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IGDF Members E-Newsletter April 2024
Location: Smithtown, NY, USA
Job Type: Full time
Deadline: May 1, 2022

Job Description

Contact at organisation: Jennifer Thorne, GUIDE DOG FOUNDATION FOR THE BLIND/AMERICA’S VETDOGS

Phone: (203) 684-6797



The Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind is a national leader in training and placing guide and service dogs that provide independence, enhanced mobility, and companionship to people who are blind, have low vision, or who have other special needs. The organization serves clients from across the United States and Canada.

For over 75 years, the Guide Dog Foundation (GDF) has successfully worked with individuals who are deaf-blind and those with disabilities other than blindness or hearing impairment in its trademarked small classes and personalized instruction. In addition to its guide and service dog programs, the Foundation offers extensive education and outreach programs to broaden the public’s understanding of visual impairment, as well as access and disability rights.

Guide Dog Foundation created its sister organization America’s VetDogs in 2003 to help those who have served our country honorably live with dignity and independence. Veterans are supported whether they are visually impaired or have other special needs, through the use of assistance dogs. Both guide and service dogs enable veterans to reclaim their independence and maximize the connections to their families, communities and country. Today, America’s VetDogs represents the fastest growing segment of the organization’s operations.

Unique to Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind and America’s VetDogs is their role as the country’s largest entity to jointly develop and train both guide dogs and multiple types of service dogs. GDF/AVD trains and places service dogs for those with physical disabilities; guide dogs for individuals who are blind or have low vision; service dogs to help mitigate the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder; hearing dogs for those who have lost their hearing, and facility dogs as part of the rehabilitation process in military and VA hospitals.

While each organization is a separate 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization accredited by the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International, the two organizations share staff and other resources to ensure people with disabilities receive the best services possible.

Over the past few years, the organizations have experienced tremendous growth in revenue, brand recognition and demand for its services, having leveraged high-profile partnerships with the national media and professional sports teams. Further, America’s VetDogs was selected to work with former President George H.W. Bush by providing him with his service dog, Sully.

The organization has a combined operating budget in excess of $18M, and is supported by a staff of 140 and over 1,500 volunteers. For more information about GDF/AVD, visit their websites at: and


Working from the organization’s 10-acre campus in Smithtown (Long Island, NY) the Chief Program Officer (CPO) reports to the CEO and serves as a member of the executive leadership team and an active participant in making strategic decisions affecting the future growth, footprint and increased team placements for the Guide Dog Foundation and America’s VetDogs.

In partnership with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the CPO serves as the central figure directing the organization’s programmatic portfolio ensuring excellence, innovation and sustainability. S/he/they will be responsible for establishing strategic vision and principles that will inform short- and long-term goals for all canine programs and for monitoring the progress towards those efforts.

The CPO provides leadership, supervision, oversight, and management of the agency’s programs and services directly or through a program director or manager. The CPO is also responsible for ensuring that all programs and services remain in compliance with the accreditation standards of the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International.

In addition to the tactical elements of maintaining excellence and meeting the expectations of clients, the CPO will be tasked with thinking strategically. S/he/they will provide the creativity, authority, management and implementation necessary to ensure that the organization has the capacity, focus, partnerships and services to meet near-term and strategic objectives.

As part of the leadership team, the CPO will contribute to an agency culture of collaboration, partnering with other team members in the strengthening of existing programs and the creation of new initiatives.


  • Minimum of 7 years of experience leading a canine guide/service dog training program in a comparable environment, ideally at an organization providing support services for people with disabilities.
  • Demonstrated experience managing a high-performing team, including professional development and mentorship of staff.
  • Comprehensive working knowledge of program planning, organizational structure, budgeting, strategic planning, administrative operations, and fundraising.
  • Demonstrated ability to analyze and compile complex data for planning and reporting purposes.
  • Excellent communications skills, both written and oral, with the ability to represent the organization externally across a wide range of stakeholders and constituencies.
  • Strong relationship-builder with the ability to find common purpose, build consensus and strengthen collaboration among diverse stakeholders.
  • Ability to successfully navigate within a fast-paced, outcomes-driven environment.
  • Demonstrated commitment to the values of diversity, inclusiveness, and empowerment.

Guide Dog Foundation/America’s VetDogs is an equal opportunity employer. It is committed to ensuring equal opportunity to all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, national origin, ancestry, race, color, religion, creed, sex, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, age, gender identity, or expression.

How to Apply

For more information, to refer a candidate, or to apply in confidence, please contact:

David Hinsley Cheng, Managing Partner
Jennifer Thorne, Search Consultant
DHC Search
(203) 307-0120