About Us - Project RIDE Team

Meet our Friendly Staff and Board of Directors

Project R.I.D.E.’s staff consists of an Executive Director, an Office Manager, a Community Outreach Manager and Outreach Coordinators, PATH International Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructors, and a Ranch Caretaker. Our beloved and hard-working four-legged employees include our amazing team of therapy horses and eight official therapy cats and mousers: Hobbs, Mowgli, Nilly Puddin’, Trip Hazard, Marshall, iLean, Thelma & Louise. All other duties are handled by our dedicated army of volunteers! To find out how you can help, click here.

Meet the Board. Project RIDE is run by an all-volunteer group of extremely dedicated individuals who oversee all of our program operations and finances and work hard to make sure we have the funds we need to run this program. Monthly board meetings are open to the public and occur every second Thursday in the Project RIDE arena at 5:30.

Staff

Tina Calanchini

Tina Calanchini

Executive Director

Tina began working with Project R.I.D.E. in 2002 as a volunteer. She was intrigued that anyone would be crazy enough to place a child with special needs atop an animal period, let alone a 1200 pound horse. On her first day as a volunteer, all of the reasons to do so became clear as she heard the laughter of these amazing students echoing through the barn.

Emily Calanchini

Emily Calanchini

Outreach Manager

Since early high school, I have wanted to be a teacher! I graduated from Elk Grove High School and immediately began taking classes in Early Childhood Education. I began volunteering at Project R.I.D.E. in 2014 and quickly discovered how much I love being around kids. I was hired in 2016 to perform data entry, volunteer coordination, social media management, and teaching the “18 and UP Club.”

Lauren Hieb

Lauren Hieb

PATH International Advanced Therapeutic Riding Instructor; Equine Manager/Specialist in Mental Health & Learning

Lauren fell in love with horses early on in her life competing in Gymkhanas and Barrel Racing events. It wasn’t until she volunteered at a therapeutic riding center in Fresno, that she knew she was going to make a long term career out out of teaching. She went on to attend Centenary College in NJ, and in 2007 graduated with a B.S. in Equine Studies. Throughout college she cometed in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Assocation in both English & Western riding disciplines. Right after graduation, she flew back to CA, immediately started working at Project R.I.D.E. Inc., and has been here ever since.

Tamara Lipanovich

Tamara Lipanovich

PATH International Certified Riding Instructor; Equine Specialist in Mental Health & Learning

Tamara Lipanovich is a wife, mother to five, and grandmother to a small herd. She has ridden horses most of her life and enjoys riding a variety of disciplines ranging from Western trail riding to English jumping. She loves trail trials and obstacle challenges and is currently pursuing Cowboy Dressage. She calls herself a “jack of all disciplines, master of none” when it comes to riding because she enjoys exploring the various fields.

Rise Grover

Rise Grover

PATH International Certified Riding Instructor

Rise’s career at Project R.I.D.E. began in 2015 and like many staffers, she also started as a volunteer. In 2017, she became a PATH Int’l Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor. Rise is a retired educator, who with her family lived overseas for many years returning to the U.S. in 2001 and moved back to California in 2014. Rise has been a horse owner and rider for many years and currently competes with her horse, Cuervo III, in Dressage which earned Bronze and Silver medals from the United States Dressage Federation.
Genell Csik

Genell Csik

PATH International Certified Riding Instructor

Genell fell in love with horses and riding at an early age and never outgrew it. She started taking lessons at 7 and convinced her parents she was serious enough to get her first horse at 8. She spent most of her childhood and teenage years riding and competing in Hunter / Jumper classes, but also enjoyed the freedom of riding on the nearby trails for fun. Nowadays, she enjoys pleasure riding and caring for her 3 retired Arabian horses.

Gayle Stowell

Gayle Stowell

PATH International Certified Riding Instructor

In 2016, Gayle came to Project R.I.D.E. specifically to receive training needed to become a Therapeutic Riding Instructor. Once she began training, she fell in love with the program and was determined to work at this site after certification. In 2017, Gayle was certified by PATH International (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) and officially joined the staff in 2018

Rachel Prettyman

Rachel Prettyman

PATH Certified Instructor, Equine Specialist in Mental Health & Learning

Project RIDE feels like a second home to me, and is the reason for my horse addiction! My brother is disabled and grew up taking lessons at RIDE. I loved tagging along for his lessons and quickly fell in love with the barn and horses. I often dreamed of one day becoming a RIDE instructor. As soon as I was old enough, I became a volunteer and spent as much time as I could around the barn. I took a break from volunteering to attend college, where I received my California Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential.

Lori Candelaria

Lori Candelaria

Office Manager

Lori manages the office and makes sure our operations run smoothly. She moved from the Bay Area in 2010 and soon after came to Project R.I.D.E. “Ever since my move, I dreamed of working with a facility that treasured children & valued the rural horse lifestyle within city limits. I have been so fortunate to find all that @ R.I.D.E.” From outreach to in-house support, Lori’s role is to represent R.I.D.E. in program fundraising support and business office administration. With her experience in Business and Marketing, Lori works cooperatively with Staff to make a difference for all our clients & volunteers. At the end of the day, I enjoy going home to “be” with my husband, three beautiful kids, a 30 year old quarter horse gelding “Dually”, 2 goats, & 7 chickens.

Suzi Lawton

Suzi Lawton

Community Outreach Specialist

Suzi joined Project R.I.D.E. as a volunteer in August 2008 and now works in our offices as an Outreach Coordinator, ensuring we have the volunteers we need for our program. With a past career in finance, Suzi has a passion for following up and ensuring things run smoothly. Suzi is an avid animal lover and currently has a flock of doves, finches, and quail, as well as a hairless rat, 5 cats and 2 rabbits. One of her more unusual pets was a possum raised from a baby.

Doug Hebbard

Doug Hebbard

Ranch Caretaker/Manager

Doug started his volunteer journey with Project RIDE, in 2017, quickly advancing
from sidewalker, to leader, to hauler, and then joined our staff in 2020.

Doug is a proud Army Desert Storm veteran that served 6 ½ years through Iraq and Kuwait. After picking up medical skills as a combat medic, Doug continued to pursue a career in emergency healthcare as a paramedic. Doug spent 15 years in fire and emergency medical services. Sadly, he had to medically retire early in his career, due to health conditions related to his time overseas. Doug served ten dutiful years with the Fairfield Fire Department and retired in 2011.

On the search for healing, horsemanship peaked Doug’s interest after hearing of its
unique benefit for those who have PTSD. Rather than letting the thought turn
stagnate, Doug found the nonprofit horsemanship retreat, Warhorses for Veterans, in Stilwell, Kansas and soon after became elated with his newfound love for horses and the process of training and working with these animals.

Now, Doug and his beloved wife, Brandi, live at the Project RIDE ranch full time,
giving great care to the land and Project Ride’s trusty herd of horses.

 

Board Of Directors

 

Kim Hettrick

Kim Hettrick

President

Born and raised in South Sacramento and an Elk Grove resident since 2000. I am happily married with 3 beautiful children. My first career spanned 12 years in banking. My second career and current employment is with the State of California. I have proudly served on the Board of Directors for Project R.I.D.E., Inc. starting in 2002. My roles have included Treasurer, VP and President. There is no greater joy than seeing the happiness our program continues to bring to our riders!

Duane Tadlock

Duane Tadlock

Secretary

Duane works at Cal Expo surrounded by horses and spends his free time raising funds for a perpetual scholarship in memory of his daughter Baylee Rose, by selling Baylee bracelets (you can buy one right here). So far, 5 students receive all their therapeutic riding services for free in perpetuity thanks to the tireless efforts of him and his wife Sonda.

Eric McDonald

Eric McDonald

Director

I began volunteering at Project Ride in 2009 after a 30 year career at United Parcel Service.  Initially just looking for a productive opportunity to give back to the community and within a few months I was hooked  !
By far, this is the most rewarding thing I have ever done.   The staff are always very professional and truly appreciate their volunteers.  Seeing the smiles and joy we bring to our riders is priceless.

Leon Vanderspek

Leon Vanderspek

Vice President

For the past 16 years, I have taught in the Elk Grove Unified School District.   I have been married for 12 years and the proud father of two daughters Sophia 10 years old and Paige 7 years old.

Gretchen Brink

Gretchen Brink

Director

Gretchen has a long history of volunteering with Project RIDE, as well as involvement in several other local organizations including Rotary and Strauss Festival. Stay tuned for her bio!

Sandy Hastie

Sandy Hastie

Director

My husband & I have lived in Elk Grove for over 50 years. I worked for the Elk Grove Unified School District for 25+ years in the Special Education field. When I retired, I wanted to do something that would make a difference. That is when I found Project R.I.D.E.! From the very first day, I fell in love with this magical place and knew I had found a purpose!

Mark Schwan

Mark Schwan

Treasurer

I am a Sacramento area native and a graduate of CSU Sacramento. I have been in the banking industry since 1984 and presently work for a non-profit entity that provides financing for owner-occupied commercial real estate purchases and refinances. I married my high school sweetheart and we have three adult children; two daughters and one son. While raising our kids, I coached youth sports for over 15 years and always enjoyed the interaction with the kids. Additionally, I have always had an affinity for horses which included equine studies in college. I learned of Project RIDE by pure happenstance from an Uber driver who was familiar with the organization. After learning about Project RIDE from this Uber driver, I immediately researched the organization and started the volunteer application process. After spending approximately 6 months in the barn as a side walker and leader, I joined the Board. Project RIDE has enhanced my life tremendously in the year or so in which I have been involved and I look forward to a long relationship with the group.

Amy Souza

Amy Souza

Director

I am a grandmother of two small children and love,love,love kids. I will use whatever I have at my disposal to help make our kids smile and laugh. Since joining Project RIDE I have had the experience to grow and learn from the kids we help every day. They give and love unconditionally which makes my heart happy. Choosing to dedicate my time and energy as a volunteer, leader, and mentor gives me the opportunity to help these kids achieve their full potential physically and mentally while having fun. Making a difference in a child’s life is my reward at the end of the day and I look forward to it every day.

Alex

Tina with Alex riding Stella at one of our fundraiser events.

Helping out with lessons

Our CSUC student implements her project with the riders.

Tina Goes Above and Beyond

In 2013, Tina was awarded Elk Grove’s Above and Beyond award to celebrate those making a difference in the lives of people with disabilities. Here she is with family and staff with her well-deserved award.

Volunteer Coordinator of the Year

Suzi was awarded the Director of Volunteers in Agencies Volunteer Coordinator of the Year award in fall of 2014.

Tina with Karis and Neela

Princess Riding Partners

Halloween Shennigans

Board Member Eric with fellow Eric’s