Lee Buckingham (Chair)
General Manager, Guide Dog Services
Guide Dogs Queensland, Australia
Lee is an innovative leader who is passionate about operational strategies, project planning and people management with a strong focus on implementing processes to improve safety and culture in the workplace.
As the General Manager for Guide Dog Services, Lee currently provides leadership and direction across all Guide Dogs Queensland canine programs including Veterinary, Breeding, Puppy Raising, and Guide Dog Training – always with the focus on achieving the best outcomes for both clients and canines.
Lee has professional experience spanning over three continents in a variety of industries including not-for-profit, hospitality, facilities management, food production and resources.
Lee is skilled at managing teams to successful outcomes and developing strategies to improve on workplace culture and output. He has overseen the commencement of a number of projects at Guide Dogs including the introduction of new Digital education programs. Puppy programs with interactive portals for volunteers.
IGDF Board Member
Chief Executive Officer
Foundation Romande pour Chiens Guides d’Aveugles, Switzerland
Christine Baroni-Pretsch started her guide dog carrier in 1988 as a GDMI apprentice in the German speaking part of Switzerland. She is the founder and current CEO of Foundation Romande pour Chiens Guides d’Aveugles which currently has two training centres in the French and Italian speaking part of Switzerland.
Christine is particularly interested in breeding better guide dogs and founded the European Breeding Network in 2007.
Working together, sharing and learning from each other is something which is really important to her. She has been elected to the IGDF Board in 2004 and was active in various positions, including vice-chair until 2012. Currently she is an IGDF assessor and has previously served as the board-elected chair of the Accreditation Committee from 2012 until 2016.
Christine feels passionate about helping blind and partially sighted people to build effective partnerships with excellent guide dogs. Working with these teams is incredibly inspiring.
She was co-opted to the IGDF Board in October 2019, and appointed by the membership for a term of four years at the AGM in September 2020. Christine is Board Liaison for the Accreditation Committee, and Co-Chair of the Education Committee.
Senior Consultant for Special Projects
The Seeing Eye, USA
Lukas Franck is a COMS and a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor. He graduated from the State University of New York at New Paltz with a BA in Speech Pathology and Audiology. He began working at the Seeing Eye as an apprentice in 1978.
Leaving the Seeing Eye after eight years he attended Western Michigan University and earned a Masters in Orientation and Mobility in 1987. He re-joined the Seeing Eye’s staff shortly after completing his degree. In 1993 He became a ‘community instructor’, traveling full time across the United States and Canada working to enhance the working relationships between Seeing Eye graduates and their dogs. As a result of his experiences in this capacity he became interested in Environmental Access for people who are visually impaired.
He served as chair of the Environmental Access committee of Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) and is still active on that committee. He has worked with the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices to create language leading towards a United States standard Accessible Pedestrian Signal and has worked to create and enhance communication and understanding between Orientation and Mobility Specialists, people who are blind or visually impaired, and traffic engineers.
Lukas is a past winner of the Orientation and Mobility Division’s Sandy Kronick Distinguished Service Award, and the American Foundation for the Blind’s Access Award. He is proudest however of having twice received the Ethel Bender award from Guide Dog Users, Inc.
Currently Lukas is the Senior Consultant for Special Projects for the Seeing Eye. He is a former Assessor for the International Guide Dog Federation, and is also currently on the Development Committee.
Manager International Affairs
Japan Guide Dog Association (JGDA)
Yuko currently works as the Manager of the International Affairs Department at Kanagawa Training Centre of JGDA. She oversee all matters related to communicating with people and organisations abroad from breeding, to training, to fundraising, etc.
Yuko is from the 2nd graduating class from the school for guide dog trainers at JGDA and has been working at JGDA for the past 18 years.
Yuko is a Japanese national, but grew up in Abu Dhabi and went to university in the United States, majoring in Zoology and French.
Training and Dog Supply Manager
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, Australia
Melinda Bowden commenced her career with Guide Dogs working in kennels and then as a Therapy Dog Trainer whilst completing a B. Science (Biological Science). In 2007, Melinda completed a Masters of Special Education (Sensory Disability) and began work as an Orientation and Mobility Instructor and then later, as a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor with Guide Dogs NSW/ACT (Australia).
Melinda has a passion for continuous improvement and the education of trainees and the broader workforce. Melinda has been involved in the training of Guide Dog Trainers and Guide Dog Mobility Instructors for both Guide Dogs NSW/ACT and Guide Dogs Victoria. Melinda has also provided support internationally to emerging Orientation and Mobility Specialists, Guide Dog Trainers and Guide Dog Mobility Instructors through secondment roles as an educator or practitioner for various organisations, including South African Guide Dogs Association for the Blind, Guide Dogs Singapore and Hong Kong Guide Dogs Association. These opportunities to simultaneously learn and teach are what brings Melinda the most joy and satisfaction in her working life.
Melinda currently works as the Training and Dog Supply Manager at Guide Dogs NSW/ACT. Melinda is also a Knowledge Assessed Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CCPDT-KA) with the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.
Guiding Eyes for the Blind, USA