Members of our board of directors are volunteers passionate about helping our clients with psychiatric disabilities live the best life they can. 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 experience in public relations including business launches, fund raising, 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 Capozza 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 advocate for neurodivergent children, especially autistic members of our community.

Mirelle and Brucie

Jennifer Theriault, LCSW is a strong advocate for those that cannot advocate for themselves. As a clinical social worker, she has seen firsthand the isolation that can occur when mental health issues limit people’s lives. Her work allows her to understand the clinical implications for adolescents and young adults living with mental illness and to see the difference in the quality of their lives when they can be fully engaged in the world with a trusted exceptional sidekick by their side!

Pia Ladina has been involved in various ways since TES was initially founded. After finding her own personal benefit from therapy dogs, she wanted to support this organization and share that mission. Pia is the owner & book lady at Turning The Page, a mostly children’s bookshop in Monroe, CT. She also finds time to play with her family, dogs & cat!  Pia brings her experience in teaching, marketing, editing, and a general overwhelming amount of dog love to the team.