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

Ashley Foster, CBCC-KA®


Ashley Foster is a CBCC-KA and Professional Dog Trainer who has been training and consulting professionally for over 26 years. She is the founder and owner of Complete K-9, which offers science-based behavior consulting and various training services to build human-dog relationships. Fueled by a great passion for the progression and professionalization of the field, Ashley joined the CCPDT Board in 2018 and was elected president in 2021.

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Amanda Kowalski, CPDT-KA®

Amanda Kowalski

Vice President

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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Ruth LaRocque, CPDT-KA®, CBCC-KA®

Ruth LaRocque


Ruth LaRocque is a highly experienced dog trainer and animal behaviorist, specializing in the addressing pet fear and aggression issues in family situations. Ruth holds both the CPDT-KA™ and CBCC-KA™ certifications and joined the CCPDT Board in 2013. She led CCPDT as President from 2018 to 2021. Ruth has served as Treasurer since 2014.

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Carol Hutelmyer, MSN, RN

Secretary & Public Member

Carol Hutelmyer is a Professional Nurse and dog owner. As the owner of a certified therapy dog, she is keenly aware of the value of dog training and of the need for qualified professional dog trainers.

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Steve Austin, CPDT-KA®


Steve Austin owns Steve Austin Canine Training, a specialist business providing handling and training services for canine detection, canine conservation, canine and handler training, education seminars, and courses in New South Wales, Australia. He is frequently asked to speak at conferences and is often cited as an expert in media interviews.

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Irith Bloom, CPDT-KSA®, CBCC-KA®


Irith Bloom is the owner of The Sophisticated Dog, a pet training company that offers online training worldwide, as well as in-person training to select clients in Los Angeles. A biologist by training, she is a sought-after presenter at conferences and seminars worldwide and her writing has been published both online and in print. Irith is Chair Emeritus of the Education Committee of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) and on the Advisory Board for Daily Paws.

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Jennifer Burns, CPDT-KA®, CBCC-KA®


Jennifer Burns is the owner and head trainer of Conscious Dog Training LLC, which was recently named the Best Positive Reinforcement Training Company in Texas. Her focus is on empowering clients to create a conscious relationship with their dog that is based on clear communication, joyful cooperation, and connection.

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James Crosby, CBCC-KA®


James Crosby has professionally trained dogs, taught individual and group obedience classes, and addressed canine behavior problems since 1999. He teaches safe handling, evaluation and rehabilitation of dangerous dogs and the investigation of fatal and serious dog attacks throughout the US, Canada, Italy, the UK, Poland and Australia.

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Elizabeth (Beth) Mullen, CPDT-KA®, CBCC-KA®


Beth is the owner/founder of Dog Latin Dog Training and Behavior Consulting, which serves the Washington, DC area. She also consults with the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, VA, and volunteers with the Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, the Washington Animal Rescue League, and Your Dog’s Friend.

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Leigh Sansone, CPDT-KSA®, CBCC-KA®


Leigh Sansone, Esq., CPDT-KSA™, has been training dogs professionally for more than a decade. After practicing law for 15 years, she shifted focus from special education advocacy to humane animal training. Leigh’s training tips have been published in APDT’s Top Tips from Top Trainers, a compendium of advice from leading trainers and consultants.

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Brad Phifer, CPDT-KSA®, CBCC-KA®

Brad Phifer

Executive Director

Bradley Phifer, owner of Bradley Phifer Dog Training, is an Indianapolis-based dog trainer and behavior consultant 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 dog training clients.

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Kate Anders, CPDT-KSA®, CBCC-KA®

Director of Exam Development and Review

Kate Anders began working as a dog professional in 2005 and spent 10 years specializing in child-dog conflict cases. She began regularly volunteering for the CCPDT’s Exam Committee in 2017, joined the board in 2019, and moved into a consulting role in 2021.

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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