About Our Team

Passion Driven By Knowledge And Solidified with Loving Action

Kids & Horses Staff

Cat O’Brien

Program Director, PATH-certified Instructor

Catherine “Cat” O’Brien is originally from Chicago but spent much of her life in Southern California. Cat had been in public education for 20 years, teaching ESL and Spanish at Carson Middle School, before coming on board the Kids & Horses team. Since then, Cat has worked faithfully to nurture and grow our program. Fun Fact: During ski season, it isn’t unusual to see Cat escaping to the mountains.

Dorothy Magnotta

Office Manager, Volunteer Coordinator 

Dorothy moved from New Jersey in January of 2017.  She became involved with Kids & Horses the same month she moved to Minden and has grown to love seeing the appreciation the students, staff, and volunteers have for the program. She has been happily married for over thirty years and has two young adult children. In her spare time, she loves exploring new surroundings and socializing with people. Fun Fact: It’s no surprise that one of Dorothy’s favorite hobbies includes cooking and entertaining. 

Alissa Burns

Equine Manager, PATH-certified Instructor 

After retiring from a career of over thirty years in public safety, Alissa was able to quickly fulfill her goal of becoming a PATH Certified Instructor in 2011. Though she became an instructor in 2011, Alissa has been involved in the arena of therapeutic/adaptive riding since the 1980’s. One of her greatest blessings in life has been the ability to share and teach the joy of horses and safe horsemanship with others, no matter what their level of involvement or ability might be. Fun Fact: Alissa’s career included active involvement in Mounted Patrol units. 

Ryanna Blake

Public Relations, PATH-certified Instructor

Ryanna is a proud native of Northern Nevada. She started working at Kids & Horses in 2016, and she fulfilled one of her dreams by becoming a certified instructor in May of 2018. Ryanna is grateful to be a part of the Kids & Horses community where she can play a small part in a group effort to make a difference in many lives. Fun Fact: Ryanna has a minor obsession with reading and would be content to spend most of her day in between the pages of a good book.

Madison Ellis

Public Relations Intern, PATH-certified Instructor

Madison has spent her whole life in Northern Nevada. Her love for horses brought her to Kids & Horses where she spent several years volunteering. It wasn’t long before she discovered that she enjoyed the people just as much as the horses leading her to become a certified instructor in November 2019. As an instructor, Madison loves connecting with her clients and getting to know all their personalities. With her time away from the ranch, Madison enjoys spending time writing and doing crafts. 

Vince Pirozzi

Facility/Safety Manager, PATH-certified Instructor

Vince was born and raised in New York City. He has 38 years of firefighter/paramedic experience, and was commander of Carson City mounted police for 10 years! Vince became an instructor in 2013. His favorite part of teaching is helping his students reach their goals. Fun Fact: Vince enjoys building detailed model boats!

Erin Vaillancourt

Physical Therapist

Since she was seven years old, Erin has been priveleged to call Gardnerville home.  In her spare time, Erin loves doings anything outdoors with her husband and two kids.  Some of their favorite hobbies (besides horses of course) are rock climbing, skiing, and kayaking.  The thing Erin loves about working at Kids and Horses is being a part of a team that is passionate about helping others through the use of a horse. Erin insists that it doesn’t feel like work, and she loves the entire team here. Fun Fact: Though she loves to travel, Erin has yet to find a place as dear to her heart as Gardnerville, NV.

Ina Fedulow-Plante

Physical Therapist

Not only is Ina a PT, but she is also a Board Certified Neurological Clinical Specialist. Joining us in January of 2020, Ina was excited to continue practicing physical therapy utilizing hippotherapy with the close-knit, supportive community she found in our staff, volunteers, clients, and, of course, the horses!. She resides in Truckee with her husband and spends much of her free time enjoying time outdoors. Fun Fact: Ina grew up speaking Russian and took Japanese for seven years.  

Ali Latinscics

Occupational Therapist

Ali joined our team in March of 2020. Although she was born and raised in Connecticut, she decided to journey west to call South Lake Tahoe home. As a passionate occupational therapist, Ali enjoys treating her clients at Kids & Horses. She states that “it is a positive and uplifting environment that allows for personal growth in both the clients/students and the staff.” Fun Fact: Ali is overcoming her fear of heights by learning how to rock climb. 

Teru Langsdale

Speech Therapist

Teru grew up riding horses through the olive orchards and orange groves of Southern California.  Combining her lifelong love of horses with speech and language has been a dream come true for her, but also for the clients and families she helps through her work.  She loves the Kids & Horses facility, staff, and volunteers and is an important part of our team. Fun fact: Teru volunteered at the Idatrod Sled Dog race in Nome, Alaska for two weeks in -20 degree weather, getting to see the winner cross the finish line first-hand.

Cherlyn Ellis

Occupational Therapist

Cherlyn has a love for animals and has been around them all her life, growing up in Indiana, South Dakota and Colorado.  She also has a passion for helping children and has been a Special Olympic and high school coach, youth volunteer and foster parent.  Now, she is combining her love for animals and kids as part of our team of therapists.  Fun fact: Cherlyn’s favorite animal is a shark.

Paige Dossey

Substitute PATH-certified Instructor 

Paige was born and raised in Carson City, NV. Paige began volunteering at Kids & Horses in 2013 and started her journey as an instructor in 2017. Her favorite thing about Kids & Horses is working with the amazing volunteers and staff that make this program the postive expereince that it is. Fun Fact: Paige graduated from UNR with a Bachelors in Human Development and Family Studies and a minor in Developmental Disabilities.

Ani Thompkins

 Ranch Hand 

Ani spent the majority of her life in the Bay area before moving to Gardnerville in the beginning of 2019. After volunteering for a couple of months, Ani was hired as a ranch hand. One of her favorite things about being a part of the Kids & Horses community is watching how the Kids & Horses team works together to create a great expereince for the clients. Fun Fact: Ani is an artist! She has done a lot of painting over the years and makes some beautiful pieces.

Beba Rothrock

 Ranch Hand 

Beba has worked in the food and beverage industry for years, but horses have always been a love of hers. She began getting involved with Kids & Horses in 2018 and has made a valuable team member. Beba loves our horses, but she also loves the community of people too. For her, watching people donate their time to help others makes her feel better about life in general. Fun Fact: Beba has eight years of French under her belt, including a month spent studying in France. 

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