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BC Staff   Alberta Staff

Our British Columbia Team

William S. Thornton
CEO & Co-Founder of British Columbia Guide Dog Services

Bill’s guide dog career began in 1977, when he joined the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (U.K.). In March 1980, Bill graduated as an accredited Guide Dog Mobility Instructor.In 1984 Bill founded Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind (Ottawa), where he served as President and CEO from 1984 to 1995.

Bill is a Charter Member of the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF), an 80-member global organization founded in 1988. He was elected to the Board of Directors in 1990, serving a total of 14 years. In 1992, Bill was appointed as an International Assessor for the International Guide Dog Federation, and has accredited schools in England, Ireland, Japan and Australia. He is the past Chair of the IGDF's Accreditation Committee.

In 1996, Bill co-founded British Columbia Guide Dog Services, then launched Alberta Guide Dog Services as a division of BC Guide Dog Services in 2002. In partnership with BC Guide Dog Services, Bill has taken a leading role in the founding of Autism Support Dogs to help autistic children aged 4 to 10.

Linda Thornton
Director, Breeding and Puppy Raising, Co-Founder British Columbia Guide Dog Services

Linda attended St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ontario where she specialized in Animal Health Technology. After her training she moved to Ottawa and worked as a veterinary technician for 15 years.

In her capacity as Breeding and Puppy Raising Director, Linda oversees the Breeding Program and is responsible for the puppies that are placed with our Puppy Raising families.



 Training Staff



Jaime Arnup
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor

Jaime joined the BC Guide Dog Service team in 2003 as an apprentice Guide Dog Mobility Instructor. She trains both guide dogs and autism support dogs for recipients in BC and Alberta. Working with children with autism inspired Jaime to pursue studies in special education in 2011. Jaime earned her Provincial Outreach Program for Autism and Related Disorders (POPARD) certificate while studying and working in special education, where she gained first-hand experience assisting children with autism in an educational setting.



Laura Hilbert
Autism Support Dog Instructor, Guide Dog Trainer

Laura joined BC Guide Dog Services and Autism Support dogs as a Training Assistant in 2012. Laura has previous animal training experience working with a variety of marine mammals and penguins, as well as guide dogs and autism support dogs in the United States.

Laura will be working with our Guide Dog Mobility Instructors, helping to train both guide dogs and autism support dogs


Laura Mahoney
Puppy Raising Supervisor, Vancouver Island

Raised in Victoria, Laura was a provincial high school sprint champion before she pursued studies at UBC. Balancing motherhood for two children and her Labradors, Laura built her career as an early childhood educator and therapeutic tutor. Laura has previous experience as a Puppy Raising Supervisor at another guide dog organization. She is excited to bring her knowledge and skills to BC Guide Dog Services.


Nick Toni
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor

Nick joined Guide Dogs for the Blind in the UK in 1988 and became a fully qualified Instructor in February 1991. Prior to his guide dog career, he was a Royal Air Force Police dog handler working at strike command facilities throughout the UK. He also spent some time as part of the R.A.F demonstration team performing to thousands of people including members of the British Royal family. Nick worked for two guide dog schools in the USA prior to joining BC Guide Dog Services in September 2013. To date, Nick has successfully trained approximately 140 guide dog teams in his career and is looking forward to increasing that figure as a proud member of BC Guide Dog Services.

 Administration Staff



Carol Bunker, CGA

Carol has been with BC Guide Dogs since 2012 and enjoys being involved in such a worthwhile charity.  She received her C.G.A. designation in 1997, but has been accounting and budgeting for as long as she can remember. Previous to BC Guide Dogs, Carol worked in the private sector as a financial consultant for companies involved in specific long-term projects. She currently lives in Tsawwassen with her family and their dog Comet. 


Anita Cymet
Manager, Development & Communications

Anita joined our team in April 2014 as the Manager of Development & Communications. Having over 25 years of development and fundraising experience in the non-profit sector Anita has had the opportunity to work with many wonderful organizations while building community and bringing awareness to important causes.

Her love of animals, coupled with her passion to build and nurture community has led her to BC Guide Dogs with passion and enthusiasm. Anita resides in Surrey, BC with her husband and three grown children.


Bernadette Easey
Office Administrator

As our frontline person, most initial contacts with the organization are made through Bernadette! Joining BC Guide Dog Services in 2005, Bernadette’s background is in office administration and bookkeeping — skills she puts to good use keeping all our important records well-organized.


Jan Hawkins
Director, Development & Communications

Jan joined our team in January 2015, coming to us from the BCIT Foundation, where she spent two and a half years as a Stewardship and Donor Relations Manager. Prior to that, she worked in Community Development at Canadian Blood Services for eight years. Jan has over 25 years of experience in fundraising, corporate and community development, donor relations and event management. She looks forward to bringing her customer service, team leadership and communications skills to our team in the BC office. Jan lives in Ladner with her husband and two dogs.


Christine Logan
Executive Assistant

Christine joined BC Guide Dog Services in July 2013, following an 18-year career with a company that grew and marketed ginseng. Chris is excited to join the team and brings with her many years of experience in administrative and human resources roles in both the public and private sector.  


Ashli Owen
Communications and Marketing Coordinator

Ashli has a BA from Simon Fraser University in Communications and over 6 years experience in corporate communications and marketing including: public relations, investor relations, branding, event planning, web and graphic design and social media. She has worked in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors and she is happy to be working for an organization that has such a positive impact on people's everyday lives. Ashli currently lives in Ladner with her husband and two cats, Finn & Leo.



Shelley Semler
Manager, Puppy Sponsorship

Shelley started with BC Guide Dogs in February as the Puppy Sponsorship Coordinator. Having close to 20 years in the legal and insurance industry, Shelley’s children are thrilled to see their mom embark on a new career with “Puppy” in her title! J Shelley also has many years of experience volunteering in the non-profit sector and looks forward to not only liaising with our current and future donors but with our pups (they can be very chatty and can provide you with updates on their training and adventures!). Shelley resides in Ladner with her husband, three children and dog “Fifa”.


 Our Alberta Team

Sandra Cramer
Puppy Raising Supervisor

Sandra graduated in 1995 from the University of Lethbridge with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education degree. After spending six years teaching music and math at the junior high level, Sandra left the teaching field to stay at home and raise her two sons.

Trish Lund
Manager, Development & Communications

Trish joined our team in January 2015, coming to us from the Calgary Zoological Society, bringing with her over 15 years of experience in environmental education management. She is passionate about people, animals, travel and contributing to the community. She is excited to add her skill set to our Alberta team and is thrilled to be working for an organization that provides such a positive and significant impact on people's lives. Trish also considers herself to be very well trained by her black lab, Kwando!