Dr. Fiia Jokela, DVM, DABVP (canine/feline)

Dr. Jokela is the owner of Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants and a Resident of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists under the tutelage of Dr. Ciribassi.

Fiia Jokela Bio Picture.jpg

Dr. Jokela is a 1990 graduate of Purdue University, School of Veterinary Medicine.  In 1998 she achieved board certification in Canine and Feline Practice by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP).  

Dr. Jokela has practiced in a variety of clinical settings in the Chicago and northwest Indiana areas, including general, feline only, and emergency practice. In 2001 she opened Deer Run Animal Hospital in Schererville, IN, and developed it into a behavior centered general practice. 

In 2016, Dr. Jokela sold Deer Run Animal Hospital to enable her to follow her passion of practicing veterinary behavior medicine full time. She was accepted into a private practice residency program with the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB). She is currently under the residency mentorship of Dr. Ciribassi, and in July of 2017, he invited her to join Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants.

Dr. Jokela has a special interest in shelter behavior, and her shelter work focuses on improving the adoptability, and success, of shelter and rescue pets.  She is honored to be the Veterinary Behavior Consultant for the A Sound Beginning Program.  This unique program works with many shelters and rescues to provide education and training to shelter staff, volunteers, fosters, and newly adopting families to prevent, as well as manage, common behavior problems. 

Dr. Jokela has three pets. Her first is handsome Boxer mix, Bentley, who fought his way to survival on the urban streets before finding Dr. Jokela. Her second is Arandano, a graceful Galgo (Spanish Greyhound), rescued from the tragic and tortured life of this magnificent breed in Spain.  She also has a very debonair cat named Teppo, who was born of a feral mom in Dr. Jokela’s neighborhood.  

When Dr. Jokela is not working, she visits the beautiful Northwoods of Northern Minnesota where her grandparents settled after immigrating to America from Finland in the early 1900s.  She enjoys spending time at her family's rustic cabin on an island near Ely, Minnesota, which is located on the edge of the beautiful Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

John and Tyson.jpg

Dr. John Ciribassi, DVM, DACVB

Dr. Ciribassi is the proud founder of Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants and co-editor of Decoding Your Dog.


Dr. Ciribassi was born and grew up in Jersey City, NJ, attended Southern Illinois University and graduated with a BS in Biology from the University of Illinois. He graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 1984. After graduation he practiced dairy medicine in Pennsylvania along with his wife, Elise, also a veterinarian. In 1988 Dr. Ciribassi returned to Illinois with Elise and they opened the Gary at North Veterinary Center, a companion animal practice in Carol Stream (a western suburb of Chicago). In 1998, he began the process of board certification with the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. Soon after he began the Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants, a animal behavior specialty practice. In 2002 Dr. Ciribassi, along with Elise and another veterinary classmate (Dr. Marty Johnson), purchased the Carol Stream Animal Hospital merging with the Gary at North Veterinary Center. In October of 2006, Dr. Ciribassi passed his boards to become a board certified veterinary behaviorist. He has served as President of the Chicago Veterinary Medical Association as well as President of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB). He lives in Carol Stream with Elise and his daughters Danielle and Rebekah.

Learn more about Dr. Cirbassi's book Decoding Your Dog

Liz Geisen KPA-CTP

Liz cropped gorgeous.jpg

For as long as Ms. Geisen can remember, she has been fascinated with dogs and animal behavior.

"It wasn't until I volunteered and later worked for a humane society that I realized that I had a passion for a career in animal care and welfare." Beginning as certified veterinary assistant in 2007, Liz now works as a veterinary behavior technician. She also attend classes at Purdue University for her RVT, with the goal of becoming a Veterinary Technician Specialist in Behavior.  Liz is also a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner, and has completed their Puppy Start Right and Shelter Enrichment courses.

Liz's passion continues to grow as she take courses and build her knowledge base. She has completed Dr. Sophia Yin’s Low Stress Handling Course, and has become a Fear Free Certified Professional who actively practices those techniques to make pets’ veterinary care experience as stress free as possible. In addition, Liz enjoys helping the community learn about canine communication and safe interactions between children and pets as a Doggone Safe “Be A Tree” presenter and a Family Paws Parent Educator.

Liz loves working with puppies, but it is the dogs that have been abandoned and discarded that she feels the deepest calling to help. Working with shelter and rescue dogs, who often have some baggage behind them, are her favorite students. They have had their world shattered for one reason or another, and yet they still are hanging on to that hope that one day someone will come and love them like they were meant to be loved. To Liz, when she can help build that bond of trust again, it is an amazing feeling!


Maggie Fahner, M.S.

Ms. Fahner's entire career has focused on animal care and teaching people how to coexist with animals responsibly.

Maggie received her undergraduate’s degree from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment in 1995, majoring in Ecology and Animal Behavior. While studying for graduate school, she worked part-time as Veterinary Technician at an emergency animal clinic, plus volunteered and started her thesis research on dolphin echolocation at the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Maggie received her Master’s Degree in Biology from Western Illinois University in 1998, and in that same year, was hired as a marine mammal trainer at Shedd Aquarium while completing her thesis work. She spent ten years training a diverse group of animals including whales, dolphins, otters, seals, sea lions, penguins, primates and birds of prey. For an additional three years, she was the manager of the Animal Programs Collection at Shedd, where she was responsible for the husbandry, training and interpretative programming of a large collection of birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates.

Besides exotic animals, Maggie has been training dogs and their people for the past 13 years. Prior to moving out to the Western Suburbs seven years ago, she taught a variety of positive reinforcement classes at Unleashed in Evanston. Since then, Maggie has been busy with private in-home training and teaching classes for The Puppy Professor, a team specializing in puppy socialization and adolescent behavior.  For the last five years, she has also been a lead instructor for A Sound Beginning program.  A Sound Beginning classes and lectures are specially designed to help dogs and their people reduce the stress associated with the transition from shelter/rescue/foster into new homes, improving success rates.

At home, Maggie trains a rescued Australian Shepherd, a “foster failure” tabby cat, three human animals under the age of thirteen, and a husband.

Natasha Mathew


Natasha is our client services manager and assistant behavioral therapy trainer. She is also a lead trainer with A Sound Beginning program. Natasha has loved animals for as long as she can remember. She currently has 3 dogs and her life revolves around her 'fur babies'. She has volunteered for different rescue organizations and continues to do so today. She has seen animals end up in shelters for totally avoidable and manageable reasons which is why she is extremely passionate about educating people and equipping them with tools to coexist with animals. To better help people with this, she committed to learning more and recently graduated from the prestigious Karen Pryor Academy. Natasha also has degrees in Hospitality Management (with focus on marketing) and Business Administration.