The GO TEAM Board of Directors is a group of non-paid volunteers from a wide range of backgrounds. What do we share in common? We are all experienced therapy dog handlers and are all committed to supporting GO TEAM members around the country. To contact the Board please Click Me:
Melissa Simko – President
Melissa is a native from Ohio. She was an SAP ERP consultant and currently owns multiple Sit Means Sit franchises. Her passion for working with dogs began at a very early age, working alongside her father. Melissa is an AKC Evaluator. Her hobbies include Conformation, Dock Diving, Rally and Agility. Her devotion is in tracking missing canines, with her dogs. Together, they have brought home numerous lost dogs. Melissa was an independent Therapy Dog Handler for many years and her passion is Alzheimer units and Hospice. She shares her home with Loki, FaRook and FarZen, which are all Leonbergers. Ekko is a Long Haired Shepherd, with whom she trained and tested for the GO TEAM in 2016. She also has a Belgian Malinois named Taboo. It may not be dog related, but it truly cannot go unnoticed for Melissa’s love with animals. She is loved by a turtle (Cornelius), which was rehabilitated, yet can never be released due to the chronic injury. Cornelius has been welcomed into Melissa’s home for over 21 years and has its own exhibit, which is over 6 foot long, including a waterfall. Melissa also has two Macaws that were in need of a forever home. Kiwi is a 32 year old Green Wing and Teeko, a Blue and Gold, which is handicapped and 6 years of age. Melissa continuously expands her dog training knowledge and is eager to help the GO TEAM flourish.
Kendra Amidon-Sanford – Vice-President
Kendra’s journey to the GO Team comes from her passion to give back and serve others. She is a native of Colorado, who, in 1990 earned a BA in Secondary Education from Adams State College. In 2015 she relocated to California when she had the opportunity to begin new employment. Kendra is a dog lover who has had many special dogs throughout her life. In 2008 she adopted Hope, a 9-month-old beagle who came into her life and changed everything. Hope and Kendra began basic training in 2009, and in 2013 Hope became a GO Team dog. Through Hope’s training, Kendra has learned that the way dogs assimilate information is parallel to the way humans learn. Professionally, Kendra is a strong leader with 23 years of diversified learning and development experience that includes people management, training delivery, eLearning, and site start up. She is skillful in building high performing teams and developing/ maintaining strong partnerships with key stakeholders. Outside of work and serving as Vice President of the Board of Directors, Kendra wears many hats for the GO Team organization. She handles 2 GO Team dogs (Hope and Harmony); Coordinates GO Team events for the SO Cal Coastal region; and is an AKC Evaluator.
Heather Becker – Treasurer
Dr. Heather Becker is a Nebraska native. She earned a B.S. in Veterinary Science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and earned a D.V.M. from Kansas State University. She is currently employed full time as an associate emergency veterinarian at Animal ER Care, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In addition, she is co-owner of Animal Emergency Medical Training, which provides small animal first aid and CPR training to firefighters, first responders, police K9 units, search and rescue teams, dog boarding facilities, and pet owners (her Go Team dog Mercy is a co-trainer; she is the demonstration dog for taking vital signs and practicing bandage placement!) Heather and Mercy love to do everything together. Mercy is a golden retriever/beagle mix. Despite the sassiness and stubbornness of her beagle personality, she passed her Canine Good Citizen test (much to the shock and awe of her owner) in 2017 and then completed a therapy dog training course. She is a gentle, loving dog thanks to her golden retriever personality, and she befriends strangers everywhere they go. These traits have made her a natural therapy dog. They joined The Go Team in 2018 and both have found the volunteer work extremely rewarding. In addition to the high demand for scheduled Go Team events in the Colorado region, Mercy is also a Paws to Read volunteer at local libraries. When not working or volunteering, they can be found hiking in the mountains, stand up paddleboarding together, visiting one of Colorado’s numerous microbreweries, or traveling to one of the many beautiful destinations in Colorado. Heather appreciates the opportunity to donate her time and expertise to the Board to support The Go Team’s Mission.
Brittany Bobak – Secretary
Brittany graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Science in business administration, with a concentration in sports management. Her schooling led her to work in the Olympic Movement. While working at USA Hockey, she led the Club Excellence program. Club Excellence is an online platform designed to provide youth hockey organizations with tools and resources to govern their organization while providing athletes with age-appropriate programming. She now works to support to the strategic initiatives of the US Olympic Committee. Brittany was introduced to the Go Team while training her dog Stinson, an eighty-five pound pointer mix who loves to play Frisbee and go swimming. When not involved with work and volunteering, Brittany enjoys gardening and traveling.
Tim Abenroth – Director
Tim provides a varied background and useful expertise to the GO TEAM board. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Pastoral Ministries and Bible and Theology from Nazarene Bible College in 2017. He is currently pursing a Masters program in counseling through Colorado Christian University. Of particular help to GO TEAM is his experience in IT. Tim has over 20 years in the field and has owned his own computer consulting business since 2012. He is the person to thank for the wonderful new GO TEAM website. He will continue to work on it over the coming months as we add additional features to support our GO TEAM members. In addition to his IT experience, Tim brings significant nonprofit board experience to GO TEAM. His experience and “counseling” background make him an invaluable team member during board meetings. Tim was one of the very first members to undertake and pass GO TEAM training with his dog, Sissy, back in 2014. Although he is busy with GO TEAM volunteering, masters’ studies, and planning for his upcoming wedding, Tim committed to serving on the board of directors because he wants to support and expand GO TEAM training of dog/handler teams so they can impact the communities where they volunteer.
Debbie Griffin – Director
Debbie is a native of Minnesota (Minneapolis). She became a Colorado transplant when she attended University of Denver, earning a BA in Elementary Education. Debbie subsequently earned a Masters in Computer Education from Lesley University. She taught K-6 (primarily 5th and 6th grades) for 33 years. Debbie has been involved with figure skating for 56 years. For the last 40 years, she has been a member of the Broadmoor Skating Club and Denver FSC. She served as treasurer of the latter. Debbie has volunteered nationwide as a Senior/Gold/Sectional judge for singles, dance and pairs tests and competitions. Debbie and her husband, Rich, are both seasoned GO TEAM members, attending one of the first GO TEAM trainings in 2014. Their Golden-doodle, Brinkley, is a regular therapy dog at Paws to Read events and a local psychiatric hospital. And, of course, he does a lot of work at ice rinks, helping young skaters to calm nerves as they wait for skating tests or competitions. Debbie is eager to help the new GO TEAM nonprofit continue the good work of its predecessor. (Debbie served as Board Vice President, Apr 2018-Mar 2019)
Claudine Shank – Director
Claudine’s fondness for dogs resides at the core of her DNA. Her two Labrador Retrievers joined her family when her children were very small. To ensure a safe and healthy relationship between the children and the Labradors, aka, “the boys”, Claudine understood the importance of investing in training and discipline, and she went “all in” on the boys. Her investment paid unexpected dividends and further fueled her passion of working with dogs to make meaningful contributions to the community. Both of her Labradors are GO TEAM members. As such, Claudine has the distinct honor of claiming that active community contributions are a family affair! Originally from the Midwest, Claudine Shank is a decades long Colorado resident with a BS in Nursing and an MS in Nurse Anesthetist; she holds a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) credential, and uses her education and experience to give back to her community. Claudine is an adventurous outdoors enthusiast that enjoys multiple activities, including: snowboarding, hiking, cycling, camping and traveling. She fosters the same sense of exploration, drive, and passion in her children; whom are also leading engaging lives as active athletes and contributing members of the community. Along with working as a CRNA, Claudine holds a variety of additional roles and responsibilities as well. She is Girl Scout Troop Leader; a Team Manager for a competitive soccer team; a school volunteer; and ,of course, she spends the rest of her volunteer time with the GO TEAM.