Our Team

A vibrant community

As a charitable nonprofit organization, High Hopes is governed by a 17-member all-volunteer Board of Trustees, and managed by a team of 14 full-time and 7 part-time professional staff. The staff is augmented by over 350 active volunteers who further support our daily operations.

Discover Careers at High Hopes

Directors

Kitty Stalsburg

Kitty Stalsburg

Executive Director
and Instructor
860.434.1974 Ext. 113
Email Kitty

 

meet Kitty
Chelsea Bourn

Chelsea Bourn

Program Director
and Instructor
860.434.1974 Ext. 116
Email Chelsea

meet Chelsea
Claire Gadrow

Claire Gadrow

Development Director
860.434.1974 Ext. 122
Email Claire

 

meet Claire
Sarah Miller

Sarah Miller

Training and Education Director
and Instructor
860.434.1974 Ext. 115
Email Sarah

 

meet Sarah
Lesley Olsen

Lesley Olsen

Finance Director
860.434.1974 Ext. 111
Email Lelsey

meet Lesley
Holly Sundmacker

Holly Sundmacker

Equine Operations Director
860.434.1974  Ext. 127
Email Holly

 

meet Holly

Staff

Barbara Abrams, LPC

Barbara Abrams, LPC

Instructor
860.434.1974

Meet Barbara
Trudy Burgess

Trudy Burgess

Event Manager
860.434.1974 Ext. 123 

meet Trudy
Marie Cahill

Marie Cahill

Lesson Manager and Instructor
860.434.1974 

meet Marie
Hayley Plas

Hayley Plas

Volunteer Outreach & Training Manager and Assistant Instructor
860.434.1974  Ext. 132

meet Hayley
Megan Ellis

Megan Ellis

Instructor
860.434.1974 

meet Megan
Lauren Fitzgerald

Lauren Fitzgerald

Equine Resource Manager and Instructor
860.434.1974 Ext. 114

meet Lauren
Liesl Grigerek

Liesl Grigerek

Barn Coordinator
860.434.1974

Kerrie Guarino

Kerrie Guarino

Development Manager
860.434.1974 Ext. 119

Juanita Paris

Juanita Paris

Barn Assistant
860.434.1974 

 

Audrey Vela

Audrey Vela

Assistant Instructor
860.434.1974 

meet Audrey
Carolyn Jagielski, PT

Carolyn Jagielski, PT

Instructor
860.434.1974

'Board of Trustees'

all appointments as of July 1, 2022

Board of Trustees

Mac Mummert

Chair

Mac and her husband, Earl, are veterinarians and have owned 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 has served on the vestry of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, and was District Commissioner of the Connecticut Valley Pony Club. Mac has two children, Brian and Anya. Anya has been a participant at High Hopes since she was five and now works as a volunteer twice weekly. Mac earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1977 from Auburn University and resides in Lyme.

Peter Watt

Vice Chair – Development

Peter Watt is Vice President, Consumer Marketing at Outdoor Sportsman Group, in New York, where he oversees all direct to consumer-related lines of business, including subscriptions, single copy management, and merchandise sales. Outdoor Sportsman Group, a media company that publishes 15 outdoor enthusiast magazines, also owns several cable networks including Sportsman Channel and Outdoor Channel, as well as the OTT Streaming Service, My Outdoor TV. Prior to joining the High Hopes board, he was a side walker from 2008-2015 and served on various committees for the annual benefit. Peter and his husband, Gerard Cattie, live in New York and in Lyme. They are the parents of two school-age children, Louisa and Alec. A Larchmont, NY native, Peter is a graduate of Middlebury College, with a B.A. in English Literature.

Affiliation – Outdoor Sportsman Group

 

 

James Scott Douglas

Treasurer

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. Scott and his wife Wendy reside in Old Lyme and Florida and have four children and nine grandchildren.

Affiliation: Dancker Sellew & Douglas

Sarah Hill Canning

Secretary

Sarah has volunteered at High Hopes since 2003, most recently in the Carriage Driving Program. She served on the Board from 2007-16 and was scribe for several years. She came back on the Board in 2017.  Sarah is a past Chair of the Volunteer Committee, and has served on the Symphony, Development, and Strategic Plan Committees. She is presently Chair of the Governance Committee. She is an alumna of Boston University and lives in Stonington.

John Catlett

John spent more than 26 years with the consulting firm Accenture before retiring as a senior partner. During his 14 years as a Trustee, John has served as Chair of the Board, Chair of Strategic Planning, Development and Governance Committees and continues to serve on the Development, Finance and HRAC Committees. He holds degrees from Drew University and Lehigh University. John lives in Lyme with his wife, Athana, and three daughters, Sarah, Sabrina and Anna.

Liz Doering

Liz is the owner of Sperry View Farm in Bethany, CT.  Before spending 15 years in the Healthcare Insurance Industry, Liz received an undergraduate degree at Mt. Holyoke College, a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from American University, and an MBA in Health Administration from Quinnipiac University.  In 2012, Liz decided to follow a lifelong ambition of owning her own equestrian facility and purchased Sperry View Farm.  She grew up in Pony Club where she stays active as a National Examiner and Chief Horse Management Judge as well as having served on multiple National Committees throughout the years.  For the past four years, Liz has served as the President of the Connecticut Dressage Association (CDA).  While remaining as the VP of CDA, Liz stepped down from the President’s position in 2022 to continue her pursuit of her Dressage Technical Delegate’s License through the United States Equestrian Federation (USDF).  She is a USDF Bronze and Silver Medalist and continues to compete at the Intermediate I Level.  Liz resides in Bethany, CT and Old Saybrook, CT.

Mark Fader

Since 2008, Mark Fader has been the 10th Head of The Williams School, New London, Connecticut, after previously serving as Assistant Head. He has over 25 years of experience as an educator, administrator, and coach. Before joining Williams, he was at Providence Day School in Charlotte, NC and 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 a former board member at New England Science and Sailing (NESS) and as a member of the Ocean Commotion Committee at Mystic Aquarium. Mark and his wife Suki have three children, Jack, Ellie, Lucy, who all volunteer at High Hopes.

Affiliation: The Williams School

Jackie Kangley

Jacqueline oversees product development and online marketing and sales for Amelie Michel French Table Linens. Jacqueline was introduced to therapeutic riding by her Essex Elementary School classmates’ rides at the Lower Connecticut Valley Educational Riding Association. 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. Jacqueline currently volunteers in the therapeutic riding program and serves on numerous committees. She has Co-Chaired the Concert in the Barn and many Auction, Décor, and other Benefit committees. Jacqueline is the 2018 Path Intl. Region 1 Volunteer of the Year for her outstanding contribution to High Hopes. Jacqueline is an alumna of The Hotchkiss School and Dartmouth College. She lives with husband Stephen Dedman in Hadlyme.

Affiliation: Amelie Michel French Table Linens

Sarah Kitchings Keenan

Sarah and her husband Christopher reside in Essex with their three children, Ryan, Maggie and Ashley. Her son, Ryan has been an active High Hopes participant for five years, both of her daughters have attended the High Hopes Summer Camp. Sarah has served as a member of the High Hopes Development Committee and is currently Treasurer of the Essex Elementary School Foundation. Sarah attended Miss. Porter’s School, followed by the University of Oregon. She received her Juris Doctor from Quinnipiac University School of Law. Sarah then practiced as an Attorney specializing in real estate law, trusts and estates. She has worked as a realtor at William Pitt Sotheby International Realty and currently works for the Essex Marine Group.

Affiliation – Essex Marine Group

Todd Machnik

Todd grew up in Old Lyme and received a C.Eng. from Vermont Technical College. Todd is owner and President of Machnik Bros., Inc., established in 1957. Todd has been a member of the Old Lyme Fire Department since 1970 and has served as an Officer for ten years. He also served on the Town of Lyme Flood & Erosion Control Board for 20 years (five years as Chair) and is a member of the Planning and Shellfish Commissions. Todd is currently a Trustee of Essex Savings Bank, and has served on the High Hopes Building & Grounds Committee for five years, two years as Chair. Other committee positions have included the Southeastern CT Youth Hockey Board where he was President for five years and St. Bernard’s School Hockey Manager for 12 years. He married his wife, Becky Machnik, in 1978 and has three sons: Tom, Kevin, and Peter. Becky and Todd have been the Lord Creek Horse Trials course designers and builders for five years.

Affiliation: Machnik Bros., Inc.

Landon Potts

Landon is a self-employed attorney.  In June 2010 she was admitted into the Connecticut Bar after receiving her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Connecticut School Of Law in 2009 and a Bachelor of Science in Business Management, Summa Cum Laude, from Quinnipiac University in 2005.  In addition, Landon interned with the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch and Hubard, Samuels & Lewane where she mediated landlord/tenant disputes and assisted in trial preparation of felony criminal cases and personal injury cases respectively.  Landon is very familiar with High Hopes.  She was a program participant from early childhood through her teenage years, as well as High Hopes’ Development Assistant from 2004-2006 and Administrative Assistant/Intern from 2002-2004. Landon was a Trustee on the Board of Living Rock Church in Killingworth from 2017-2020 and presently holds several leadership positions within the church.  Landon resides in Essex, CT.

Jeffrey Ridgway

Jeff is retired from boatyard and building industries. He has served for multiple terms on the Board of Trustees since 1994, with two years as President. His many leadership roles at High Hopes include assisting with the construction of the facility in 1990 and serving as Co-Chair, with his wife, Holly, of the ‘94 and ‘95 Antiques Shows. Jeff Co-Chaired the 2000 Building expansion project; was Co-Chair of the High Hopes’ Hoedown, (now the Holiday Market), Co-chair of the Endowment Campaign and has been a member of the Building & Grounds Committee for 30 years. He is actively involved with many events such as the June Benefit. He was the recipient of the NARHA Region I Volunteer of the Year Award in 2009. Jeff was born in Africa and grew up in the UK. He and his wife, Holly, reside in Chester.

Affiliation – Caulfield & Ridgway

Gary Rogers

Gary is a marketing & business development executive with expertise leading a number of Fortune 500 brands. He is currently working with Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT, cultivating members and forging strategic partnerships. His global brand marketing initiatives generated over $1 million in charitable contributions through national cause-marketing campaigns. He served as VP of the Alumni Association Board of Directors for Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY, where he focused on capital campaign strategy and branding for the President of the College and Development Office. An avid supporter of High Hopes alongside his wife Linda, Gary leads corporate sponsorship efforts for the June Gala. Gary and Linda live in Lyme, CT.  Education: M.S., Leadership & Strategic Management, Manhattanville College School of Business, Purchase, NY; B.A., Biology, Colby College, Waterville, ME.

Affiliation: Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut

Priya Tandon, MD, FACP

Priya is a Board-Certified Internal Medicine Specialist who has operated a private practice in Colchester, CT since March 2008.  She is affiliated with Hartford Healthcare, William W. Backus Hospital.  In addition, Priya is an Assistant Professor at Quinnipiac University (2013-Present) and was awarded the Excellence in Clinical Teaching Award at the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine in 2021.  Priya earned her Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at MS Ramaiah Medical College in Bangalore, India followed by Residencies at Coney Island Hospital, University of Connecticut Health Center, and Chief Medical Resident at Hartford Hospital.  Her Fellowship in Hematology and Oncology was completed at University of Connecticut Health Center.  In addition to Priya’s 30 years of experience in the medical field, she volunteers with SNEHA (President), a non-profit organization for domestic violence against South East Asian origin, American College of Physicians Health Care Policy and Advocacy Committee, American Medical Association – Private Practice Physician Society, and Kodaikanal Friends International Board.  Priya holds a special affection toward High Hopes – her daughter, Shruti, rode with High Hopes for several years beginning when she was three years old.  Priya and her husband, Michael Rajkumar, reside in Colchester.

Affiliation:  Private Practice

 

 

Gregory Varga

Greg is a Partner at Robinson & Cole LLP, Hartford CT, a national law firm with offices throughout New England, New York, California, and Florida. As Chair of the firm’s Insurance & Reinsurance Practice, Greg represents property and casualty insurance companies and other clients in high-exposure litigation and arbitration arising from contract disputes, claims for punitive and statutory damages, and related matters. Greg also counsels and assists clients in pre-litigation dispute resolution, and advises clients regarding open claims. He is a fellow of the American College of Coverage Counsel and a member of the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel. He has been honored by his peers with an “AV Preeminent” ranking by Martindale Hubbell®, has been honored by Connecticut SuperLawyers® since 2011, and named to The Best Lawyers in America® in the field of insurance law since 2012. Education: Boston College Law School, Juris Doctor, 1995; Boston College, B.A. in History, magna cum laude, 1991; Fairfield College Preparatory School (1987)

Affiliation: Robinson + Cole, LLP

Maris Wacs

After 50 years of living in Manhattan, Maris moved to Old Lyme in 2013.  Maris holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the School of Visual Arts and has worked as a national award-winning graphic designer at numerous national magazines, e.g., Condé Nast, Vogue, and Rolling Stone, as well as with Jim Henson Productions until his death in 1990.  Since relocating to Connecticut, Maris has done pro bono design work for Safe Futures, CT River Museum, Community Foundation of Middlesex County, and The Community Music School.  She is on the Development Committee at Safe Futures and volunteers as a sidewalker at High Hopes.  Additionally, Maris is a 500-hour, nationally-accredited yoga teacher with a studio in Old Lyme.  Maris has three adult children, Jordan, Sydney, and Lindsey.

Natalie Yonker

Natalie is the Manager Organizational Effectiveness for Dominion Energy at Millstone Power Station where she has worked since 2015.  Since obtaining her Bachelor of Science degree in Nuclear Engineering from Purdue University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Averett University, Natalie has worked in the Nuclear Industry for 22 years at both Millstone Power Station and Surry Power Station in Surry, VA.  In addition to her current position, Natalie was also a Supervisor in Engineering and Operations with Dominion Energy.  Natalie has served on the High Hopes Development Committee since 2018 and has been a member of St. Matthias Parish Women’s Club and Certified Food Protection Manager since 2019. She is an active member of the local chapter of Women in Nuclear (WIN) since 2020, as well as a member of the American Nuclear Society since 1998.  Natalie resides in East Lyme.

Affiliation:  Millstone Power Station

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High Hopes Therapeutic Riding is located at 36 Town Woods Road, Old Lyme, CT.

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A Place to Heal, Learn & Make Friends

Equine assisted activities and therapies may be therapeutic if a participant derives benefit, shows improvement or feels better once engaged.

Our Programs

Our History

High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc., was founded in 1974 by Mary “Sis” Gould as the Lower Connecticut Valley Educational Riding Association (LCVERA).

The Story of High Hopes

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