The AKC Government Relations Team


American Kennel Club
8051 Arco Corporate Drive, Suite 100
Raleigh, NC 27617

Sheila Goffe, Director, Government Relations


Sheila leads the AKC's efforts in working to protect the rights of all dog owners and promote responsible dog ownership. She oversees AKC legislative policy strategy and AKC outreach at the federal, state and local levels, works with legislators, legislative staff and regulators on key issues in canine policy, and supervises the AKC Government Relation team. She also serves as Secretary on the AKC PAC Board of Directors.

Sheila joined American Kennel Club publications department in 2006. In 2008, she became AKC's Manager of Public Education. Shortly thereafter, she returned to her previous career in public policy/government affairs as AKC's Director of Government Relations. Prior to working for the American Kennel club, she was a Senior Legislative Analyst/Editor and Deputy Director of Editorial Product Development for Congressional Quarterly in Washington, DC. Previous experience included federal legislative staffing and advocacy, work as an editor and analyst for The Economist Intelligence Unit, and serving as an adjunct inPolitical Science/Comparative Politics at the State University of New York/Stony Brook.

Sheila has completed Ph.D. coursework and research in American Politics/Public Policy, earned a Masters of Philosophy in American Politics and a MA in International Political Economy and Development at Fordham University, and is a former Fulbright Scholar, studying Political Economy and Development in Sri Lanka.

Sheila owns and shows Siberian Huskies and a Bull Terrier. She is a member of the Siberian Husky Club of America, the Bull Terrier Club of America, and several specialty and all-breed kennel clubs.

Phil Guidry, Senior Policy Analyst


As the Government Relations Department's Senior Policy Analyst, Phil evaluates proposed legislation and regulations for content, context, and intent, and provides reasoned guidance regarding their potential impact on the AKC and the purebred dog community. He holds a Juris Doctor in Civil Laws degree from Loyola University-New Orleans College of Law, where he served as a student ambassador and co-authored an April 2003 article regarding legal ethics in the American Bar Association's journal The Young Lawyer.

Phil's AKC experience began in the summer of 2002 when he participated in AKC's Summer Intern Program. He returned to the AKC in early-2006 as a member of the Internal Consulting Group. Previous positions with AKC include Director of Registration Development and Legislative Analyst.

In 1990, Phil began his longtime involvement in purebred dogs by competing in junior showmanship with his Cocker Spaniels, the highlight of which was representing the United States in the International Junior Handler Finals at the 1994 Crufts Dog Show in England. In addition to being a past president of the Louisiana Kennel Club and a past co-chair of Raleigh's RDO Day, Phil currently sits on the Advisory Committee of Innovate to Motivate---The National Conference of Political Involvement Professionals.

Jennifer Clark, Manager, Canine Legislation

Phone: 919-816-3720

As the Manager of Canine Legislation, Jennifer serves as the primary point of contact for legislative issues in multiple states, including providing analysis and drafting legislative and public communications. She also works on numerous other projects, including serving as editor for the _In Session _newsletter and administrator for state PAC reporting.

Prior to joining the AKC in 2009, Jennifer worked as a lobbyist for six years in Phoenix, Arizona, where she advocated on a broad range of issues, was intricately involved on two statewide ballot measure campaigns, conducted grassroots advocacy trainings, and handled much of the public and media relations on behalf of clients. She has held a variety of other positions ranging from interning in a U.S. Senator's press office in Washington, D.C., to serving as a page in the Ohio State Senate, to performing science and planetarium demonstrations for the general public at her hometown's science museum in Columbus, Ohio.

Jennifer graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and minor in Political Science from Messiah College in Grantham, PA, and also studied Journalism and Public Relations at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Sarah Sprouse, Legislative Analyst

Phone: 919-816-3928

Sarah has been with the American Kennel Club since 2005. Prior to coming to the AKC, Sarah served as Chief of Staff to a California State Assemblyman, managing his legislative package, staffing him on several committees, meeting with constituents and advising on votes. She also worked for North Carolina Victory 2004, where she coordinated get-out-the-vote efforts in Wake County.

During the battle over California AB 1634, Sarah traveled to California to meet with legislators and staff to educate them about canine legislation issues. She has conducted trainings on how to effectively communicate with state legislators and hosted Lobby Days in California, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Sarah has a Political Science degree from University of California Davis. She coordinates AKC's efforts with those of local concerned fanciers and responsible dog owners and breeders to effectively address legislation at the state and local levels.

Patty Van Sicklen, Legislative Analyst

Phone: 919-816-3645

Patty has been involved in AKC events, clubs and local legislative issues for more than twenty years. She served as past president, treasurer and event secretary for area specialty and all-breed clubs and on the Board of Directors of the Siberian Husky Club of America. Before working for the AKC, she helped found a local coalition of dog clubs, worked to oppose local anti-breeder measures, and served as a media contact and spokesperson on responsible dog care.

Patty came to the AKC in 2007 as a member of the Internal Consulting Group and joined the Government Relations team in 2010. As a Legislative Analyst, she evaluates proposed legislation and communicates its potential impact. She coordinates AKC Legislative Conferences, edits the Taking Command newsletter, and manages creative and communications projects. Patty previously worked in economic development for Williamson County, TN, and as national Director of Business Operations, trainer, and contract analyst in the office suites industry. She received a B.S. in Public Relations from Bowling Green State University.

Patty participates in conformation, rally, obedience, agility, barn hunt, coursing ability tests, and pet therapy with her Siberian Huskies. She also teaches dog obedience classes and is an AKC Canine Good Citizen(r) evaluator.

Melissa Ferrell, Research Coordinator

Phone: 919-816-3577

Prior to joining the AKC in the summer of 2004, Melissa was an Engineering Technician for the City of Wilmington, NC, where she managed the GIS Database for Engineering, Planning and Public Utilities for the local government. She created customized queries, reports and analysis from Infrastructure data for the purpose of budgeting and state/federal grants.

Since coming to the AKC, she has introduced and implemented new data analysis software and was also instrumental in the coordination of an interactive web site designed for AKC's grassroots members to easily communicate with their legislators. Melissa also creates, designs, and maintains relational databases dealing with legislative issues that impact dog owners on local, state and federal government levels. Melissa also manages the day to day operations of the PAC and is responsible for quarterly reporting to the Federal Election Commission.

Melissa has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from University of North Carolina-Wilmington. While it may not be purebred dogs, Melissa is indeed knowledgeable about what to do in the show ring. She spent her entire childhood to college riding and showing American Quarter Horses, qualifying twice for Nationals at the American Quarter Horse Congress.