Celeste Walsen DVM, Acting CEO
Celeste works with criminal justice facilities to teach staff members the practicalities of using highly trained dogs in victim/witness support programs. As Executive Director of Courthouse Dogs, Dr. Walsen is currently working to develop nationally recognized guidelines that will equip victim advocates, forensic interviewers, prosecuting attorneys, and other legal professionals to effectively employ dogs to provide support for vulnerable people of all ages. Dr. Walsen holds a BA in Psychology from the University of California Berkeley and a DVM from Louisiana State University.
Ellen O’Neill-Stephens JD, Founder and Policy Director
Ellen served as a deputy prosecuting attorney in Seattle, Washington for 26 years, retiring in November of 2011; she is a pioneer in the use of dogs to provide emotional support in the criminal justice system and the founder of Courthouse Dogs. Since 2003, she has promoted the use of highly trained assistance dogs to provide comfort to children and adults who are victims or witnesses of crimes and support juveniles and adults in mental health and drug courts. Ellen’s son, Sean, and his service dog, Jeeter, were the inspiration for the Courthouse Dogs Foundation. Ellen received her bachelor’s degree in Sociology, and was a juvenile probation officer before entering law school.
Tracy Brad, Operations Manager
Tracy Brad has a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Washington, an MS in Primate Behavior from Central Washington University, and a post-graduate diploma in Journalism from the London School of Journalism. She has certificates in Animal Behavior and Welfare from the University of Edinburgh, Writing in the Sciences from Stanford University, and Dog Emotion and Cognition from Duke University. Her first book, Dog Behavior: Modern Science and Our Canine Companions, co-written with Dr. James Ha, was published by Elsevier in 2008. Tracy is also a trauma-informed foster parent with more than a quarter of a century of experience working with children of all ages.
Board of Directors
Carrie-Leigh Cloutier, President
Carrie-Leigh has been CEO of the Chaves County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Program for over thirty years. Chaves County CASA serves over 2500 abused and high-risk children every year in the following programs: Court Appointed Special Advocates, Supervised Visitation Center, Courthouse Dogs Program, Juvenile Court Advocacy, Alternative Education, Youth Leadership Program, Domestic Violence and Custody Advocacy, and Children’s Advocacy Centers and more. Carrie-Leigh is also a non-profit consultant, specializing in strategic planning and program evaluation. She loves travel, hiking with the dogs and teaching yoga.
Felicia Ako, Vice President
Felicia is currently employed as the Vice President of Strategic Support at BECU, a non-profit credit union focused on improving the financial well-being of members and their communities. She provides strategic planning, initiative portfolio management, internal communication, employee engagement and operational efficiency support to a division focused on elevating member experiences. She became aware of Courthouse Dogs Foundation, as a former BECU People Helping People award winner. Having grown up with dogs and having them in her life, she saw the incredible value professionally trained courthouse dogs could play to alleviate trauma and stress in adults and children navigating the judicial process. Felicia enjoys traveling to visit family or explore a new world location, spending time with her family (including dog Koa) swimming and kayaking on Lake Josephine, watching a great movie with popcorn, and trying a new recipe.
Alison Avery, Secretary
Alison Avery has a BA in Human Services Studies from Elon University and an MBA with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from the University of Tampa. As a result of her diagnosis with a rare neurological condition named Friedreich’s ataxia, she has become an avid advocate for herself and others with disabilities. Together with the support of her family, Alison champions the FARA Energy Ball for the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA). Alison continues her advocacy work by speaking at events and meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. After graduating from Elon, Alison joined the NFL Foundation as a consultant managing 50 plus grant programs that support the health, safety, and wellness of athletes of all ages. While she loves the impact that her work has on others, Alison’s passion and commitment to disability rights is unwavering and she works to improve accessibility and help others with disabilities. In 2021, Alison was blessed with her service dog Vega. She was introduced to facility dogs there and has become a devoted advocate for assistance dogs ever since.
Andy DeVivo, Treasurer
Andy DeVivo joins the Courthouse Dogs Foundation Board of Directors with a wealth of experience and expertise in the IT industry. He has over 15 years of experience, specializing in Agile methodologies and Scrum. Andy holds an MBA from Lehigh University, complemented by a Bachelor’s degree in Information Science & Technology from The Pennsylvania State University. His professional credentials include certifications as a Certified Scrum Professional, Product Owner, as well as being a Project Management Professional. Andy also volunteers with the Seafair Charitable Foundation. At the Courthouse Dogs Foundation, Andy's blend of technical acumen, strategic insight, and community engagement will be instrumental in furthering the foundation's mission.
Tamara Martin, Director
Tamara Martin has spent over 35 years in the criminal justice system, having worked with both offenders and victims in providing services and assistance in the areas specific to the needs of the people she serves. With each position she has held she strives to create a space for accountability, rehabilitation, and trauma-focused resources and assistance. Tamara earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Auburn University at Montgomery. Tamara's professional career began in counseling and advocacy for domestic violence and sexual assault victims. Starting in 1992 and continuing for 21 years, Tamara was employed as a Probation Officer for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. Following her retirement in 2013, she began the first courthouse facility dog program in Alabama. In 2014, Tamara was partnered with facility dog Willow, a graduate of Canine Companion. For years, Willow and Tamara were the only courthouse Facility Dog team in Alabama. Together, they assisted with cases throughout the state. Tamara and Willow were instrumental in starting HERO, Alabama's statewide facility dog program. HERO is the first statewide program in the country and has earned an outstanding reputation internationally.
Tamara is also a forensic interview specialist, where she uses her extensive training to perform forensic interviews of children who are crime victims or witnesses to crime, producing interviews that are legally sufficient for court admissibility. Over her 30+ years, Tamara has served on various State Task Forces all related to crimes against children, intimate partner violence, trafficking, and sexual assault, including specific Alabama Governor appointments. Tamara is also a presenter and trainer for law enforcement, prosecutors, advocates, and other disciplines relating to the protection of vulnerable and marginalized victims. She currently serves on the Alabama Domestic Violence Resource Council. Tamara is the handler for Facility Dog Yahini with the Alabama Office of Prosecution Services in Montgomery.
Claire Ratliff, Director
James Ha, PhD, CAAB
James has been extensively trained in the social behavior of mammals and birds, with a special focus on highly social species like domestic dogs. He received a Ph.D. in Zoology with a specialization in animal behavior from Colorado State University, and a professional credential as a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist. For 25 years, Jim worked as a Research Professor in the Animal Behavior Program at the University of Washington. He currently continues to do what he enjoys most: teaching in his online UW Certificate in Applied Animal Behavior program and conducting research on complex social behavior and cognition of several animal species. He recently retired from his business in performing in-home evaluations and treatments of behavior issues in pets, but continues as a Consulting Behaviorist in advising on many such cases each year as well as consulting on behavior and welfare issues in the legal system. He currently consults on these issues with groups such as the Courthouse Dogs Foundation, Seattle Animal Shelter, the Seattle Parks Department, and Homeward Pets Adoption Shelter, as well as multiple private pet industry companies.
David Crenshaw, PhD, ABPP, RPT-S
David is Clinical Director of the Children's Home of Poughkeepsie, New York, and adjunct visiting assistant professor in the graduate clinical psychology program at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a Board Certified Clinical Psychologist by the American Board of Professional Psychology, Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), and Fellow of APA's Division of Child and Adolescent Psychology. He is also a Registered-Play Therapist-Supervisor (RPT-S) by the Association for Play Therapy. Dr. Crenshaw is a Past President of the New York Association for Play Therapy, and also the Hudson Valley Psychological Association, which honored him with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. He has written or edited 12 books on child aggression, trauma, grief, resilience, and over 50 book chapters and journal articles. His latest books are Play Therapy Interventions to Enhance Resilience co-edited with Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein and Termination Challenges in Child Psychotherapy co-written with Eliana Gil.
Al is the co-founder of The Harvey Institute, a training and consultation company whose mission is improving health care outcomes through integrating sexual health. For the past 21 years he has worked at the Chadwick Center for Children and Families at Rady Children’s Hospital, where he currently serves as the Lead Trainer under two federally funded grants designed to improve Trauma Informed care in Child Welfare and Mental Health systems across the United States. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker, he has worked for several decades in the field of trauma treatment. He serves as an adjunct faculty member at California State University, Long Beach as well as a faculty member of the San Diego Public Child Welfare Training Academy. He has served on the board of CAPSAC (California Professional Society on the Abuse of Children) and is a consultant and trainer for UCLA’s Rape Treatment Center in Santa Monica, California. He is currently the co-chairperson of the Cultural Consortium for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.