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Meet Our Team

Get To Know Our Team

Our staff and volunteers are highly dedicated to the New Life K9s program and work hard every day to help our mission. 

Celis Rabena
Program Manager

Celis is a retired police officer with nearly three decades of dedicated service to the City of Exeter and the City of Grover Beach Police Departments. Throughout his extensive career, he held various positions within the department and had the honor of reaching the rank of Police Lieutenant. Over the years, he encountered situations and responsibilities that most individuals would never encounter in their lifetime. These experiences have given him unique insight into the challenges faced by Veterans and First Responders dealing with PTSD.

His journey with Son Care Foundation/New Life K9s began as he explored opportunities to stay engaged and make a positive impact after retiring from Law Enforcement. Upon reading the business profile of New Life K9s, he was immediately drawn to its mission. Throughout his career, Celis had the privilege of meeting several Veterans and Emergency Responders battling PTSD. While he could offer sympathy and understanding, Celis longed to do more to support them on their healing journey. Joining the New Life K9s team presented him with the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those coping with PTSD. It's his way of providing the assistance and support they truly deserve.

Amber Nieslanik
Lead Educator

Amber grew up around all kinds of animals, and has always been a huge animal lover. She is certified in exotic animal training and is currently finishing a degree in Animal Behavior. She started at Gentle Touch as an assistant in 2021 and eventually joined the New Life K9's team at the start of 2022. She has grown a huge love for training, and even been able to work with horses and several different marine mammals. 

Deborah Hunter
Lead Educator

Deborah is a graduate of Bergin University of Canine Studies with an Associate of Science in Assistance Dog Education degree. She has been training service dogs professionally for five years and has 11 years of experience training companion dogs. She obtained her CPDT-KA certification in 2021. In her free time, Deborah enjoys hiking with her two personal dogs and visiting local beaches.

Greg - Support Services Volunteer

Canine Ambassador and Educator Assistant


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