Founder and Executive Director
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 more than 1,100 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 three dogs, including Yazhi, a Good Dog, in New York City.
Director of Programs
Jacob Ley is the Director of Programs at Good Dog. He brings an enthusiastic, professional attitude and multiple years of experience in staff and program management, communications, and education in both the nonprofit and international sectors.
Jacob works in partnership with the Executive Director and Board of Directors to implement new procedures and strengthen existing programs to achieve the goals of Good Dog’s strategic plan. Jacob ensures the office is functioning effectively and supports the overall programmatic and operational growth of Good Dog.
After moving to New York from Florida following Superstorm Sandy to work in post-disaster recovery, Jacob served as programs and communications manager for an international nonprofit focused on community recovery and education. He managed all external and internal communications spreading the mission of the agency while keeping a finger on the pulse of the communities he served.
Jacob, a service medal veteran, joined the US Navy immediately following September 11th, 2001. He served honorably for six years as Communications Petty Officer in disaster sites worldwide including the firestorms of southern California in 2003 and 2007, after an earthquake hit Pakistan in 2005, and spent many months in Central and South America conducting research and providing healthcare and education to children, sex workers, persons living with HIV/AIDS, sufferers of homelessness, and otherwise afflicted populations.
A graduate of The Florida State University in Tallahassee, Jacob earned a BA in religion with a minor in philosophy. Jacob holds a Master of Public Health degree from FSU Graduate School of Public Health with a specialization in emergency and disaster management.
Jacob now lives in Brooklyn with Chloe, his beautiful Shar-pei mix.
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 Brooklyn 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.
Senior Development and Communications Associate
Ali Fine is the Senior Development and Communications Associate at Good Dog. She is thrilled to be with Good Dog, which allows her to combine her experiences with community outreach and her passion for animals.
Ali provides support in the areas of development and communications, including assisting with the planning and execution of fundraising events, maintaining the donor database and processing donations, managing Good Dog’s social media platforms and contributing to the creation and design of outreach materials.
Ali previously served as a campaign associate at Project Bread – The Walk for Hunger, an organization dedicated to alleviating, preventing, and ultimately ending hunger in Massachusetts and the host of the nation’s largest one-day fundraiser for hunger. Ali also worked with Dan Klores Communications in sports marketing to assist with 2010 U.S. Open and Citi Field events, as well as provided media and communications assistance to The World Society for the Protection of Animals, focusing on the Eat Humane campaign and writing for the Compassionate Travel blog.
An honors graduate of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, Ali earned a BA in sociology. Originally from Boston, Ali currently lives in Astoria, NY and enjoys volunteering as an Adoptions Counselor at the ASPCA.
In the Volunteer Coordinator role, Alex 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, Alex worked as a Volunteer Coordinator at Reading Partners, a national literacy nonprofit dedicated to improving the reading abilities of underserved elementary school students through one-on-one tutoring. He also has experience in nonprofit administration from previous volunteer, intern, and professional roles at nonprofits like Upstate Pride and Hub-Bub in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
A South Carolinian, Alex graduated with honors from Wofford College with a BA in English and concentration in women’s and gender studies. He now resides in Brooklyn, where he enjoys cooking, volunteering, and traveling with friends.
Senior Visit Coordinator
Kathleen O’Reilly is the Senior Visit Coordinator at Good Dog. She is excited to be a part of an organization that enhances the quality of life for so many people.
Once current volunteers have graduated and become fully certified, Kathleen 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.
Prior to joining Good Dog, Kathleen interned at Right to Play, an international nonprofit that uses sport and play to promote child development. Kathleen attended the George Washington University in Washington, DC where she earned a BA in Political Science with a minor in Economics. While at GWU she was part of the student group International Alternative Spring Break that raised funds to complete a construction project on a school in Oaxaca, Mexico.
She is a native of Long Island, NY and enjoys spending as much time outdoors as she can.
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 with 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 named Benny.