. Heidi says, “The first day I met my amazing friend Lee Mannix, he walked right up to Bella, completely ignoring me, knelt down and played with her. He laughed and giggled. He said to me ‘This dog is one in a million. She is a gift. You enjoy every single day with her. You will never, ever have another dog like her.’” Heidi competes in agility with Bella and works her in frisbee, search and rescue and tracking. In addition to her work with Divine Canines, Heidi is an endurance mountain bike athlete selected as one of 50 influential female athletes in North America. Heidi was named one of Ballet Austin’s Women on Their Toes for 2013, primarily for her volunteer work with Divine Canines.
Cris

Cris

Cris was appointed to the advisory committee when his final term on the Divine Canines board ended in 2014. Cris is a part-time trainer and behavior consultant for the Canine Center for Training & Behavior, formerly the Lee Mannix Center. He got his first dog for Christmas when he was three years old. In 1995, Cris began working with Lee when one of his dogs started showing signs of aggression. Cris worked with Lee for many years, training owners and their dogs, running a summer camp for youth to train shelter dogs to become more adoptable, and starting the Pairing Achievement with Service (P.A.W.S.) program in 2010 to use shelter dogs as a part of a rehabilitation program for juvenile female offenders, until Lee’s untimely death in 2010. Cris is a program specialist at the Texas Juvenile Justice Department and has more than 25 years of experience working with adolescents in the mental health field. In his spare time, Cris trains his six dogs, cooks and scuba dives with his wife whenever time and weather permit.
Rebecca

Rebecca

Since 2003, Becca has worked as a regulatory attorney in the FDA and health care fields. She assists clients who develop, make and distribute FDA-regulated products and those who play a part in the investigation and delivery of health care products and services. Rebecca is committed to pro bono service, providing education and advice on various law issues to several non-profit pro bono clients. Taking her dogs through classes at the Canine Center for Training and Behavior opened Becca’s eyes to the potential for animals to make a concrete and meaningful difference to those experiencing physical and mental health and developmental challenges. Rebecca is an informal student of human and animal behavior and believes, in the words of Temple Grandin: “People wouldn’t have become who we are today if we hadn’t coevolved with dogs.” She and her husband Reese enjoy spending time with their intrepid canine companions Luna, Apollo, and Aurora.