Our board is made up of volunteers, passionate about helping our clients live their best lives. Each brings their unique talents to our team, together helping move the organization’s mission, vision, and financial stability forward.
Andrea Maney became involved with TESSD as a client in 2017 when her daughter was partnered with a psychiatric service dog, Brody. Watching how they work together and meeting others with similar experiences drives her passion for TESSD’s mission from the client’s perspective. Andrea has an extensive background in IT and has already made a significant contribution by updating and managing our website, extending our social media following, and streamlining our application process. She has many years of volunteering and supporting non-profits such as Scouts and a local dog & cat rescue, Pack Leaders Rescue. She lives with her two kids, two cats, and Brody, the Exceptional Sidekick, in Vernon, CT.
Tara Conway joins the board with more than 20 years of experience in public relations, including business launches, fundraising, marketing, corporate communication, and crisis management.  She’s the mother of three children and currently resides in Fairfield , CT. Tara has been involved in The Exceptional Sidekick since 2018, when her teenage daughter began owner-training her own service dog under the guidance of Abby Hill.  This process was life-changing for her family and allowed her daughter to eventually return to school and a productive lifestyle.
Christine Dangers brings many years of experience in office management to our Board. She currently works full-time as a Medical Assistance, is a doula labor support for postpartum moms and newborns, and previously published her own Holistic Magazine. You may recognize her as the voice behind the Exceptional Pet or the handler of Chip one of our Therapy Dogs. She rescued Chip and knew he was something special as she went through all of the training opportunities at The Exceptional Pet prior to her position there. They are quite the team as they volunteer at their local library, skateboard, and learn tricks to share and bring joy to others. Christine loves spending time with her two daughters and is excited to begin her new role as a grandmother!
Mirelle Norma  brings more than 15 years of experience in corporate project management, including managing timelines and multimillion-dollar budgets. She found TESSD while searching for assistance to train her dog as a service dog for her son.  She is the mother of two boys who have inspired her to fiercely to advocate for neurodivergent children, especially autistic members of our community.
Mirelle and Brucie
Pia Ledina has been an avid supporter since The Exceptional Sidekick was just a brilliant idea.  After serving as a teacher/puppy raiser for our very first littler of Service Dogs (and more than a few after that!), she (and her family) saw the incredible benefits of therapy and service dogs firsthand; she needed to share in our mission directly by joining the Board. Pia is a Library Media Specialist at Western Middle School in Greenwich, CT, a “book lady” who also finds time to play with her family and rescue dogs & cats. Pia brings more than 25 years of passion and experience in teaching, marketing, writing, and editing to the team…along with an overwhelming love for dogs to share with all!
Pia Ledina, Board Member at The Exceptional Sidekick
Christina Lindley is a  humble jack-of-all-trades, deftly balancing her role as Vice President of Business Development for a higher education company while reminiscing about her past life as an improv comedian in Hollywood. An underdog in the poker scene, she managed to rake in $1.85 million, proving that even a small fish can make waves in a big pond. As a Middle Tennessee State University graduate, she’s collaborated with businesses of all sizes, like Zappos, BSN, MTV, Goldman Sachs, Bodybuilding.com, and American Casino Entertainment. With heart and humor, she champions inclusivity and helps youngsters harness the power of their furry sidekicks to live their best lives.
Amber Rideout, CPDT-KA, Licensed Family Paws Educator with over 20 years of experience in the insurance industry, with a focus on accounting and operations. Her journey into the pet industry began in 2020 as she sought solutions for her pup’s anxiety issues. Believing in a holistic balance between cognitive skills and emotional health, she became an Animal Reiki Practitioner.  Amber also assists animal non-profits with insurance placement and risk management consulting to reduce bite incidents and enhance volunteer and adopter education on animal body language and communication. She lives in St. Augustine, FL, with her husband, three rescue pups, and two children.
Rachel Stansel joins our board with an impressive background, holding a PhD in Genetics and Molecular Biology from UNC Chapel Hill. Rachel is currently the President/Owner of Environics Inc., and despite her busy career, she also balances being a dedicated wife and mother of two. Rachel is a dedicated volunteer, serving as a member of the Board of Directors for CBIA, and is a volunteer with Our Companions Animal Rescue. With her extensive education, impressive professional experience, and commitment to her community, we welcome Rachel as an asset to our organization.