Our Team

Our Team


*Lisa A. Gatti – Founder and CEO
Lisa has had a lifelong love affair with horses. As Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Pal-O-Mine, she has the opportunity to share that love with others in her community while running a business that inspires, educates and empowers others. Lisa’s passion for horses and teaching began at a very young age. After graduating college with a dual degree in elementary and special education, she lent her skills as a special education teacher in an alternative high school setting, working for Nassau Boces and Brentwood Residential Center. She started Pal-O-Mine in 1995. In 1996, and then again in 2000, Lisa was named as United States Team Leader for the U.S. Equestrian Paralympic Team in Atlanta, GA and Sydney, Australia. While her passion for teaching and all things equestrian are evident in everything she does, she recognized early on that running a successful business requires other skills as well. Accordingly, she has supplemented her education throughout the years with business management, nonprofit and entrepreneurial certification programs and leadership programs to help her grow in her field. Lisa graduated from Leadership Huntington and the Energeia Partnership, the Academy of Regional Stewardship at Molloy College. From 2008-2013, Lisa served as Chair of the Board of Directors of EAGALA, the global standard for equine-assisted psychotherapy and personal development. From 2015 to 2021 she served as Secretary on the Board of Autism Communities, lending her expertise to the not-for-profit in vocational opportunities for those on the autism spectrum as they age out of the educational system. In 2019, she was appointed to the Town of Islip Disability Advisory Committee to help local government on Long Island identify the most crucial issues facing the special needs population. A steadfast presence in the media outlets, Lisa has been the recipient of numerous awards for her business and leadership skills and was most recently honored with the 2020 Women of Distinction and Distinguished Service Award from the Town of Islip. She was also named a finalist for the Imagine Awards in the Leadership Excellence Category. Lisa has a 13-year-old daughter who is the pride and joy of her life.

Alexandra Cella, LMSW – Administrative Services Coordinator
Alex graduated from Adelphi University with her Master’s in Social work and came to Pal-O-Mine as an intern in 2009. She left to work in a skilled nursing home for a few years and returned to Pal-O-Mine to be the Administrative Services Coordinator. She also assists in the barn, attends many Pal-O-Mine events and helps with fundraising efforts. Alex has 20 years of horse experience and began riding English and jumping at the age of 10. She went on to complete the Wilson Tech Equine Studies Program in 2004 where she earned her Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) Certification.

Carol Evers – Executive Assistant
With over forty years experience in the working world and a graduate of Mrs. Skinner’s Secretarial School in Garden City, NY, Carol spent over five years as manager of Overnight Transportation. As the head bookkeeper of Pal-O-Mine Equestrian and a job coach, she uses her extensive management training to assist Pal-O-Mine Equestrian and the youth and adults that participate in the vocational development and work-study programs and is a volunteer trainer. Carol is also a Pal-O-Mine Equestrian Advisory Board Member and when she isn’t at Pal-O-Mine Equestrian and caring for the rabbits and cat, she enjoys perfecting her golf game.

Carol Ann Guerriero, MS 
Carol Ann is a New York State Certified Elementary School Teacher who has been with Pal-O-Mine Equestrian since 2000. She has her Associates Degree from Nassau Community College in Applied Science with a concentration in Marketing and her Bachelors and Masters Degrees from Hofstra University in Psychology and Education, respectively. Carol Ann was a 1st and K-1 elementary school teacher in the Garden City UFSD and a 4th and 5th grade teacher in the Baldwin UFSD. She was also a home care aid for children with autism and is trained in Applied Behavioral Analysis. A life-long rider, Carol Ann has years of experience working as a therapeutic horse back riding instructor, barn manager, and a barrel racer. She is trained in Crisis Prevention and Intervention.

JoAnn Woodruff, M.Ed. – Office Manager
JoAnn studied psychology at St. Joseph’s College and earned her Master’s degree in Athletic Counseling from Springfield College in Massachusetts. After graduate school, she spent 9 years as a special education teaching assistant for students in grades K through 12 in Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York. During that time, JoAnn was also a tutor and math instructor and coached basketball, soccer, and lacrosse. Most recently, she was a middle school math teacher for 2 years at a charter school in New Hampshire before returning to Long Island and joining the Pal-O-Mine Team in 2020.


Elise Hammell, B.S. – Barn Staff
Elise started riding when she was 7 years old, and it quickly became her favorite sport. She competed in many horse shows across Long Island throughout her teenage years. She went to college and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in business and communications, and continues to take online classes to further her equine education. During Elise’s senior year she began riding and teaching professionally. She feels very lucky to own 3 horses that she loves taking care of and spending time with. Elise started working in the Pal-O-Mine barn in December 2021.

Eve Rubino, B.S. – Barn Staff
Eve has a B.S. in Business Management and worked as a Director of Global Service Desk in Computer Associates for 8 years. She then became a certified Kripalu yoga teacher before realizing she wanted to work with horses as they were always a passion of hers. She learned all she could about horsemanship and riding which led her to work with at-risk youth, teaching them how to care for, interact with, and ride horses. She found that she was happiest working with people and horses, and she especially loved the positive impact that horses usually had on people. Eve wanted to be part of Pal-O-Mine’s mission and she began volunteering at Pal-O-Mine in the summer of 2020. She then became part of the staff and is currently working in the barn.

Kelly Tooker, BBA – Barn Manager
Kelly has been riding since she was 8 years old. She was a competitive jumper and has done countless horse shows including the Hampton Classic, H.I.T.S. (Saugerties, NY), Winter Equestrian Festival (Wellington, FL), C.S.I. Dinard International Horse Show (France), and numerous shows around the tri-state area. Kelly has owned and cared for many horses throughout the years. In 1999 she was the Zone II Rider of the Year and in 2000 qualified for the Marshall Sterling finals, where she placed in the top six nationwide. Kelly also has a background in special education working with people with a variety of disabilities. She has worked at DDI and Harborfields School District in the Special Education Department. Having had a brother with autism, Kelly has both personal and professional experience working with people with disabilities. In addition, Kelly managed a small business for over 15 years. Working at Pal-O-Mine has brought Kelly’s love of horses and helping those with special needs together.

Lisa Sobarzo – Facility Oversight
Lisa has been with Pal-O-Mine Equestrian since 2005 and oversees the facility operations. She is also an EAGALA Certified Equine Specialist in the Equine Assisted Psychotherapy Program, a volunteer trainer, and a group therapeutic horseback riding instructor. An avid horseback rider for 25 years, Lisa has accomplished a lifelong dream and now owns her own horse and rides Western seat and barrel races. She is also a proud mother of two and a member of the EAGALA New York Free Spirit Metropolitan Networking Group. Lisa’s previous work experience includes retail service for Mattel and order billing for Estee Lauder and has over 21 years in the corporate world. Lisa has extensive training and experience working with a variety of populations in the equine assisted activities field.

Matthew Pestour
Matthew came to Pal-O-Mine in 2006 as an intern and graduated from Cleary School for the Deaf in 2007. While in High School, he attended Wilson Tech Equine Studies Program as their first deaf student. Matt started riding at age 3 for physical therapy and he progressed to riding independently and began jumping. In the summers, Matt is a volunteer with the Bureau of Land Management, assisting with the mustang and burro adoptions in the Northeast. His favorite breed is the mustang. He also is an avid photographer and his photos can be seen on various mustang web sites. Matt hopes that one day he can bring his Sulphur Mustang stallion, Ranger, home to New York to train. Matt enjoys working at Pal-O-Mine surrounded by horses and doing what he loves…taking care of horses.

Tereso Juarez, BS – Facility Maintenance
Tereso maintains our equipment and repairs anything that needs to be serviced. He has been with Pal-O-Mine since 2005. Tereso has a degree in Information Systems and is a former Computer Technology teacher. He was also a Lieutenant in the El Salvadorian Army. He is bilingual in English and Spanish and is Certified in Crisis Prevention and Intervention. A father of three girls, one who is in medical school to be a doctor, Tereso is devoted to the Pal-O-Mine mission.


Christina Petitti, PsyD, MSW
Christina Petitti is a Clinical Psychologist with over 10 years of experience in clinical work with children, teens and families. She received her Masters in Social Work from Stony Brook University and went on to complete her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Long Island University. Christina has been a volunteer with the Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk (VIBS) since 2014, helping survivors of trauma get connected to treatment and resources. Her areas of passion and interest are working with trauma survivors, as well as children with developmental disabilities and their families. Outside of working and volunteering, Christina loves artwork, gardening, and playtime with her rescue dogs.

Dora Lupo, LMHC, MAC, CASAC – Clinical Coordinator
Dora has over 20 years working with individuals diagnosed with Mental Health and Addiction concerns with specialization in trauma, PTSD and building resilience. She has been providing Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) at Pal-O-Mine since 2008 and is the past Ethics Committee-Chair for the International EAGALA Organization. Dora received her Masters in Mental Health Counseling from Long Island University C.W.Post and is a Graduate of New York University with a B.S. in Marketing/Management. Her certifications include: MAC (Masters Addiction Counselor); Reiki-Master Level; Mindfulness Training; Motivational Interviewing; Ericksonian Hypnosis; Brief therapy (NLP); EAGALA corporate Training; EAGALA Certified MH. She is also an experienced Adjunct Professor in the Department of Counseling and Development at Long Island University and has provided trainings throughout Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

*Ellen Lear, LMSW – Board Member 
Ellen is dual certified through Eagala as a Mental Health Practitioner (MH) and as an Equine Specialist (ES). A Licensed Clinical Social Worker, she had a private practice in New York City for 15 years. A lover of horses since she was a child, Ellen moved to Shelter Island, NY where she co-owner and operated a 36-acre training and boarding facility before discovering Pal-O-Mine and Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) in 2005. As an EAP practitioner, Ellen found that through the client/horse bond, lines of communication open faster than in traditional talk therapy and typically the client’s goal(s) is reached in less time. In addition to facilitating EAP sessions, Ellen is a Vocational Job Coach for Pal-O-Mine’s J-STEP program. As a member of Pal-O-Mine’s Board of Directors she has served as Secretary since 2014.

Ginny Porto, LCSW
Ginny is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She attended the University of Georgia for undergraduate degrees in History and Spanish followed by Fordham University for her MSW degree. She joined the Pal-O-Mine team in 2014 and practices Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine Assisted Learning as the mental health professional using the EAGALA model. Prior to Pal-O-Mine, Ginny worked as a therapist in various mental health settings, including Diagnostic Residential Center, Rapic Intervention Center, and outpatient mental health clinic. She has experience providing mental health services to children, adolescents, adults, and families from all backgrounds. She has received specialized training in the treatment of Trauma and Abuse and concentrated her Masters work on children and their families. As a lifelong horse lover, Ginny came to Pal-O-Mine to join her two passions of helping others and working with horses. Ginny is fluent in Spanish, which allows us to reach those who may not otherwise be able to receive services at Pal-O-Mine.

Kathleen Casey, LCSW
Kathleen is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a private practice in Bay Shore, New York. She specializes in treating individuals who have experienced trauma, anxiety and depression. She is certified through EAGALA as a Mental Health provider. She is also a certified provider of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). Kathleen is committed to helping empower her clients to effectively navigate life’s many challenges with compassion and self-acceptance.

*Mandi Budah, MA, LCSW
Mandi has been with Pal-O-Mine since 2011. She is certified through EAGALA as both an Equine Specialist and a Mental Health Professional, enabling her to facilitate Equine Assisted Learning groups and Equine Assisted Psychotherapy sessions. Mandi holds a second master’s degree in forensic psychology, as well as certifications in treating anxiety disorders and integrative medicine for mental health. At Pal-O-Mine, she assists with felony youth court mandates and public school educational placements for special education students.

Mary Ann McGrath, LCSW
Mary Ann has been a practicing social worker for over twenty years. Having worked in the field of addictions and early childhood education, she maintains a full-time private practice in North Massapequa. She works with adults, addressing issues involving depression, anxiety, grief and trauma. She is trained in both EMDR and ego state work. Her lifelong passion for horses led her to Pal O Mine, where she was certified by EAGALA as a Mental Health practitioner for Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. She works with both groups and individuals here at Pal O Mine, using the Equine Assisted Psychotherapy model, thus joining her love of horses with her love of therapy.

*Rachel Gearwar, LMSW, CCTP
Rachel came to Pal-O-Mine as a graduate student intern in 2011. She received her BA in Psychology from Stony Brook University and her Masters in Social Work from Adelphi University. Rachel is dual certified by EAGALA as a Mental Health practitioner and an Equine Specialist for Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine Assisted Learning. She is currently going for her advanced certification through EAGALA and her Clinical licensure. She is a job coach for the Work-Study program, a facilitator for Herd Women (a women’s empowerment group), an Equine Assisted Learning facilitator for the BOCES School districts and adjudicated youth, a natural horsemanship teacher, a facilitator of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and head of Independent Support System billing. She has completed Crisis Prevention, CPR/First Aid, and trainings in Mindfulness, Substance Abuse, Addictive Disorders, EAGALA Military Trauma and Vaulting. In addition, she is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP). Rachel has presented at the National EAGALA conference and contributed to the Pal-O-Mine “Through the Eyes of the Herd” and the “Leading and Learning” curriculums.

Rosemary Ferrero-Manginelli, LCSW, CASAC, NCACII, SAP, CCFC, ICRC-ADC
Rosemary joined Pal-O-Mine Equestrian in 1999 as a volunteer and became involved in assisting with accounting and therapeutic riding lessons. In 2002, she introduced the EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association), an internationally recognized model of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy to Pal-O-Mine. Holding an advanced certification in EAP, Rosemary specializes in working with clients diagnosed with drug/alcohol addiction and mental health issues, with particular emphasis on Complicated Grief and Trauma. She has experience working with those in the military, including their family members, beginning with Vietnam veterans. Rosemary received her Masters in Social Work from Fordham University, New York City. Her certifications include: CASAC (New York State-Credentialed alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor); NCACII (National Certified Addiction Counselor II); SAP (Substance Abuse Professional); CCFC (Clinically Certified Forensic Counselor); CAP (Certified Addiction Professional-Florida); ICRC-ADC (International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium-Alcohol & Drug Counselor); Mindfulness Training. She is EMDR trained, and is an Adjunct Professor at Nassau Community College.

*Tessa Van Florcke, LMSW, CCTP
Tessa grew up around horses and spent most of her free time during high school at the barn. After graduating from Towson University in 2010 with a B.S. in Psychology, Tessa earned her Masters in Social Work in 2016 from Adelphi University. Tessa is certified in the EAGALA model as both a Mental Health Practitioner and an Equine Specialist. She is also a Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor Trainee (CASAC-T) and a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP). In addition to working at Pal-O-Mine with the BOCES program and our Women’s Herd group, Tessa worked as a Foster Care Caseworker for 5 years with SCO Family Services and currently works at the Town of Babylon Youth Institute seeing adolescent clients for individual therapy.


Christine Johnson, BSN
A graduate of Molloy College and former nurse, Christine’s had two lifelong dreams: to be a dance teacher and a riding instructor. Christine was the Founder and Director of Exposures in Dance, a dance company integrating physically challenged and able-bodied dancers. Christine is also skilled in Ballet, Jazz, Modern Dance, and Aerobics and teaching children with special needs. She is a therapeutic horseback riding instructor, a volunteer trainer, and an EAGALA Advanced Certified Equine Specialist and has been with Pal-O-Mine Equestrian since 2004. She is trained in equine lameness, nutrition, behavior, and first aid as well as in hippotherapy, autism spectrum disorder, applied behavioral analysis, and balance and movement. She is currently riding dressage and practicing Parelli.

Sheila Maher
Since 2000, Sheila has been with Pal-O-Mine Equestrian in a variety of roles. Sheila started as a volunteer and spent her first years at Pal-O-Mine learning equine care, volunteering in lessons, and training to be a therapeutic horseback riding instructor. Sheila then served as the full-time Volunteer Coordinator for Pal-O-Mine and also fulfilled the role as the Public Relations Coordinator, issuing press releases, attending networking functions, and promoting the program to the community. Currently, Sheila is one of Pal-O-Mine Equestrian’s most seasoned therapeutic horseback riding instructors, group riding instructor, and volunteer trainer. She has experience and training working with a variety of disabilities and ages, from young children to adults and strives for a positive and enjoyable lesson environment.

Nicole Natelson, B.S.
Nicole (Nicki) has a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and is currently a graduate student at Fordham University studying to be a social worker. Her goal is to be a Clinical Psychotherapist. Nicki grew up riding on Long Island and competed competitively throughout the Tri-State area. Her passion for mental health began when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor at ag17, and she knew then that she wanted to work with mental health and horses. Nicki came to Pal-O-Mine in 2023 as a social work intern for her master’s degree. She fell in love with Pal-O-Mine’s staff, their mission, and the herd, and has become the Director of Social Media for Pal-O-Mine. She is Eagala certified as an Equine Specialist with plans to become an Eagala Certified Mental Health Professional upon completing her graduate studies.

⃰ In total, Pal-O-Mine has 11 Certified Equine Specialists. All are not listed in this category as their primary role in the organization is elsewhere.


*Blair Griesmeyer – Board Member
Blair came to Pal-O-Mine in 2006 with her horses, Navajo and Isaac. Her love for horses started at age 6 when she rode her first horse. At age 13 she spent her summer riding with one of the equestrians on the Argentinian Jumping team. She became interested in dressage in 1990 and has ridden in clinics with many notable trainers such as Charles DeKunffy, Kathy Connolly and Anne Gribbons. While working with horses Blair became interested in learning more about the relationship between human and equine, and started studying the Parelli system of natural horsemanship. Blair enjoys sharing the knowledge she has acquired with her students and equine partners. She says, “I love being a part of the relationship that evolves between a student and their horse, whether it’s in the saddle or on the ground, the connection, mutual respect, intimate relationship and above all, the partnership that develops. There is nothing better than watching the expression on a students face change, smile emerging when they have that AH HA moment – they got it!”  Blair is an EAGALA Certified Equine Specialist (ES) and provides individual and group instruction using the Parelli system to facilitate natural horsemanship, and is also a riding instructor to many of our staff and volunteers.

Casey Dudley, BS, CTRS, CTRI
Casey grew up in rural Virginia, and her love of horses was born there. she received her BS in Recreation Management with an emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation in 2016 and earned the CTRS (Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist) title the same year. She then worked in nursing homes for 3 years as a Recreation Therapist. She earned her CTRI certification (Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor) in 2021. Casey joined Pal-O-Mine in 2023 as a Riding Instructor, Vocational Coach, and is also training new Pal-O-Mine volunteers.

Danielle Bertuccio, M.A.
Danielle has a Masters Degree in Liberal Studies. She is an Adjunct Instructor of Philosophy on the college level and as well as an Executive Function Coach. Danielle is an IBCCES Certified Autism Specialist (CAS) and Certified Behavior Instructor for Autism – Level 1 (CBIA-1). Most recently she added The Certified Equine Interaction Professional (CEIP) credential for educators (CEIP-ED) to her list of accomplishments. A life-long equestrian, Danielle has been a riding instructor at Pal-O-Mine since 2015.

Karin Schackne
Karin has been riding since she was twelve years old as a Hunt Seat Equitation competition rider. She rode and showed on the Academy of St. Joseph’s High School Equestrian Team, and quickly became interested in dressage. She leased many horses throughout her horse career, and took clinics with many notable dressage trainers including Gunnar Ostergaard, Anne Gribbons and Mette Rosencrantz. Karin attended the USDF Adult camp and was part of the 1996 Paralympic training camp. Karin joined Pal-O-Mine Equestrian in 1995 and began working with riders with disabilities in 1996. Specializing in students with physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, and autism spectrum disorder, Karin is trained in sign language and NARHA standards and practices. Karin attended the State University of New York- Farmingdale where she studied Advertising Arts. She is a therapeutic horseback riding instructor and group riding instructor at Pal-O-Mine. 

Sherry Kidder, BA
Sherry’s love for horses began as a child where she grew up in a rural area near a farm where she spent every free moment. She worked at Belmont Race Track and other various racing facilities caring for horses and training yearlings. With a B.A. in history and a minor in English and Psychology from Molloy College, Sherry is a riding instructor and volunteers in the barn often. She utilizes a person-centered approach when teaching individuals and enjoys working with the large volunteer staff at Pal-O-Mine Equestrian. In addition to exercising the various horses at Pal-O-Mine Equestrian, Sherry also likes to care and exercise Jake and Annabelle, Pal-O-Mine’s two miniature donkeys.


Kaitlyn Gajewski, BA, EdM
Kaitlyn came to Pal-O-Mine as a volunteer in 2014. Kaitlyn graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2009 and a Master’s Degree in Childhood Education in 2012. Since graduating, Kaitlyn has been spending her time assisting as a direct care staff at CSS/ISS on Long Island, New York, as well as, facilitating camp and after school programs that teach children about select hobbies including fashion, aviation and magic. Kaitlyn spent her formative years competing in many horse shows across long island and has now brought her passion and experience to the Pal-O-Mine team. Kaitlyn is an integral member of Pal-O-Mine and serves in roles both in the barn, as well as, in our Equine Assisted Learning programs.

Thomas Hayes, MS
Tom started his professional career enlisting in the Marine Corps Reserves in 2012 after obtaining a Master’s Degree in Adolescent Education from Adelphi University. Shortly after, he began a career as a Correction Officer with the New York City Department of Corrections. While there he became a NYS DCJS General Topics Instructor. In the summer of 2021, drawing from his colorful array of experiences, he stared working at Pal-O-Mine while looking to further his education.

Lauren Wendelken, MA
Lauren has an MS degree in Deaf Education and is certified in New York State to teach deaf and hard of hearing students in grades K-12. She worked at the Helen Keller National Center for 10 years and has extensive knowledge and training with deaf/blind adults with secondary disabilities. Lauren is fluent in ASL (American Sign Language) as well as tactile sign language. She currently works as an Itinerant Deaf Ed teacher at Nassau BOCES when she’s not either working as an EAL instructor at Pal-O-Mine or teaching an ASL course to Pal-O-Mine staff members. In addition, Lauren owned her own horse and has been riding since age 15.

*Orlando Nicholas, A.B.A.
Orlando grew up in Hartford, Connecticut. After graduating from college, he spent 15 years gaining management experience at the Hartford Insurance Group in Connecticut before moving to Long Island in 1999. He was a Senior Counselor for many years at Family Residence and Essential Enterprises in Old Bethpage and has over 20 years of experience working with at-risk teens, young adults, and individuals with disabilities. Orlando has always envisioned working in a facility like Pal-O-Mine, and is an EAGALA Certified Equine Specialist (ES). He is passionate about volunteering and giving back to the community.

Pam Hickey, BS, MS, S.A.S.
Pam retired from Suffolk AHRC where she worked for 11 years as a pre-school special education teacher, and then 13 years as the school’s Principal. Pam has been with Pal-O-Mine for over 15 years as a volunteer, riding instructor, job coach and presently is working with the E.A.L. program. She owns her own horse which resides at Pal-O-Mine, and has completed Level 2 in the Parelli Natural Horsemanship program which she enjoys teaching to others.


Ann Seery, BS
Ann has a Bachelor of Science degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology in Textile Marketing. After over 3 decades of working in the fashion business, Ann made a career change and pursued her second career combining her passions of working with people and plants. She received her Therapeutic Horticulture Certification in June, 2023.

Jane O’Brien, M.S., HT
Jane is a New York State Certified School Psychologist who has worked in early intervention and preschool special education since 1992. After establishing 2 sensory gardens at her center-based special education preschools, Jane pursued her certificate in Horticultural Therapy. Now working at Pal-O-Mine as the Vocational Coordinator for Pal-O-Mine’s J-STEP Vocational Program, she combines her special education and garden experience each day. She is a member of the National Association of School Psychologists and the Mid-Atlantic Horticulture Therapy Network.

Kim Scanlon
Kim spent 25 years in law enforcement before retiring. She was looking for a volunteer job when Covid-19 hit and came across Pal-O-Mine. She began as a side walker and after expressing her love of gardening, she became a Job Coach where she shares her horticultural knowledge and skills.

Lauren Ferris, BFA, HT
A graduate of The School of Visual Arts, Lauren worked in the magazine and book publishing industry for over 10 years. She always loved horticulture and became a Master Gardener in 2002. She worked in the nursery and landscape industry and spent her summers as an arts, crafts and nature teacher at a day camp. In 2014 she changed careers and became a Suffolk County Child Protective Services investigative caseworker, where she worked with various at risk populations. Casework opened her eyes to the need for alternative therapies to assist people with disabilities. Lauren went back to school to merge her love of horticulture and her passion for helping people and received her Certificate in Horticultural Therapy from the New York Botanical Gardens. She has found her calling as a Job Coach at J-STEP leveraging Horticultural Therapy to teach vocational and work study skills. She is a member of the American Horticultural Therapy Association, and the Mid Atlantic Horticulture Therapy Network.

Lori Sorensen
Lori joined Pal-O-Mine’s staff in 1995 as the Barn Manager. Since 2010 she has worked as a Vocational Job Coach in the J-STEP program as well as assisting with small animal care. She has more than 35 years of horse experience, having owned her own horses and competitively barrel racing since 11 years old. While in high school, Lori studied large animal care through BOCES at SUNY Old Westbury. This experience led her to work for Dr. Reed, an equine surgeon at Belmont Racetrack and also led to her working as a groom at Roosevelt Race Track with standardbreds. Lori later worked at a thoroughbred layup farm providing large animal care. Lori has four children of her own and continues to ride and compete.


Eileen D’Amico, OTR/L, SIPT
As a registered and licensed Occupational Therapist, Eileen has been with Pal-O-Mine since 2005 specializing in sensory integration. She is certified in the administration and interpretation of the Sensory Integration and Praxis Test and trained in hippotherapy, handwriting, learning and teaching children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Asperger’s Syndrome, and early intervention. She has worked in a variety of settings, including school, hospital, home, and residential settings. Eileen started riding while she was obtaining her Associates Degree from Suffolk Community College and rode on the Intercollegiate team at Quinnipiac College where she obtained a BS in Occupational Therapy. Eileen has been an Occupational Therapist for over 22 years, and owned her own horse “Clipper” for 29 years. He lived until the ripe old age of 34!

Elizabeth Boyce, BSN, RN
Elizabeth joined Pal-O-Mine in 2012 during her senior year of nursing school at Molloy College. She had always dreamed of combining her love of horses and her passion for helping others. After graduation, Elizabeth went on to specialize in Adult Critical Care Medicine at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. In 2017 she received the Zuckerberg Award for Nursing Excellence for her innovative work as the health system’s first “Mobile Critical Care RN.” Elizabeth is currently the Assistant Nurse Manager of the Intensive Care Unit and Progressive Care Unit at Peconic Bay Medical Center. At Pal-O-Mine, Elizabeth enjoys working with the diverse population of clients that come to the barn. She is an instructor for students participating in therapeutic riding and unmounted horsemanship. She is an EAGALA certified Equine Specialist with military designation.

Kate Henne, M.S. CCC-SLP, TSSLD
Kate is a New York State licensed speech language pathologist practicing in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. After observing improvements in her brother’s communication skills when the family adopted a dog, in 2011 Kate started volunteering at Pal-O-Mine. During this time she met Tina Rocco and decided to pursue a Master of Science Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders. In 2015 she completed a clinical externship with Speech Language Pathology in Motion under Tina where she learned to use hippotherapy as a treatment strategy. Kate has experience with all ages, from very young children to the elderly, who have difficulty with a variety of speech, language, and feeding challenges. In addition to being a licensed SLP, Kate is a Teacher of Students with Speech and Language Disabilities (TSSLD) with the New York State Department of Education. She is also a certified member (CCC) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and a member of the American Hippotherapy Association.

Kimberly Berganza, OTR/L
Kim fell in love with riding at the age of 8. She immersed herself in the equestrian world by taking lessons, being an active member of her college equestrian team, and coming to Pal-O-Mine in 2012 as a volunteer. Kim has taken on several diverse roles at POM including: barn staff, adaptive riding instructor, Job coach, and group facilitator. Kim has a BS in Health Science and a BA in Psychology. She recently completed her MS in Occupational Therapy and is excited to expand her experience as a NYS Licensed Occupational Therapist. She is part of the Occupational Therapy in Motion team providing services to clients, using hippotherapy as a treatment strategy.

Tina Rocco, M.A. CCC-SLP, HPCS
Tina is a New York State licensed speech language pathologist. She received her bachelor of science degree in communication sciences and disorders from Molloy College in 2005, and obtained a masters of arts degree in speech language pathology from Long Island University-C.W. Post in 2007. She holds a Certificate of Clinical Competency (CCC) from the American Speech Language and Hearing Association. She became a board certified hippotherapy clinical specialist (HPCS) in 2011. She is a PROMPT (C) trained clinician. In addition, Tina is a New York State certified Teacher of Students with Speech and Language Disabilities (TSSLD). Tina owns Speech Language Pathology in Motion, PLLC. Tina’s practice serves pediatric and adult patients, and offers hippotherapy to select patients on the property of Pal-O-Mine Equestrian to patients as part of a total plan of care. Tina has enjoyed being around horses and riding since she was a child. Her riding background has been in equitation, hunters, jumpers, eventing, and centered riding, with her current focus being in dressage. In 2001, Tina obtained PATH Registered riding instructor status. She taught adaptive riding lessons to children and adults with disabilities throughout her studies. Tina currently serves on the American Hippotherapy Association Inc. Board of Directors.