Our Staff

Kyria Henry Whisenhunt

Kyria Henry Whisenhunt - Founder, Executive Director

Credentials:
Assistance Dog Trainer – Fully Credentialed Master Trainer
Chief ITT Instructor

Kyria Henry Whisenhunt was raised with her father’s German Shepherds, and successfully convinced her family to “cross-over” to the Golden Retriever breed, receiving her first puppy when she was 10 years old. Since that time, Kyria has been enveloped in the world of dog training, dabbling in disciplines such as advanced obedience, agility, rally, behavior modification, and scent work; but her true love and expertise is Assistance Dogs.

Terry Henry

Terry Henry - Deputy Executive Director Operations & Finance

Credentials:
Assistance Dog Trainer – Fully Credentialed Master Trainer
Chief ITT Instructor

Terry began training dogs over forty years ago. His early focus was with German Shepherds and advanced obedience training. In the late 1990s he was introduced to Golden Retrievers and quickly fell in love with the breed. Terry served in the Military from 1972 to 1977 and from 1979 to 1987. Since his discharge, Terry has battled the symptoms of Complex/Chronic Post Traumatic Stress (CPTS) and Moral Injury.

Cece McConnell

Cece McConnell - Deputy Executive Director Training Programs and Client Services

Credentials:
Assistance Dog Trainer – Fully Credentialed Master Trainer
Chief ITT Instructor

Cece and her husband, Nate share their home and their hearts Facility Dog, EMBER, Breeding Ambassador Dog, SHILOH, and McConnell Household Mascot, Granger.

Danielle Cockerham

Danielle Cockerham - Deputy Executive Director – Public Awareness & Information Technology

Credentials:
Assistance Dog Trainer – Public Access
Chief ITT Instructor

Danielle shares her life with her husband, Tommy, a remarkably hardworking young man, as well as their personal (pet) dog Samson and her Ambassador Dog, WATSON.

Carrie Coonce

Carrie Coonce - Director, Accounting

Credentials:
CPA

Carrie has always loved animals, none more so than her first dog she rescued as a young girl, named Toby.  Toby and Carrie had many excellent adventures traveling the country together. 

Samantha Cleary

Samantha Cleary - Director, Advancement & Engagement

Credentials:
Assistance Dog Trainer – Puppy Development & Public Access
ITT Instructor

Samantha is a vivacious young lady with energy to spare. As a former track & field college athlete, it is only fitting that she found a career that keeps her on the go.

Bailey Moore

Bailey Moore - Director, Special Programming

Credentials:
Assistance Dog Trainer – Puppy Development & Public Access
ITT Instructor

Bailey is a vibrant young woman who, like so many of us, started as a student in the UNCW SDTP, then a volunteer, and has recently joined paws4people team as a part-time staffer.

Kevin Kirk

Kevin Kirk - Director, ADDIE'S Way Immersion Client Acquisition & Training

Credentials:
ITT Instructor In-Training

Kevin was born and raised in the small New England town of Bethel, CT. He is a graduate of Southern Connecticut State University with a B.S. in Sociology and a minor in Criminal Justice. Inspired by the events of 9/11, Kevin followed his calling of becoming a United States Navy SEAL, which he accomplished in 2011.

Austin Forst

Austin Forst - Director, ADDIE'S Way Immersion Program

Credentials:
Assistance Dog Trainer – Puppy Development & Public Access
ITT Instructor In-Training

Austin is from Charlotte, NC and moved to Wilmington to pursue her bachelors in Psychology from UNCW. It was during the end of her sophomore year she began class 1 of the UNCW Assistance Dog Training Program.

Abi Kiradjieff

Abi Kiradjieff - paws4people/UNCW ADTP Program Manager

Credentials:
Assistance Dog Trainer – Puppy Development & Public Access
ITT Instructor In-Training

Abi discovered paws4people while she was attending school at UNCW. She enrolled in the UNCW Assistance Dog Training Program and quickly fell in love with the organization.

Nina Dunn

Nina Dunn - Executive Administrator

Credentials:

Nina Dunn was born and raised in Roxboro, N.C. She is a 2002 graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Exercise and Sport Science. In 2004, Nina moved to Wilmington to build both a life and a business with her husband, Greg.

Renee Johnson

Renee Johnson - Birthing & Whelping Master

Credentials:
Assistance Dog Handler

Renee grew up with parents who set a strong foundation for her to always push herself harder. After serving in the Navy, and raising two amazing children single handedly, Renee hit a bump in the road that would forever change her life.

Dawn Richard Cook

Dawn Richard Cook - MA, LPC Director of pMET

Credentials:
Assistance Dog Handler

Dawn and her husband live with Facility Dog, RUPP. She believes being the child of a military veteran had an impact on her life. Among other things it taught her one of the greatest lessons in life is to be open to and respectful of diversity.

Victoria O'Connor

Victoria O'Connor - pMET Case Manager

Credentials:
Assistance Dog Trainer – Public Access

Victoria became involved with paws4people through UNCW’s Assistance Dog Training Program (ADTP) and assisted in the placement of her first dog, TRASK, with a veteran client. She continued her education and received her master’s in psychology from UNCW with AIRLIE at her side. AIRLIE was a staple in the research lab and sparked her interest in applying assistance dogs to work with victims and child witnesses of domestic violence who experience post traumatic stress.

Tina Musselwhite

Tina Musselwhite - Director, ADDIE'S Way K9 Bakery

Credentials:

Tina grew up in Wilmington, moved to Raleigh, and most recently lived in Nashville, TN. While in Raleigh, Tina left the corporate world to pursue her passions for dogs and baking. 

Cathy Demeroto

Cathy Demeroto - Relationship Development Officer

Credentials:
Assistance Dog Handler

Cathy and her family wake up to demands of two sweet Golden Retrievers named LOONA and Daisy.

Randy Powers

Randy Powers - Relationship Development Officer

Credentials:
Assistance Dog Handler

Randy first discovered the paws4people organization/family in March 2016. In April 2016 he became a Volunteer Community Liaison for paws4people and shortly thereafter a client. Randy attends many fundraising events throughout the year, but his primary focus is during the Combined Federal Campaign (Sept – Dec), when his goal is to visit as many Government agency fund raising events as possible and to share the paws4vets mission.

Our Client Advocates:

Carol Mitchell

Carol Mitchell - Client Advocate

Credentials:
Assistance Dog Handler

Carol is a dedicated mother of two adult sons, Rob and Jeff. She enjoys spending her time with her boys and her husband, Doug, of 47 years. Carol joined paws4people through paws4vets. She credits paws4vets for saving her son’s life. She says, “There is no way to adequately thank someone for the gift of your child’s life.”

Susan Parker

Susan Parker - Client Advocate

Credentials:
Assistance Dog Handler

Originally from Pennsylvania, Susan always enjoyed being around dogs and had numerous pets growing up. In 1986, after high school, she moved to Northern Virginia with her family.

Leslie Fuller

Leslie Fuller - Client Advocate

Credentials:
Assistance Dog Handler

Leslie and her two children live in Bucks County Pennsylvania. She grew up loving animals, but had the most special bonds with horses and dogs. Leslie was so passionate about animals that she even took on the challenge of training Seeing Eye Dogs through 4-H Program in Morristown, New Jersey.

Janet Wall

Janet Wall - Client Advocate

Credentials:
Assistance Dog Handler

Janet is a mother of two very special young boys. She thrives on her children and her desire to help others.

Ashley Currin

Ashley Currin - Client Advocate

Credentials:
Assistance Dog Handler

Ashley is a wife and mother above all things. She lives every day for her children. They motivate her and make her want to be her best self.

Sessalie Hunter

Sessalie Hunter - Client Advocate

Credentials:
Assistance Dog Handler

Sessalie began her journey with paws4people in 2014, when she began taking the ADTP classes at UNCW during her undergraduate studies. She thought it was intriguing to take a class about assistance dogs, but what she found was even greater.

Jennifer Keefover

Jennifer Keefover - Client Advocate

Credentials:
Assistance Dog Handler

Jennifer is first and foremost a proud and dedicated wife and mother. She and her husband Dave’s greatest joys are their three adult children Abby, Alex, and Haley. 

Kevin Cerroni

Kevin Cerroni - Client Advocate

Credentials:
Assistance Dog Handler

Kevin was born and raised just outside of Boston, Massachusetts and recently settled down in the beautiful state of Maine (although he kept the accent). Kevin is a loving father, devoted husband, and can always be found with his loyal service dog, SOPHIA, by his side. Voted 'Class Clown' in highschool, you can always find Kevin goofing around and making people laugh. 

Shannon Parker

Shannon Parker - Client Advocate

Credentials:
Assistance Dog Handler

Shannon is from Derwood, MD and currently resides with her husband, Garrett, in Charleston, SC. She grew up loving dogs, always becoming fast friends with each dog she met; one even because depressed after she left because he missed her so much. She is a graduate of Delaware Valley College [now university] with a B.A. in Counseling Psychology, with one year of work volunteering to care for the campus beagles and 3 years as a Resident Assistance 'caring' for the students living on campus. 

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