Meet Our Board of Directors

Debra J.M. Szot, President, and Founder

The Riley MacKenzie Fund was started in the fall of 2009 after Debbie received numerous calls for financial help with animals in the Big Rapids, Michigan, and surrounding areas. Debbie has loved animals all of her life, so starting this fund was a natural heartfelt decision. Debbie lives with her husband on their family farm along with her five dogs, four cats, and three horses.

Debbie teaches dog obedience classes and works with behavior issues with dogs in Mecosta County at Riversbend Animal Hospital. She occasionally teaches a Therapy Dog Prep Course, beginner agility and beginner AKC Rally. She is a member of Boxer Haven Rescue, a member of Midwest Boston Terrier Rescue, a member (along with two of her dogs) of Alliance of Therapy Dogs. 

Debbie was a former board member of the Mecosta County Area Foundation, WISE (Women's Information Services), Mecosta County Medical Center Foundation, Mecosta County Council for the Arts, Mecosta County Homebuilders, Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce board member, and past-president, a founding member of Artworks.

David Szot, Vice President

David retired from Big Rapids High School in 2010 where he taught English, art, and history. As a teacher, he saw a need for education on the treatment of animals in the school system. This partnership to help animals was an easy decision for David. David is currently teaching art part-time at Ferris State University. He is a member of the classic rock band Free Flight. He is a former board member of the Mecosta County Council for the Arts and Artworks.

Heather L. Hodges, Secretary

Heather is a social worker in care management at Spectrum Health Hospital. She lives in the Big Rapids area with her four dogs, Jackson, Emily, Pete, and Lola. Her Boston Terrier Emily was adopted from Midwest Boston Terrier Rescue and Lola was adopted from Boxer Haven Rescue. 

Heather is the former chairperson for the Committee on Sexual Assault (COSA) at Ferris State University, WISE (Women's Information Services) facilitator for Alternatives to Violence class for battered partners.

Steven D. Schut, Treasurer

Steve lives in the Cadillac area where he is a baker for the Blue Heron Restaurant. He is the former treasurer for New Hope Shelter, a shelter for homeless men. He is very active in his church and has always had animals in his life. He is an avid antique collector and a collector of Cadillac, Michigan memorabilia.

Sherry Comer, Director

Sherry is originally from Reed City and a former resident of the Big Rapids area. In 1999 she and her husband, Terry, and their Yorkie, Baxter, moved to northern Michigan. Their beloved boy crossed the Rainbow Bridge in 2006 and was welcomed by his lab sister, Brandi, and cat brother, Ashley. 

Sherry is a graphic artist and talented photographer and uses these skills to promote the Riley MacKenzie Fund. She is employed at Allegra Printing in Traverse City and as an aqua fitness instructor at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. Her love of animals is great and she welcomes the opportunity to educate others about animal welfare and the Riley MacKenzie Fund.

Barbara Graham, Director

Barb is employed at Spectrum Health Hospital. Barb has several Certified Therapy Dogs, LT a Boston Terrier, Ember, and Probe both rescued Boxers. Barb is married to Lonnie and he is also very involved in dog rescue work. Together they have fostered more than 200 dogs. They are very interested in training deaf dogs and fostered three litters of puppies throughout their rescue dog work. They foster dogs for Boxer Haven Rescue. 

Barb’s other public involvement is through volunteerism and fundraising for the Reed City Fire department Auxiliary and the Nazarene Church. Barb has two adult children who also have rescue and Therapy Dogs. 

Barb has two wonderful Grandsons and engages them on many levels of canine work, believing they will be our next generation to help promote responsible pet ownership and champion the underdog so to speak and help mold them into well-rounded people through community volunteerism.

Glenda Montague, Director

Glenda is a massage therapist at The Massage Spot in Remus. Glenda and her husband Jim, live in Canadian Lakes, they have two children, Summer and Corey. The Montague’s are animal lovers, they have two dogs, Peaches and Herb, and a cat named Spike. 

Glenda has worked with both dogs and taken obedience classes, people often comment on how well behaved they both are. Glenda volunteers with Rolling Rescue transporting dogs from animal shelters to various rescues statewide. Glenda is a former board member of Mecosta County CARES as she is an advocate for spay and neuter. 

Glenda’s daughter, Summer, along with her husband also has adopted rescue dogs. Glenda is very proud of her son Corey, is also a proud owner of a rescue dog. He has held several very successful, dog and cat food drives in Canadian Lakes. Corey collected pet food for the Mecosta County Animal Shelter, God’s Helping Hands in Remus, and the Riley MacKenzie Fund to distribute at the Manna Pantry in Big Rapids.

Leonard (Lenny) Schebil, Director

Lenny is now retired from Premier Auto Sales Inc. in Big Rapids and has been in the auto business since 1976. He has been a resident of Big Rapids for 28 years and enjoys life with his wife Mary, two dogs. He has two children and four grandchildren. 

Lenny enjoys taking his dogs to the local schools to help educate young people on the different dog breeds and on how to take care of them. His dog Rugby, a Golden Doodle, is a therapy dog. Lenny is an animal advocate and believes strongly in spaying and neutering animals to help with overpopulation of dogs and cats. He enjoys working with the Riley MacKenzie Fund as an auctioneer to help raise money for a great cause.

Pam Willard, Director

Pam retired in 2017 from a long career in the pipeline industry where she worked as a field office manager on projects across the United States. A lifelong animal lover, Pam’s dogs would accompany her to work each day. She currently has three dogs—two English Springer Spaniels, Choco and Tizzy; and one Spaniel/Poodle Cross, Gracie whom she rescued from the Osceola County Animal shelter in 2016. 

While Pam has supported the Riley MacKenzie Fund since its inception, her retirement allows for a more active role in the organization. She and Choco, a registered Therapy Dog, participate in the Riley MacKenzie Fund School Visits and are also training in Agility. 

Tizzy is a young puppy but as she matures, she will also become a Therapy Dog and will train in agility. Gracie who was rescued from a life of breeding at a puppy mill is enjoying her freedom at Pam’s Big Rapids farm. Gracie has learned the joy of running, having a clean environment to live in and a life full of love. 

Pam came to the Big Rapids area in 1976 when she went to work as a reporter at The Pioneer. She also worked in the public relations department at Ferris State University, Legends Ranch and Ice Mountain as a plant administrator. She looks forward to putting her skills to work for Riley MacKenzie Fund. In addition to her three dogs, Pam has three horses. She loves trail riding and competing in dressage.

Carol Byrne, Former Director

Sue Brooks, Former Director