Our therapists, equine professionals, and instructors understand the unique therapeutic value of the human-horse bond.
They have chosen to pursue additional training and certification with internationally recognized organizations, the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) and the American Hippotherapy Association (AHA), in order to expand their professional skills and maximize the benefits for the wide variety of clients we serve.
Lisa Kafka, Executive Director
Lisa graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a degree in Occupational Therapy. She is currently both a clinician and Executive Director of Exceptional Equestrians and is the owner/administrator of Country Kids pediatric outpatient clinic.
Lisa has incorporated equines into her treatment of children and adults for over 25 years. She has multiple specialty areas including certification through the American Hippotherapy Association as a Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist (HPCS), as well as certification through PATH, Intl. as both a riding instructor (CTRI), and an equine specialist in mental health (ESMHL).
Lisa is also a Neuro-developmental Treatment Association (NDT) certified clinician.
In her spare time, Lisa enjoys riding her horse Annie or working with the Exceptional Equestrians herd.
“Horses have long been an important component of both my personal and professional life. I became an OT to work with people and help them find strategies to overcome obstacles. The opportunity to combine these two passions is a dream come true.”
Contact Lisa at email@example.com
Kim Klister, Business Manager
Kim comes to Exceptional Equestrians with more years of accounting and business operations experience than she’s willing to admit. With B.A.’s in Accounting and Business Administration, Kim spent most of her career working with large, local companies, specializing in accounting and financial analysis. During one company’s reorganization, Kim learned about EE and jumped at the chance to join our team, taking on various accounting and business administration tasks.
While much of her work is done behind the scenes, it didn’t take long for Kim to experience the exceptional. “It was one of my first times helping out in the arena – a young rider made his way through the doors just ahead of his parents. Once inside, he looked around, smiled, then exclaimed, ‘Hi … This is my faaav-rit place!’ In that moment, I knew we were not only impacting the daily lives of our participants, they were also enhancing ours.”
Contact Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org
Molly Kafka, Volunteer Coordinator
Molly has been involved with Exceptional Equestrians for over 20 years. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she received a degree in biomedical sciences. After spending some time with Colorado University’s School of Medicine, Molly returned to Exceptional Equestrians to assume the role of Patient and Volunteer Coordinator. She is also currently in the process of obtaining her doctoral degree in Occupational Therapy, specializing in pediatrics and mental health.
Molly has always had a passion for medicine and the healing power of horses. She is an avid runner and outdoors fan, and also has a hidden passion for mustard. Molly enjoys working with the many volunteers, riders, and families at Exceptional Equestrians as they remind her of why she chose such a unique and rewarding career.
Contact Molly at email@example.com
Aaron Geitner, Director of Development & Marketing
Aaron joined Exceptional Equestrians in 2020 and serves as Director of Development and Marketing. He is responsible for all development, fundraising, marketing, communications and public relations activities for Exceptional Equestrians.
He holds an undergraduate degree in Business/Communications from St. Norbert College with an emphasis in Leadership Studies and Nonverbal Communications.
Aaron brings extensive and diverse experience to the role, having held leadership roles in both the corporate and non-profit sectors. He began his career working in the insurance industry holding principal positions with State Farm and Allstate Insurance companies. He also served as General Manager with Russ Darrow Group, a leading automotive supplier with 15 locations around Wisconsin. Most recently Aaron served as Director of Vehicle Program, Marketing and Public Relations with Rawhide, Inc.
Contact Aaron at firstname.lastname@example.org
Samantha Berger, COTA
Samantha is a certified occupational therapy assistant who received her occupational therapy assistant (COTA) associate’s degree at Fox Valley Technical College. She has also recently been accepted at Concordia University where she will be working towards both Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Science and Master of Occupational Therapy degrees.
Samantha grew up riding and showing horses, and she likes working at EE because it combines two of her passions: horses and working with people. She loves seeing her clients work hard towards their goals and achieve them because she knows that it ultimately improves their quality of live. Of course, she enjoys the smiles and laughs shared with clients, volunteers and therapists in the barn.
Carol Klak, OTR, MA
Carol is a Registered Occupational Therapist with 30+ years of experience. A graduate of UW-Milwaukee in OT, Carol also has certification in Guidance and Counseling from UW-Whitewater and a Masters degree from St. Mary’s University in Winona, MN.
Carol has been involved at Exceptional Equestrians for over 25 years and is also works in the Green Bay Area Public School District.
Carol has extensive experience in providing OT to individuals with autism, anxiety and children who have experienced trauma. She has also completed additional courses provided through American Hippotherapy Association and PATH, Int.
When not working, Carol enjoys spending time with family and friends, biking and walking her German Shepherd Shelby.
Contact Carol at email@example.com
Nyla Quinn, OT
“ I couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding career.” Nyla graduated from Colorado State University in 1998, with a degree in occupational therapy. Nyla has worked with a variety of populations which included inpatient and outpatient, school system, homebased pediatrics, and equine assisted OT. Her work experience brings a broad perspective and understanding for the needs of clients and their families. “ I’ve been working with kiddos on the horse since 2009. There is a beautiful empowering connection between the client and the horse, something truly special.”
Elizabeth Karrmann, Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor
Elizabeth is a graduate of UW-River Falls with a B.S. in Animal Science and an emphasis in Equine Science.
She started riding when she was 14 through 4H and is experienced in western and English riding styles, as well as some driving. Her favorite riding style is dressage.
Elizabeth has extensive experience with equine-assisted therapy. At 14, she began as a volunteer with Free SPIRIT Riders in Fond du Lac and eventually served as their equine manager for four years before joining Exceptional Equestrians.
Elizabeth is certified as a registered therapeutic riding instructor through PATH, Intl.
Contact Elizabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org
Michaela Diedrick, Office Assistant
Micaela is tasked with greeting our clients and families. She holds a degree in business administration from St. Norbert College.
Kellie Schmieder, Physical Therapy Assistant
Kellie received her associate degree in Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. She has been a volunteer at Exceptional Equestrians for many years before transitioning to the therapy team. There is such joy that comes from the kids, parents, staff, and volunteers. She knew this was a truly unique and special way to give back and she was hooked after the very first day she volunteered.
Kellie is also a dance teacher and enjoys everything art and dancing.
Nicole Behnke, Occupational Therapist, CAAT
Nicole graduated from Concordia University Wisconsin in November 2020 with a Master’s degree in occupational therapy following a Bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation science in 2019. In February 2021, she completed a 2 year elective program to become a Certified Animal Assisted Therapist (CAAT) through CUW. This program teaches student therapists to use animals as a tool to help patients work toward achieving their therapy goals. During the program Nicole practiced this with countless hours of hands-on experiences in a variety of settings with trained dog and handler teams. Being able to witness the connections between patients and animals with the incredible results achieved was meaningful and rewarding. This inspired her to seek an OT position in which she would be able to utilize and further develop her skills as a CAAT. Nicole also has an extensive caregiving background for individuals with various diagnoses.
In her free time, she enjoys crafting, swimming, and quality time with family including their rabbit and guinea pig.