Board of Directors

Board of Directors 2017-08-30T08:40:06+00:00

John Feehan


With a deep love of the military and of dogs, Retired Navy Commander John Feehan is President of Next Step Service Dogs. His qualifications include a B.S. from the United States Naval Academy, a Harvard Business School M.B.A, and over thirty years’ experience in real estate development and finance. He has served as Vice President for a number of firms, including Lincoln Property Company and Fairfield Residential. He currently works as a consultant in finance and market research for a major real estate firm in the United States.

Sally Montrucchio

Vice-President/CEO/Training Director

The founder of Next Step Service Dogs, Ms. Montrucchio is our Vice-President and our CEO/Training Director. With over twenty years of experience in training service dogs for people with disabilities in San Diego County, Sally was previously the training director for Tender Loving Canines Assistance Dog, Inc. This training covered several disciplines including Seizure Response, Hearing, Mobility, Specialty (Balance, Tourette’s Syndrome, etc.) and Facility (working with a school or hospital facility), autism, TBI and PTSD. She has been a speaker nationally and internationally, is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, is the author of a book on dog behavior and temperament, and is an expert witness in court cases involving service dogs. Sally as been awarded the Red Cross “Real Heroes” Animal Welfare Honoree, inspired to save the lives of both dogs and military service members.

Judy Keene


Ms. Keene serves as our corporate secretary and treasurer, and administrator. Her qualifications include a B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of Delaware, college teaching experience, and over 30 years as a publications manager and technical writer in high tech industries such as Raytheon, HP, and FICO.

Gina Esoldi

Assistant Training Director

Gina comes to us as Business Development and Assistant Training Director, with over 20 years of non-profit work experience and a passion for animals. Gina helps us to serve our veteran community with the power of service dogs. Experienced in all aspects of business operations, her talents include impressive fundraising and event planning from conception to execution. She is the mother of three boys; her youngest currently attends the United States Naval Academy.

Annie Hull

Board Member

Annie brings a wealth of knowledge in the executing and organization of projects, as she worked as a Project Administrator for Separation Engineering, Inc. from 2008-2015. In addition, she has a passion for animals and the relationship they have with people. While working fulltime, she began training dogs for NSSD in 2013. With her new role as a mother, she has moved to serving as a member of the Board of Directors. This position includes chairing the Volunteer program and assisting with the Fundraising program. Annie has a BS in Psychology from Duke University, as well as years of training and instructing experience in the equestrian world. Annie looks forward to supporting NSSD in various capacities with her husband and young daughter.

Elaine Price

Board Member

Elaine Price has been in public accounting for 40 years and has developed a boutique tax practice, concentrating on small entrepreneurs. She has become confident with her clients, providing financial management services for them.

She earned her bachelor’s degree at California State University Fullerton and a Master in Business Taxation at University of Southern California. In addition, she has been an Assistant Clinical Professor at USC in the Leventhal School of Accounting.

She has been active in many civic and charitable organizations, serving in various board positions. She is an avid dog lover and understands the importance of a  relationship one has with their animals.

Sandie Hicks


With a deep appreciation for the healing power of dogs and practical management experience based on a career with disadvantaged teens, Sandie Hicks goes everywhere with her service dog Ziggy, and provides insights into the management of clients and specialized training. Her enthusiasm and compassion encourage and inspire clients, dogs, and our Board, greatly helping the growth and success of Next Step Service Dogs.