Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Change at Susquehanna Service Dogs

Some of you may know by now that Nancy Fierer, our founder and director, is retiring at the end of May. She founded Susquehanna Service Dogs in 1993 and has served as our volunteer director since then. Over the course of her leadership, SSD has placed 226 working dogs, maintained accreditation by Assistance Dogs International, and joined the North America Breeding Cooperative, among many other things.

“It has been an awesome experience,” says Nancy. “Now I’m looking forward to a new adventure. It’s exciting and scary at the same time.”

Nancy and her husband Robert will be retiring together and moving to Boulder, Colorado to be closer to their children and grandchildren. They’ll also be spending time in the Adirondacks. Although she’s moving out of state, she will still be involved with service dogs. “I’ll always be available to answer questions, and I’ll be attending the ADI [Assistance Dogs International] conference in September.”

We will share more about Nancy and everything she has done for SSD in later posts. Right now, we would like to take this opportunity to introduce Pam Foreman, who will be stepping up as our new director.

“I think Pam is going to be an inspiration, a strong manager,” says Nancy. “She has the ability to push SSD to new heights and take SSD into the future.”

Pam has been with Keystone Human Services for over 33 years. (SSD is a program of Keystone Human Services.) She began her career as an intern during her senior year of college, where she worked in a group home for Intellectual Disabilities Services (then known as Keystone Residence). She was very interested in the work she was doing, and when a full time position opened up, she took it. She worked as a direct support professional for her first year, and then became a service coordinator. Gradually, she worked her way up and spent most of those 33 years in management and leadership positions.

Most recently, she served as the division director for the Central Region of Intellectual Disabilities Services, where she oversaw four programs: Life Sharing, Supportive Living, Home and Community, and Supported Employment.

Throughout her career, she has always been interested in Susquehanna Service Dogs. “I think this is where I’m supposed to be,” she says. “It’s a good match for me, and hopefully a good one for SSD.”

Pam has grown up with Keystone Human Services, and she’s happy to be in a position to help people get whatever they need to have a good life, showcasing their talents and gifts to reach their potential. “People are more apt to have a good life when they have valued roles in their society. Service dogs can promote this by enhancing someone’s ability to live more independently,  perhaps giving them freedoms to engage in their life more fully, and increasing their opportunities to participate in their neighborhoods and communities in the same way their family and friends do,” she says. “Service dogs can be a significant aspect of being able to live a full and good life.”

Since April 21, she has been learning the ropes, starting with a road trip to Guiding Eyes for the Blind, one of the guide dog organizations that we have a strong relationship with. Over the next five weeks, she will work alongside Nancy.

“I’m so impressed by everything I’ve seen,” says Pam. “Nancy has pulled together a good group of people with an impressive level of expertise.”

Nancy and Pam have talked about the future of SSD. This is an exciting time, and we have lots of goals. We will miss Nancy and we’re sad to see her go, but we know that Susquehanna Service Dogs is in good hands with Pam. Here’s to a bright future!

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