The CCPDT is governed by a Board of Directors that consists of no more than twelve and no less than seven directors. Mandatory positions include President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Public Member. All board members have voting privileges.

Because we are a credentialing organization, not a membership organization, board members aren’t elected by the certificants, but rather by the current board. Instead we issue a call for nominations to fill any vacant seats on the board of directors once every year (or more often, if needed). Interested candidates submit a letter indicating why they would like to be considered for a board seat, and include information about their professional background.

All candidates are then interviewed by the CCPDT Executive Director with questions created by the CCPDT Nominations Committee. Finally, the CCPDT board votes on the candidates based on all the available information.

Interested in volunteering?

Look out for the annual call for board members. We announce it in our newsletter, on social media channels, and post it on our website.

But serving on the board is not the only opportunity to get involved with the CCPDT. If you would like to grow your professional network and give back to the profession, we are always looking to expand our energetic team of volunteers. Learn how you can contribute.

CCPDT board members

Julie Buesser, CPDT-KA®


Julie Buesser is a professional dog trainer and curriculum writer in Chicago, IL. She specializes in raising and training service dogs and is an evaluator for the AKC Canine Good Citizen program. Julie joined the CCPDT Board in 2013, served as Vice President from 2014 through 2017, and became President in 2018.

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Ruth LaRocque, CPDT-KA®, CBCC-KA®

Ruth LaRocque


Ruth LaRocque owns Seattle Pet Pals LLC with her partner and provides training in the Seattle and greater Puget Sound areas of the Pacific Northwest. She conducts behavior consultations and provides training and coaching for pet owners and their companion animals.

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Carol Hutelmyer, MSN, RN

Secretary & Public Member

Carol Hutelmyer, MSN, RN, is a Professional Nurse and owner of an 11-month old Border Collie/Lab mix, Bella. Over her long nursing career, Carol learned the value of dogs to provide patients companionship and stress reduction.

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James Akenhead, Ed.D, CPDT-KA®

James Akenhead


James Akenhead, Ed.D, is the owner of Signature K-9 Behavior & Training, which has focused on building relationships between humans and dogs for more than 20 years. He is a distinguished business leader, author, and academic with a long list of accomplishments to his name.

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Jamie Bozzi, CPDT-KSA®, CBCC-KA®

Jamie Bozzi-Surmont


Jamie Bozzi has been a certified professional dog trainer and certified canine behavior consultant for almost 20 years. She believes in creating and maintaining industry standards, educating the public on teaching and training using current scientific training techniques, and furthering the dog training and behavior consulting profession.

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Yvonne Ferguson, CPDT-KSA®


Yvonne Ferguson is the owner and head trainer of Quinte Canine located in the Quinte region of Ontario, Canada. She is a Canine Good Neighbour (CGN) Evaluator for the Canadian Kennel Club, a Certified Trick Dog Instructor, and a Behaviour Consultant and Course Instructor for Canine Foundations.

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Amanda Kowalski, CPDT-KA®

Amanda Kowalski


Amanda Kowalski is the Research Project and Event Coordinator for the Center for Animals and Public Policy and Center for Shelter Dogs at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

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Penelope Milne, CPDT-KSA®, CBCC-KA®


Penelope Milne has been a trainer and behavior consultant for more than 30 years. Penny is the owner of DubDubDog Animal Behavior Services and the Training Director for the Animal Keeper/Pet Suites (a small chain of upscale pet resorts).

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Leigh Sansone, CPDT-KSA®


Leigh Sansone, of Ruff Customers Dog Training in Atlanta, has been training dogs professionally for a decade. In 2006, after practicing law for 15 years, she shifted focus from special education litigation to humane animal training. Leigh began moonlighting with a pet store chain, teaching obedience while still practicing law, and she fell in love with training and behavior modification.

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Nicole Skeehan, CPDT-KA®

Nicole Skeehan


Nicole Skeehan is the owner of Philly Unleashed in Philadelphia, PA, and the former Director of Behavior & Training at the Pennsylvania SPCA.

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Brad Phifer, CPDT-KSA®, CBCC-KA®

Brad Phifer

Executive Director

Brad Phifer, owner of Bradley Phifer Dog Training, is an Indianapolis-based dog trainer and behavioral expert who has helped countless owners live happier lives with their pets. Dedicated to the professionalization of dog training, he divides his attention between CCPDT and his two businesses — Bradley Phifer Dog Training and Sirobe Basenji.

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Public policy documents

We have a public policy page to give certificants and the public a central place to review the documents that underpin our governance. The documents are updated continuously.

CCPDT Public Policies