Meet the Team 2017-04-04T11:23:14+00:00

Staff Members

Carol Heiden
Carol HeidenExecutive Director
Carol holds a Masters of Education and has worked in non-profit management for 20 years. Her extensive experience includes fiscal planning and oversight, all aspects of fundraising, operational and program development and evaluation, community and media relations, personnel supervision and management, and Board development and management. She has been involved with CTRC since 1998. Carol holds the riders, volunteers, staff and horses of CTRC in the highest regard and feels blessed that her work brings such remarkable people and creatures into her life.
Laura Merrick
Laura MerrickDirector of Operations
Laura feels so fortunate to have had the opportunity to join the CTRC team in the Summer of 2007. With a BS in Business/CIS and a BFA in Graphic Design she is excited to apply her skills to the support and growth of CTRC. She has a deep respect for the staff, volunteers, horses and riders who together continue to prove day after day the power that equine assisted services has to change lives.
Heather McLaughlin
Heather McLaughlinProgram Director
Heather has been involved with CTRC since 1997 when she began as an instructor. Although she has held several roles while at CTRC, her most cherished work has been as the Program Director as she loves working directly with riders, families and caregivers, striving to meet their interests by teaming with CTRC’s talented and dedicated staff. Heather holds master’s degrees in social work and public health from the University of California, Berkeley. In addition to her many years as a CTRC staff member, Heather has worked in public school and community health settings serving children, youth and families. Outside of CTRC, Heather spends a good deal of time on the sidelines of her teenage sons’ soccer games and enjoys Colorado’s beautiful outdoors. Heather is especially inspired by the riders, families, volunteers and horses that have spent years (in some cases, decades) helping to create and sustain the heart and soul of CTRC.
Jamie Brunson
Jamie BrunsonVolunteer Coordinator
Jamie grew up in Missouri with a strong love for horses! She began riding at the age of six and was active in 4-H for 10 years. She became competitive in Barrel Racing, competing in rodeos all over the Midwest for 8 years. Jamie taught horseback riding lessons and lead summer camps for children at a stable while attending the University of Central Missouri, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She always dreamed of one day working at a therapeutic riding center, where she could combine her passion for helping others with her love for horses. It took relocation to beautiful Colorado and six years of working in the corporate world before discovering CTRC through volunteering two years ago. It quickly captured her heart and she feels incredibly blessed to now be working for CTRC! Jamie also loves yoga, cooking and spending time with family and friends!
Lindsey Moloznik
Lindsey Moloznik Barn Manager
Lindsey was born and raised in Maryland and has been riding horses since she was 4 years old. She was also an active member of her 4-H Horse Club for 10 years. Although Lindsey started riding hunter/jumper, she eventually switched over to Equestrian Vaulting. She competed as a vaulter for 4 years. She discovered training was her passion, while training a vaulting horse for a local team. Lindsey graduated from Virginia Tech in 2011 with a BS in Animal and Poultry Sciences, with an Equine Emphasis. After college, Lindsey worked as Barn Manager for two years at Rose Hill Farm, in Bridgehampton, NY.
Emma VanNostrand
Emma VanNostrandBarn Assistant
Emma grew up on an 80 acre farm in Southwest Michigan, with her mother and her horses.  From a young age, she knew horses were her passion.  After graduating high school, and completing her first year of college, she decided to pursue a career in the horse industry.  She moved to Aiken, South Carolina in the fall of 2013, taking a job as Barn Supervisor in at a 25 horse barn, focusing on a mixture of natural horsemanship and eventing.   After nine months of experience, she took a job at The Stable on the Woods, also in Aiken, as a professional groom and rider for three-day event and hunt horses. Her time was spent managing a string of performance horses, as well as daily duties for a 45 horse barn and competing her own horse.  In May of 2016, she made the move west, working as a Wrangler at a ranch in Buena Vista, Colorado.  She spent her days leading rides, helping to maintain a 60 horse herd, and falling in love with the Colorado way of life.  Deciding she couldn’t bear to leave the state after the summer season was over, she went searching for the perfect job – and found it in CTRC!  Spending every day caring for, and getting to know the horses that are a part of the CTRC herd has made this position one of the best jobs, and she is so happy to be spending her time with the great staff, volunteers, and horses that go to make CTRC such a special place.
Sue Winthrop
Sue Winthrop Outreach & Education Coordinator
Sue, has been associated with CTRC since its start. As a volunteer in 1980, the Outreach and Education Coordinator in 1999-2003 and in 2009 she returned to what she loves – performing Outreach and Education for CTRC. Sue has her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and a  Masters in Early Childhood Education and a passion for horses. Sue has been working with the Mini Troopers program at CTRC since 2009.  This involves working with and training Carmella, and Scarlet, CTRC’s miniature horses and Mini Troopers. Carmella goes out into the community to meet and greet people with special needs that are unable to come to CTRC. Sue also leads groups onsite with Carmella and Carmella’s daughter Scarlet. Carmella has been trained in the natural way, and through very gentle work and patience has gone from being terrified of even one person to visiting almost 800 people a year.
Katelynn Fontenot
Katelynn FontenotOffice Assistant

Katelynn’s passion for animal assisted therapies lead her to obtain a BS in Human Services with a concentration in mental health and counseling. She became a part of CTRC in the summer of 2014 and since then could not part from this magical place. Katelynn has the up most respect for the staff, volunteers, horses and riders that keep CTRC functioning as a profound example of the impact equine assisted therapies has on everyone involved. Her fondness for the human animal bond does not stop at horses, as she is heavily involved in the rescue world. In her spare time, she helps place homeless animals into adequate forever homes. She is appreciative of the opportunities CTRC has given her, and looks forward to contributing to the life changing work that takes place.


Michele Bruhn
Michele BruhnHead Instructor
Michele grew up riding and caring for horses in Northern Illinois. She took riding lessons in many disciplines; showing in Dressage, Eventing, English equitation, and Western pleasure through her twenties. While working towards her BA in psychology, Michele competed in Hunter/Jumpers on the intercollegiate team at Northern Illinois University. During this time, she trained horses of all ages in English, Western, and carriage driving. After college, Michele worked in Missouri as the barn manager and trail boss on a 2,000 acre ranch in the Ozarks. She trained horses, taught riding lessons, and led trail rides. Soon after, Michele worked in the Therapeutic Recreation department at a residential behavioral treatment center for youth at-risk outside of Chicago, IL. After completing PATH Intl. Registered Level Instructor certification, Michele created an equine assisted program for residents of the treatment center. Looking for a change, Michele moved to Colorado after a back country camping trip in the Rocky Mountains to pursue a career in therapeutic riding. Michele began teaching at the Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center in the fall of 2015. She is currently working towards PATH Intl. Advanced Instructor certification. She is so excited to be a part of the CTRC team!

Certifications: PATH Intl Registered Instructor

Annette Gruba
Annette GrubaTherapeutic Riding Instructor
Annette has always loved horses and ridden all of her life (literally since she was 3 years old). In the summer of 1999 she began volunteering in the therapeutic riding program at Winter Park’s National Sports Center for the Disabled. After Annette’s first year with NSCD, she became a volunteer instructor and continued to do so for the next 7 summers. In 2005 she earned PATH Intl’s Registered Instructor certification and started teaching at CTRC in the summer of 2006. Annette enjoys playing with her son, riding her own horse and skiing with her family at Winter Park. She has always felt that horses are amazing animals and is fortunate to witness their amazing ability to work with humans every time she teaches a class.

Certifications: PATH Intl Registered Instructor

Chris Overholt
Chris OverholtTherapeutic Riding Instructor
Christine grew up on a small farm in rural Idaho riding with her grandpa and mom. Active in 4-H, FFA, and the Idaho State Horse show association Christine found the excitement of competition with the life lessons from the horse. When the time came to attend college she found a way to enroll right along with her horse at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana. Riding both Western and English riding disciplines kept her busy though she eventually fell in love with the western sport of reining. She got the opportunity to work with Pat Mitchel in Shepherd Montana and Don Murphy in Brentwood California. Upon graduation in 2001 with Bachelor of Science Degrees in Equine Science with a training option and Business with marketing and management emphasis, she ran In The Works Performance Horses where she trained horses and gave riding lessons. The call of the unknown captured her and she moved to Denver, Colorado in 2003. She lasted three months without a horse before she was taking riding lessons to get her horse fix then three months later her dad had pity on her and brought Sugar to Colorado. She is now settled down on a little two horse farm in the heart of the city with her husband and children. She teaches lessons from home as well as at the Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center in Longmont, CO. She believes in the calming and healing powers that a horse has that can fulfill the dreams of a horse crazy child or adult which opens world no other activity can.

Certifications: PATH Intl Registered Instructor

Lisa Strother
Lisa StrotherTherapeutic Riding Instructor
As a Colorado native, Lisa has always enjoyed being outdoors and around horses. Lisa grew up with horses and fell in love with what they had to offer at a young age. She discovered the world of therapeutic riding as a young teenager and has always felt that it was her calling when she ‘grew up’. After many years, and two beautiful children, she refused to ‘grow up’, but is so thankful to fulfill her dreams as a therapeutic riding instructor. Lisa continues to ride and increase her riding skills in the hunter/jumper circuit with her horse India. She feels that there is always so much to learn, and just as much to be shared.

Certifications: PATH Intl Registered Instructor

Katie Da Costa Santos
Katie Da Costa SantosTherapeutic Riding Instructor
Katie grew up in upstate New York, riding hunter/jumpers at a local stable. She began volunteering and working at a therapeutic riding stable nearby when she was a teenager and immediately fell in love.  Knowing that she wanted to pursue a career with horses, she moved to Colorado to work on a degree in Equine Science from Colorado State University. She spent a summer leading trail rides on a dude ranch in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Katie also spent a semester abroad in Ireland in their equine program, where she learned more about Eventing and training horses. She graduated in 2014 with her B.S in Equine Science and began working at a small animal vet hospital as a veterinary technician. However, she knew she wanted to get back into equine assisted activities and started to work on her PATH certification. Katie became a PATH Intl Registered Instructor in 2016 and is extremely excited to join the CTRC team in the fall of 2016.

Certifications: PATH Intl Registered Instructor


Jill Valenti, PT
Jill Valenti, PT Hippotherapy Therapist
I’ve been a PT for 24 years (Yikes!!!), primarily in pediatrics. I have worked in the NICU, the schools, home health, hospital setting, private practice and for the past 10 years with Dayspring’s Early Intervention Program. I am NDT (neurodevelopmental treatment) certified, certified in infant massage, have experience with sensory integration and have been doing hippotherapy for 17 years at CTRC.

Certifications: PATH Intl Registered Therapist in Hippotherapy / PATH Intl Registered Instructor

Amy Seelig, CC-SLP
Amy Seelig, CC-SLPTherapist
Amy began at CTRC in 1996 as a volunteer while she was a graduate student in speech language pathology at C.U., Boulder. After living in Oregon for a few years, in 2001, Amy returned to her native Colorado and began working at the Anchor Center for Blind Children in Denver. In 2008, Amy decided to connect her life-long love of horses with her therapy for young children. She successfully pursued this passion by working closely with other therapists experienced in hippotherapy, completing her AHA (American Hippotherapy Association) Level I and Level II courses and obtaining her NARHA Registered Instructor certifications. Amy is thrilled to be part of the joy, enthusiasm and wonder of CTRC and to have a job that she absolutely loves! Amy lives in Erie with her husband, Eric, her black lab, Jetty and her calico, Minna.

Degrees & Certifications: Special Education Teacher / PATH Intl Registered Instructor / AHA Registered Instructor

Beth Large, OT
Beth Large, OTTherapist
Beth earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Kent State University and a Masters of Occupational Therapy from the University of North Dakota. Beth has worked with people with disabilities in a multitude of settings, including working for a wilderness-based high school offering rock climbing, backpacking, and camping. Beth has been a certified equine assisted activities instructor through PATH International since 2010, and a certified interactive vaulting instructor since 2014. Beth has presented at several regional conferences and an international webinar on utilizing American Sign Language with clients. Beth has a particular interest in addressing  hearing and vision challenges, sensory processing difficulties, and functional limitations to help her clients become more functional in everyday life. She believes in the unique features of the equine environment, which appear to cut through barriers and allow individuals to thrive!

Certifications: PATH Intl Registered Instructor / PATH Intl Interactive Vaulting Instructor

Jennifer (Jenn) Varra, MS, OTR/L
Jennifer (Jenn) Varra, MS, OTR/LTherapist
Jenn began her journey with CTRC in 1990 as a volunteer, while pursuing her BA in Psychology at CU Boulder.  In 1995, she moved to Boston to attend graduate school at Boston University; she earned her MS in Occupational Therapy in 1998.  Jenn made her way back to Colorado that same year, where she started her career in OT.  Over the years, Jenn has worked in a variety of treatment settings with a variety of clients of all ages.  Jenn began volunteering again with CTRC in 2010, as horse leader and side walker.  Jenn believes strongly in the therapeutic benefits of the movement of the horse, as well as the human-horse connection, and in 2016 decided to integrate hippotherapy into her work as an Occupational Therapist.  In her free time, Jenn enjoys skiing, rock climbing and rafting with her family, and riding her horse, Tucker.

Certifications: PATH Intl Registered Instructor

Board Members

CTRC’s Board of Directors is dedicated to superior planning, guidance and assessment of CTRC’s programs, direction and perpetuity. CTRC’s Board encompasses a broad level of experience, diversity and management skill. The Board engages in strategic planning, performing a monthly review, measurement and revision of strategic goals.

Deborah Durand President
Joel Schaap Vice President
Marianne Lahr Treasurer
Heath Irwin Board Member
Steve Sellars Board Member
Margrit Lent Parker Board Member
Kadie Hughes Board Member
“Our strategic plan serves as our agency’s “navigational chart” and we have faithfully adhered to the course we have mapped. CTRC has strong and seasoned leadership, both at the Board level and at the management level. This leadership has allowed our agency to be visionary and build for the future while still staying focused on exemplary daily operations. It has allowed us to navigate extremely rough waters and even when we are sailing on calm seas, we are continually preparing for the changing times. As the Chair of the Board, I feel I can speak for the whole Board, and say we take great pride in our progress and our ability to not only maintain a stellar organization, but to continually vision and build for CTRC’s sustainability.” – Deb Durand, CTRC President