• May 2015
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Published: March 01, 2009


POSITION: Executive director of The J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center, a San Juan Capistrano-based organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities through therapeutic horse-related programs

ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Helped The Shea Center become one of the largest therapeutic equestrian centers in the country

WHAT YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR WORK: I love that every day at The J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center, something remarkable and special happens. These special moments could include one of our children learning to walk. It could also be a high school volunteer who gave her babysitting money so a rider could have a scholarship, or the joy of a parent who hears her child speak for the first time from the back of one of our horses. These things, and a thousand others like them, are what make my work at The Shea Center a passion as well as a profession.

PROFESSIONAL PHILOSOPHY: Two quotes sum it up for me: “Real leaders, I have found, exhibit an enthusiasm for selecting people who are better than they are,” by Ram Charan, and “The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team,” by John Wooden. I work with the best staff, volunteers, donors and board of directors. They improve the lives of more than 525 clients who come to The Shea Center each year.

PROUDEST PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT, AND WHY IT STANDS OUT: There are so many moments for which I am grateful in these past 11 years with The Shea Center. Professionally, I’m excited about new projects to improve our therapeutic riding programs, which include the opening of the Klein Family Education & Therapy Building in 2010 and the introduction of a new instruction method called Balimo. Janelle Robinson, our director of therapeutic programs, and I have spent the last six years becoming two of only 17 people worldwide who understand how to fully teach this revolutionary approach to riding and physical learning.

ADVICE FOR WOMEN ENTERING THE WORK FORCE: Do what excites you. Find a passion that aligns with your strengths, and follow it with study, appetite, curiosity and vision. Find a mentor. I’ve had terrific mentors my entire life; I’m always looking for the next teacher.

IF YOU COULD HAVE DINNER WITH FIVE PEOPLE, ALIVE OR DEAD, WHO WOULD THEY BE? President Barack Obama, writer/humorist Roy Blount Jr., coach John Wooden, the late Jill Hassler-Scoop (my riding mentor) and the late Rex Malcolm, author, adventurer, friend and mentor.

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