Trustees 2017-2018


The New Board of Trustees - 2017 - 2018

John Catlett


John spent more than 26 years with the consulting firm Accenture before retiring as a senior partner. He holds degrees from Drew University and Lehigh University.

John lives in Lyme with his wife, Athana, and three daughters, Sarah, Sabrina and Anna.


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Catlett takes the reins at High Hopes

… But three retiring Trustees will not be allowed to hang up their boots.

OLD LYME, Connecticut—June 28, 2017—High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Inc., today announced that John Catlett has been appointed Chair of the Board of Trustees. Catlett takes over from Barbara Earle Ballard who today retired from her latest three-year tenure as Chair, and after over 20 years serving the whole High Hopes community.

Catlett will lead an experienced team of Trustees and Officers including Vice Chairs Seymour Smith of Essex, Scott Douglas of Lyme, and Jeff Ridgway of Chester. Jackie Kangley (Secretary) and Deborah Welles (Treasurer) also take up officer positions. John spent more than 26 years with the consulting firm Accenture before retiring as a senior partner and lives in Lyme with his wife, Athana, and three daughters, Sarah, Sabrina and Anna.

“It has been an honor to serve alongside Barbara. As Chair and as Co-Chair of the Strategic Planning Force,” said Catlett. “Barbara has not been afraid to ask the hard questions that have helped us create a strong vision which will take High Hopes into it’s next fifty years. Her invaluable leadership and support truly exemplify the spirit of High Hopes.”

It was that “commitment, dedication and compassion” which led to Ballard being selected by her peers and High Hopes staff, for the 2014 Sally Aubrey Award. She will continue to support High Hopes in a voluntary capacity, while also continuing her position as President of Odyssey Enterprises Inc. a multi-media company she runs with her husband Dr. Robert Ballard.

“Barbara has served High Hopes in so many different capacities from Co Chairing the annual major fundraising event, to her two full terms on the Board,” commented Kitty Stalsburg, Executive Director. “In her capacity as Chair she has been instrumental in helping High Hopes build a reputation for fiscal responsibility, strong corporate governance, visionary thinking and professional inclusiveness.”

Also retiring from the Board are Jeb Embree and Cheryl Heffernan, both of Lyme. Jeb and his wife Dianne have been involved with, and staunch supporters of High Hopes, since it’s earliest days. Most recently he has served on the Finance and Human Resource Advisory Committees, where his experience with a number of leading NYC financial firms has provided a unique resource for the Board.

Cheryl Kelly Heffernan is a Chair Emeriti, a past Volunteer of the Year and also a recipient of the Sally Aubrey Award in 2007. Heffernan was described in 2013 as “the embodiment of a Working Trustee … who puts her words in to action, and whose actions have helped transform High Hopes into a strongly supported, international leader in the therapeutic riding world.”

“Cheryl is always the first to step forward with a leadership gift, and then encourages others to join in her support,” remarked Stalsburg. “She leads, she gives and best of all, she does!”

Joining the Board’ class of 2020 are returning Trustee Sarah Hill Canning of Stonington, and new Trustees Hannah Metcalf Childs of Old Lyme, Vicki Newton of East Haddam, Robin Schonberger of Old Lyme, and Peter Watt of Lyme CT and NYC. “I welcome the diversity of experience, and perspective that our new Trustees bring to High Hopes,” concluded the new Chair in his remarks to the Board. Our Annual Meeting is the perfect opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to improve the lives of everyone touched by the magic of High Hopes, whether as a participant, family member, volunteer, corporate sponsor, or neighbor here on the Connecticut Shoreline.”

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Jeffrey Ridgway

Vice Chair – Development
Jeff is retired from Boatyards and Building. He has served 21 yrs. on the Board of Trustees with two years as President. His many leadership roles at High Hopes include assisting with the construction of our facility in 1990 and serving as Co-Chair with Holly of the ‘94 and ‘95 Antiques Show. Co-Chairing the 2000 Building expansion project, Co-Chair of the High Hopes Hoedown, now the HH Holiday Market, A member of the Building and Grounds Committee for 27yrs. He is actively involved with many events such as the Concert in the Barn and Symphony in the Meadows. He was the recipient of the NARHA Region I Volunteer of the Year Award in 2009. Born in Africa, Jeff grew up in the UK. He and his wife, Holly, reside in Chester.

Affiliation – Caulfield & Ridgway

Seymour Smith

Vice Chair

Seymour served as Flight Officer and Lieutenant in the US Navy. Currently retired, he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer of Connecticut Bank and Trust Company; Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Signal Capital Corporation; Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of New England Savings Bank and was a private consultant for various healthcare organizations. Seymour has served on the Boards of Connecticut State University, Hartford Stage Company and Planned Parenthood of Connecticut. Seymour attended Hamilton College and received his MBA from Columbia University. His wife, Tia, has previously served on the High Hopes Board of Trustees. Seymour is currently on the Finance Committee. Seymour and Tia reside in Essex.

James Scott Douglas

Vice Chair

Scott is Chairman of the Board of Dancker Sellew & Douglas, an interior solutions firm. He brings extensive volunteer experience to the Board, in particular with organizations supporting children’s issues. In addition to a BA degree in Botany from the University of Vermont, he has completed graduate coursework in accounting and finance. Currently he is Scott and his wife Wendy reside in Old Lyme and Florida, and have four children and eight grandchildren.

Affiliation: Dancker Sellew & Douglas

Jacqueline Kangley


Jacqueline oversees product development and online marketing and sales for Amelie Michel French Table Linens and is the owner/designer of Jacqueline Kangley Handbags. Jacqueline was introduced to therapeutic riding by her Essex Elementary School classmates’ rides at LCVERA. Her first volunteer experiences were with Hawaii’s Haku Baldwin Center, and upon returning to Connecticut 15 years ago, she began volunteering with High Hopes. She currently volunteers in the therapeutic riding program and serves on the Program, Marketing Advisory and Fund Development Committee. She has co-chaired the Concert in the Barn and various auction, decor, and marketing benefit committees. Jacqueline is an alumna of The Hotchkiss School and Dartmouth College. She and her husband Stephen Dedman live in Hadlyme.

Affiliation: Amelie Michel French Table Linens/Jacqueline Kangley Handbags

Deborah Welles


Debbie is a practicing CPA with her own business in Old Lyme. She is married to John, with 3 children and 5 grandchildren who keep her busy. Debbie’s hobbies include hiking, gardening, kayaking, volunteering at High Hopes and family time.

Affiliation – Deborah Welles, CPA, LLC

Jane Bolles

Jane and her husband, Keith, own and operate the Saybrook Country Barn where Jane works full time. A former board member of High Hopes, Jane co-chaired Symphony in the Meadows twice, and was a member of the program committee and the Human Resources Advisory committee. She also coordinated a variety of programs for the families and riders. Twenty-two years ago, Jane learned of High Hopes (then LCVERA) while looking for a place for her then six-year-old daughter who is hearing impaired and intellectually challenged, to learn how to ride and be around horses. Now at 28, Lindsay is still a participant in the program. Jane is a resident of Essex.

Affiliation – Saybrook Country Barn

Sarah Hill Canning

Sarah and her husband Peter live in Stonington; they have two daughters, Kate and Martha. Sarah has volunteered at High Hopes since 2003- most recently carriage driving, and served on the Board from 2007-16. She was the scribe for the Board for several years. She is a past Chair of the Volunteer Committee, and has served on the Symphony, Governance and Development Committees. She was a member of her church Vestry, Director of the Altar Guild and is on the Board of Calvary Nursery School. She is a past President of the Mystic & Noank Library. She holds a degree from Boston University.

Hannah Metcalf Childs

Since 2000, Hannah has owned her own design business, Hannah Childs Interior Design. After moving to Old Lyme on 2004, Hannah began her volunteering at High Hopes by serving as the Decor chair for several of the Concert in the Barn events, later serving as the co-chair of the Motown Concert in the Barn in 2015. She is a member of the RISD Museum Associates in Providence, where she was born and raised. Hannah has served on the Board of the Florence Griswold Museum from 2010-2016, and continues to serve on their Planning Committee. Hannah and her husband, Jamie, have three children, Mac (14), George (12) and Thayer (10).

Affiliation: Hannah Childs Interior Design

Mark Fader

Mark Fader is The William School’s (New London, Connecticut) 10th Head of School since the fall of 2008 after previously serving as Assistant Head. He has over 25 years of experience as an educator, administrator, and coach. Prior to joining Williams he was at Providence Day School in Charlotte, NC and at Severn School in Severna Park, MD. A Cum Laude Graduate of Hampden-Sydney College, Mark earned his BA in History and French and holds a Masters of Arts in Education from The College of William and Mary. Mark is active in the shoreline community as former board member at NESS (New England Science and Sailing) and as a member of Ocean Commotion Committee at Mystic Aquarium. Mark and his wife Suki have three children, Jack (20), Ellie (14), Lucy (12) who all volunteer at High Hopes.

Affiliation: The Williams School

Katherine Gibson

Katherine moved to Lyme four years ago with her husband, Andrew, and sons Will and John. Katherine’s career has been in marketing and communications, and she has held positions and freelanced for a variety of companies including Cuisinart, Gorham Silver, Envirosource, and the HB Group. She has also been active in community service, and was the founding director of the non¬-profit Scituate (RI) Farmer’s Market and a trustee of the North Scituate Library. The market became one of the largest farmer’s markets in RI, and awarded annual college scholarships for entrepreneurship and environmental science. During her tenure at the North Scituate Library, Katherine chaired the strategic planning committee and led communications and fundraising efforts for a building & expansion project. Katherine started volunteering at High Hopes soon after moving to Lyme and has co¬chaired the Holiday Market for 5 years. High Hopes was a natural fit for the mother of a son with dyspraxic cerebral palsy and a strong believer in the benefits of therapeutic riding. Education: Princeton University, AB 1985

Laura Giordano

Laura is a seasoned professional in the field of Human Resources with over 20 years of experience in the Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Industries. An independent consultant she has been with Pfizer and with Aetna Life and Casualty. She has an MBA from the University of New Haven and is certified in Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment. Laura has been a member of the Human Resources Advisory Committee at High Hopes for several years. A lifelong horsewoman, she has five horses at her home and is familiar with the special needs of the ageing horse as several of hers are in their 20’s. Laura is a resident of Groton.

Affiliation – Independent Human Resources Consultant

Laurie LaTerza

Laurie was formally a Business Development Manager with the Software Solutions Innovation team at Cisco Systems. Prior to Cisco, she has held sales and marketing roles within AT&T, NCR, and Concord Communications. Her career has spanned multiple industries including Finance, Retail, Manufacturing and Education, as well as various technology transformations. She has been an active volunteer in both Massachusetts and Connecticut with various non-profit organizations. In addition, she volunteers within Cisco to support Women’s advancement in technology and Special Needs initiatives. Laurie holds a Master Degree in Marketing from Bentley University in Waltham, MA and a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from the University of Connecticut. She currently lives in Guilford, CT with her husband Todd and daughter Sofia. Sofia has participated in the High Hopes program for 6 years, providing Laurie and Todd a bird’s eye view of the incredible benefits received by participants.

Todd Machnik

Todd grew up in Old Lyme and attended Old Lyme High School. Todd received a Civil Engineering Degree from Vermont Technical College. He married his wife, Becky Machnik, in 1978 and has three sons: Tom, Kevin, and Peter. Todd is owner and President of Machnik Bros., Inc., established in 1957, general contractors specializing in site work, underground utilities, seawalls, bridge & dam repair. Todd has been a member of: the Old Lyme Fire Department since 1970 and has served as an officer for 10 years; Flood & Erosion Control Board for 20 years, 5 years as Chair; the Planning Commission as alternate for 5 years; Trustee of Essex Savings Bank; High Hopes Building & Grounds for 5 years, 2 years as Chair; Southeastern CT Youth Hockey Board and President for 5 years; St. Bernard Hockey Manager for 12 years; and course designer and builder for 5 years, along with Becky Machnik, for Lord Creek Horse Trails.

Affliation: Machnik Bros., Inc

Margaret (Mac) Mummert

Mac and her husband, Earl, are veterinarians and own four small animal practices. Her special interests include internal medicine and oncology. She has served in many area civic organizations including the Lyme Garden Club, Child and Family Agency and is a Past President of the SE Connecticut Professional Women’s Network. She serves on the Vestry of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, is a past DC of the Connecticut Valley Pony Club, and volunteers at High Hopes. Mac has two children, Brian and Anya. Anya has been a participant at High Hopes since she was five and, although she has her own horse, she still rides here weekly. Mac earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1977 from Auburn University and resides in Old Lyme.

Affiliation – Companion Animal Hospitals

Vicki Newton

Vicki has spent her 25 year professional career in marketing, communications and web-site development for Fortune 500 Companies. She received her BA from State University of New York after which she continued to study art with the Art Student’s League in NYC. Vicki has owned and worked with horses all her life and in 2000 she, her husband Matt, and son, Alex, moved to their horse farm in East Haddam. Vicki continues her work as a freelance artist specializing in portraits of animals and botanical studies.

Andrew L. Russell

Andy has had an extensive career in broadcasting since earning a degree in Communications Management from Ithaca College. He is VP and General Manager, Hall Communications, where he oversees day-to-day operations for six stations. Andy is active in a number of local organizations including serving as treasurer of the Connecticut Broadcasters Association, secretary and board member of the RCDC (Renaissance City Development Association) in New London, and chairman of the Old Lyme Board of Finance. Andy resides in Old Lyme with his wife Pamela. They have three grown children.

Affiliation – Hall Communications

Robin Schonberger

Robin is a retired, award-winning Art Director who worked for 25 years in the greater Hartford area advertising business, where she specialized in regional and national print and television marketing. She studied in Boston and received her BFA from Tufts University. Robin is active in community service and has previously served on the Board of Directors for the Hartford University Art School and Real Art Ways, and is co-administrator of the Schonberger 9/11 Fund at the Hartford Foundation For Public Giving. Robin has been volunteering at High Hopes for 10 years, most recently in the capacity of Gala Co-Chair, Auction Co-Chair and serving on the Finance/Development Committee. Robin is a published avid gardener and moved to Old Lyme in 2001.

Peter Watt

Peter is Vice President, Consumer Marketing at Outdoor Sportsman Group – Integrated Media, in New York, where he oversees all direct to consumer related lines of business, including subscription and single copy management, as well as retail merchandise. Outdoor Sportsman Group, a media company that publishes 15 outdoor enthusiast magazines, also owns two cable networks: Sportsman Channel and Outdoor Channel. Prior to working at OSG-IM, Peter held various consumer marketing positions at Times Mirror Magazines, The Atlantic and Audubon. In addition to his professional endeavors, Peter is President of the Board of Trustees of Morningside Montessori School in New York, and has served on various committees and was a side walker at High Hopes from 2008-2015. An avid reader, his book group has been meeting regularly for over 20 years. He and his husband, Gerard Cattie, live in New York and spend as much time as possible at their house in Lyme. They are the parents of two school age children, Louisa and Alec. A Larchmont, NY native, he is a graduate of Middlebury College, with a BA in English Literature.

Barbara Willkens

Barbara has worked at Millstone Power Station since 1990.  During her career at the nuclear power plant she has held senior management positons in Engineering, Construction, Supply Chain, and Organizational Effectiveness. She earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering from University of Tennessee and completed post graduate courses at M.I.T. Prior to joining High Hopes Barbara served on the Board of Directors at Big Brothers/Big Sisters and was a “big” for 10 years. She is still in close contact with her “little.” Barbara has been actively involved at High Hopes for over 6 years as a member of the Development Committee,  a co-chair of the Auction Committee for 3 years, and most recently as a co-chair  for the June Benefit. Barbara is an avid knitter, gardener, and chef.  Barbara and her husband Wilhelm enjoy traveling to his native home of Austria as well as travelling visit family and friend.  Barbara and Wilhelm live in Lyme with Rhodesian Ridgeback Jack.

Affiliation – Dominion

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