Board of Directors


Independent, Voting Board of Directors – as of August 2019


Helena Brooks

Helena Brooks
Board Chair

Retired, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development at Convergys

Helena joined the 4 Paws Board in December of 2014. In her professional life, Helena works at Convergys, a global call center provider, as the senior vice president of corporate development. She is in her 27th year of service with the company.

On the board, Helena is a member of the Operations Committee, which focuses on ways to support the organization in the streamlining of various workflow processes, so the organization is prepared for future growth. In her personal life Helena is the mother of two children, a daughter in medical school, and a son who works in the finance group for a company in Cleveland. Her husband’s sons are also grown, and live on opposite coasts, one in Rhode Island, and the other in Los Angeles. Helena also has an autistic niece who is now an adult, and Helena realizes what a great help a 4 Paws dog would have been in her childhood had Helena known about the organization.

With the children grown, Helena and her husband share their home with two rescue dogs, a chocolate lab and a miniature dachshund.

Ralph Brueggemann

Ralph Brueggemann
Operations Committee

Ralph joined the 4 Paws for Ability Board of Directors in the summer of 2017. He is the Chair of the Operations Committee. In his professional life, Ralph managed commercial and application software product development and quality improvement projects for local, national, and international corporations. He was formerly a Director in the James Anderson Center for Health Systems Excellence at Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center. He has taught part-time at the University of Cincinnati for over 40 years. Ralph is the faculty advisor to the student organization, 4 Paws at the University of Cincinnati that socializes service dogs in training. Ralph graduated from Miami University and the University of Cincinnati. He is a Tae Kwon Do Blackbelt and a former marathon runner who now competes in 5K races.

Ralph is married to Diane and has three sons. Kyle, the youngest is a student who is a recipient of the Eagle Scout Award based on a project that was done in support of 4 Paws and service dog awareness. Erik is an employee of the Hamilton County Public Library and is married to Colleen, and they have three children, Lena, Eliot, and Isabel. Kurt is an ER physician and is married to Tonya, and they have daughter, Eloise.

Ralph’s family has socialized three service dogs who all had the same father: Gliss (Dagny & Zeke), golden doodle, was adopted during her advanced training and is a great family dog. Frigga (Dot and Zeke), golden doodle, was trained as a tracker and placed with a child with autism, and Nasreen (Dot & Zeke), became a seizure alert and tracking service dog.

Beth Cesta

Beth Cesta
Fundraising Committee

Chairperson Bone Appetit’ Committee

Beth began volunteering at 4 Paws in August 2018 as a result of meeting 4 Paws service dogs at church. After talking with the clients, who also volunteer, she began serving 4 Paws in numerous ways, primarily the Puppy House. Beth joined the Board of Directors in March 2019.

Beth brings more than 30 years of healthcare and legislative experience through her former responsibilities of; commercial and government contract negotiation, advocacy, practice management and revenue cycle enhancement. During her fifteen (15) years with TeamHealth (formerly Premier Physicians Services, Dayton, OH) she served as Vice President of Government and Payer Relations until November 2018.

Beth has been actively engaged with profit and not for profit healthcare organizations as a passionate advocate at both the state and federal level. She was a member of the Board of Directors for Emergency Department Practice Management Association (EDPMA) for 7 years and served a 2 year term as Chairperson of the Conference Planning Committee. She also served as Chairperson of the EDPMA PAC and CoChair of the State Regulatory and Insurance Committee. In 2015, EDPMA honored Beth’s passionate advocacy for Emergency Physicians and dedication to the members of the organization by presenting her with the prestigious EDPMA Meritorious Service Award.

Beth and her husband Joe live in Lebanon, OH. They have 3 adult children, 3 grandchildren and a 5yr. old English Springer Spaniel, Isabella.

Wally Gerbus
Finance Committee

Wally has been on the Board of Directors since October 2017, participating on the Finance Committee. Professionally, Wally has been in Public Accounting since graduating from college, currently as a Manager in Transaction Advisory Services at Ernst and Young. Prior to that, Wally served in the Audit practice at KPMG for four years and as an accountant at Kirsch CPA Group for four years. He is a Certified Public Accountant and holdsan MBA from the University of Cincinnati. Wally lives in Fairfield, OH, with his wife Ashley, three children, Ernie, Cece, and Evie, and their dog Seven, a yellow labrador retriever. Wally was introduced to 4 Paws through his wife Ashley, who coached with and for Eddie Young’s (another 4 Paws board member) daughters in soccer and performed numerous team volunteering activities at 4 Paws.

David James

David James

David James is Director of Research for James Investment Research a leading national investment firm. He has over 40 years' experience with the firm where he and his team research individual securities as well as macro trends in the stock and bond markets along with the general economy. He also is a client of 4 Paws For Ability where he has been partnered with papillon, Clancy, who alerts David about his abnormal blood sugar levels.

John Jolley

John Jolley
Fundraising Committee

Owner, Business and Technology Consulting Firm

John developed a love for animals growing up on his family’s horse farm in central Ohio, which included a small herd of cattle… and dogs! In addition to the family dogs, which were often his partners in crime and adventure, his family also spent a number of years fostering for aSeeing Eye Dog Program. After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Actuarial Science and Applied Mathematics from The Ohio State University, John enlisted in the United States Armed Forces. During this time John became fascinated with the capabilities of military working dogs, specifically the German Shepherd Dog (GSD). After leaving the Armed Forces, he went on to earn an MBA and to establish a career in strategic consulting, including technology. In the early 2000’s the family found their first GSD from a professional K-9 breeder and had the opportunity to work with an experienced K-9 trainer (and officer) to train Gus in personal protection and volunteer early responder tracking. The Jolley family quickly fell in love with the breed. John currently owns his own business and technology consulting firm based in a central Ohio suburb. He is husband to one and father to five (three human and one all black, partially coated GSD, Max). John currently serves as a 4 Paws board member and chairs the Fundraising Committee.

Jake Persky
Finance Committee

Global Business Insights at Johnson & Johnson

Jake joined the 4 Paws Board in December of 2017 and serves as the Chair of the Finance Committee. In his professional life, he works in Global Business Insights at Johnson & Johnson, shaping strategy and supporting the Medical Device portfolio. Prior to Johnson & Johnson, he was in Public Accounting at Ernst & Young. He is a Certified Public Accountant and holds a Master’s degree from the University of Kentucky. Jake married his wife Sonya in 2016, and they have a black Labrador mix named Jesse.

Mark Thomas

Bio coming soon.

Amy Wilcox

Amy Wilcox

Program Committee

Amy’s family was forever changed by 4 Paws for Ability in June of 2013 when their son Joel received Flame, his seizure alert dog. The peace and comfort Flame has brought to her family is beyond measure.

Over the last several years Amy’s family has volunteered at 4 Paws through the breeder foster program and the service dog in training program. Over a dozen 4 Paws Service-Dogs-in-Traininghave lived in the Wilcox home. Joel and Flame, as well as Amy have made several appearances at local businesses and high schools on behalf of 4 Paws for Ability. In 2014, they shared their story with Medikidz (medical comic book for teens) to help get the word out about epilepsy and 4 Paws for Ability seizure alert dogs.

Amy holds a Bachelors in Business Administration from Ohio Dominican University. She has been at Safelite AutoGlass for 22 years and is currently a Claims Management Project Manager in Strategic Planning and Analysis.

Amy joined the 4 Paws for Abilityboardin April of 2016, and is volunteering on the Program Committee.

She lives in Blacklick, OH with her husband Jeff, three children, Alex, Joel and Ava and 4 dogs, Flame (famous seizure alert dog), Bella Blue, Ghost (service dog breeder), and Minnie Mouse.

Eddie Young

Eddie Young
Expansion Committee

Senior Vice President, Sales for Freshpet

Like many of the people who are attracted to 4Paws, Eddie wanted to be around all the amazing dogs.

However, it’s the special children, families, employees and overall 4Paws’ Magic that has kept Eddie on the board since 2012 and well, the dogs.

Professionally, Eddie is Senior Vice President, Sales for Freshpet where their mission is to change the way pets are fed for the better. Eddie led sales for Sunny Delight Beverage Co. as well as sales leadership roles with Dean Foods, Minute Maid and Nestlé.

4 Paws is a family affair for the Young family; Eddie, wife, Kristi, and three daughters participate in the fostering program, puppy socialization and other opportunities to introduce more people to the magic of 4 Paws.