Our Staff

Rick Yount, Executive Director

Rick Yount has served in the field of social services for 30 years. He has involved animal-assisted therapy in his practice for the past 22 of those years. Rick holds a Bachelor of Arts from West Virginia University and a Master of Science in Assistance Dog Education. He combined his social work knowledge and experience with his service dog training background to develop a novel intervention to help Service Members with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Rick pioneered the first therapeutic service dog training program at the Palo Alto, California Veterans Hospital in 2008.

Rick’s new program concept, involving Veterans with PTSD in the training of mobility service dogs for fellow Veterans, has yielded very positive results. He has presented the program concept at forums including the VA National Mental Health Conference and the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies.

Molly Morelli, Director of Dog Programs

Molly Morelli earned her B.S. in Behavioral Psychology at West Virginia University. She has been involved in service dog training for more than a decade, first working with Golden Rule Assistance Dogs as part of her field placement. Molly has also been purpose breeding Golden and Labrador Retrievers for mobility service work for more than a decade. Molly works closely with renowned breeders around the country to continually improve Warrior Canine Connection’s breeding program.

Jeffrey Hoelsken, Director of Operations

Jeffrey Hoelsken is a highly experienced attorney and business leader who has been active in the nonprofit community for three decades. During his career, Jeff has litigated complex environmental and construction cases, held senior management and general counsel positions in the clean energy sector, and advised small business, venture capital-backed corporations, and nonprofit organizations. He brings this wealth of business, legal, and nonprofit management experience to WCC, where he will oversee, coordinate, and direct operations across all departments and functional areas.

Through his volunteer work, he has assisted severely wounded military Veterans, performed hands-on work in disadvantaged communities, and rescued animals from neglect and starvation. Prior to joining WCC, Jeff was the Executive Director of a nonprofit horse rescue and sanctuary in Napa Valley, California. He received his Bachelor of Arts from U.C. Berkeley, and his law degree from U.C. Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.

Robert Koffman, M.D., Chief Medical Advisor

Retired Navy Captain Robert Koffman, M.D. supports Warriors as they go through the application and matching process with service dogs, and participates in service dog training research studies. During his service, he accumulated 17 years of operational experience as a Naval medical officer in Operation Desert Storm, Antarctica’s McMurdo Station, several aircraft carrier and amphibious vehicle deployments, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Other previous positions include Senior Consultant for Integrative Medicine and Behavioral Health at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE), Director for Psychological Health to the Navy Surgeon General, Navy collaborator and investigator to the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and Department Chief for Clinical Operations at NICoE. Among the many honors bestowed upon him is the U.S. Special Operations Command Patriot Award, which is annually given to one individual or organization that provides significant and enduring support to wounded Warriors and their families.

Meg Daley Olmert, Director of Research

Meg Daley Olmert is a leading subject matter expert on the biology of the human-animal bond. Her ground-breaking book, Made For Each Other: The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond (DaCapo, 2009) is the first book to explain the brain chemistry that flows through—and between—all mammals forging deep social bonds between the species. This newly discovered brain network also activates a powerful anti-stress response that creates the physical and psychological sense of wellbeing we experience through friendly contact with animals. Meg lectures widely and is a media consultant on this subject. She has also produced and written documentaries for Emmy Award-winning series such as Smithsonian World, National Geographic Explorer, The Discovery Channel Specials, and PBS’ The Living Edens. Meg lives on the Eastern shore of Maryland with her husband and kayaking cats.

Jennifer Wilder, Director of Development

Jennifer Wilder is the Director of Development at Warrior Canine Connection. An Air Force spouse for 20 years, she has dedicated extensive professional and volunteer service in support of military families and military children’s pursuit of higher education. Jennifer has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy, and a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Stephens College in Columbia, MO.

With two decades of experience in development, marketing, communications, and volunteer management, Jennifer has worked in the non-profit, higher education, government and corporate sectors. Her work in these areas has earned many national industry awards, including a Daily Points of Light award from the Points of Light Institute—the world’s largest organization dedicated to solving serious societal problems through voluntary service. Today Jennifer lives in the Washington, DC, area with her husband, David, and two sons.