Board of Directors

Mark Ruefenacht, Founder, President & Board Member

Professionally, Mark is involved with his century-old family business, Heusser Neweigh, one of the leading scientific calibration laboratories in the United States. He is an expert in Quality Assurance in Metrology and works with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). As a pioneer of Medical-Alert Service Dogs for diabetics, Mark continues to champion D4D’s high training standards by speaking at international conferences and helping other organizations with their training. In 2017, Mark and the D4D team assisted Righteous Pups Australia with their training of Medical-Alert Service Dogs.

Jeannie Hickey, Co-founder & Board Member

Jeannie Hickey RN, CDE, BSN, is a registered nurse and diabetes educator with Kaiser Permanente. She is an active volunteer with D4D, assisting in evaluating client applications as well as fostering dogs and performing outreach to the general public and medical community. Jeannie has worked with D4D since its initial days as a research project.

Connie McComb, Board Chair

Connie is an attorney of counsel with Morrison & Foerster and the current interim Board Chair. As the parent of a diabetic, she is an active advocate of diabetic services. Connie has been involved with D4D since before her daughter was matched with Colton, an amazing yellow Labrador retriever. She also supports us by engaging her employer to assist D4D with various pro-bono legal support services, including the development of our workplace and school accommodation training programs as well as the reviews of contracts and other business needs.

Steve Berry, Board Member & Treasurer

Steve is the Vice President, Commercial Banker with First Foundation Bank and has over a decade of experience in commercial banking. Steve was introduced to D4D in 2012 and was incredibly impressed by the science behind the training and the organization’s mission. After seeing the immense benefits that D4D provides for its clients and their families, Steve wanted to get involved and help D4D reach more members of the community. He was elected a member of the Board and Treasurer in 2015. He also serves as Treasurer of the Diablo View Rotary Club of Walnut Creek.

Carissa Brader, Board Member

Carissa is co-founder of the Lagunitas Brewing Company with her husband, Tony Magee. Lagunitas is the fastest growing craft brewer in the United States and recently entered into a joint partnership with Heineken to distribute their beer around the world. She and her husband were introduced to us by a former D4D Board Member, who recognized our mutual love of dogs, people, and quality. The Lagunitas brand represents the best of its products and people, and Carissa’s participation on D4D’s Board supports our reputation for providing the best service dogs in the world.

Ralph Hendrix, Board Member

Ralph has generously volunteered with D4D since his retirement in 2006, serving in many roles for the organization. He is a member of our Board of Directors, was Vice President, and most recently Executive Director before assuming the responsibility of Director of Finance. In his career, Ralph served as a regulator and banker for the US Treasury Department and retired from the Zions Bancorporation as Senior Vice President & Chief Credit Examiner.

Richard Tong, Board Member

Richard is Executive Vice President and East Bay Market President at Presidio Bank. With over 30 years of experience, Richard is well-known in the East Bay community for building strong business relationships and growing companies’ financial futures. Since 2015, Richard and his wife Jennifer have volunteered as Canine Training Partners for D4D, playing a vital role in creating our life-saving partnerships. A passionate volunteer, Richard also serves on the Board for Rebuilding Together Oakland | East Bay and the Walnut Creek Library Foundation.

Steve Wolf, MD, Board Member

Dr. Wolf is a family physician with the Sutter Medical Group of the Redwoods in Santa Rosa as well as an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at UCSF. Diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 22, Steve believes that he needs to lead by example, managing his own diabetes with the same care that he advocates for his patients. He serves on the Board of the Children’s Diabetes Foundation of the North Bay and runs their Teen Diabetic Support Group. He is a client of D4D and is teamed with a handsome Lab named Kermit.

Pete Zipkin, Board Member

Pete is currently the business investor and co-owner of Elegant Flooring Design Center. He has over 25 years of experience in rapid growth management for small, medium, and large-sized businesses, specializing in turnaround for Fortune 1000™ companies. Pete was introduced to D4D by a good friend and former Board Member, Jessica Chang.

Board of Advisors

Gayle Bittner, Board Advisor

Gayle is a long-time volunteer and supporter of GDB and D4D. For D4D, Gayle has provided valuable support by evaluating and fostering dogs in our specialized training program. She has also served as an adviser to D4D’s management and Board of Directors. Gayle’s professional background was in defense litigation of workers’ compensation cases and subrogation in civil matters. As a partner with Schmit, Morris, Bittner & Schmit, she was also involved in various aspects of firm management and business development.

Kevin Fick, Board Advisor

Kevin is the Chief Executive Officer of Worldwise, Inc., a leader in eco-friendly pet products. Kevin became involved with D4D in its early days, helping to develop our logo and initial marketing information. As a parent of a Type 1 Diabetic, he is familiar with the impact of diabetes as it progresses from childhood to adulthood. Though Kevin has moved around the country for his work, he remains supportive of D4D and advises our board on business and marketing issues.

Karen Koh Thompson, MPH, DrPH, Board Advisor

Karen is Associate Director of Development for Wayfinder Family Services, formerly known as Junior Blind of America, a foundation devoted to assisting vision-impaired youth and babies. She has been involved with D4D for several years and provides counsel and assistance in development activities. She has served as co-chair and Board Member for Berkeley Youth Alternatives, and Karen has also worked with Children’s Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, Asian Pacific Pacific Psychological Services, and Asian Health Services.