Berger Picard Club of America Board

Officers for 2021-2022:

President: Judy Hoover Thompson, Temple, PA

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 successfully 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.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, Elm Grove, WI 

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 3
young 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: Lexandra Creitz, Ann Arbor, MI <>

Lexandra is a retired pediatric physical therapist/manager and electronic medical record consultant.

My husband and I talked about owning a dog for many years, but our work schedule wasn’t conducive to giving a dog a quality of life as we both worked long hours. When we retired, we decided our puppy clock was ticking and went searching for the perfect breed. We knew we wanted an athletic/intelligent breed but couldn’t agree on the best breed for us. One day, I was riding my bicycle home and spotted this scruffy dog. I talked to the owner for a long time. I was smitten with the Berger Picard. It turns out that the only Picard living in the city of Ann Arbor lived ½ mile from us! When I got home, I told my husband, I found the right breed. He read about the breed and we off we went to meet 3 that lived in our area. Being new to owning our dog, I wasn’t sure we would find a breeder who would trust the rookies. Betsy Richards came to the rescue and we became the proud owner of our first (and only) Picard. Betsy also convinced us to show our Picard in conformation. She said – “You all are retired, and I have a show puppy that would be perfect for you.” Betsy mentored us and I think I called her every day for the first year.

As a rookie, I wanted to learn everything about the breed and decided the best way to learn was to get involved with the BPCA. In addition, my management skills and interest in caring for people was a perfect match.

I am pleased with of our accomplishments with Gatsby (AllStars Leonardo DiCaprio) but am most proud of him becoming a certified therapy dog. He looks forward to his visits to the memory care unit near us.(Currently can only do Zoom visits). His tricks are very popular with the residents.

I am very active (along with my husband) in a variety of canine activities including conformation, agility, rally, herding, scent work, and more. We recently tried barn hunt and dock diving. Gatsby has his TDN, TDI, FDC, CGCA, and TT as well as completing 2 herding instinct tests. We may not compete in all sports but enjoy practicing in the play yard or at our local dog club. We also enjoy hiking, snowshoeing and swimming with Gatsby.

Corresponding Secretary: Celestia Lensky, Nashua, NH  <>

Celestia Lensky has been training dogs, exotic birds and coaching/teaching school age children using positive reinforcement for over 28 years. She fell in love with the Berger Picard breed after importing her first eight week old Berger Picard puppy boy from France in 2007. Since then, her love for the breed has become a passion to help protect and preserve them which, along with some persuasion from Betsy Richards, led to her becoming a member of the BPCA in 2010.

Celestia has been involved in the dog sports of herding, conformation, agility, obedience, nose work, barn hunt and most recently dock diving. Her dogs have enjoyed being ambassadors for the breed meeting people all over the USA and Canada both as official participants representing the BPCA as well as unofficial BPCA events and programs at elementary schools – teaching and nursing homes – with TDI (Therapy Dogs International). Sharing the many talents of these dogs with others in so many different venues and environments has been an “amazing journey”. She is committed to helping and supporting everyone who has an interest in this wonderful and unique breed and believes that by working together the Berger Picard will be able to be preserved for many generations to come.

Over the course of her membership with the BPCA Celestia has been the Chair for the National Berger Picard Rehome, the Chair of the National Health Committee, the NE Director, and is currently the BPCA Corresponding Secretary. She also serves as a breed and judge’s mentor, and works with the BPCA judges education program. She firmly believes that publicly available health and temperament disclosure are of paramount importance when making decisions in breeding. Her first import, Berger Picard CH Caspian de Lann Guic CM CGCA HIT TT successfully produced some of the first AKC Berger Picard conformation Grand Champions/Champions and the number one Owner Handled Picard in the US. That line continues producing Grand Champions today and she has similarly high hopes for her newest Picard puppy boy, Pierre de La Vie en Rose.

Treasurer:  Janice Billingsley, Amarillo,TX

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:  Jacqueline 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 is currently the only Picard in residence, along with 8 Irish Wolfhounds, 2 mini wire dachshunds 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 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.

Regional Directors:

Division 1: Debra Crespo, Vermont <>

Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia 

I have been an active participant in the sport of dogs for over 22 years. I have participated in many different activities within our sport including conformation, earth dog, fast cat, lure coursing and barn hunt.

I have been a devoted breeder of Parson Russell Terriers for over 17 years and have produced many champions with titles on both ends of their names. As breeders both me and the other half of my kennel..Kathleen Owsley, believe health testing and pedigree research is the foundation of a breeding program that supports the form and function of the breed as stated in the AKC breed standard. For approximately 15 years I also bred Akitas. I still have one old Akita here in my home but for many reasons I decided to no longer breed this wonderful and regal breed. I guess my claim to fame in this breed is having bred the two dogs that stared in “Hachi a Dogs Tale” along with Richard Gere. I am very proud of these two dogs who represented the breed and my kennel so well in this film.

I believe that participation in a breed parent club is key and necessary to support any breed you have interest in. As such, I served on the board of the Akita Club of America as Treasurer and attended many Akita Nationals. I served on the board of the Parson Russell Terrier Association of America for 10 years, 9 of those years as Treasurer (I am an Accountant by profession). I have served on many committees for the PRTAA including, National Committee, National Rotation Committee, Ways and Means Committee, Nomination Committee, Health and Genetics Committee and the Versatility Committee. I continue to serve on committees and devote time to the PRTAA.

I have attended almost every National since becoming involved with Parson Russell Terriers as well as attending Specialties across the US.

I fell in love with Berger Picards 6 years ago and Kathy and I began watching the breed and contacting breeders. We currently have two Berger Picards. Our Boy Gaston lives here in Vermont with me, my husband, our Parsons and our one elderly Akita. Our girl Bailee lives in Virginia with Kathy, Parsons and her husband. We love our Picards and find them to be joyful, loving and just the right amount of protective. Both of our Picards have had Hips, elbows and eyes tested. Both dogs have had heart exams. Bailee has also had one Echo and we will be scheduling Gaston’s Echo soon. We also participated in the 2018 Elevage and the genetic blood bank. We have attended 2 Berger Picard Nationals and many supported shows over the last 5 ½ years and have enjoyed every minute of these events.

I have found the BPCA members to be friendly, helpful and supportive and I am very much looking forward to being a part of the BPCA board of directors and serving the breed and its parent club members.

Division 2: Michele Fitzgerald,  Shenandoah Valley, VA  <>
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia

Hello there and Picard hugs! My husband Joe and I have adored and shared our lives with Picards for close to 14 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 oldest 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 local KC as show chair for 5 years, am a member and hold an alternate position in my other breed (IHCUS) club, am a member of my local kennel club as well as my local lure coursing club. Joe was recently elected (ahem-voluntold) VP of our coursing club. 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 too. Looking forward to taking a more active role as the Area 2 Rep. Hope to see you at some shows this year!

Division 3: Diane Cocos  
Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin

Division 4: Beth Torasson, [city, state] <email to come>
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming


Archives:  <open>

Constitution and Bylaws:   Jacqueline Carswell, <>

Health: Liz Hansen <>

Membership Chair:  Patty Newgard Celestia Lensky