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Staff

Shelly Whitlock-Pope, Ed.D.

Executive Director

PATH, Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor & Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. Co-Connecticut State Representative for PATH Region 1.

860-314-0007 (ext. 10)

Shelly has a varied background having worked in finance at a renowned cancer center, as a teacher and administrator for the NYC Department of Education, as Program Director at another therapeutic riding center, and Associate Professor of higher education. A PATH Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor, Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning, Mentor and Site Evaluator, she is also EAGALA Certified as an Equine Specialist, and Special Olympics Equestrian Coach. With a degree in Health Administration, followed by two Master’s degrees, one in Elementary Education (Teaching), and a second in Administration, she also has a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Administration and Policy. Shelly’s diverse experience is an asset to the organization. She was trained and rode English for years, and even patrolled NYC’s Central Park with the Mounted Auxiliary, but her true loves are riding the trails Western and her two American Quarter Horses!

Emily Eschner

Program Director

PATH, Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor & Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning, Co-Connecticut State Rep for PATH Region 1.

860-314-0007 (ext. 11)

I was born and raised in Bristol where my passion for horses began at the age of 5. I was an active member of the Mad River Pony Club for many years and learned many horsemanship skills along the way. I have ridden competitively over the last 15 years throughout New England in recognized USEA horse trials and dressage competitions. In the summer of 2017, I completed an intensive Instructor Training Course and earned my PATH, Intl. Certification as a Therapeutic Riding Instructor and Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. Most recently I became EAGALA Certified as an Equine Specialist. As the Program Director at Shepard Meadows I am fortunate to meet and get to know all of our participants and their families and to share my passion with them. While I still teach many lessons throughout the week, I also enjoy the program development at the center. 

Sister Ann Frances Thompson

Volunteer Coordinator

PATH, Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor & Equine Specialist in Mental Health & Learning

860-314-0007 (ext. 15)

Sister Ann is a PATH International Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor, Equine Specialist in Mental Health & Learning, Educator and Music Therapist, who is also driving certified through the Carriage Association of America (CAA). Born and raised in Texas, she comes to us from Michigan where she taught music during the day, and therapeutic riding one day a week for over 10 years. She founded a camp for children to learn to drive miniature horses, which is quite a remarkable feat. Her two miniature horses still reside in Michigan. We are thrilled to have her on our team!

Nicole Mulhall

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

Nicole is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and certified in EMDR and hypnotherapy.  Her objective is to help clients overcome challenges through an eclectic approach. In 2014 she founded Measurable Progress Therapy LLC. She previously worked as a Psychiatric Social Worker for The Bristol Hospital Counseling Center, and at other facilities as an Outpatient Therapist and Crisis Clinician. With over ten years experience as a therapist, she is also a horse enthusiast and equestrian.

Amy Degumbia

Instructor & Equine Specialist

PATH, Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructor

860-314-0007

I grew up on a small farm and we owned a couple of horses.  I was 5 years old when I first started to ride, and 13 when I got a horse of my own – he was a young and spirited Arabian.  He just turned 32 and he is still full of life.  We competed in the Arabian Horse Association shows, mostly in dressage, but some jumping too.  I worked as a Veterinary Technician and gained a great deal of knowledge about animal health and first aid, and became Certified as an Animal Behaviorist.  I attended Tunxis Community College and Central Connecticut State University for my degree.  I am grateful to have horses as a part of my life, and I love to share that with the participants in our program!

Lily Bensko

Instructor & Equine Specialist

PATH, Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructor and Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning

Lily is a recent graduate of the University of New Hampshire with a degree in Equine Studies and Therapeutic Riding. She’s a talented rider and experienced riding instructor having interned at another center on top of her direct experience at the UNH. We are thrilled to have her and welcome her work evaluating and training horses as well.

Jeri Ricupero

Property Caretaker

Gardener Extraordinaire

Jeri became our property caretaker in the spring of 2021 after having volunteered at the center for several years. Always reliable, we are so pleased to have her on staff. If you volunteer in the morning, you’ll be working with Jeri.

Janis Clifton

Visiting Instructor

PATH, Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor

Megan Burg

Equine Caregiver

PATH, Intl. CTRI in Training

Alyssa Carlone

Equine Caregiver

PATH, Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor