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Our Staff

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.

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Judy Vann (she/her)
Executive Assistant

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Favorite Quote:

"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)
Instructor

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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!

Favorite Quote:

“Be the change you would like to see in the world.”

 

Linda DeBowes (she/her)
Instructor

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. 

Favorite Quote:

THERE ARE THINGS THAT THE HORSE DID FOR ME THAT A HUMAN COULDN’T HAVE DONE”. ~ Buck Brannaman

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Kelly Mentzos (she/her)
Instructor

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Favorite Quote:

“Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m Possible!’”
-Audrey Hepburn 

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). 

Mindy Mowers Stone  (she/her)
Counselor, LMHC, CMHS, CART, CTMH, C-DBT

Favorite Quote:

"Sometime you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory" ~Dr. Suess

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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.

Lisa Glendenning (she/her)
Counselor

Favorite Quote:

Be the change that you wish to see in the world.  Gandhi

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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.

Patricia Gillette (she/her)
Instructor

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Favorite Quote:

Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyways.

I have been around horses since college. I was in no way able to own my own horse but knew I wanted to be around them so I joined Equest Special Riders in Tacoma back in 2010 because I have a love for both horses and helping those with physical and mental disabilities. We’re always told that we make a difference in people’s lives but I believe that our participants make a difference in our life. I am now the main instructor for that organization. I moved up here to Edmonds in the summer of 2021 and started working for the Edmonds School District as a custodian. I haven’t really been able to connect with the horse community up here and only making it to Tacoma once a week made me miss my horses. I am excited to venture on this new journey with Courageous Connections and get to spend time with both horses and participants!

Kelli Lovins MA, LMHCA (she/her)
Mental Health Therapist

Favorite Quote:

I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become. -C.G. Jung

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Kelli is originally from the Midwest and moved to Washington six years ago. She has a MA in Counseling and a BA in Family Science. Kelli has experience working with adolescents, teens, and adults with trauma histories in addition to their current day stressors. Kelli is trained in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples and individuals, as well as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).

Kelli works from a holistic, person-centered lens. She believes that everyone has the strengths within themselves that are needed to overcome challenges and strives to help her clients uncover and access those strengths by providing a safe environment for folks to explore their feelings and emotional experiences.

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