Leadership Team

Lesley Adams

Lesley Adams

Program Director & Training Coordinator

Lesley Adams joined Retrieving Independence in 2011 as a volunteer to continue developing her skills with assistance dogs and supplement her prior experience in training dogs for general obedience work. She was one of the founding Board Members of Retrieving Independence.

As Program & Training Director, Lesley is responsible for the initiation of and continuing refinement of approaches, curricula and evaluations for dogs, and inmate trainers with Retrieving Independence. She provides the initial and ongoing training/coaching for recipients of RI dogs and their caregivers.

Brenda Dew, Ph.D.

Brenda Dew, Ph.D.

Counseling Director

Brenda Dew, Ph.D. joined the volunteer team of Retrieving Independence in 2012 after retiring as a Professor of Counseling. She is the Counseling Coordinator for Retrieving Independence and is responsible for developing and managing relationship assessments for the inmate trainers, applicants and caregivers.

Brenda is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, National Supervisor for AMMFT and a Certified Pet Therapist as well as a certified evaluator for Pet Partners. Brenda and her dog Daisy were awarded the Frist Humanitarian Award in 2006 for exemplary service to patients and the healthcare community through HCA.

Jessica Petty

Jessica Petty

Executive Director

Jessica enjoyed a rewarding leadership career within the animal health industry before joining Retrieving Independence in 2018. As a champion of the service dog relationship and a firm believer in the training philosophies of RI, Jessica is the passionate voice spreading the word about the life changing work happening here in Nashville that impacts beneficiaries nationwide.

Jessica holds a Masters in Global Leadership and is currently knee-deep in her dissertation to complete her Doctorate in Leadership. When she is not enjoying time with her family and their dog Charlotte, you can often find her in the stacks of a local bookstore.