About Us

Maureen Bennett and retired co-founders Angela Ross and Sharon Owsley bring over twenty-five years of combined experience in 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.

Maureen has served on the board of directors for several non-profit organizations including assistance dog programs. She and many of our other board members and volunteers also have personal experience with the challenges of living with a disability.

As the school has grown, we had been fortunate to continue to add to our all-volunteer staff. This group includes certified professional dog trainers, experts in marketing and finance, information technology volunteers, and persons experienced in multiple areas of early puppy socialization and ongoing canine care.

Board of Directors

Maureen Bennett
President and Treasurer

Maureen is one of the co-founders of IDEA. In addition to leading our board of directors, she manages the administrative and financial aspects of the school. She frequently provides community education about assistance dogs, the government protections for persons with disabilities, and how service dogs can assist with the challenges of daily living. 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 Management and Accounting from California State University – Fullerton. She and her husband live in Denton with two golden retrievers; one is Maureen’s retired service dog and the other is her current one. They also have two grown sons who are married and live in the DFW area.

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 labrador retriever. 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

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

Alice is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a degree in Biomedical Science. She is also a certified dog trainer through Karen Pryor Academy and the CCPDT. She began training dogs in 2014 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 UKC Nosework competitions and Crossfit. She lives in Keller with her family.

Jerry Bennett

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

Seasoned in operations and project management, Claire provides program development support to the IDEA Service Dogs’ board of directors. She shares a passion for advancing the program, and the many teams we have the privilege to serve. Claire’s professional background and education combined with her love of dogs and volunteering bring a fortuitous combination to our program.

In addition to her role at IDEA Service Dogs, Claire works as an estate manager in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. 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.