It takes a dedicated team to help ensure the continuing success of Medicine Horse. These individuals continue to offer their time and energy to help take Medicine Horse to the next level.
Mike joined the Medicine Horse board in 2018 and currently serves as Board Chair. He has a long history in the software technology industry having started and sold several businesses over the years, most recently TouchSource, Inc., a provider of digital directory and wayfinding systems. Prior to founding TouchSource, Mike was the Vice-President of Finance for EAP, International, a Denver-based company providing employee assistance programs to employers throughout the US. He has a background in finance with a BS from Colorado State University and previously served on the tax staff of one of the world's largest accounting firms. Mike is currently retired and lives in Erie with his wife Deirdre. He is a horse owner and spends time each year in central Illinois helping on his family's 170 year-old farm.
Board Vice Chair
Julie, a career entrepreneur, started her first company, Real Entertainment, at the age of 21. After many years in the entertainment business, she co-founded Bodacious Buns, a retail bakery and coffee-bar franchise with multiple locations in Southern California. In 1996 she moved to Colorado seeking a lifestyle change. A lifelong fitness enthusiast, she founded Peak Pilates®, a pilates equipment manufacturer and instructor training company. As an industry expert she spoke at many conferences and held multiple patents which she licensed to LifeFitness, the world’s largest manufacturer of exercise equipment. A dedicated horsewoman and a previous Board member of Colorado Horse Rescue, Julie is also a Certified Skyhorse Equine Guided Education coach. Led to Medicine Horse by her belief in their mission and the desire to help the organization grow and flourish, she was elected to the Board in January 2019.
Nancy has ridden and shown horses since she was in her teens. Nancy's professional life was heading up Human Resources for several start up companies including WholeFoods.com, CareerTrack and several other Boulder companies. At her last position, she was VP of Human Resources, Legal and Administration for Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy. Nancy graduated with a degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado and has an MBA in Finance and Accounting from Regis University. Wanting to combine her love for horses and helping others, Nancy started volunteering at MHP two years ago. She's grateful for the opportunity to work with such a great team of dedicated staff, therapists and horses who are transforming lives through equine therapy.
Clara Smith, PhD
Clara (she/her/hers) received a PhD from the University of Colorado Boulder in Educational Equity and Cultural Diversity. Her dissertation research focused on the underrepresentation of gifted students who are bilingual in gifted programs. As the Diversity & Inclusion Training and Development Specialist for Human Resources at CU, Clara designs and implements employee development opportunities in support of operationalizing the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence. Clara is an elected member of Staff Council at CU and serves on the Inclusive Excellence Committee, Inclusive Practices for Blood Donations committee, and elected Delegate for the University of Colorado Police Department Oversight Board. Clara has worked at CU since 2010 in various roles on campus including change agent facilitator, research assistant, founding manager and lead for the Student Fellows program, academic coordinator for a multicultural learning community, and currently teaches courses at CU as adjunct faculty. Clara was born in Mexico, spoke Spanish as her first language, and moved to Boulder as a young child. She grew up on her family’s farm and retreat in Boulder County called Peaceful Meadow Retreat.
Natalie began her professional career in Human Resources as a Training Specialist and Corporate Recruiter and after 7 years in this field decided to return to college and complete her Bachelor's degree from University of Colorado at Boulder. Upon graduation, she developed a career in the High Tech industry as a Business Development leader at start-ups and large Tech Industry corporations. During this time she built and managed global and large national partnerships with IBM, Dell, HP and others while mentoring and leading diverse and international teams. Since 2017 Natalie has been working with several Colorado based non-profit organizations which led her to Medicine Horse. In 2018, she received her certification for Animal-Assisted Business Coaching and has founded a corporate training business, called Unleashed Coaching, that leverages both her business acumen and love of horses to enhance team building, leadership and empowerment within businesses.
Nikki is a sustainability professional with a background in climate policy and environmental mediation. After graduating from the Monterrey Institute of International Studies with an M.A. in International Environmental Policy, Nikki moved to the Middle East to work on natural resource conflict resolution and climate adaptation policy in conflict zones and has worked with the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, supporting the education and training needed to scale green economy policies and projects. Nikki currently works within the renewable energy sector, helping companies accelerate the transition to clean energy. A lifelong horse enthusiast, her interest in the therapeutic aspect of horses started at an early age after the sudden loss of a family member and the support of a Belgian horse named Prince. She has been involved with Medicine Horse since 2013 and, having experienced and witnessed the power of horses, is a staunch advocate for their unique ability to help humans practice emotional congruence, regulate the nervous system, and process trauma.
Monique holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado in Sociology. She began her professional career as a Social Caseworker with the Denver Department of Human Services where she spent 13 years working a variety of positions including a Human Service Advocate, In take Social Worker, Institutional Abuse Investigator, Teen Parent Social Worker, and Senior Social Caseworker. She also worked for Boulder County Housing and Human Services as a Foster Care support worker. Monique is currently the Foster Care Program Director at Denver Area Youth Services. Monique is passionate about horses and found it was a great way to relieve the stress of the work in Equine therapy. She started riding horses at 12 years old and currently participates in the Adult Riding program at Westernaires. Monique also serves on the board of directors at Florence Crittenton Services where she has been on the board for 7 years. Monique’s interest includes horseback riding, Salsa and Bachata dancing, singing, and volunteering in her spare time with the NAACP Denver and Boulder Branch. Monique is passionate about sharing the benefits of equine therapy and actively recruiting more people and organizations of color to learn and enjoy our program at Medicine horse.
Gennaro received his Bachelor of Science with distinction from Middle Tennessee State University and his J.D. from the University of Denver, School of Law. He is a principal of the DeSantis Law Firm where he helps businesses of all kinds with real estate, corporate and transactional matters. As a principal in several Colorado businesses, he also has practical experience in the real estate industry, as well as, business ownership and management. As a resident of Boulder County, Gennaro found Medicine Horse while looking for an opportunity to use his legal and business experiences to assist a local non-profit and give back to the community. He was elected to a board position in 2017. Gennaro enjoys spending time with his family, skiing, cooking and traveling.
Justin graduated high school in Coeur d’ Alene Idaho and a month later shipped out to Marine Corps Boot Camp in San Diego California. He served six years in the Marine Corps as a F/A-18 hydraulic and structure mechanic. Justin deployed on two Western Pacific cruises onboard two different aircraft carriers. These deployments brought Justin to Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. In the Marine Corps, Justin rose to the rank of Sergeant. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from Ashford University. Justin has served in many different rolls with multiple Veteran Service Organizations. Justin has been working at the Department of Veterans Affairs since 2010 starting out as Office Manager and then taking a position of Outreach Program Specialist. This position has allowed him to be in the community meeting community partners and engaging with veterans, helping them to access VA and other benefits. Justin serves on his community HOA board and volunteers with Team Rubicon Disaster Response organization. Justin is a private pilot and has been married to his wife Gwen, for 22 years. Justin and Gwen have a 16-year-old, Cody, and two fur babies - Jasmine and Chloe.
Christa has always had a great love of all animals large and small. She began riding horses at 7 years old and competed on the east coast on the hunter jumper circuit during her teen years. During the fall of ‘93 after Christa graduated college, she participated in a year long volunteer program, The Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Bend, OR. Her role during her time with JVC was parent/child educator for a family program, Together for Children.
In 1996, Christa was awarded a Donovan Scholarship with a focus on cultural diversity at Boston College. She graduated from Boston College with an M.A. degree in Early Childhood Education and worked in Early Intervention programs as a Developmental Educator in MA and CA for the next following 6 years. These Early Intervervention programs supported parents and children from 0-3 years of age whose children were at-risk for development due to developmental disabilities and/or environmental factors.
Christa is a board member of her family foundation, the Mayer/Phillips Foundation whose mission is investing in innovative programs and initiatives that help Americans take ownership of their futures and prepare them to succeed in the world of tomorrow. Some of the programs the foundation has funded in the past several years include Up Together, 5280 High School, Careerwise and Activate IT.
While using her passion to help others and her experience with horses she volunteered at various equine therapy programs in Portola Valley and Woodside, California where she participated in groups with Veterans and children with Autism. When she and her family relocated to Boulder, she continued volunteering in a similar capacity and volunteered at CTRC - Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center from 2014-2018 as a horse handler. From 2017-2021 she became a member of National Charity League, the Boulder Chapter, a national mother/daughter philanthropic program while participating in local philanthropies alongside her teenage daughter.
Christa joined the team at Medicine Horse program in the spring of 2020 and has horse handled in a variety of their groups. She joined the Medicine Horse Board in April of 2022 and is excited to continue supporting a program that aligns with her passion in working with horses and promoting mental health for those in need in an environment where horses help humans heal. Besides riding horses, Christa enjoys spending time in nature, skiing and hiking with her husband, teenage son and daughter and her 2 dogs.