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— Gina Weiser, Rosalind Kraus and John Leininger Join Executive Field Staff; Walter Bebout Named Director of Canine Legislation; Penny Leigh and Phil Guidry to Internal Consulting Group; Michael Shea to Retire —

American Kennel Club Chief Operating Officer John Lyons today announced the appointments of six longtime fanciers to key positions at AKC. Gina Weiser and Roz Kraus join as Executive Field Representatives for Conformation Events, John Leininger has been appointed Senior Executive Field Representative for Performance Events, Walter R. Bebout has been promoted to AKC Director of Canine Legislation and Penny Leigh and Phil Guidry have been hired to positions within the Internal Consulting Group (ICG). Lyons also announced the retirement of longtime Executive Field Representative Michael Shea after 17 years of service.

“It is a great privilege for me to announce the appointments of six knowledgeable and dedicated members of the fancy to core positions within our Judging Operations, Performance Events, Canine Legislation and ICG Departments,” said AKC COO John Lyons. “All are valued members of our sport and their extensive backgrounds in a variety of areas will be of great benefit to the entire fancy.”

Conformation Events

  • A third generation fancier, Gina Weiser has specialized in Toy Breeds with a focus on Poodles and Chihuahuas. She has managed highly successful breeding programs and show careers for top winning dogs in both breeds, attending 80 to 100 shows each year in the Southeast. Weiser is heavily involved in Judges’ Education as a presenter for The Poodle Club of America, AKC Advanced Institutes and various judges’ groups. She has served multiple terms in various offices as well as assignments as Show Chair and Show Secretary for the Tampa Bay Poodle Club. Weiser, from NW Lutz, FL, will relocate to the St. Louis, MO area to fulfill her position as Executive Field Representative. Gina will replace Walter Bebout, who has been promoted to Director of Canine Legislation.

  • Roz Kraus has bred Wire Fox Terriers and West Highland White Terriers since 1976. She enjoyed an 18 year professional handling career before becoming a judge of most Terrier Breeds and some Toys. She served on the Board of Directors of the Detroit Kennel Club for six years and two years as Assistant Show Chair. Kraus will be designated “Field Rep at Large” and cover dog shows in the area adjacent to Raleigh, NC. She will work double coverage as needed and routinely work in the Judging Operations Office. Kraus will join the Executive Field Staff in late April. She replaces Jimmy Mitchell, who has relocated to Delaware to replace Jack White. White will relocate to Henderson, NV to replace Michael Shea.

  • Michael Shea has decided to retire after 17 years of service as an Executive Field Representative. Shea fulfilled his position based out of Southern California, and has covered most of the Southwest, including Arizona and Nevada. He has applied to judge the Working Group.

    “We thank Michael for his nearly two decades of service as an AKC Executive Field Rep and look forward to seeing him inside the ring very soon,” added Lyons.

Performance Events

  • John Leininger brings over 20 years of competitive experience in Spaniel field trials and hunting tests to his new role as Senior Executive Field Representative for the Performance Events Department. With a solid professional background in sales, Leininger is adept at working with large and small audiences. Leininger holds a B.B.A. from the University of Cincinnati.

Canine Legislation

  • Walter Bebout has been an AKC Conformation Field Representative since 1996. He has extensive experience in the sport of dogs as a breeder, exhibitor, AKC-approved judge, member club president, show chairman and AKC delegate. Bebout’s dog-related experience is complemented by a Bachelor's and Master's degree in political science and progress toward a Ph.D. in the same field. As Director of Canine Legislation, he will be responsible for all AKC legislative initiatives on the local and state level and will work closely with the AKC Federal Government Relations Consultant on all federal issues. Bebout will report to Noreen Baxter, AKC Vice President of Communications. He and his wife will be relocating from North Kansas City, MO to the AKC operations center in Raleigh, NC.


  • Penny Leigh joins ICG with a professional background in journalism and public relations. She was a reporter, bureau chief and city editor for the Times-News of Hendersonville, NC, and public relations coordinator for the SC School for the Deaf and the Blind. Leigh has been active in many aspects of the sport for 18 years. With her husband Dale McElrath, the couple breeds Flat-Coated Retrievers and has produced more than 30 champions, including four generations of group-placers. They also own Bearded Collies and Border Collies. Leigh is an avid competitor in agility and obedience and has participated in hunt tests and herding trials. She has served as a show chairman, agility trial chairman and obedience chairman and serves on the board of the Southeastern Stewards Association.

  • New ICG hire Phil Guidry served as an AKC Intern in 2002. His experience in the sport includes extensive participation in Conformation and Junior Showmanship, and he is a former president of the Louisiana Kennel Club. Guidry grew up in a family that bred American Cocker Spaniels. He graduated from Nicholls State University in 2000 with a degree in Sociology and from Loyola University-New Orleans School of Law in 2005 with a Juris Doctor in Civil Law degree.