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 seven official therapy cats, Baker Jr., Hobbs, Mowgli, Piper, Nilly Puddin’, Honey and Twilight. 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.

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. Their faces lit with smiles and Tina was hooked – she knew instantly she wanted to work here. Tina’s favorite thing about working with these children is their unconditional love for anyone they meet, something we can all learn from. In her spare time, (ha), she enjoys reading, going to the ocean and spending time with her two children. Tina with RIDE staff celebrating her award at the City of Elk Grove

Emily Lamm

Emily Lamm

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 on in 2016 to perform data entry, volunteer coordination, social media management and teaching the “18 and UP Club.”  I have made so many meaningful relationships here and I truly love seeing the kids’ faces when they ride.  I have two dogs, Mary and Bella and I realize more now what it means to be connected with an animal and the therapy it can provide. My hobbies include visiting Disneyland and collecting anything DISNEY related, watching movies and hanging out with my friends. 
Lauren Hieb

Lauren Hieb

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

Lauren fell in love with horses early on in her life, but it wasn’t until she volunteered at a center in Fresno that she knew she was going to make a long term career out of therapeutic riding instruction. She went on to attend Centenary College in NJ, and in 2007 graduated with a B.S. in Equine Studies. Her dedication to the field helped her achieve her dream of becoming a PATH International Advanced Level Instructor (one of only about 200 nationwide!) Lauren says, “Horses are amazing animals and seeing the connection between such a powerful and complex animal and humans is indescribable. They have the power to heal and they know how to make someone feel special.”

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. In addition to horseback riding, Tamara enjoys searching for antiques and treasures to resell, and spending time with her family.

Tamara began her time with Project RIDE in 2011 as a side-walker. Her husband joined her as a volunteer shortly thereafter, and continues to volunteer to this day. In 2014, Tamara earned her certification as a Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) and joined the team of instructors at Project RIDE. Prior to Project RIDE, Tamara worked many years in education and in the non-profit field. She has opened and directed a state preschool, a church daycare, a tutoring center, a winter homeless shelter, and a live-in transition center for women and children. She has taught a wide variety of ages and abilities ranging from preschool to special needs high schoolers.

Tamara graduated from CSUS with a Master’s Degree in Special Education. Tamara loves to learn and often takes classes at the local colleges in whatever area interests her. As a result, she is close to completing a degree in Equine Studies. She currently holds a California Teaching Credential, a California Special Education Credential, a California Child Development Program Directors Permit, and her PATH Intl. Registered Instructor Certification.

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. This career choice came from Gayle’s lifetime love of horses and seeing how they enriched her clients’ lives. She has two great kids who also happen to have special needs.

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.  She has earned her Bronze and Silver medals from the United States Dressage Federation and is working towards her Gold medal.  

“Teaching at Project R.I.D.E. is an amazing experience.  With many years of classroom teaching combined with my equestrian background,  I feel like I’ve landed in the best of both worlds.   There are so many moving parts that make Project R.I.D.E. work and I love being a small part of this wonderful organization.   It is the very special students with a great staff and very dedicated volunteers that make it a privilege to say I work here!”

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. After starting my teaching career I returned to RIDE as a volunteer and quickly rediscovered my desire to be an instructor.  I became a certified PATH instructor in November of 2016 and now teach lessons on Monday nights and Saturdays!  
I have my own horse, Sugar, who is a retired Project R.I.D.E. horse.  When I’m not teaching 3rd grade for the Elk Grove Unified School District, or teaching at RIDE, I’m often out on the trails with my horse.

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.

Genell came to Project RIDE as a volunteer in 2014 after retiring from a career in Medical Education.  She knew as soon as she walked in the barn, that this was where she was meant to be. She soon began working on her certification, and became a PATH Intl. Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor in early 2015. She continued her training the next year and earned her PATH Intl. Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning certification in 2016. Genell values her time at Project RIDE as a way to give back and be a part of something bigger and more important to the community. Working at Project RIDE is special because everyday our staff and volunteers make a decision to come and do something positive for others, and that’s what really makes the magic happen.

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!

Wayne Davis

Wayne Davis

Director

If it weren’t for Wayne, our grass wouldn’t be mowed and tidy, our equipment wouldn’t hum, our pictures wouldn’t get hung and we’re pretty sure the whole building would just instantly fall down in a big dust cloud. Or at least that’s how it feels. A retired Sheriff and former Midwestern farm boy, Wayne’s motto is “if it’s broke, I can fix it”!

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.

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!

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.

Kind of a Big Deal

On the backs of these purple shirts it reads, “My boss thinks I’m kind of a big deal.” Tina’s says “Director of Positive Mojo.”

Field Trip

The staff recently took a professional development day at Giant Steps, another therapeutic riding center located in the Bay Area.

Alex

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

Little Bundles of Cuteness

Tina enjoys all things small and cute. Here she is with Hope the therapy mini horse and Bethany, another staff member’s child.

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.

On the Trail

Tina and a former board member enjoying our Trail Ride event in 2010

We Moustache you to Volunteer with us

Tina with Karis and Neela

Mini

Lauren with Blue the miniature horse

Riding Stella