Ellen O’Neill-Stephens JD, Founder and Policy Director
Ellen served as a deputy prosecuting attorney in Seattle, Washington for 26 years, retiring in November of 2011; she is a pioneer in the use of dogs to provide emotional support in the criminal justice system and the founder of Courthouse Dogs. Since 2003, she has promoted the use of highly trained assistance dogs to provide comfort to children and adults who are victims or witnesses of crimes and support juveniles and adults in mental health and drug courts. Ellen’s son, Sean, and his service dog, Jeeter, were the inspiration for the Courthouse Dogs Foundation. Ellen received her bachelor’s degree in Sociology, and was a juvenile probation officer before entering law school.
Celeste Walsen DVM, Executive Director
Celeste works with criminal justice facilities to teach staff members the practicalities of using highly trained dogs in victim/witness support programs. As Executive Director of Courthouse Dogs, Dr. Walsen is currently working to develop nationally recognized guidelines that will equip victim advocates, forensic interviewers, prosecuting attorneys, and other legal professionals to effectively employ dogs to provide support for vulnerable people of all ages. Dr. Walsen holds a BA in Psychology from the University of California Berkeley and a DVM from Louisiana State University.