Mark Ruefenacht, Founder, President & Board Member
Professionally, Mr. Ruefenacht is involved with his 100+ year-old family business, Heusser Neweigh, one of the leading scientific calibration laboratories in the United States. He is an expert on Quality Assurance in Metrology, working with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and many of the most advanced scientific, pharmaceutical and forensic laboratories in the United States.
Mark is an insulin-dependent diabetic, with a family history of blindness. With this strong motivation, Mark began his work with assistance dogs in 1995, raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind of San Rafael, which effort he continues today. Mark has received specialized training from numerous professional dog organizations. In 2010, he was named one of the 100 most influential dog trainers in the United States, by Bark Magazine.
Gayle Bittner, Board Chair
Ms. Bittner is a long-time volunteer and supporter of Guide Dogs for the Blind and Dogs4Diabetics. She has raised puppies for Guide Dogs, is involved with the Guide Dogs Research and Development Puppy Raising Group, and is a member of the Contra Costa County Puppy Raisers Club. Ms. Bittner has provided valuable support to D4D through evaluating and fostering dogs in its specialized training program. She has also served as an adviser to D4D’s management and Board of Directors.
Gayle Bittner’s professional background involved defense litigation of workers compensation cases and subrogation in civil matters. As a partner with Schmit, Morris, Bittner & Schmit, she was involved in various aspects of firm management and business development.
Jeannie Hickey, Board Member
Ms. 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 and suitability, as well as fostering dogs and performing outreach to the general public and medical community. While Ms. Hickey has worked with D4D since its initial days as a research project, she recently became a client of D4D and is now paired with a wonderful black lab, Quinoa.
Connie McComb, Board Member
Ms. McComb is an attorney, of counsel with Morrison & Foerster. As the parent of a diabetic youth, she has been an active advocate of diabetic services with various organizations over the years. She has been involved with D4D since before her diabetic daughter was matched with Colton, a wonderful yellow Labrador Retriever. Her support for the organization crosses many skill sets including help in managing our annual recertification programs and other ongoing activities. She has engaged her employer to assist D4D with various pro-bono legal support services including helping develop our workplace and school accommodation training programs as well as in the development and review of contracts and other business needs.
Carissa Brader, Board Member
Ms Brader 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 D4D by a former D4D board member who knew that both companies shared a love of dogs, people, and the best quality in their industry. He felt that both organizations would benefit by working together to build D4D’s mission. The Lagunitas brand represents the best of its product and people. Ms. Brader’s participation on D4D’s board serves to help D4D build the same reputation in its goal to serve more people with the best service dogs in the world.
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 I Diabetes at age 22, he believes that he needs to lead by example, maintaining his own diabetes in the same fashion that he expects of 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.
Steve Berry, Board Member & Treasurer
Mr. Berry is Vice President and Relationship Manager with Presidio Bank in Walnut Creek. He has over a decade of experience in commercial banking, having worked with 2 other banks after his graduation from California State University, Sacramento. Steve was introduced to D4D in 2012, and was incredibly impressed by the science behind the training of the dogs and the organization’s mission and vision. After seeing D4D the benefit that D4D provides to its clients and their families, he wanted to get involved and help D4D reach out to more clients. 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.
Kevin Ficke, Board Advisor
Mr. Ficke is the Chief Executive Officer of Worldwise, Inc. a Pet Products company. Mr. Ficke became involved with D4D in its early days, helping to develop our logo and initial marketing information. As a parent of a Type I diabetic, he is familiar with impact of diabetes in all stages of its progress from childhood to adulthood. He has moved around the country in his work, but has always been supportive of D4D and continues to advise D4D and its board on business and marketing issues.
Karen Koh Thompson, MPH, DrPH, Board Advisor
Ms. Thompson is Associate Director of Development for 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 as served on the board and as Co-Chair of the Board for Berkeley Youth Alternatives. Ms. Thompson has worked with Children’s Hospital , Kaiser Permanente, Asian Pacific Pacific Psychological Services and Asian Health Services. She holds Masters in Public Health and Doctorate of Public Health from University of California at Berkeley.