Rachel McPherson, a native Mississippian, is the Founder and Executive Director of The Good Dog Foundation. She brings her experience as an entrepreneur and community activist to Good Dog.
As the Executive Director, Rachel assures the organization’s long-range strategy achieves its mission of increasing awareness of the healing properties of the human-animal bond through certified therapy dog visits. She leads the organization’s program, organizational and financial plans with the Board of Directors and staff. In its seventeen years of existence, Rachel is responsible for Good Dog growing from a small start-up with 3 therapy dogs to a nationally-recognized leader in certified therapy dogs with close to 1,000 teams.
Prior to founding Good Dog, Rachel was an Academy Award-nominated producer for film and television. Rachel has recently created Love Kind Wellness, a social networking website for both human and animal health. Rachel is also active in numerous professional and cultural associations, serving as a leader in fundraising, development, event planning, and production efforts. She is an active board member for the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. Having been inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame at the University of Mississippi, Rachel is the past chair of the Ole Miss Women’s Council. She is a founder and coordinator of the Way Up North in Mississippi Picnic, held annually in New York’s Central Park. Rachel previously served on the boards of New York Methodist Hospital, the Berkeley Carroll School, and the Prospect Park Alliance.
Originally having set out to produce a documentary on therapy dog services, Rachel fell in love with the work, stopped making the film, and founded Good Dog. Under her leadership, Good Dog helped change New York State law to allow therapy dogs into health care facilities. Good Dog now makes more than 330,000 annual visits to people in health care, social service, community organizations and schools in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.
Rachel lives with her husband, two children, and two dogs, including Yazhi, a Good Dog, in New York City.
Director of Administration
Carly Goteiner is the Director of Administration at Good Dog, where she is excited to help both humans and animals with her passion and hard work.
In her role as Director of Administration, Carly coordinates the annual operations plan and budget implementation. She also ensures the office is functioning smoothly, maintains the website, provides logistical support for events, handles human resources, and serves as a liaison to the Good Dog board.
Carly is an animal lover and an ardent proponent of animal rescue. Before joining Good Dog, Carly was active in animal welfare in both New York (Sean Casey Animal Rescue, Bideawee), and Massachusetts (Ellen M. Gifford Shelter). She still enjoys volunteering for SCAR, her local Brooklyn shelter.
Carly received her BA from Brandeis University in Massachusetts, and is currently studying for her Master of Public Administration at Baruch College. When she’s not at school or working, she enjoys playing soccer and reading. A native Brooklynite, Carly still lives in the borough with her cat, Dory.
William “Bill” Ross
William “Bill” Ross is the Finance Manager at The Good Dog Foundation.
Bill brings with him extensive and diverse non-profit experience in both the accounting and business fields.
Previously, Bill was the Business Manager for a private elementary school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan dedicated to the belief that special needs children who have mild to moderate learning, language, and/or emotional issues can succeed and build vital academic and social foundations.
Prior to that he was the Controller for a multi-service community center in the Bronx whose programs included adult fitness and education, Head Start, Universal Pre-Kindergarten afterschool programs and daycare, youth and teen programs, summer day camp and senior centers.
His experience also includes working as the Controller of a charitable agency in Dobbs Ferry that served approximately 10,000 children and families in the New York metropolitan area each year. The organization helped society’s most vulnerable children become educationally proficient, economically productive, and socially responsible members of their communities.
For more than a decade, in the Bronx a block from Yankee Stadium, Bill supervised the Accounting Department for the first residential health care facility in New York established for families and children with AIDS.
Bill and his wife, Terry, share their home in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey with a frisky Wire Fox Terrier named Sherlock.
Development and Communications Manager
Marisa Mace is the Development and Communications Manager at Good Dog. In joining the Good Dog team, she is thrilled to be able to combine her extensive event management, development, and marketing experience and her passion for promoting the human-animal bond.
In her role at Good Dog, Marisa oversees all aspects of development and communications. This includes managing all fundraising and volunteer appreciation events, handling all marketing initiatives including Good Dog’s social media presence, maintaining donor and sponsor relationships, and interfacing with media contacts.
Marisa’s professional background includes real estate sales at Town Residential, events and marketing at St. George’s Society of New York, and events management at the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
Marisa currently lives with her white rescue boxer Benjamin on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Prior to that she lived for over 14 years with her beloved white boxer Brewster. She is a lifelong animal advocate and spends most of her free time volunteering with animal and human welfare causes including Adopt A Boxer Rescue.
In the Volunteer Coordinator role, Joseph assists volunteers from their very first evaluation with a trainer to signing up for classes to annual re-certifications, and provides support through the entire volunteer experience.
Before joining Good Dog, Joseph worked as a communications assistant for the mayor of Omaha, and led volunteer management and recruitment efforts for local political and humanitarian efforts in the Midwest.
Joseph graduated from Creighton University with concentrations in American Studies and Sociology. He grew up in both Fairfield County and Queens and is thrilled to be working again with these communities. In his spare time he enjoys cooking, going to concerts, and volunteering.
Jocelyn is the Visit Coordinator at the Good Dog Foundation. A great believer in the healing power of dogs, she is excited to utilize her community organizing skills and passion for all things canine to improve the lives of people in need.
Once current volunteers have graduated and become fully certified, Jocelyn guides each team in deciding what types of facilities to visit and coordinates visits between the facilities and volunteer teams. She is the first point of contact for all of Good Dog’s facility partners, from creating partnerships to placing teams where they are needed most.
Jocelyn’s previous experience includes animal welfare work at Dupont Veterinary Clinic and the Washington Humane Society in Washington, DC. She also spent time as a Community Organizer with both the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and Organizing for America, President Obama’s reelection campaign.
Jocelyn lives in Brooklyn with her boyfriend, Evan, and their Australian Shepherd/Boxer mix named Yaz (after Boston Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski).
Program and Development Coordinator
Within her role, Yelena manages the organization’s database, and in turn, provides the team with useful and important performance metrics that help guide their work. In addition to these data points, she also provides support to the program and development objectives in order to help make these processes more effective and efficient.
Before starting at Good Dog, Yelena worked as the Research and Evaluation Associate at The Intersect Fund, a nonprofit micro-lender in Newark, New Jersey. She has a Masters in Public Administration with a concentration in Policy Analysis and Evaluation from Baruch University. During her studies, she worked as a research assistant on a number of projects related to social mobility, and public health. She is also an avid traveler, and has spent time working and volunteering abroad.
Yelena currently lives in Woodside, Queens with her beloved dog Benny.
Director of Programs and Training
Heather is the Director of Programs and Training at The Good Dog Foundation. Heather has been Good Dog’s Westchester and Fairfield Executive Trainer for the past 7 years and has been truly honored to have worked with so many wonderful Good Dog teams in her region. In her new role, Heather works closely with the office staff and Good Dog’s trainers to continue to enhance programs, training, and the volunteer experience. Heather has a Master’s in Social Work from Hunter College, winning Hunter’s Jacob Goldfein award for her Master’s Thesis, “Optimizing Animal-Assisted Interactions within Psychiatric Facilities”.
Heather also holds a certificate in Animals and Human Health from the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work, a certificate in Treating Animal Abuse from Arizona State University, and is involved in Animal-Assisted Crisis Response.
When she’s not working towards her certificate in Veterinary Social Work from the University of Tennessee or volunteering at a local therapeutic equestrian center, Heather enjoys trialing in Rally Obedience and spending time outdoors with her two dogs; Dooley, a mixed breed, and Thomas, a German Shepherd Dog.