Trainers 2017-08-30T08:40:07+00:00

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.

Joan Shaw


Joan and her husband, Ron, were puppy raisers for Guide Dogs of America for 29 years.   They have trained 22 dogs for that organization and were the Area Leaders for all of the San Diego County puppy raisers and most recently for the Bitterroot Valley of Montana. Their training experience is with Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and  Poodles.

Joan is a Registered Nurse and prior to retirement, she served as Nurse Executive for several large hospitals in southern California.


Taylor Jensen

Trainer/Residential Assistant Director

Taylor brings a remarkable range of experience to Next Step, following her career as a dolphin trainer for the Navy and later as an educator and trainer of exotic animals at San Diego Zoo. Touched deeply by the needs of wounded warriors and the huge joy of seeing service dogs help them, Taylor loves training our service dogs for and with our veterans, and works closely with the Navy treatment program for severe PTSD military.

Brad Troxel

Senior Trainer - Veteran

Brad Troxel Joined NSSD in September of 2013. He is a retired Marine combat veteran with several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Highlights of his service include leading Marines in several combat actions, where he was awarded the Bronze Star for valor. After retiring from the Marine Corps Brad moved to Idaho where he put his experience to work with NSSD starting our Northwest Chapter. With more than 20 years of leadership, coordination and training experience Brad uses these skills to improve the lives of veterans in need.

Jeff Tesoro


Jeff Tesoro has established himself as a superb professional canine trainer. He has over 20 years experience evaluating rescued dogs and providing private and group classes for obedience, distance work,  and therapy work.  Jeff is a wonderful addition to our staff of volunteer trainers, and offers Next Step service dog training in Orange County to help veterans north of San Diego.

John Tipton

Trainer - Veteran

John Tipton joined NSSD in March 2016. He retired after 22 years with the US Marine Corps in the mid-1990s, and highlights of his service include 3 Combat Actions, a Navy Commendation Medal for his Inspector Instructor duties, and a Navy Achievement Medal for Actions in Beirut, Lebanon. After his service, he acted in a number of security positions, before joining the NSSD team. John brings more than 22 years of management and leadership experience in training and coordination in the United States Marine Corps. His skills include motivating others toward high achievements, the ability to multi-task in high pressure situations, and the quick evaluation of processes to develop effective issue resolution.


Cindy Pruitt – Trainer

Stephen  – Trainer – Veteran

Tony  – Trainer – Veteran