• Staff

    To be considered for future job openings, please forward your resume and salary requirements.

    Lara Katz

    Executive Director

    Lara joined NCTRC in 1992, and has served in various capacities including sidewalker, leader, instructor, and board member. Lara holds a BA in Communication Studies from UNC-Greensboro, and an MBA from Elon University. Lara has ridden horses since the age of 4 (when her 2 year old sister convinced their parents) and has competed in hunters, jumpers, dressage, intercollegiate, and for one scary day, eventing. She is passionate about sharing the horse experience with those who would otherwise not grow up with them.

    Jackie Cole

    Program Director, Instructor

    Jackie has been involved with NCTRC since 1987, when she began volunteering as a way to stay involved with horses. She holds a bachelor's degree in Medical Technology from Duke University, and is a PATH certified therapeutic riding instructor. Jackie loves watching her students build confidence, develop a love for horses and horseback riding and most of all have fun!

    Kristen Makohon

    Special Projects, Instructor

    Kristen has been involved with NCTRC since January 2015, and by June 2015 had decided to pursue a career in EAAT. She holds a BS in Biology from UNC-Chapel Hill, and is a PATH certified therapeutic riding instructor. Kristen also assists us with development and grant writing!

    Margie Muenzer

    Participant Coordinator, Physical Therapist, Instructor

    Margie joined NCTRC in 1993 as a physical therapist and PATH-certified therapeutic riding instructor. She holds a master’s degree in Physical Therapy from Case Western Reserve University, and received training in hippotherapy through the American Hippotherapy Association’s Level I and Level II courses. She never tires of the joys of helping children and adults with physical challenges begin to overcome these and thrive through the partnership with a willing horse or pony and team of dedicated volunteers.

    Mallory Heffelfinger

    Camp Director, Instructor Candidate

    Mallory joined NCTRC's staff in 2015, and plans to attain certification this summer as a therapeutic riding instructor. She graduated from High Point University in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and her master's degree in Educational Leadership is now underway. Mallory loves having the opportunity through NCTRC to make camp an empowering experience for campers of all different ages and abilities.

    Lissa Lutz

    Instructor, Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning

    Lissa has been involved with NCTRC since 1986, and is currently certified by PATH Intl as an Advanced Instructor and Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. Lissa holds a BS degree from Duke, as well as MD and MPH degrees from UNC. She loves teaching and seeing the positive impact that horses can have on people.

    James Jeffries

    Facility Manager (medical leave)

    James has been caring for this farm since even before NCTRC arrived. He cares for the horses and maintains the facility in excellent condition. James describes working outdoors and with the therapy horses as "hog heaven."

    Tracy Franklin

    Special Projects, Instructor

    Tracy has been involved with NCTRC since 2013, and is a PATH certified therapeutic riding instructor. She holds a bachelor's degree in biology from UNC-Wilmington and is a Certified Nursing Assistant. Tracy visited the farm in 2012 for a special event, instantly fell in love with the work we do and started volunteering, then came on staff to manage our herd, began teaching and pursued certification as an instructor, and has never looked back.

    Brooke Weeks


    Brooke has been involved with NCTRC since 2015, and is a PATH certified therapeutic riding instructor. She holds a BA in Therapeutic Horsemanship from St. Andrews University. After graduation she began working as a riding instructor for NCTRC.

    Audrey Ganitopoulos

    Special Projects, Instructor

    Audrey joined NCTRC in 2007, but has been involved with this industry since 2004. She is a PATH-certified therapeutic riding and vaulting instructor, and holds a BS degree in Animal Science from NCSU. Audrey was excited to discover NCTRC after moving to NC from the west coast, where she worked at another therapeutic riding center. She has also generously shared her horses Six and Star with NCTRC.

    Laura Michael

    Assistant Camp Director, Instructor

    Laura joined NCTRC’s staff in 2016 as the summer camp’s Assistant Director, and is a PATH-certified therapeutic riding instructor. She graduated from UNC Greensboro in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in American Sign Language and Deaf studies. Laura is now working to complete a graduate program at UNC Charlotte in Special Education Adapted Curriculum. Laura is excited to have the opportunity to work with all of the children at NCTRC’s summer camp!

    Genevieve Andrews

    Equine Manager, Instructor

    Genevieve joined NCTRC's staff in 2016, but her experience with horses spans over 20 years and includes managing barns, lesson programs, and working as practice manager for a local equine veterinary practice. She is a PATH-certified therapeutic riding instructor, and also owns and runs Epona Equine Services, offering boarding, lessons, and training in low level dressage and eventing. She studied business and is passionate about horses and management, making this role a perfect fit for her.

    Matt Case

    Licensed Professional Counselor

    Matt is a licensed professional counselor with a private practice in Chapel Hill. He has worked in community and private settings since 2002, and was certified by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association in 2004. He and Suzanne have used equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP) to treat children and adults with a wide range of issues from schizophrenia and trauma to anxiety and parent-child relationship struggles. Matt draws heavily upon Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), an evidence-based approach that teaches mindfulness and acceptance skills to let unwanted thoughts and feelings come and go while creating a rich and meaningful life. ACT dovetails nicely with EAP, as they both utilize metaphors, direct experience, and present-moment awareness to nurture human potential and growth.

    Suzanne Case

    Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning, Instructor Candidate

    Suzanne is certified as an Equine Specialist by both EAGALA and PATH, holds a BA in Psychology from Salem College, and is pursuing her MA in Psychological Counseling at Goddard College, as well as certification as a therapeutic riding instructor. She also holds BHSAI certification, and has been teaching riding and training horses for 32 years, most recently incorporating yoga into her teaching through Vinyasa Dressage. She and Matt have worked as part of an equine therapy team since 2004. Suzanne is very passionate about equine-assisted therapies of all kinds and the NCTRC and feels that this work is invaluable to the human spirit; mind, body, and soul.

    Juliette Holden

    Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning, Instructor, Recreational Therapist

    Juliette joined NCTRC after moving to NC from Florida, where she had worked as the head riding instructor and barn manager for a center there. She holds a BS in Equestrian Studies from Lake Erie College, and an MS in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management, with an emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation, from Clemson University. Juliette is certified by PATH as an Advanced Instructor, Mentor, and as an Equine Specialist. Juliette works at a psychiatric residential treatment facility, and continues her involvement in therapeutic riding by bringing her psychiatric clients to NCTRC.

    Isabella DeSantis

    Equine Caretaker, Volunteer Manager, Instructor Candidate

    Isabella joined NCTRC in 2017 with previous volunteer experience at another therapeutic riding center near Asheville, and almost twenty years experience riding, competing and caring for horses. She currently trains and competes in dressage and eventing, and recently graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a BA in English and Creative Writing. She is working toward certification as a therapeutic riding instructor.

    Kyrsten Spurrier

    Occupational Therapist

    Kyrsten and her husband moved to Efland in 2015 for him to pursue his dream job. She primarily works at Duke University Hospital as an Occupational Therapist in the Medical ICU, and also sees clients at NCTRC for hippotherapy. Kyrsten did 3-day eventing in high school then worked as a head wrangler at a camp through college; she says that the life skills she has learned from horses have made her who she is today, for which she is thankful.

    Kristin Stange

    Occupational Therapist

    Kristin joined NCTRC's staff in 2017, but she has been involved with hippotherapy since age 16! Practicing therapy in this setting has been a long-awaited dream, as it allows her to combine her love of horses and 20+ years of riding experience with her professional interests in OT. She especially loves watching how this unique setting and horses help clients discover strengths and talents that may be more difficult to uncover in a traditional therapy clinic. Kristin holds a BA in English and and MS in Occupational Therapy - both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (go Badgers!), and completed hippotherapy training through the American Hippotherapy Association.

    Britt Nave

    Instructor Candidate

    Coming soon!