Our Team

Our Team


*Lisa A. Gatti – Founder and CEO
Lisa has a BS in Elementary and Special Education and lent her skills as a special educator in a high school setting to Nassau BOCES for 8 years prior to starting Pal-O-Mine. Lisa also holds a Business Management Certificate from Suffolk Community College. In addition, she is trained in Applied Behavioral Analysis and Crisis Prevention Intervention. In 2009, she graduated from the Energeia Partnership, the Academy of Regional Stewardship at Molloy College. Lisa’s passion for horses started as a young girl which led her to competitive barrel racing and captain of her college equestrian team. In 1996 and 2000, Lisa was selected as the United States Team Leader for the Equestrian Paralympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia and Sydney, Australia. Starting in 2009, Lisa served as a Member of the Board of Directors of EAGALA, the global standard for equine assisted psychotherapy and personal development. She served as Board Chair from 2011-2013. In 2015 Lisa was named to the Board of Long Island Autism Communities where she lends her expertise to the not for profit in vocational opportunities for those on the spectrum as they age out of the educational system. The recipient of numerous awards for her business and leadership skills, Lisa was recently honored with the 2016 SmartCEO Corporate Culture Award.

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.

Andrea Casey, R.N. MCHE – Volunteer Coordinator
Andrea is a Registered Nurse, specializing in Maternal Child Health since 1989. She has been on the Advisory Board at Suffolk County Community College for Nursing Curriculum for many years. She was a Past President and current member of the Sayville Rotary Club, Board Member of The Rollstone Foundation, and Founding President of the Common Ground in Sayville. Andrea’s childhood dream was to become a veterinarian and work with animals, large and small. She now fulfills her passion by volunteering at Pal-O-Mine, working with the animals and individuals with special needs. In June 2018, Andrea became Volunteer Coordinator at Pal-O-Mine, to recruit, assist and maintain the volunteers while reinforcing Pal-O-Mine’s reputation as one of the highest equine facilities in the country for standards, safety, education and fostering independence within their students.

Carol Evers – Bookkeeper
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 management of Old Dominion Trucking. 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 – Program Director
Carol Ann is a NYS Certified Elementary School Teacher who has been with Pal-O-Mine Equestrian since 2000. Carol Ann 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 as working as a therapeutic horse back riding instructor, barn manager, and a barrel racer. She is trained in Crisis Prevention and Intervention.


Kaitlyn Wright, B.A. – Barn Manager
Kaitlyn started at Pal-O-Mine as an intern the summer of 2017 and is a graduate of SUNY Cobleskill with an Associate’s Degree in Equine Science and a Bachelor’s in Animal Science. She grew up riding western, and while in college she began riding English, which she greatly enjoys. Kaitlyn is a PATH Certified Riding Instructor and plans on pursuing an Agricultural Education Master’s Degree through SUNY Oswego, which will allow her to teach Equine Science.

Kierstin Berwick, B.A.
Kierstin graduated with a B.A. from Hofstra University where she double majored in Criminology and Sociology, and minored in Psychology. She plans to continue her education by pursuing a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Kierstin has ridden and worked with horses for more than ten years and has competed locally. While attending Hofstra, Kierstin served as captain of their equestrian team. At Pal-O-Mine Kierstin is able to combine her passion for horses and her education, whether she is working with our Summer Work Study Program, with one of our EAL groups, or working in the barn.

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.

*Megan Steubing, BT 
Growing up in a small town in the Hudson Valley, Megan first learned how to ride at the age of 5. She juggled a love of horses, tennis and music, and finally found herself at SUNY Cobbleskill, graduating with a BT in Animal Science-Equine Science. While serving as the VP of the Student Horsemanship Association, and as a TA for various classes, Megan found that her interests lay in the Equine Assisted Therapy world. After graduating she became a PATH Registered Instructor and an EAGALA Equine Specialist.

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.


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 currently 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, CCTP – Board Member and Director of Community Relations
Ellen grew up trail riding in the hills surrounding her home in Southern California. She was a graphic designer for many years before earning her Master of Social Work degree, leading her to a career change. She became a psychotherapist and had a private practice in NYC for 15 years, working primarily with adults with depressive and anxiety disorders, as well as doing couples therapy. Always in love with horses, Ellen made another career change when she moved to Shelter Island, NY where she owned and operated a large boarding and training facility. In 2006 she founded Foundation GROW, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to helping young equestrians in need of financial assistance. Through GROW Ellen learned about Pal-O-Mine, and for several years GROW sponsored a yearly horse show for Pal-O-Mine at the Shelter Island farm. She joined Pal-O-Mine in 2011 where she now combines her mental health expertise with her love of horses as an EAGALA Certified Equine Assisted Psychotherapist and Equine Assisted Learning teacher. She is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP). She is also a riding instructor and volunteer photographer at Pal-O-Mine’s many events, and continues to sponsor the Alyshazam horse show every summer. As Director of Community Relations, Ellen is involved in the planning and organization of many of Pal-O-Mine’s fundraising events.

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.

Mandi Budah, M.A., LMSW
Mandi started at Pal-O-Mine in the summer of 2011. She is dually certified through EAGALA as both an Equine Specialist and a Mental Health Professional, certifying her to facilitate Equine Assisted Learning groups and Equine Assisted Psychotherapy sessions. Mandi is a Licensed Social Worker and also holds a M.A. in Forensic Psychology from John Jay, along with her undergrad degrees, a double major in psychology and sociology. She is the founder of Budah and Associates, LLC and serves as the Suffolk County representative in Honorable Judge Camacho’s alternatives to incarceration youth court. Mandi is instrumental in referring at risk youth to Pal-O-Mine through the court system. She has grant writing skills that are integral to expanding the programs at Pal-O-Mine.

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 Thought Field Therapy. 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 became the full-time Volunteer Coordinator for Pal-O-Mine Equestrian, and coordinated the lessons schedules, the special events, volunteer training, and supervised the volunteers. She also fulfilled the role as the Public Relations Coordinator for Pal-O-Mine Equestrian, issuing press releases, attending networking functions, and promoted 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.

Victoria Ryan, BA/MS
Victoria began riding at 8 years of age, and when she wasn’t taking lessons, she was working in the barn. She became a Certified Riding Instructor at 18. Many of her students started with her as beginners and have been competing successfully at both rated and non-rated shows. Victoria runs her business, Vaeda’s Run, LLC on her own horse property, while continuing to teach horsemanship at other barns. Encouraging fellow equestrians to succeed is especially important to her, and she looks forward to sharing her gifts at Pal-O-Mine as a riding instructor and member of the barn staff.

⃰ 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. Blair’s love for horses started at age 6 when she rode her first horse in Vermont. 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. Blair 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!” At Pal-O-Mine, Blair 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.

Danielle Bertuccio, M.A.
Danielle has a Masters Degree in Liberal Studies. She is an Adjunct Instructor of Philosophy on the college level and is a Certified Autism Specialist (CAS). She is also a Certified Behavior Instructor for Autism – Level 1 (CBIA-1). A life-long equestrian, Danielle is a riding instructor at Pal-O-Mine since August 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.

Kelly Tooker, BBA
Kelly has been riding since the age of eight. She was a competitive jumper rider and has done countless horseshows including the Hampton Classic, H.I.T.S. (Saugerties, NY), Winter Equestrian Festival (Wellington, FL), C.S.I. Dinner International Horseshow (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. 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 and interacting with people with disabilities. The proud mother of three boys; one a competitive swimmer and another an aspiring equestrian who enjoys spending his free time at Pal-O-Mine. In addition, she has worked in small business for over fifteen years and hopes to use some of this experience when working with her clients. Coming to Pal-O-Mine has brought Kelly’s love of horses and helping those with special needs together.

Melissa Bennett, AAS
Since Melissa joined Pal-O-Mine as a volunteer in the Fall of 2004, she has taken on many roles. Today, Melissa spends her time at the barn as a PATH certified instructor, camp counselor, winter group leader and volunteer trainer. Melissa received her Associate of Science degree in Biology from Suffolk Community College and likes to spend her time improving her skills in dressage.

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 race 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.


Bill Toolan, MSEE
Bill began volunteering at Pal-O-Mine in the summer of 2011 after retiring from a number of careers. He was an engineer in the aerospace industry for 27 years. He took an early retirement and started a career teaching at Nassau BOCES environmental education. This led to his starting a business constructing climbing walls/challenge courses and training clients in their effective use. He has experience in the application of experiential education with children and adults. At Pal-O-mine he has worked as a camp counselor, and job coach for the work study program. He has also assisted in programs with clients from St John’s Residential and Nassau BOCES.

Helen Bozeat, BFA
Helen is Pal-O-Mine Equestrian’s resident creative arts teacher and artist, with a specialty in painting our therapy horses and children. A graduate of Pratt Institute with a BFA in Fine Arts, she is a certified teacher and taught in the Smithtown School District for over 30 years as an art teacher. She is certified in Crisis Prevention and Intervention and trained in working with children with sensory processing disorder. She is a 3rd level Reiki practitioner and is trained in peer training and therapeutic touch. Helen runs the art program at our annual Summer Camp and has been volunteering since 2009.

Jennie DiGuardia, BS
With 40+ years of horse experience, and a BS in Elementary Education with a minor in Educational Psychology from the State University College in Oneonta, Jennie was a New York State Certified teacher for nursery school through sixth grade. Extensively trained in Equine Assisted Learning Character Education and a Certified Equine Specialist in the EAGALA model, she brings a wealth of information and experience to our Equine Assisted Learning and Psychotherapy Programs. Jennie serves as the coordinating Equine Assisted Learning facilitator for the BOCES School districts and adjudicated youth students who attend Pal-O-Mine and has for the past two years completed EAGALA Ethics workshops addressing how to educate school districts in the model. She is a Work Study Job Coach, teaches natural horsemanship, and therapeutic as well as able bodied horseback riding lessons. She has completed Crisis Prevention and Intervention training, is certified in CPR/First Aid and NARCAN. Jennie has been with Pal-O-Mine since 2004.

Jennifer Norton, M.S.Ed
Jen attended North Carolina State University on a full athletic scholarship where she received her Bachelors degree in Animal Science and her Masters in Special Education. She has her New York State and North Carolina State Special Education teaching certifications K-12. Jen is also certified in CTE Animal Science 7-12. She is certified in the EAGALA model as an Equine Specialist and has competed in both Western and English riding competitions.

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.

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 N-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. 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.


Jackeline Cruz
Jackeline came to Pal-O-Mine with the J-Step program in the Spring of 2012. Jackeline started her career at the Huntington Freedom Center where she was an assistant teacher for 10 years. She currently splits her time between Pal-O-Mine’s J-Step program through Life’s Worc as a Residential Habilitation Support Counselor and Independent Support Services (ISS) as a Job coach/life’s skills support staff. Jackeline brings many valuable assets to Pal-O-Mine, with strengths in individual client training and advisement, organizational management, as well as, leadership and communication skills. Jackeline’s positive attitude and love for animals made Pal-O-Mine a perfect fit for her career goals. In her free time Jackeline enjoys riding western on her favorite horse DW.

Kimberly Berganza, BA
A graduate of Hofstra University with a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and a minor in Criminology, Kimberly is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy. She has been riding since she was 8 years old and competed on the Hofstra equestrian team for 3 years. Kim came to Pal-O-Mine as a volunteer in 2012. Since then, Kim has taken on several roles, working as a one-on-one with the J-STEP program, as an adaptive riding instructor, and as part of the barn staff.

Kimm Schmidt
Kimm has more than 30 years of horse experience, including rescuing and owning two special needs horses, as well as placement of many others over the years. Working as a Therapeutic Riding Instructor and Executive Board Member at Quantum Leap Farm, Tampa FL, she obtained her PATH International (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) and CHA (Certified Horsemanship Association) Teaching Certifications. In addition to Kimm’s extensive horse experience, she has over 20 years of business experience, including owning and operating several successful business ventures. Kimm has been with Pal-O-Mine since spring of 2012 as a Therapeutic Riding Instructor and Job Coach for our Work Study Programs and as a Camp Counselor.

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.

Liz Casey, BA
A graduate of Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA with a Bachelors of Arts in Dance, Liz has been riding with Pal-O-Mine Equestrian since 1998 and has been a volunteer since 2002. Liz is an expert in gardening and landscaping and does 90% of Pal-O-Mine’s landscaping. She is a member of the Hobby Greenhouse Association and the Long Island Orchid Society. In addition to the “green” arts, also has experience in the fields of restaurant management, bookkeeping, real estate, and accounts payable and receivable. Liz has been a job coach in Pal-O-Mine’s vocational development program since 2008 and exercises our herd of therapy horses.

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 JSTEP 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 21 years, and has owned her own horse “Clipper” for 29 years!

Elizabeth Boyce, BSN, RN
Elizabeth started volunteering at Pal-O-Mine in the summer of 2012 while attending Molloy College as a nursing student. Elizabeth became passionate about working with horses at the age of eleven. She would volunteer every weekend at a local stable in order to work for riding lessons. Elizabeth graduated in May 2014 and was hired into the Critical Care Nursing Fellowship in the Medical ICU at LIJ Medical Center. Elizabeth is certified in Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support and Asthma Education Instruction. She is currently working towards becoming a Certified Critical Care Nurse, as well as obtaining her Equine Specialist certification through EAGALA. Here at Pal-O-Mine, Elizabeth is a job coach for the work-study program, a riding instructor and participates in Equine Assisted Learning groups. In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys riding western and dressage and walking dogs at local animal shelters.

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.

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.

* Staff