About Us

Our Team

Founder / Chair

Erin Purgason

Erin is the owner of Highland Canine Training, LLC, an industry-leading dog training and canine education business. After graduating in 2001 from Appalachian State University with a BS in Criminal Justice and a minor in sociology, Erin became a sworn law enforcement officer in North Carolina the following year. While serving in the Reidsville Police Department, she was presented with an Award of Merit for rescuing a disabled individual from their burning home. Erin’s wealth of expertise has helped train Police K9s and service dogs across the nation, in addition to time spent working with local rescue groups through Highland Canine’s Second Chance Program. She now brings her enthusiasm and experience in leading Highland Canine Connect’s efforts to improve the community through canine connections.

Kim Holland secretary

Treasurer

Kim Holland

Born and raised in Iredell County, Kim graduated from Statesville High School as well as Liberty University with a Master’s in Business, and has worked in the healthcare industry for over two decades. Kim has been married to her husband for 25 years and they have two sons, as well a black Lab named Shadow (who grins every morning for a biscuit) and a chocolate Lab named Maddie (a rescue, who just wants to be loved). Kim loves to spend quality time with her family, whether it is going out on the lake, going camping, or just getting together. She has a passion for helping others and giving back to the community.

marie Burris

Secretary

Marie Burris

Susan Ervin Board member

Board Member

Susan Ervin

An Iredell County native, Susan is heavily invested in the local community and seeks every opportunity to serve it. For six years, she ran a successful private practice, and currently is the Attorney Advocate for the Guardian ad Litem program in Iredell and Rowan counties, allowing her to represent abused and neglected children. Susan has always had a heart for animals and is passionate about advocating for the undeserved. She has joined Highland Canine Connect because she believes passionately in the mission of the organization, with her strong desire to assist with education efforts and implementation of creative plans that will allow canines to help those in need.

susie wiberg board member

Board Member

Susie Wiberg

Susie moved to Statesville in 1997, having previously lived in a canyon in southern California. This move to North Carolina sparked the beginning of a Southern adventure for Susie, Tom and Bailey Wiberg. Having retired from career entanglements, Susie is now able to spend more time volunteering in the community. “Dogs are the best people ever – Highland does fabulous work and I am thrilled to be involved,” explains Susie. “Mostly, however, I’m doing this because I get to play with their dogs!”

Executive Director

Sherry Peel

Originally from the Morehead City/Beaufort area of North Carolina, for over twenty years, Sherry directed a nonprofit dedicated to early education for young children. She has been married to her husband, Kevin, for 31 years; they have a daughter, Caitlin, and a son and daughter-in-law, Norman and Kathrine. Sherry graduated from the Service Dog division of Highland Canine’s School for Dog Trainers. “I have been lucky enough to train and place service dogs with families, and can attest to what an incredible and life-changing event it can be,” says Sherry. “We can transform lives through the power of canine connections.”