Our Staff

Support Staff

Ellen AuldEllen Auld, Administrative Assistant

Ellen is our go-to person, keeping us all organized and getting the job done. She is a pro at navigating the hectic days when all of us need her at once. Ellen is a true team player, tackling any assignment given to her. She is dedicated to the This Able Veteran mission and isn’t afraid to make suggestions to improve our processes or take the initiative to get things accomplished.

Ellen brings 28 years of experience in office management & office systems skills from her career at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She began her career as secretary to the Director of Workforce Education Distance Off-Campus Military Programs and was an Assistant to the Associate of Dean of Students during her position as Office Administrator in Student Life & Intercultural Relations. Any organization is only as good as their support staff and we are incredibly blessed to have Ellen on our team.

Leslie Crabtree, Treasurer and Payroll Coordinator

Leslie has served as Treasurer since July 2014 but has been a proud supporter for many years. She is also a dog lover and has seen first hand the healing power that the love of a dog can possess. Since an early age she has shown interest in design and the arts and in her adult life transitioned that interest into a love of photography. Leslie has been a professional photographer since 2009. In addition to her photography business, she is also the Coordinator of Religious Education for St. Andrew Catholic Church in Murphysboro, IL, an instructor for Teens in Spirit, Freshman PSR and Catholic Youth Faith Formation. Leslie also serves on the Youth Ministry Commission for St. Andrew, St. Francis and the Newman Center, coordinating and putting on social events for the junior high and high school students of the area.


Claire Digman

Claire serves as a trainer for This Able Veteran.  She is a graduate of Southern Illinois University with undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Administration of Justice She also has a Master’s degree in Social Work.  Claire’s education,  experience working in the mental health field and her love for both dogs and veterans makes her a well-rounded contributor to the training team.

Jordan Hayes

Jordan’s passion for helping those in need, both humans and animals, led her to volunteer for local animal rescues and shelters while attending Murray State University where she earned a degree in Animal Science.  Jordan joined the TAV family as an intern during the summer of 2012; she has also worked for Extreme K-9.

Jordan is a Certified Trainer through CPDT-KA and an Associate Member of IACP.  Having relocated to Florida, she currently works as a Behavior Consultant/ Trainer/Veterinary Assistant at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital.  Jordan’s patience and skill with dogs makes us elated that she will be an offsite trainer for TAV.


Tally Fralish

Tally came to This Able Veteran as an Intern Trainer during 2014 and has already proven to be an asset to our team. She is a passionate believer in the work of dogs and has years of experience around them. Tally is articulate, compassionate, and has a desire to learn.

She has worked with dog rescues and shelters locally and across the US. She worked to save animals from high kill shelters and participated in transporting shelter dogs and cats to their forever homes. Tally has a passion for understanding and rehabilitating those hard to place dogs that would have been tossed to the side. We look forward to her interaction with our veterans and our service dogs.

Miranda HornMiranda Horn

Miranda joined our team as an intern in 2014 and brings with her experience as a grooming assistant and kennel tech.  While she has trained dogs as a hobby in the past, Miranda is working hard to improve and advance her skills. Her initiative and “can do” spirit are a welcome addition to our team.

Miranda comes from a military family, having relatives that are currently serving and others that have served in the past.  She is grateful and excited to be an integral part of an organization that supports our veterans.

Ashley Laws

Ashley served 9 years in the Army National Guard, including one year overseas for OIF/OEF, which gives her a unique understanding of the work we do. Prior to joining our team as an intern in 2016, she worked in the mental health field for 10 years. Ashley graduated from SIU Carbondale in 2012 with a BS in psychology and a masters in therapeutic recreation.

Ashley told us, “Having the opportunity to be a part of TAV has been an incredible experience for me. Being a veteran myself, I feel honored to be a part of such a rewarding organization. I’m excited to continue the journey learning about dogs, how they have the ability to help others, as well as learning more about myself in the process.”

Ashley brings a strong love for dogs and her spunky two year old has recently taught her much patience.

Joel Mancha

Joel joined the team as an intern trainer in 2016 and has a BS in animal science from SIU Carbondale. As a newcomer, Joel is just starting to whet his appetite for this work. He loves learning the processes of training and enjoys the great teamwork among our trainers.

Joel says, “Working for TAV has been very impactful and fulfilling to me. Seeing firsthand how canine companionship can help heal wounds created by traumatic events. I have gained great insight and respect for the program being run here. I find myself beyond proud to be a part of such a lifesaving organization and am excited about the opportunities that lay in front of me as I continue to learn, to grow as a trainer and an individual.”

Hannah Redfairn

Hanna earned her bachelor in political science and a master’s in public administration at SIU Carbondale.  “For the last ten years, I have been mindfully working to empathize with and better the world I live in. Working with dogs has been the epitome of my search,” Hannah said.

She has owned dogs of a variety of breeds over the years and working at a vet’s office gave her further insight into dog behavior. “Along with keeping myself kind enough and open enough to listen when a creature of this world is talking to me, I hope to progress as a trainer by studying, testing and becoming CCPDT certified this spring.”

“Training a dog for a lifetime of service, for that commitment and that level of not only obedience but consistent assistance with daily life has been a challenge I fully embrace.  I enjoy learning the character of each individual pooch and working with those attributes to draw out a service dog worthy of TAV. I am grateful for position in This Able Veteran.”

Lauren GriefLauren Ulrich

I was able to take part in the most recent graduating class and it was an incredible experience. I cannot wait to be a part of a class of dogs from puppyhood through graduation with their veterans.


Lauren has been an intern at This Able Veteran since May 2014 and has become an invaluable member of our team. Lauren’s passion for people and animals is a tremendous asset to our organization and will serve her well in the important work ahead.

Lauren’s internship continues to enhance her natural abilities. Her skills include basic obedience training, remote collar training and the training of alerts for service dogs. She is a graduate of SIU Carbondale with a Bachelor’s in Rehabilitation Services.



Cleta Shirley, Sales Coordinator

Cleta is southern Illinois native and payroll coordinator for Southern Illinois Healthcare. Her hobbies include traveling, genealogy, and Bocce Ball, however her first love photography. Photographing the beauty of nature and capturing events in the lives of friends and family is a true passion.

Cleta became aware of This Able Veteran in the spring of 2016 when she attended a volunteer meeting for our “Really close to almost 5k Color Run.”  She loves what This Able Veteran does for veterans with PTSD and is honored to be associated with us.


Donna Stoodley, Sales Coordinator

Donna’s passion for veterans and those that serve in the military started at a very young age. Her father was career Army, so she has a deep connection with service men and women and their families.  She has seen firsthand the effect that war and military life can have.

Donna lost her father in 2014.  In his final years, as his memory began to fail him, he slowly went back to Korea and Vietnam.  She could see how reliving those memories changed him.  After her Dad’s passing, she began to search for ways to help other veterans. Through a chance meeting with a volunteer from This Able Veteran, she started to get involved and all the pieces fell into place – not only to help veterans but to honor her father and his service to his country.

Donna has been in retail management for many years at Macy’s  Family life is very important to Donna, as is her involvement in her church.  Hobbies include traveling, spending time with friends and family, playing Bocce and taking care of her rescue, Ranger.

Kim Defiori, Co-Director, Events

Kim comes to us from the Army where she served for nine years.  She was medically retired from the service in 2017 after receiving intensive treatment for PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI’s).  Through her pursuit of finding healing and strength from her past traumas, she used yoga, art, writing, and other nontraditional techniques.  She was involved with the service dog program at Walter Reed and had the opportunity to see firsthand the healing powers they could have.  Kim attended both the dog behavioral psychology class and the trauma resiliency course with her unique and empathetic dog Yardim.  She was recently paired with one of our favorite service dogs, Thor.

Kim is continuing her pursuit to help Veteran’s with PTSD by assisting with the fundraising efforts for This Able Veteran.