The DreamDog Foundation empowers children to learn in unique, dynamic ways through new media and experiential learning, enhancing their self-esteem and ensuring a lifetime love of learning. Instilling a Love of Learning… so ALL children can Achieve and Believe!
The DreamDog Board of Advisors
Rainey, (aka Lorraine Friedman, JD) is an author, children’s rights attorney, award-winning songwriter, multi-media producer and storyteller who empowers children and parents through experiential learning, self-esteem building, and imagination. She helps students find the creative spark within to ignite their education making it fun, exciting, and successful for all types of learners.
Rainey is the Founder and Director of the DreamDog Foundation, a 501(c)(3) dedicated to instilling a lifelong love of learning through innovative experiential learning programs. She works with children in school systems, Housing Authorities, Boys and Girls Clubs, Shelters, and organizations that work with at-risk children to create dynamic, innovative programs like, “Kids Empowering Kids” and “Kids Making a Difference”.
As an author, Rainey created two award-winning book/music CD series: Jazz the DreamDog® and the DreamDog Kids to help children discover the superhero inside and believe that the real magic to solve problems lies within oneself and The Adventures of CiCi & Ace, a unique multi-sensory product combining a storybook, music CD, and web fun & games. Currently, her new book projects involve turning children into published authors with the DreamDog Foundation’s “Book of My Own” program.
Prior to this, Rainey graduated from Georgetown University Law Center and spent a decade as a civil rights attorney and advocate, representing the rights of homeless children and children with disabilities, lobbying Congress. Rainey’s most recent recognition was from the Commission on Women who honored her with the “Salute to Women Award” as the Person Making the Biggest Impact on the Lives of Children and Youth in the City of Alexandria. Whether writing books or music for children, representing their legal rights or creating and teaching through exciting hands-on, one-of-a-kind programs, Rainey continues to make a difference in children’s lives.
Anita LaRue, Board Chair
Anita LaRue, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the UCLA School of Law, is an attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Columbia. As a senior prosecutor, Anita has had the opportunity to serve as a community prosecutor in many parts of the District of Columbia. As such, she worked closely with a wide variety of community groups including young people, parents, neighborhood watch groups, law enforcement groups, halfway house residents, college students, seniors, domestic violence victims, and elementary and middle school students. Throughout her years as prosecutor, she has participated in Project L.E.A.D., a legal, enrichment and decision-making program for students in elementary and middle schools in the DCPS. The students are assigned roles and are presented with real-life scenarios in various areas including internet safety, bullying, under-age drinking, narcotics use and other challenges adolescents face growing up. The program culminates in a mock trial where the students play all the roles in the courtroom.
Anita has also served as the Acting General Counsel in the D.C. Department of Corrections where she worked to improve the educational instruction in the District of Columbia Jail and the Correctional Treatment Facility. Outside of her legal work, Anita serves on the Governance Committee and Board of Directors of Special Olympics D.C. She is active in the Summer Olympics, the Winter Plunge and other activities that raise funds for sports programming for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. She lives with her husband and daughter in Washington, D.C.
Courtnay Weitekamp, a graduate of Mary Baldwin College, with an Education Psych degree and certification to teach N-K-4th earned her Masters of Education at George Mason University (GMU). A teacher and parent of Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS), she has loved teaching more than 30 years for ACPS. Her absolute favorite part is teaching young children how to read. As a Certified CETA teacher (Kennedy Center for Education through the Arts), Courtnay infuses many different learning techniques into each class that helps children invest themselves in their learning. As a child, Courtnay had dyslexia and a difficult time learning to read. That just adds to her joy of teaching all types of learners to love to read. Courtnay is a Teacher Consultant with the Northern Virginia Writing Project through GMU and loves getting kids excited about writing and has been honored for her inclusive practices. She was also chosen “Titan Teacher of the Year” by former ACPS students. Finally, Courtnay enjoys being a champion in the school system and community for DreamDog Foundation’s mission of making learning experiential, dynamic, innovative and fun.
Amy Jackson, Director of Development
Amy Jackson is a life-long community activist and educator. As a proud T.C. Williams Titan, Amy went on to complete her B.A. in Communication Studies at Virginia Tech. She then continued her education at George Mason University where she received her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction (Secondary Education in Social Studies), and her second M.Ed. in Education Leadership. Amy’s career with Fairfax County Public Schools spanned 16 years, until returning home to Alexandria in 2015 with her young family. Currently, Amy is actively involved in many commissions, programs, and non-profits that contribute to the safety, well-being, and education of women, children, and families including: Alexandria Commission for Women, The Fund for Alexandria’s Child, The Scholarship Fund of Alexandria, Alexandria Human Trafficking Initiative, The John Alexander Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Alexandria Democratic Committee, Alexandria’s Human Rights Commission, and is also a former Commissioner of Alexandria’s Landlord and Tenant Relations Board. Amy firmly believes that being of service to our community is our wisest investment in our children’s future.
Michele Werner, Treasurer
Michele Werner is director of development for Arlington Pediatric Center and Virginia Hospital Center Foundation. Arlington Pediatric Center is a medical home providing care to more than 3,500 uninsured and low-income children living in Arlington, VA. Michele joined the Foundation in 2007 when the Hospital re-launched its charitable Foundation and has responsibilities for Foundation and APC communications, special events, corporate and foundation giving and annual giving. She loves that her work and gives back to the community that she is part of. Michele has more than 20 years of experience in fundraising and healthcare advocacy. She is a graduate of George Washington University and resides in Arlington with her husband Geoff and two children, Hannah and Jackson.
Laurie graduated from SMU with a BA in economics and worked for American Airlines for 15 years in many roles including contract negotiations, pricing, revenue management and account director (while also enjoying the major perk of traveling the world). Laurie always dreamed of running her own business and opened Urban Paws in 2009. She was in charge every step of the way, from concept creation to general contracting the construction of the building to running the business. Within 6 months she turned her small start-up company into a profitable venture. Laurie still oversees every aspect of her business from HR, marketing and sales to business operations, but her favorite part is the opportunity to give back to the community. Working closely with dog rescue groups she houses and socializes rescue dogs to help place them in forever homes. She also provides employment and empowerment to people who need a second chance in life.
Amy Zang, a graduate of SUNY Geneseo, has a Masters of Education from Virginia Tech and more than 20 years experience teaching Special Education in the public school systems, where she developed and implemented individual programs to meet the needs of students in kindergarten through 6th grade. Amy also owns and runs a summer camp teaching children the empowering sport of sailing. She is celebrating her 25th year of providing safe, educational sailing experiences in the DC area. She has been lucky enough to provide experiential programs for various schools in the DC area with a curriculum called Sailing into Science, Math and Language Arts. Currently, Amy teaches and supervises new teachers through George Mason and Drexel Universities. Amy Zang is a mom of two teenagers, an active community member and an advocate for all children.
Simone Jacobs, Board Member
Simone Jacobs is a psychotherapist in full time private practice in Takoma Park, MD. She has a BSc from Kings College, London University, and a MSW from Smith College. Simone focuses her training and experience on working with survivors of childhood abuse and neglect. She worked on the Sex Abuse Treatment Unit of the Montgomery County Child Welfare Agency; finding ways to work collaboratively with children, teens and families affected by abuse. She continued her work at the Tree House, Child Assessment Center of Montgomery County, which provided free individual therapy and groups for children and teenagers who have been abused or neglected, and at the Center for Posttraumatic Disorders Program at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington. Simone enjoys finding ways for children, teens and adults to re-connect with themselves and others by creating new meaning of their experiences through the therapeutic process.
Karen McManis, Board Member
Karen McManis has more than 20 years of experience developing, managing, and executing strategic, high-impact marketing, communications, and development campaigns. She has worked with local, national, and global clients in the corporate and not-for-profit arenas. Karen holds a BA in Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MS in Business from Johns Hopkins University. She lives in Alexandria, VA with her husband, Chris Peace, and their two daughters. A long-time volunteer in Alexandria’s public school system, Karen has served as PTA president at the elementary and middle school levels, as president of the Alexandria PTA council and in various PTA board, volunteer, and fundraising roles.
The DreamDog Foundation would like to acknowledge and thank our wonderful volunteers who are a such an essential part of our success. We are grateful that they give their time and energy to help with our programs and for the meaningful ways they help us achieve our goals.