About Us

Retrieving Independence is a Nashville-based nonprofit that breeds, trains and places service dogs with people who are living with physical, mental or emotional disability.

This is all accomplished with the help of volunteer breeders, puppy raisers, and weekend furlough volunteers. Through our partnership with the Tennessee Department of Corrections, RI works with inmates to provide a significant portion of the training throughout the almost two-year program.

That’s what we do. But WHY do we do it?

We do it for the love poured into the dogs by the volunteers. We do it for the purpose and dignity it gives the inmate trainers. We do it for the life-rocking change it gives to our incredible recipients.

Love. Dignity. Change. That’s why we do it.

retrieving independence - what we do
Our Mission: Working to change lives every day
Our Vision: To see love and dignity rehabilitate inmates and give people living with disabilities greater independence

RI Leadership

Lesley Adams

Lesley Adams

VP, Programs & Evaluation

Dr. Brenda Dew

Dr. Brenda Dew

Director, Counseling Curriculum

Nikki Ivey

Nikki Ivey

Director, Volunteer Training

Gray Peebles

Gray Peebles

Director, Program Curriculum

Jessica Petty

Dr. Jessica Petty

CEO/President

Shelly Steele

Shelly Steel

Director, Counseling & Research

Dorothy Thompson

Dorothy Thompson

VP, Recipient Experience

Britteny Watson

Director, Volunteer Operations

RI Board of Directors

Andy Charron

Andy Charron

Board Chair

Anna Hollingsworth

Anna Hollingsworth

Board Vice Chair

Katie Regan

Katie Regan

Board Secretary

Vicki Diestelkamp

Vicki Diestelkamp

Board Treasurer

Hank Edwards

Hank Edwards

Board Member

Dr. Kim Johnson

Kim Johnson, D.V.M.

Board Member

Claudia Parker

Claudia Parker

Board Member

Bill Plantz

Bill Plantz

Board Member

Chris Dooney

Chris Dooney, CPA

Board Member

Jim Murphy

Board Member

Eileen Hart

Eileen Hart

Board Member

Sarah Bauer

Interim Board Member