The staff of Courageous Connections not only share their valuable knowledge and expertise, but their passion in supporting others through horses and nature. They expand the reach of our program by bringing their own unique background and education for the benefit of our mission.
Judy Vann (she/her)
"Keep your face always in the sunshine, and the shadows will fall behind you." ~Walt Whitman
Judy has been working in the medical field for over 35 years, in many areas of medicine, she has been at her current job for 14 years. Loving every minute of it. She has lived in Seattle for over 40 years. Raised her family here and now has 4 beautiful grandchildren, and she loves spending as much time as she can. When not working she enjoys reading, traveling, and of course going to all the grandkids sports events. I believe this program should be an inspiration to us all. Thank you, Kathy, Sue and Lisa, for trusting in me enough to join the team!
Leah Hutchins (she/her)
Leah started riding when she was 5 years old. She owned and showed two horses starting in junior high school until she graduated from high school. Leah loved to teach horseback riding lessons when she was younger. Her educational background is in abnormal psychology and criminal science. She graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelors of Science degree in HDFS (human development and family studies). She has been working in Equine Assisted Learning and Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy classes since 2017 with people ranging from age 4 to 84 years old with a wide range of diagnoses and treatment goals. Her passion for working with people and horses shines through whenever she is around!
“Be the change you would like to see in the world.”
Carla Woodworth (she/her)
Carla is an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning (ESMHL). She first became involved in therapeutic riding over 12 years ago as a volunteer at Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center (Little Bit) where she met and worked with Chloe Wilkins (CTRI and Courageous Connections Board Member). Carla’s volunteer experience at Little Bit, her own riding experience and research into horse behavior over the year’s has provided her the opportunity to witness and experience the therapeutic benefits of riding, learning horsemanship skills and working with horses for herself and for others of all ages. As a Professional Geologist with a private consulting firm, she has discovered that working with horses has helped her find calm and focus while at work and during stressful times. Her lifelong love for horses and her recognition of the many benefits of interacting with horses inspired her to become an ESMHL and to help share the equine benefits with others. She is grateful for the opportunity to partner with Sue and the horses and minis at Courageous Connections to bring healing, learning and growing through experiences with horses to the community.
“Take life’s experiences and build strength from them, not weakness. Bless Me, Ultima."
- Rudolfo Anaya.
Linda DeBowes (she/her)
Linda started riding when she was 12 and owned her own horse until she began college. Professionally, Linda was a veterinarian with specialties in small animal internal medicine and oral surgery & dentistry. She was in academics for 17 years, then co-owned a specialty practice with her husband. Linda never lost her love of horses and after retirement looked for ways to bring horses back into her life. During the past three years Linda has been volunteering at therapeutic riding centers, taking riding lessons, and recently she became certified as an ESMHL.
THERE ARE THINGS THAT THE HORSE DID FOR ME THAT A HUMAN COULDN’T HAVE DONE”. ~ Buck Brannaman
Kelly Mentzos (she/her)
“Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m Possible!’”
My name is Kelly and I’ve been working with animals my whole adult life. I started working in the veterinary field with small animals when I was 17 and got licensed as a veterinary technician at 24. In my late 30’s I knew I needed a change, but I wanted to continue working with animals. That was when I learned about therapeutic horsemanship. I absolutely fell in love with the work. Thankfully my years of experience in the veterinary field helped with my transition to large animals, so I was able to pick things up quickly. I find it so amazing the relationships and connections that are made through this work. It truly benefits all involved (horses and humans).
Margaret Frey (she/her)
"My goal is to spark an interest in trauma informed care."
Margaret lives in Long Lane, Missouri, but was born and raised in Western Washington. She has a BA in English, a teaching certificate with elementary, English, and special education endorsements, and a Master's degree in Special Education. She has taught for 22 years, from 1st to 12th grade - special education, general education, math, and science. She has also worked with special education law and adjudicated youth, and juvenile drug court, at risk youth, and JSO. Margaret is a state-level trainer and curriculum developer in the area of Inclusion: Behavior/SEL, Significant Disabilities, and Equity. She is a Character Education Fellow with WGU, and in the process of earning a Master’s degree in Character Education from the University of Birmingham in the UK. When not teaching, Margaret enjoys reading and hiking through the woods on our property and kayaking on her lake.
Mindy Mowers Stone (she/her)
Counselor, LMHC, CMHS, CART, CTMH, C-DBT
"Sometime you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory" ~Dr. Suess
I have a dual Master of Arts Degree in Mental Health Counseling and Child, Couple, Family Therapy. I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), a Child Mental Health Specialist (CMHS), a Certified Anger Resolution Therapist (CART), a Certified Clinical Telemental Health Provider (CTMH), a Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional (CCATP), and a Certified Dialectical Behavioral Therapist (C-DBT). I have experience with Inpatient & Outpatient Treatment, School and Work Support, Probation Requirements as well as facilitated Couple, Family and Group Therapy since 2001.
I use a variety of strategies based on my client(s) goals. The work we do may include: movement, utilization of educational materials, art, play, systemic work, behavior modification, and other techniques based on a solution focused, client-centered, cognitive-behavioral therapy and/or dialectical behavioral therapy approaches.
I strive to provide a safe environment for my client(s) to process their thoughts, feelings & choices by exploring their life challenges and difficulties. Therapy often involves risk-taking and can be challenging at times, but it is my hope that it will also be a supportive and an empowering experience.
My quote: Be the change that you wish to see in the world. Gandhi
I have been working with horses and people all my life. My love of horses started when I was around 8 and continued through high school. I spent those ten years riding and showing hunter jumpers, and enjoying what horses brought to my life. After High School I attended college to begin my path of helping people. I received my B.A. in psychology from University of California, San Diego. I then went on to receive my Masters in clinical psychology, and minor in sports psychology from John F Kennedy University. After school I worked for 10 years in community mental health at Compass Health working with kids and their families on various issues. Along the way I started my own private practice, A New Beginning Counseling Services, where I see kids, adults, and couples again helping with various issues. I have been in private practice now for 20 plus years and although I strayed from horses during this time, I eventually found my way back 7 years ago, when I started riding English again. In the last several years I have longed to try to combine my love of therapy with that of horses, as I have found them to be so healing myself. This is what led me to Courageous Connections and my current position helping people to utilize horses to help heal trauma, and other troubles people have encountered in their journey.