Meet our dedicated staff!
Sandy Merrill, GDMI, Chief Executive Officer (2001-present) – Sandy has been President and CEO since March of 2014. She was the Director of Training for eight years prior to her promotion and is a certified Guide Dog Mobility Instructor. She worked in the Guide Dog Mobility field since 2001, serving as a delegate for seven International Guide Dog Conferences. She’s held the Chair of the Council of US Dog Guide Schools since Nov 2017. She has a M.A. from Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. from Reed College and is a graduate of the Andeavor Leadership Fellows Program. She serves on the board of the SA GDTX lions club. She’s married with an ancient Chow-kita, a Beagle-bull, a Labrador, and a Sun Conure.
Billy, Chief Canine Officer (2017 - present) – Billy served two years in the Guide Dog Training program before being promoted to Chief Canine Officer in 2017. Billy enjoys working with guide dog puppies, and teaching dogs in training how to swim. A passionate and outgoing Labrador, Billy loves to tell people about our mission and demonstrate guide dog work. Billy is paid only in love, snuggles, and crunchy treats. Contact the office to request an appearance and help ‘pay the Bills’.
Andrea joined the GDTX team in 2018 as the Grants Manager and loves serving as a “storyteller with a purpose” as she cultivates support for our mission from foundations. Andrea is married, has three adult children and an English Springer Spaniel. When not at GDTX, she is performing with the San Antonio Symphony Mastersingers, attending opera and musical theatre performances, cheering on the Spurs or watching college football.
Jamie was promoted to Director of Training in 2018. She was inspired to become a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor through her father’s experience with vision loss and subsequently becoming a guide dog owner. She became a certified GDMI in 2010 after her four year apprenticeship. Jamie served as Early Canine Program Manager from 2016-2017 where she oversaw the Breeding Program, Puppy Program, and the PAWSitive Approach Program. She participated in two International Guide Dog Conferences, and was a presenter, along with Sandy, at the seminar in Croatia in 2016 about the PAWSitive Approach program. Jamie is married with 5 children, one ridiculously chilled out kitten, and a sweet Great Dane.
Annie joined GDTX in 2008 as the Office Manager. Besides keeping us all organized, she assists guide dog applicants with information and local resources. Before coming to GDTX she worked at a private school, and says non-profits are the right fit for her. She’s married with two adult children and three grandchildren. Her husband of 26 years is a Regional Director for a Franchise Company. Her son is at UT Austin working on his PHD and her daughter is a first grade teacher. When she’s not at GDTX, she can be found at her grandson’s football games, her granddaughter’s dance performances, and her other grandson’s ‘everything’.
Dr. Carol Ann Tonn has twenty years in non-profit work after launching her own 501©(3), International Adoption Resources, in support of adoption initiatives as two of her children are adopted from China. Prior to her career in Education, she has twenty-five years of international Marketing and Sales experience in media with top-tier brands based on Hong Kong and Shanghai (Wall Street Journal, TIME, ComputerWorld, Yahoo!, and the San Jose Sharks). Dr. Tonn is married to Henry Bourg and they have five children.
Martha has been the GDTX Early Canine Program Coordinator since December 2018. She loves working with the GDTX puppies and has gotten to be part of seeing the puppies grow as a Breeding Program Assistant with the K and the L Litter prior to becoming the Early Canine Program Coordinator. Working with dogs has always been her passion. Before GDTX, she owned her own pet sitting & dog walking business for 15 years.
When she is not at Guide Dogs, she enjoys kayaking and loves to go for walks, of course always with a four legged furry friend. But what she values the most is spending time with her family.
Reina Gonzales graduated from St. Edward’s University with the class of 2020 with a degree in Graphic Design and a degree in Global Studies. Reina joined the Guide Dogs of Texas Team in Spring of 2021 as the GDTX Marketing Manager.
Natalie Fowler is a certified Guide Dog Mobility Instructor. She completed a four-year apprenticeship in 2016. Before that, Natalie was a volunteer puppy raiser, and raised a puppy named Bob, who went on to become a guide dog. (Bob was famous for his "What abut Bob" blog.) Natalie is our lead service provider for the Austin Satellite. A Satellite City is a city were Guide Dogs of Texas staff are in permanent residence. She serves applicants and Guide Dog Owners in Central and West Texas as well. Natalie has a cute dog of her own, and enjoys jiu jitsu.
Amy joined GDTX in 2019 as an Apprentice Guide Dog Mobility Instructor. Before joining the team she worked for several nonprofits in San Antonio and is now happy to call GDTX home. She’s married with 4 pet dogs, 2 cats and a fish. When she’s not at GDTX, she can be found spending time with all her furbabies, working on a new recipe, or sketchnoting her favorite latest podcast.
Ed Harloe - heads up our technology/vehicle/program and facility support and is otherwise our jack of all trades. He became interested in Guide Dogs of Texas because one of his friends is a guide dog owner, and one of the first graduates of GDTX. That same friend also introduced him to his wife, Sandy! Ed calls himself a 'gearhead' and ran the SA Sports Car Association for many years. He's a former software engineer with UTHSCSA and Southwest Research Institute.