Nicole Shumate
Nicole Shumate
Age 38  |  Executive director, Paws & Effect 

Nicole Shumate came to Iowa from Colorado to get a law degree from Drake University, but ended up following another passion.

Shumate runs a nonprofit company called Paws & Effect, which trains therapy and service dogs and places them with people who need them. Right now, the organization is focused on placing dogs with combat veterans in Iowa who have disabilities or who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Dog training has always been an interest of mine,” said Shumate, who used to raise and train dogs in Colorado. “As far as placing dogs with combat veterans, I just felt like it was our role in the community to really meet that purpose, having so many soldiers deployed right now.”

Shumate founded the organization in 2006, and said she kept it under the radar while going through law school, where she earned a degree in 2009. She decided to continue with dog training rather than go into practicing law.

“It was just a good education to have,” she said, noting that she’s able to utilize it in her role as executive director.

Her mission to help soldiers caught the attention of her mentor, Iowa Army National Guard Maj. Amy Price.

“Just the passion and drive that she’s given to this passion of hers – I’ve never seen a nonprofit organization do so many things for soldiers,” Price said.

Shumate also uses her organization to help out with ChildServe, a nonprofit that provides services to families with children who have special health-care needs. Through that, she works with a child to meet once a week and complete a dog agility course.

Shumate is also a team leader in critical incident stress management (CISM) debriefing for the Iowa Disaster Behavioral Health Response Team and is a CISM facilitator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Iowa.

She has been involved with Orchard Place as a member of the pet therapy team, and worked with a number of pet nonprofit programs in Colorado before moving to Des Moines.

Price said: “We teach our soldiers about Army values with the acronym LDRSHIP – loyalty, duty, respect for others, honor, integrity, personal courage – she just encompasses all of those values.”