Great Falls Woman Wins Governor’s Volunteerism Award

Great Falls Woman Wins Governor’s Volunteerism Award

Jacqueline Cheshire helps people gain independence.


Gov. Terry McAuliffe presents Jacqueline Cheshire, of Great Falls, pictured with Canine Companion for Independence assistance puppy Agent, a Governor's Volunteerism Award on Thursday, April 30 in Richmond.


Jacqueline Cheshire, of Great Falls, wins the Governor’s Volunteerism Award for her work with Canine Companions for Independence, where she raises puppies, such as Agent, to become assistance dogs to people with disabilities or special needs.

Jacqueline Cheshire and her new puppy, Agent, are almost never apart, until 18 months later when she gives the puppy up so it can receive further training as an assistance dog for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI).

Cheshire is a volunteer puppy raiser for CCI. She gets a dog, usually a Labrador, golden retriever, or a mix of the two, from CCI when it is 2 months old and spends the next 18 months training, familiarizing and socializing the puppy until it is ready to go back to CCI in New York. At CCI, the puppy is paired with a person with disability and they become lifelong companions.

Cheshire said giving the dogs back is the hardest thing about what she does. “But it’s like sending your kids to college. You know they’re going to do great things,” she said.

HER WORK for CCI earned her the Governor’s Volunteerism Award, which she received from Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Thursday, April 30 in Richmond.

Cheshire’s stepmother, Julianne Clemente, nominated her for the award, which honors people who engaged in volunteer activities that benefit the greater community, demonstrated a commitment to meeting community needs, utilized unique and creative approaches and developed and fostered virtues and skills of civic engagement and social responsibility.

Nancie Spector, of Connecticut, has one of the dogs Cheshire trained, Solar. “She did an amazing job” raising Solar, she said. Spector is a child clinical psychologist. She uses Solar as a facility dog in her work with children. “[Solar] is unflappable. Sometimes there are kids screaming in the office and it doesn’t affect Solar at all. I credit [Cheshire] with that,” she said.

Cheshire’s work with CCI started when her daughter Nikki wanted to raise a service dog for her Girl Scout project. Her family—husband Ben, daughters Tory and Nikki and son Christian—soon got involved. “After raising the first one, I thought, ‘How could we not keep doing this?’”

She has raised six puppies since 2009 and has been rewarded with getting to know the people who receive them and the other puppy raisers, who she said are most willing to help each other take care of each other’s charges.

Her work also led her to bring CCI’s event DogFest Walk ’n Roll to the Washington, D.C. area last year, raising $46,000. The second DogFest Walk ’n Roll will be on Sept. 12 with a goal of $60,000.

In addition to her work with CCI, Cheshire is the president of Clemente Development Company, Inc. in Tysons. She is active with the Girl Scouts and on the board of the Friends of Clemyjontri Park, a park in McLean equipped with accessibility, developmental and sensory features.

CHESHIRE was born in Washington, D.C. She attended Oakton High School in Vienna, Sandy Spring Friends School in Maryland and Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.

For more information about her work with CCI and DogFest Walk ’n Roll, go to