PALS Board of Directors

Nancy Pierson with Alexis

Founder, President & Chief Executive Officer

Nancy and her husband, John, share their Forestville, California home with their son, Nancy’s mother, six adult dogs and many puppies-in-training.

By founding Paws As Loving Support (PALS) Assistance Dogs, Nancy has combined her passion for assistance dogs, children, social, therapy, reading and comfort dogs with the community. Nancy has been training pet, service, facility, social, therapy, reading and comfort dogs since 1992. She has both volunteered and worked for service dog organizations for approximately 20 years.

Nancy’s dog training skills include:

  • in-home behavioral consultations
  • instructing puppies through adult obedience and fun agility classes
  • being an on-set trainer for movies, commercials and print ads
  • Puppy Raiser Instructor for two service dog organizations
  • Canine Good Citizen Evaluator for the American Kennel Club
  • K-9 Support Program Manager and Social Therapy Dog Instructor at Bergin University of Canine Studies
  • Breeding, training and placing service, facility, social, therapy, reading and comfort dogs within the community.

Nancy graduated from the Assistance Dog Institute’s service dog training summer seminar in 2000. She continues to attend workshops, seminars and conferences to increase her skills and knowledge in the ever-changing fields of autism and dog training methods.

Nancy enjoys spending as much time as possible with her six grandchildren, walking on the beach with her husband and her dogs.


Robert Collins with Bob


Robert lives in Santa Rosa, California with his wife, Cheryl; daughter, Carolyn; and social therapy and comfort dog, Seddy. Over the past nine years Robert and his family have been active volunteers and puppy raisers for two local service dog organizations. Robert served on the Menlo Park School District Board of Education for five years.

Robert has over 25 years of accounting, finance and administration experience. During his career, he has acted as Controller, Chief Financial Officer and Accountant for Nordby Construction. He has extensive experience in managing banking relationships, financial forecasting, budgeting and cash management.

Robert earned a B.A. in Political Science from UC Berkeley and an M.B.A. in Business Administration with Finance emphasis from Santa Clara University.

Among his activities, Robert enjoys participating in mid- and long-distance triathlons with his wife. They have been competing for 16 years.

Karen Sandvick with Star

Karen S.JPG


Karen lives in Santa Rosa with her husband, Rich and her Toy Pomeranian Star. Karen has lived and worked in Sonoma County since 1968.  She has a daughter, Tanya, who also lives in Sonoma County with her husband and five children.

Karen started volunteering with Bandit, her first Pomeranian in 2005 after completing the ADI Social, Therapy, Reading and Comfort classes. Karen helped with communicating to ADI social volunteers and is currently helping PALS volunteers with events, fundraiser and social, therapy classes.  When Bandit retired to stay home, Star stepped up and has taken Bandit's place visiting care homes and reading at local libraries. 

Karen retired from Hewlett-Packard/Agilent Technologies after 25 years of employment. Karen started her career with HP in accounting, and then moved into the special handling department, order processing and marketing. Karen’s experience, expertise and organizational skills with computers are a great asset for PALS.

Karen has many hobbies including photography, travel, crafts, crocheting, bead work, spending time with her daughter, her five grandchildren and her best friend Star.


Kathy Anderson with Anderson

Director, Service Dog Trainer & Breeder

Kathy, her husband, Eric and two children, Tyler and Alexis live in Peyton, Colorado with their seven dogs and three horses.

Kathy has worked at Pikes Peak Veterinary Hospital in Colorado Springs since 2001. In addition to her hospital responsibilities, in 2008, Kathy accepted the Director of Training and Contract Trainer position with Noelle’s Dogs Four Hope training service dogs to assist people with seizure disorders.

Prior to moving to Colorado, Kathy volunteered for Canine Companions for Independence as a puppy raiser and breeder caretaker. She raised three puppies – Ulrica became a breeder, Lincoln graduated as a service dog and the change-of-career dog, Peyton, found her calling as a social, therapy, reading and comfort dog. Kathy helped Ulrica whelp three litters (32 puppies) for CCI.

Kathy breeds Golden Retrievers and Boxers. Seven of her Goldens have been placed with children as service dogs. One of her puppies, Sally, has become PALS’ foundation breeder. Sally blessed us with twelve beautiful puppies in November 2009. All are in training to be service dogs for children with autism or facility dogs with special education professionals.

Kathy’s hobbies are doing fun activities with her children, riding her horse, camping and enjoying the outdoors.

Michelle Chastain with Austin Power and Nadia

Director, Speech-Language Pathologist M.A., CCC-SLP

Michelle lives in Santa Rosa, California with her son, Tobias, and Paws As Loving Support (PALS) facility dogs, Austin Powers and Princess Nadia. She has been an active volunteer and puppy raiser for Paws As Loving Support for the past three years. Austin and Michelle  graduated on September 11, 2011 as an Assistance Dog Facility Dog Team. Michelle also received the Puppy Raiser of the Year Award for 2011.  Nadia and Michelle graduated on October 20, 2012 as an Assistance Dog Facility Dog Team.  Both Austin and Nadia work at The Swain Center. 

Michelle is a Speech-Language Pathologist who has worked at The Swain Center since 2001. In addition to her clinical duties, in 2011, Michelle accepted the position of Clinical Supervisor. She also runs Social Thinking (R) groups for children on the autism spectrum   Michelle was recently nominated KZST’s Home Town  as Hero for February 2012. The following excerpt was submitted by the Krawchuk family of Sonoma County.

I love you.

For every parent, there is no sweeter sound than hearing their child speak these words for the first time. Unfortunately, autism can delay that special moment. Michelle Chastain, a speech-language pathologist at the Swain Center has helped make that dream come true for the Krawchuk family of Santa Rosa. With Michelle’s love and dedication, their son Aidan has emerged from a world of silence… to say those three priceless words.

KZST now salutes Michelle Chastain for making a difference, right here, in Sonoma County. Together with the Exchange Bank, we honor her by placing her name onto our honor roll of KZST Hometown Heroes.  


Michelle earned a B.A. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from California State University, Fresno in 1994 and then her M.A. in Communicative Sciences and disorders from California State University, Fresno in 1997. She holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association and is licensed by the California Board of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology.

For the past year, Michelle, Austin and Nadia have been participating in a new sport called Canine Nose Work.  On February 10, 2013 Austin passed his Oder Recognition Test (ORT) for Birch and Anise.  He is currently working on his Nose Work 1 Title.  Nadia is currently working towards passing her ORT for Birch. 

Michelle enjoys spending time with her son and Austin Powers and Princess Nadia. She enjoys scrapbooking, reading, gardening, canning, pickling, hiking and camping. She also collects sand from around the world, vintage keys, and coins.


Paul Sinclair

Director of Development


Paul lives in Scotts Valley, California with his wife Andrea, two sons and a daughter.  Paul discovered PALS when he and his wife Andrea were searching for an assistance dog for their son, Ryder.  Witnessing the natural connection between these special animals and the children they serve inspired Paul’s passion to help advance and support the PALS mission. 

For over 20 years, Paul has led Sales and Business Development functions at technology firms, creating significant commercial relationships, and impactful business outcomes. Paul has held leadership roles in companies ranging from Silicon Valley-based startups to large multinational corporations such as Nokia, Motorola, RingCentral, and others.  Currently, Paul heads a Cloud Computing and Infrastructure Sales function at Oracle Corporation.  Paul has also held various technology sales consulting and business advisory positions, and has provided expert witness services for business-related litigation.  Paul holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland.

Suzel Bozada-Deas

Grant researcher and writer