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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 Senatobia, Mississippi, 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 disabled veterans 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:

  • Clay DahlquistClay Dahlquist,
    Board Chair
  • Dave RoremDave Rorem
  • Conway MarvinConway Marvin
  • Roxie Norris, Treasurer
  • Rene Massey

 

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 12 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 spent many years as a volunteer firefighter as well as emergency management coordinator and still volunteers with aerial search and rescue using thermal imaging drones. He has been married to his wife Angie for 23 years and has two daughters.

  • Scott Dewey

    Scott Dewey

    Chief Development Officer

    Scott’s background is in field trial training, and as the owner of Rock River Retrievers, he trained dozens of champion dogs. Scott decided to turn his training talents toward helping to train dogs to work with disabled veterans and children with autism. Scott oversees operations at RFI’s facility in Waverly, Iowa.

  • Heather Dawson

    Heather Dawson

    Director of Finance

    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 Sedalia, MO with her husband David and their three children, Deacon, Olivia, and Jack.

  • Kyle Cory-Yaeggi

    Kyle Cory-Yaeggi

    Director of Dog Training and Placement

    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.

  • Keegan Birkicht

    Keegan Birkicht

    Iowa unit Director

    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 was hired full-time in 2015 as the Program Director at the Iowa location.

  • Alyssa Curtis

    Missouri unit Director

    Alyssa comes to RFI 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 at the Missouri location.

  • Sally Zinevich

    Sally Zinevich

    Resource Development Director

    Sally comes to RFI 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.

  • 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 part-time in early 2019 as the Dog Record and Placement Assistant.

  • Chad Johnson

    Chad Johnson

    Iowa Stage 3 Dog Trainer, Recipient Liaison

    Chad began with Retrieving Freedom as a veteran recipient of a service dog, Bender. After receiving Bender, Chad attended Starmark Dog Training School in Hutto, Texas. He returned to Iowa as a Certified Canine Trainer and Behavior Specialist. While training dogs independently, Chad found a passion for volunteering with Retrieving Freedom, so he wanted to use the skills he learned to give back. He discontinued public lessons and is now a full-time Assistant Dog Trainer with Retrieving Freedom at the Iowa location.

  • Bailey Inman

    Missouri Stage 3 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 the Stage Three Dog Trainer for the upcoming Missouri facility.

  • Cassidy Cooley

    Stage 2 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.

  • Maddie Fletcher

    Intern

    When Maddie was first introduced to Retrieving Freedom in 2015, she was immediately inspired by the organization’s mission and enrolled in the Wartburg College class that partners with RFI. After training with a variety of potential service dogs and volunteering at RFI through this program, she became a puppy foster and accepted the position as intern in June of 2019. Maddie hopes to continue to be involved with the organization well into the future. 

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