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Paws for Heroes' Board of Directors

Jessica Nelson, President and Executive Director

Jessica Nelson is the President and Executive Director and one of the founders of Paws for Heroes.  Ms. Nelson holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Auburn University and a JD from LSU Law School.  Ms. Nelson is currently employed with Chevron U.S.A. Inc. as Senior Counsel.  Ms. Nelson's brother is a retired Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army and was deployed on multiple tours of duty to Iraq and Afghanistan.  Ms. Nelson learned Houston had two forgotten populations: (1) veterans who were suffering from the after-effects of combat while also transitioning to civilian life and (2) homeless shelter dogs who are at risk of being euthanized.  Paws for Heroes connects these two groups so that each Paws for Heroes veteran-dog team forges a lifelong bond that helps mitigate the effects of PTSD and assist our veterans in their transition from military members to veterans.  Ms. Nelson was the owner of a 3 legged rescue dog until he passed away in 2021 at the age of 14.

Jan Potts, Vice President of Community Relations

Jan Potts is Vice President of Community Relations and one of the founders of Paws for Heroes.  Ms. Potts holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Oklahoma State University and a JD from the University of Texas School of Law.  Ms. Potts retired after more than 30 years of practicing law.  During Ms. Potts’ career, she was the General Counsel of Home Petroleum Corporation and the General Counsel of the Petroleum Division of BHP Billiton Ltd.  At BHP Billiton, she was the co-chair for the company’s philanthropic giving committee for two years. She has previously been a volunteer at Memorial-Hermann Hospital, the Galveston Art League, Denver Junior Achievement and various Houston community theatres.  Her father and grandfather served overseas in the US Army during World War II and World War I, respectively.  She is the owner of a rescue dog. 

Deanne Goyer, Vice President of Operations and Secretary-Treasurer

Deanne Goyer is Vice President of Operations and Secretary-Treasurer and one of the founders of Paws for Heroes.  Ms. Goyer is originally from Alberta, Canada.  Ms. Goyer has been an active volunteer with Paws for Heroes since 2014.  Ms. Goyer has a love for animals and personal experience on how a dog-human relationship can help brighten someone’s life.  After relocating to Houston, Ms. Goyer became involved in her community by volunteering with Paws for Heroes.  The mission of Paws for Heroes; to serve our veterans and rescue dogs from shelters, pulled directly on her heart. With a family history of military service in Canada and the United States, Ms. Goyer knew this mission was for her. As Ms. Goyer learned about the statistics of the veteran community in Texas, her passion to give back to our veterans has become her full-time devotion.  Deanne uses her background in project management and process improvement to help with day to day operations, general administration, as well as event attendance, foster and volunteer recruitment.  Ms. Goyer attends veteran interviews and assists trainers with visits to local animal shelters.  Ms. Goyer believes Paws for Heroes is not just about giving a veteran a dog, but providing a lifetime relationship and support system for those who have served.   Ms. Goyer is the owner of a rescue dog.

Jim Burwell, Director

Jim Burwell is a volunteer director.  Mr. Burwell operated dog training business known as Jim Burwell’s Petiquette for over 25+ years and has successfully trained over 20,000 puppies and dogs.  Mr. Burwell was the founder of Texas Dog Training the past president of Lone Star Search & Rescue Dog Association.  Mr. Burwell was also selected to be the trainer of the therapy dog for the Ronald McDonald House, Houston, TX and was appointed “Training Section Chair” for the Pet Care Services Association (formally American Boarding Kennels Association, an organization created to adopt both national and world standards for pet industry services).  Mr. Burwell is a Member Association of Pet Dog Trainers and International Association of Canine Professionals.  Mr. Burwell is a Navy veteran and served in the Vietnam war.  Mr. Burwell provides consulting services and guidance to Paws for Heroes.

Bill Wigglesworth, Director

Bill Wigglesworth is a volunteer director.  Mr. Wigglesworth holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from Eastern Ky. University and a Master’s degree in Organizational Communication & Industrial Labor Relations from Purdue University.  Mr. Wigglesworth recently retired as International Human Resources Manager for ExxonMobil.  During his 31-year career, Mr. Wigglesworth worked in a variety of Human Resources positions throughout the U.S. along with assignments in Malaysia and  Japan.  Throughout his life, Mr. Wigglesworth has been very active in a number of volunteer organizations including the Y.M.C.A.  His father was a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Army and his mother worked for the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division.  Mr. Wigglesworth and his wife have been the owners of two rescue dogs.

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