Meet our Officers
President: Judy Thompson
Hello, I’m J A Thompson (Judy). When I was a little girl I was told I was blessed with a sixth sense, an ability to communicate (nonverbally) and interact with animals. Animals have always been a very important part of my life. As a teenager and young adult I did obedience work with my Fox Terrier, Boxer, Irish Setter and a Standard Poodle. I got my first grooming job because the owner of the business felt that anyone who could do obedience work and scfuccessfully compete with an Irish Setter had to have some special dog skills. In the mid 1980s I went to a Philadelphia Kennel Club dog show and fell in love with Schipperkes. A few months later I purchased a beautiful little Schipperke bitch which started my dog show addiction. My husband, son, and I owned, bred and showed Schipperkes for several decades.
I met my first Berger Picard in 2012. I knew I had met my next breed. In 2013 I bought my first Picard, my foundation bitch, my beautiful and sassy Izanne Aria. She quickly decided that I knew nothing about Picards and she would have to educate me. So the fun and love affair began. My husband and I now share our home with our beautiful Picard girls, Aria and two of her daughters, Nettie and Bling. I appreciate and enjoy dogs that closely conform to their breed standard however I equally appreciate dogs that can perform and compete in other functions, beauty and brains. To preserve and protect, is essential with this lovely rustic breed!
As per my mother, education is the key to life success. I don’t know how successful I’ve been but I hold multiple degrees in criminal justice and social services with a masters in social services. I have extensive training as a motivational speaker and a diversity trainer for the Pennsylvania child welfare system. I am now semi retired. I work part time to support my dog habit and so I can travel and hang out with my family and friends. For those who know me best know I am somewhat computer illiterate which is truly a reflection of my age and not growing up with all the modern day technology. I respect but I’m not afraid of an 80 pound dog but I’m intimidated by a computer (smile). I also enjoy reading cozy mysteries, fishing, sports, music, sweet wines and cooking.
Vice President: Valerie Black
I have been a member of the BPCA since its inception. Like my irreplaceable predecessor, Betsy Richards, I had no past history in dog clubs, showing dogs, etc prior to falling head over heels in love with this wonderful scruffy breed of dog we all adore. My family has always had dogs, some purebred, some not, but I was never remotely interested in the prospect of belonging to a club or any of the rest of it! However, as many of you know, Betsy was very persuasive and I am so glad she was. She truly twisted my arm over the phone and I will be forever grateful! Because of that my daughter and I took handling classes, have had some success, and have had a wonderful time.
As a PA in my professional life, the health and welfare of this marvelous breed and preserving it while respecting its origins intrigued me. The BPCA was created to protect and preserve the breed as the French intended, which is why we have our Elevage every 4 yrs to make sure we are continuing to do that and participate in our DNA bank for the breed. I have learned an incredible amount in the last 15 years and am so grateful for all the mentors I have now. I enjoy showing my own dogs as much as possible and have participated in herding a bit, some agility and obedience but mostly conformation. With a full-time hospital position, not to mention 3young grandchildren now (thanks to my two oldest of four children ), so far that is what I have time for.
I do breed Picards, am proud to say I am an AKC Breeder of Merit, have all my dogs’ health results public on OFA, and have been so fortunate to add so many lovely folks to my Picard family. I do my best to breed healthy dogs with good temperaments who can make their owners’ lives more complete. I am a believer in AVI-Dog and Puppy Culture socialization techniques and feel that well-socialized puppies become well-balanced adults. As an officer of my local kennel club as well, I continue to learn from others every single day. I am proud to serve on your board, always open to new ideas, and happy to learn from others!
Recording Secretary: Michele Fitzgerald
Hello there and Picard hugs! My husband Joe and I have adored and shared our lives with Picards for close to 16 years now. I came from performance events and was competing in agility and rally with my Rottweiler and Amstaff 20 years ago, as well as equestrian events. As the dogs and horse aged, (and I aged) I began researching breeds with the willingness to dabble in many sports, and a breed that needed owners willing to promote them, breed responsibly and keep their numbers from dwindling. We loved the look of the Berger Picard, and when we met Betsy Richards’ pack at her home, we were sold!!!! (Who isn’t??) Our first Picard was graciously imported for us with the help of quite a few folks going to the Elevage in 2007, and then we added a second, a third- our foundation girl from Canada- a 4th, etc. Over the years we’ve had lots of fun learning, breeding, and competing in all different venues; but more than that, we’ve had the most fun introducing others to the breed and connecting with so many who adore them and want them to succeed. We love to stay in contact with our puppy owners and try very hard to encourage them to try new sports, too.
In that interim I have volunteered for my past local KC (SVKC) as show chair for 5 years, been a member of a local Lure coursing club as well as the IHCUS club for our Ibizan hounds; and since we moved further north, Joe and I are now active members of our local all breed club (Shawnee Kennel Club of VA) where I am also a board member, and recently chaired their all breed Fast Cat events. I also chaired both the FDC and Herding trial for the BPCA at the 2022 National-as well as serving as the area 2 representative, and have served in the role of recording secretary for the past year. I am hoping to become a member of our local Obedience Club this year as well.
In all this time, as they say, age is wisdom, and one thing I’ve learned is it takes a lot to keep these dog sports that we love alive. The volunteers for most of my clubs are painfully aware of this, so I just want to say thanks for giving me the opportunity to give back and hopefully encourage others to volunteer as well. Get out there with your Picards, get involved, and I hope to see you at some shows or sporting events this year!
Corresponding Secretary: Marcy Grauerholz
Dogs have always been a large and important part of my life starting with an English Bulldog when I was 4. My family fell in love with Bullmastiffs so after the English Bulldog passed, my pre-teen and teenage years were enhanced by 3 Bullmastiffs. It was one of these Bullmastiffs that introduced me to the sport of purebred dogs.
During the 80’s and 90’s we had English Springer Spaniels, a Lhasa Apso and our first Australian Shepherd. These were great pets and family dogs as we raised our two children.
The early 90’s we began to focus on breeding and showing Australian Shepherds and Greywood became our kennel name.
I became acquainted with Berger Picards through a Meet the Breed and was instantly hooked. We met Liz Hansen and brought our first Berger Picard home in 2013. We have had Picards in our home ever since.
We currently have 4 Berger Picards. Two are Sketchbook, Jackson 10 and Mia 7, bred by Liz Hansen. We imported Pilar, age 4, from France. And we have our first bred-by Picard, Pip, who is 5 months. We also have 3 Australian Shepherds in our ‘pack’.
I feel it’s so important to be good breed ambassadors. We love visiting dog friendly venues in the Kansas City area with our Picards. They always attract attention and lots of questions. We get to educate others and do mini-impromptu meet the breeds. It’s always fun when we run into a family where one of the kids has read Because of Winn Dixie and excitedly yells, “It’s the Winn Dixie dog!”
I look forward to meeting many more Picards and ‘their people’ in the upcoming years. I have enjoyed working on planning the National and currently I am helping recognize our members and their Berger Picards who attain AKC titles. I hope to contribute to the growth of the club and the healthy preservation of our beautiful breed as a whole. I am always happy to talk to anyone about Picards. I’ll answer any questions I can or direct you to a person who can.
Treasurer: Janice Billingsley
In 2011 I started researching Berger Picards. Anything I could find in print and on the internet, I read with great interest and enthusiasm. (I stalked Val Black’s web page) However, it was not until I spoke with Liz Hansen and Betsy Richards several times on the phone, that my education really began. Both ladies were kind and generous with me and finally in March of 2013, Betsy allowed me to bring home my first Picard. What a treasure he is! Later in 2013, I became a member of the BPCA.
Betsy Richards could talk anyone into anything and so with my wonderful Picard, I dabbled in confirmation, agility, rally and even herding. In 2014, I attended my first Berger Picard Nationals where my first Picard earned his CGCA title and I was fully exposed to the Picardy world and the wonderful people in it. Through my involvement with the BPCA, I have met and have collected many treasured friends from all over the US and Canada.
Now my home has two happy and healthy Picards that are deeply loved. (I have a Val puppy too!) My husband and I own a small business in Amarillo, Texas that occasionally gets in the way of my Picardy ‘partying’ but it does allow Ianto and Vesta to come to work with us often where they enjoy meeting customers and delivery men and just spending time being with my husband, Brad and I. I also look forward to every time I get the chance to help anyone who would like to learn more about this wonderful, unique breed.
AKC Delegate: Jackie Carswell
For the past 38 years, I have had the privilege of sharing my life with Irish Wolfhounds as an exhibitor and breeder under the AKC registered kennel prefix “Carnasserie”. My hounds and I have participated in conformation, obedience, and lure coursing. Health testing, having an in depth knowledge of the pedigrees behind the dogs in your breeding program, and mentoring others is of great importance to me.
My love for the Berger Picard began in 2008. I reached out to the club for more information about the breed and immediately received a telephone call from Betsy Richards. Anyone involved in the breed knows very well that once captured by Betsy, you never are able to escape! In 2009 she put me to work for the club and soon after, Elior De L’Escale Des Migrateurs joined our family. He left me for the rainbow bridge in March of 2020. Noémie De La Vie En Rose joined us in 2017 and then Simon De La Vie En Rose in April of 2021. They share my life with 10 Irish Wolfhounds, 1 mini wire dachshund and 1 Bassett Hound. I am approved by the AKC to judge Irish Wolfhounds and Rhodesian Ridgebacks and currently serve as the AKC Delegate for the Berger Picard Club of America, having served previously as its Treasurer for 5 years. I serve on the show, breed and judges’ education committees, am the chairman of the bylaws committee, chairman of the internet committee and the permanent trophy chair for the club.
My previous volunteer work for the Irish Wolfhound club of America included serving as its Treasurer(10 years), VP (1 year) and President (3 years) and several regional clubs serving on the health, judges’ education, finance, judges selection, breed mentor and rescue committees. I currently still serve the IWCA as a breed and judges mentor and rescue volunteer.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your AKC delegate. My job is to serve the membership and help you with any issues that may arise with registrations, rules, etc. I enjoy representing the Berger Picard and the Parent Club at all AKC delegate meetings and events.