Meet the board at Deafinitely Dogs! Every member of our board is a dog lover who believes in the power of dogs to improve our lives. Each person brings a unique set of skills and experience to make our organization better.
The board at Deafinitely Dogs! includes our president, director of operations, director of finance, secretary, and three board members.
Lorette Vanourny CPDT-KA
Lorette Vanourny is a co-founder of Deafinitely Dogs! and is the director of operations and lead trainer. She’s also the breeding coordinator for our golden retrievers. She’s passionate about helping people live more independent lives through the help of a highly trained canine partner. She is also dedicated to producing long-lived, healthy, and happy working dogs. Lorette has been involved with breeding her own mastiffs and French bulldogs. She carefully researches pedigrees for health, temperament, and longevity. Lorette has also taught obedience classes as well as worked on-one-on with people and their pets.
Lorette is a native of Cedar Rapids—in fact, Lorette’s entire family as well as her husband’s are all native to Iowa and still reside there. Lorette has had an extreme love for dogs as far back as she can remember. Her first dog as a child was a Spitz named Sassy. Sassy was exactly that, a bit of a sassy girl. Who would have guessed that owning a strong-willed little fluff ball would have started Lorette on a path of training? But Sassy certainly did.
Lorette’s husband Todd also shares her love for dogs. They have one adult son, Jake, who grew up with dogs as siblings. They currently share their home with two French bulldogs, a mastiff, and a very old whippet. In her spare time, she loves to ride her horse, Dante. She also enjoys hiking, kayaking, boating, and fishing. Lorette volunteers for Quad City Greyhound Adoption and is a member of the Lions Club.
Sherry Steine Ross
Sherry Steine Ross is a co-founder of Deafinitely Dogs and serves as the director of finance, the foundation’s treasurer, and corporate secretary. She provides leadership and strategic direction for all financial and operational functions and directly oversees finance, accounting, human resources, and facilities.
In addition to co-founding Deafinitely Dogs!, Sherry owns and operates Mobility Wireless and Data, LLC. She has run a successful business since 2002. She is responsible for a range of finance and management roles. Sherry has been the driving force in the formation, growth, marketing, recruitment, customer relations, and management since the inception of the company.
Throughout the years, Sherry has focused all of her volunteerism and donations toward her two passions; veterans and animals. Sherry always stated that when she won the lottery, she would start a non-profit assistance dog organization. Though she never won the lottery, she is passionate about using her business skills and expertise to nurture and support Deafinitely Dogs!.
Sherry holds a bachelor’s degree from Mount Mercy University in psychology and business, and a MBA from the University of Iowa. She is married to Dr. Michael Ross and shares her home with two schipperke mixes, Echo and Breeze, and one little rescue Chihuahua, Deacon.
Erin Soteco serves as president of the board for Deafinitely Dogs!. She’s an administrative assistant with UnityPoint Health St. Luke’s Hospital. As president, Erin coordinates schedules, manages meeting preparations, and co-leads a team providing all aspects of associate satisfaction, including partnerships with education and training.
Erin has an AAS degree combined with both a management degree and human resources degree. She has two children, one of whom works for UnityPoint health as a supervisor and the other working on his Ph.D. in Physics at Johns Hopkins University Maryland.
Erin is well versed regarding chronic disease and healthcare, having spent 25 years within the hospital setting. She has worked in customer service and more recently within a clinical setting. This has shown her the importance of chronic disease management and support.
Erin is a strong advocate for supportive health initiatives. Erin is passionate about Deafinitely Dogs! and its opportunities to help people live more independent lives. Erin’s knowledge of healthcare allows her to provide consulting services to our organization as well as promote and market Deafinitely Dogs!. Erin lives with one adorable senior dog, a schnauzer named Corkey.
Susan Tyrrell is a board member for Deafinitely Dogs!. She’s the founder and director of Community Hands, Iowa’s only direct supported living service provider. Susan’s passions are people, access, and equality. Susan is also the proprietor of Hands Up Communications, a leading provider of communication accessibility. With her background and experience in the field of deafness, supporting Deafinitely Dogs! is a perfect fit.
Since 1995, Susan has served Eastern Iowa as a leader in the field of deafness and is at the heart of reforming the look of interpreting services in Eastern Iowa. Susan has served on boards including: Kirkwood Community College Advisory Board Committee, Iowa State Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf Board, Scott Community College Advisory Board, Deaf Services Commission of Iowa Interpreter Work Group, National Registry of the Deaf Conference Committee Member, Deaf Iowans Against Abuse Advisory Board Member, Executive Director of Community Hands non-profit, and currently sits on the Iowa Sign Language Interpreters and Transliterators Licensure Board.
Deafinitely Dogs! vision of training and placing assistance dogs to enhance community access, awareness, and loyal canine relationships was a natural collaboration and passion for Susan. Susan was recently honored by the Deaf Community. Her passion to provide direction and leadership to Deafinitely Dogs!, an organization which she views as necessary, timely, and community-driven. She brings knowledge and enthusiasm to our board.
Susan is married to Kevin, they have four adult children and two grandchildren. They have one rescue dog named Lila.
Janet Teahen is a board member for Deafinitely Dogs!. She’s a senior commodity manager at Rockwell Collins. Prior to joining Rockwell, Janet enjoyed 10 years as executive director of the Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival, and spent 18 years in the travel and tourism industry. So, as you can surely imagine, Janet loves traveling and planning fun events.
Janet is married to Peter, and between them, they have nine children and 13 grandchildren. Their youngest son is leaving the nest to attend the University of Northern Iowa working towards a major in marketing management and a minor in entrepreneurial studies. Janet received her business administration and HR management degree from Mount Mercy University. She also serves on the Alumni Board at Mount Mercy.
Janet has had a love for animals and has had a pet in her life ever since she can remember, including hamsters, rabbits, cats, dogs, horses, and a bird. She believes that animals have a special intuition that enhances all our lives. She and Peter recently welcomed Bentley, a border doodle puppy, into their lives and enjoy watching him grow and learn. Bentley is in training to become a facility dog. She gladly proclaims, “Bentley is the light of our lives, he teaches us something new every day!”
Jan Cleiland is a board member for Deafinitely Dogs. She’s a recovered fiber manager for Kapstone Paper and Packaging in Longview, Washington. She has spent most of her career in the recycling side of the paper industry, in fact, she was the mill supply manager for the Cedar River paper mill in Cedar Rapids at one time. She has served as the chairperson of the American Forest and Paper Association Recovered Fiber Sector and continues to be an active board member. She received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama.
Jan’s diverse business experience combined with her love of dogs makes her a perfect fit for service on our board. She has volunteered with the Oregon Humane Society and also supports Growing Gardens, a non-profit whose mission is to reduce hunger and transform lives through the experience of gardening and growing one’s own food. Jan is passionate about dogs and their welfare and food security.
Jan is a native of Georgia and resides in Portland, Oregon, with her soul dog, Bodhi, a 16-year old cocker spaniel. Jan has one daughter and two granddaughters. When she’s not snuggling with Bodhi (or any other dog who needs love), she likes to relax with a good book, search for treasures at auctions, and enjoy all the Portland area has to offer.