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Tricia grew up in North Carolina and got her first dog at the age of four. She began training dogs for agility and obedience competition in 1999 and has done everything from showing dogs to fostering strays ever since. She is currently blessed with 7 dogs of her own (3 beagles, an american foxhound and 3 mixed breeds) and usually has at least one foster dog.
Tricia’s educational background includes a BS degree in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and a MA degree in College Student Development from Appalachian State University. Before founding Furry Friends Recovery, she was employed as a college student advisor for 15 years, working closely with students challenged by academic difficulty, learning disorders and personal issues. Tricia has personal experience struggling with mental illness and feels strongly that dog therapy was a major component in her recovery. She is dedicated to making sure that others benefit from the healing power of dogs during recovery. She holds a Crisis Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS) credential for the state of IL and a certification in Animal Assisted Therapy from the Animal Behavior Institute. She is also active in the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) including certification as a leader for NAMI Peer to Peer, NAMI In Our Own Voice and NAMI Connections.
Jessica L. Gruneich, JD is the Executive Director of NAMI Southwestern Illinois. NAMI Southwestern Illinois provides free evidenced based education, support, and advocacy programs to individuals, family members, and others impacted by mental illness. NAMI SWI is dedicated to building better lives for those affected by mental illnesses. NAMI Southwestern Illinois serves the following IL counties: Bond, Calhoun, Clinton, Green, Jersey, Macoupin, Madison, Monroe, Montgomery, Randolph, St. Clair, and Washington. Jessica has been a member of NAMI Southwestern Illinois since 2011. From 2011- 2013, Jessica served as affiliate Education Programs Coordinator, overseeing NAMI SWI’s Education courses throughout the affiliate’s catchment region. In 2014, Jessica accepted the affiliate Executive Director position. Before joining NAMI SWI Jessica worked in Michigan in Eaton and Ingham counties as a military family member advocate. Jessica is a 2008 graduate of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, in Lansing, Michigan. Jessica has direct personal lived experience with mental illness and its impact on family systems. Jessica has two immediate family members with serious and persistent mental illness. Jessica is dedicated to providing hope and support to others affected by brain disorders.
Deb Dubis Foster