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 train service dogs for wounded Veterans and children with Autism to allow a new degree of independence in their partner's lives.

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
  • Jimmie NeilJimmie Neal
  • Dave RoremDave Rorem
  • Conway MarvinConway Marvin

Retrieving Freedom's Leadership Team

  • Scott Dewey - Co-President
    Scott Dewey

    Director of Iowa Operations, Co-Founder

    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.

  • Mike Lederle

    Executive Director

    Mike has an extensive background in leadership as a 27-year combat veteran of the Army National Guard and a former police sergeant in the Columbia Police Department of Columbia, Missouri. Mike served as the Assistant Dean, Military and Federal Programs and director of the Ousley Family Veterans Services Center at Columbia College, followed by the role as the director of the college’s location in Rolla, Missouri. Mike was hired as the Executive Director of Retrieving Freedom in 2018 and is looking forward to offering support through service dogs to clients, meanwhile continuing to propel the organization forward with the start of new operations in Sedalia, Missouri.

  • 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 and works at both locations assisting in training as well as working with applicants and graduates on a national level.

  • Keegan Birkicht

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

  • Kristy Fletcher

    Program Coordinator

    Kristy began her work with Retrieving Freedom as a volunteer in 2011. After several years of volunteering with Retrieving Freedom, Kristy was hired part-time in 2016 as a kennel assistant. In 2017 Kristy began working full-time as Program Coordinator and Facility Assistant at the Mississippi location.

  • Chad Johnson

    Assistant Dog Trainer

    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.

  • Riley Zaunbrecher

    Kennel Assistant

    Riley began his work with Retrieving Freedom in December of 2016. He started as a training assistant at the Mississippi location, where he learned obedience training. Recently graduating from Northwest Mississippi Community College, Riley now works as a full-time employee and has progressed to a higher level of training.