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About Us

Who We Are

Retrieving Freedom, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to training service dogs to help people. Our primary focuses are training dogs to serve the needs of Veterans and children with Autism. We breed and train chosen dogs that exhibit specific traits necessary to perform tasks to help these individuals, and we believe in matching the dog to the recipient.

Our training program isn’t designed to train each dog to follow a certain program. Instead, dogs are trained to meet the needs of their specific recipient. The dogs go through more than two years of training to meet our strict standards for a successful placement.

RFI operates out of two locations, Waverly, Iowa, and Sedalia, Missouri as an accredited member of Assistance Dogs International.

The service dogs we train help improve the lives of the people they are placed with. Not only do they help with specific chores and perform tasks associated with their training, but they also offer companionship and unconditional love.

The mission of Retrieving Freedom, Inc. is to change lives through the training and placement of service dogs for Veterans with disabilities and children with Autism.

Retrieving Freedom Board of Directors

The RFI Board is comprised of individuals who work together to make sure we are serving the needs of our recipients, along with looking for ways to raise more money so we can help match more people with the service dogs they need. The current board is comprised of:

  • RFI Board Member Clay DahlquistAl Hogen,
    Board Chair
  • RFI Board Member Roxie NorrisBob Baird,
    Vice Chair
  • RFI Board Member Dave RoremRoxie Norris,
    Treasurer
  • RFI Board Member Conway MarvinDave Rorem
  • RFI Board Member Rene MasseyRene Massey
  • RFI Board Member Bobby HaydenBobby Hayden

Retrieving Freedom's Leadership Team

  • Billy Rader

    Billy Rader

    Chief Executive Officer

    Billy started his professional career as a corporate technology director before moving into nonprofit leadership. Over the past 15 years he has worked with organizations serving youth as well as at risk teens. His last position was as the CEO of a large nonprofit serving homeless veterans and their families. Billy has been married to his wife Angie for 25 years and has two daughters.

  • Heather Dawson

    Heather Dawson

    Chief Financial Officer

    Heather has been in the finance and accounting field for over 13 years. She comes to RFI with extensive experience in corporate accounting management as well as financial analytics. Her most recent position was as the Financial Controller for a manufacturing facility in the Mid South. After years in the corporate world, Heather is thrilled to be changing the focus of her career and to have the opportunity to work with an organization as impacting as RFI is. Heather lives in Lake Ozark, MO with her husband David and their four children, Deacon, Olivia, Jack, and Caroline.

  • Sally Zinevich

    Sally Zinevich

    Chief Development Officer

    Sally comes to Retrieving Freedom as a top producing sales professional with 25 years of expertise in marketing and advertising. She has spent the bulk of her professional career in broadcast media, managing sales teams, building brands, businesses, and organizations through the creation of long-term advertising strategies, campaigns, and promotions. She is extremely involved in community projects, championing causes and developing resources to build those causes. She and her husband Matt are blessed with two daughters and a son.

  • Kyle Cory-Yaeggi

    Kyle Cory-Yaeggi

    Director of Operations

    Kyle's passion for the service dog industry was fueled after he graduated from Iowa State University and moved out west. There, he worked for years training dogs for mobility assistance, children with mental and physical disabilities, as well as facility dogs. Kyle was hired by Retrieving Freedom in 2017 working nationally, overseeing training and placement of dogs and applicants. He now works as the Director of Operations, managing both facilities.

  • Alyssa Curtis

    John Drach

    Training Director

    John has been active in the Assistance Dog industry for over 30 years. He started training Hearing Dogs and went on to train Service Dogs, Seizure Dogs and Autism Dogs. John has been active with Assistance Dogs International serving on the Compliance Committee as well as the Trainer Certification Committee. He has also developed Apprentice Assistance Dog Trainer programs to train new trainers in the field. John enjoys matching highly trained dogs with individuals who are looking for a dog who can change their lives. John and his wife Molly live in Iowa and have two sons.

  • Alyssa Curtis

    Alyssa Curtis

    Missouri Unit Director

    Alyssa comes to Retrieving Freedom with extensive administrative and customer service experience. Alyssa has decided to use her passion and love for dogs towards helping place service dogs with veterans and children with autism. She has been hired as the Unit Director for the Missouri location.

  • Keegan Birkicht

    Keegan Birkicht

    Outreach and Communications Coordinator

    Keegan began her work with Retrieving Freedom as a college student involved with the Retrieving Freedom class on the campus of Wartburg College. After several years of interning with Retrieving Freedom at a volunteer level, Keegan joined the staff in 2015. 

  • Sara Shadid

    Sara Shadid

    Program Coordinator

    Sara has been involved with Retrieving Freedom in a variety of ways since 2014. She first became involved by participating in a Wartburg College course which was partnered with Retrieving Freedom. She continued to volunteer throughout college and upon graduation. In 2016 she became the organization's intern, taking on a number of roles. She was hired in early 2019 and works as the Program Coordinator at the Iowa location.

  • Emma Leach

    Program Coordinator

    Emma's love for all things dog-related began at just 8 years old when she was gifted a young Labrador Retriever named Kelsey. Her youth involvement in training gradually turned into a volunteer opportunity to teach and lead the local 4-H program. After earning her Bachelor's Degree in Animal Science from the University of Missouri and other miscellaneous training certifications, Emma began her professional career working for a dog training company in Springfield, MO, training pet and therapy dogs. Emma and her husband Joshua live happily with their four dogs: Kali, Belle, Josie, and Captain. Emma joined Retrieving Freedom in 2020 as the Program Coordinator at the Missouri location. She is excited to be able to provide quality services to those in need.

  • Bailey Inman

    Bailey Inman

    Dog Trainer

    After fostering two service dogs in training and working at a service dog training kennel during her undergraduate studies, Bailey decided to change paths to pursue a career with working dogs. Upon graduation from the University of Missouri, she moved to Philadelphia where she worked with scent detection and search and rescue canines. She then completed a year of graduate work in New York City with a focus on canine spatial awareness. In July of 2019, Bailey joined RFI as a Dog Trainer at the Missouri Facility.

  • Cassidy Cooley

    Dog Trainer

    Cassidy joined the Marine Corps after high school where she worked as a Combat Engineer with 7th Engineer Support Battalion. While in the Marine Corps, she attended Animal Behavior College and graduated as a certified dog trainer. Upon leaving the Marine Corps Cassidy earned her bachelor's degree from The Evergreen State College and worked as a behavioral therapist for children with autism. Cassidy joined Retrieving Freedom in June of 2019.

  • Sara Shadid

    Melissa Scrivener

    Facility Coordinator

    After hearing about Retrieving Freedom and the mission we uphold, Melissa knew that this organization was something that she wanted to be a part of. Having been raised with the help of her grandfather, a Navy SEAL Veteran, she knows the struggles they go through and the immense difference a canine companion can make in their lives. She takes great pride in knowing that she is helping to change the lives of many just by sharing her love of animals and her passion for helping people.

  • Megan Hiller

    Facility Coordinator

    Megan started working with Retrieving Freedom on a volunteer level while still a college student at Iowa State University. She raised her first service dog in training through the Animal Science program at Iowa State that partners with Retrieving Freedom. After graduation, Megan moved closer to Waverly so she could continue volunteering with Retrieving Freedom. She was hired in late 2020 and works as the Iowa Facility Coordinator.

  • Hannah Keller

    Hannah Keller

    Kennel Technician

    Hannah has always loved working with animals, but has a special place in her heart for dogs. She plans to go to college to become a Veterinary Technician. Hannah enjoys working at Retrieving Freedom and helping to fulfill the mission. She loves that her work with the various dogs in training will eventually help them in their career as a service dog.

  • Jessica Coble

    Kennel Technician

    Jessica has had a lifelong dream of working with animals in a unique and special way, and she found that by working at Retrieving Freedom. Working at Retrieving Freedom has given her an opportunity to combine her love for dogs and desire to help people in need - it provides hope for both humans and animals, and she loves being a part of it. Jessica is a senior at Central Methodist University, studying Sports Management, Business, and Criminal Justice and is from Sedalia, Missouri.

  • Izabelle Bunn

    Izabelle Bunn

    Kennel Technician

    Izabelle's passion for working with animals began while she was working at a cat sanctuary. Izabelle graduated in 2019 and is hoping to pursue a career as a Veterinary Technician. One of her favorite things about working at Retrieving Freedom is learning the dogs' different personalities.

  • Lacey Lemens

    Kennel Technician

    Lacey began working for a local spay and neuter clinic, managing it for 8 years. She loved the connection she saw between owners and their pets, and how many people stated that their animals helped them to overcome obstacles in their lives. She wanted to continue working in a field where she could see bonds between humans and animals. As an avid supporter of mental health and autism, Lacey feels blessed to be able to care for the animals who will someday make an important impact on their recipient's life. 

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