Mary Jo Brandt joined Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs as a volunteer in 2011, a Board Member in 2012, and accepted a position as Chief Operating Officer full-time in 2016. She has been instrumental in implementing and overseeing many policies and initiatives throughout her time with Guardian Angels.
About Mary Jo
Most recently, Mary Jo has been named one of the Ten Best COOs for 2022 by Industry Era Magazine. Mary Jo’s background encompasses a variety of fast-paced industries, including finance, advertising, and graphic design, as well as extensive experience leading teams to success.
Her formal education includes a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Technology from Northern Illinois University and a Master of Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.
Mary Jo’s involvement in the organization’s growth is pivotal. Guardian Angels have dynamic plans for growth and have recently incorporated the Borden Institute of Higher Learning and the Borden Veterinary Hospital under the Guardian Angels’ umbrella. Plans are also underway to expand and open two new campuses in the next 18 to 24 months.
What Working at Guardian Angels Means to Mary Jo
‘Why’ and where we choose to invest our time and energy is our motivation for success. “My why is “value.” This organization adds value to the community. The recipients add value to their families and communities, our dogs add value to the recipients, and I add value to helping our staff, recipients, and donors. We are all part of a greater community of helping each other. I can’t imagine a better ‘why’ than that,” said Mary Jo.
Mary Jo has also been personally touched by Guardian Angels in various ways. “My family has a long line of military service, back to WWII. What I appreciate about the Guardian Angels solution is that not only does it help the recipient of the dog, but it also helps the family who may also be dealing with intergenerational PTS. The fact that we can supply a solution to help mitigate the symptoms of PTS and other disabilities is amazing. To bring families together is the absolute best reward,” said Mary Jo.
“I went to dinner the other night and ran into one of our newly paired teams. When I first met this person, they seemed defeated. The person I saw just a few short days later was out to dinner by himself (with his dog). He told me he hadn’t eaten out in years. The man I saw was confident, standing straight, smiling, and interacting with the wait staff. I didn’t even know it was him until we got up to leave and I saw his dog. Then I realized who he was. It was so exciting for me to be part of his journey,” said Mary Jo.
What Mary Jo Wants You To Know About Guardian Angels
“Most people who see us look at the dogs. And who wouldn’t? They are amazing animals that give so much. What we don’t focus on are the people who make all this happen. We would not be able to do this mission if it weren’t for the donors and volunteers that put so much effort into the success of our mission. But we seldom focus on the staff, and ‘why’ we walk the talk,” said Mary Jo.
“We believe that once paired with one of our dogs that individuals can live a new normal. We also believe in hiring staff that shows we believe in that mission. Almost 12% of our staff are Veterans, and about 19% have a permanent disability. We also have an Apprentice Service Dog Trainer program that is registered with the State of Florida Department of Education Division of Career and Adult Education and is also approved through the VA under the GI bill. You don’t have to be a veteran to apply for the program, but it is helpful for our Veterans who participate in the program,” said Mary Jo.
To learn more about the Guardian Angels team, visit our Meet Our Team page today!