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About Us

At the heart of our foundation is the welfare of both horses and humans, and how they can impact each other to heal and thrive in incredible ways.

two woman petting a horse
Horse for mental health logo

Who We Are

Horses for Mental Health is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded to increase awareness, public engagement, funds, and access to programs incorporating horses for mental health and personal growth.  

Horses for Mental Health seeks to partner with philanthropists, ambassadors, companies, governments, and programs to expand the role horses play in mental health and realize our collective vision of a world where all mental health needs are met – together.

We seek to strengthen engagement to create a community of inclusivity and diversity while increasing access to quality mental health programs incorporating horses that serve all groups of people.

Horses for Mental Health Objectives:

17-Human Resources

Serve as a resource, advocate, and thought leader to support legislative and policy initiatives globally.

9-Human Resources

Convene industry and program partners worldwide to collaborate on common objectives to uplift and support global mental health and personal growth through horses.

29-Human Resources

Build and implement campaigns to support industry and public awareness of resources and benefits.

8-Human Resources

Raise funding to support worldwide mental health and well-being services incorporating horses.

6-Human Resources

Establish high standard systems and collaborative partners for funding distribution, accountability and outcomes to raise the standard of services and to maximize efficient and accountable use of funds.

23-Human Resources

Establish a system of data collection to build the evidence base for mental health and personal growth services incorporating horses.

Our Team

Our team consists of world-class thought leaders with expertise in varying disciplines ranging from: mental health, horsemanship, brand development and strategy, fundraising and awareness modeling, talent acquisition, sponsorship consulting, creative scripting and design, program management, impact reporting and analysis, among other engagements in the social impact realm.

Our team involves and engages with experts and leaders in the equine-assisted services industry, and specifically with psychotherapy and counseling incorporating horses, who help advise our work.

Lynn Thomas, Co-Founder/President

Lynn Thomas is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, receiving her Master’s of Social Work from the University of Utah in 1995. She first developed a program integrating horses as a primary treatment component while serving as Executive Director of Aspen Ranch, a residential boarding school for troubled adolescents.

In 1999, Lynn co-founded Eagala, the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, providing training and certification in the Eagala Model of incorporating horses in psychotherapy. In the 21 years she served as its CEO, Lynn built Eagala into a leading organization in the area of horses for mental health.

Lynn co-founded and presently serves as CEO of Arenas for Change (ARCH), an organization focused on a values-based community learning and supporting one another in facilitation concepts that increase emotional safety and deepen client stories bringing healing and change in mental health and overall well-being. Thanks to the work over the years of Lynn and her team, involving horses in psychotherapy sessions has gone from a little-known approach to a widely accepted and credible mental health option, backed by research.

With Lynn’s experience, vision, and passion for the impact horses have on well-being, she co-founded Horses for Mental Health (HMH) in 2021 to build momentum, expand the movement, and uplift programs worldwide to impact and strengthen global mental health through horses.

Melissa headshot

Melissa Kitchen, Director

Melissa Kitchen is a lifelong horsewoman, who has loved horses for as long as she can remember, and strives to bring awareness to all of the ways horses complement our lives. She has been in the digital media industry for her entire career, and is currently the Vice President of Video and Creative Services for the Equine Network, LLC. Melissa grew up in Wisconsin, and moved to Colorado to attend Colorado State University and obtain a degree in Equine Sciences. She and her husband are raising three sons in rural Colorado.

Jacque Baumer, Co-Founder/Vice-President

Jacque Baumer is a Clinical Social Worker and has more than ten years of professional experience developing and directing programs and campaigns, fundraising, and providing consultation to local, national and global organizations and corporations.

Jacque has been instrumental in raising millions of dollars for her clients and leveraging billions of dollars for worthy causes. In 2013, Jacque served as a driving force behind the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park, which leveraged $1.3 Billion in new funding commitments for the world’s poor. The Global Citizen Festival has featured the world’s biggest music acts, Hollywood actors, and countless world leaders. The festival secured a live audience of more than 60,000 and reached more than 3 billion people worldwide and is the largest charity event syndication to date.

In 2017, Jacque was COO and partner of the first ever social impact fund partnered with the Vatican called the Laudato Si Challenge, producing the first ever Demo Day at the Vatican. In 2018, Jacque co-founded Influence Trips in partnership with governments and community organizations in Africa and South America to increase tourism to lower and middle income countries through guided celebrity and influencer trips.

Jacque is an avid equestrian training and competing on the Arabian circuit. She is passionate about addressing current global mental health crises through horses, helping both humans and horses to thrive.

M. Scott Gilpin, Secretary

Grandson of a horseman and saddle maker, Scott was a West Texas and New Mexico cowboy and horse trainer for well-known outfits such as Waggoner, LX, Alibates, and UU Bar Ranches.

Fueling his passion for Horses for Mental Health is his ongoing navigation of PTSD following surviving a 2013 terrorist massacre in Nairobi, Kenya.

Professionally, Scott serves as Director of Global Development and Fundraising Resources for the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, an international agency of The United Methodist Church. He teaches organizational development and fundraising around the world to leaders of Methodist-related organizations, schools, seminaries, colleges, and universities.

Concurrently, Scott created Uncommon Mission, an international organization bringing together people, churches, and businesses to fund high-impact organizations tackling the needs of the very poor and vulnerable. Uncommon Mission finds and screens high-impact organizations, monitors results and reports to donors, and provides free coaching on generosity, organizational development and fundraising as ministry.

An alumnus of Allen Military Academy, Blinn College, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State Universities, Scott is a graduate of the Williamsburg Development Institute and British Studies at St. John’s College, Oxford University.

Scott and Susan, his wife and retired editor and marketing leader for Southern Living Magazine, live in Birmingham, Alabama.

Addie Crook, Treasurer

Addie received her Bachelor of Accounting from the University of Utah and her Master of Accounting from Brigham Young University. She works as an auditor at a CPA firm in Scottsdale, Arizona that specializes in auditing nonprofit organizations and employee benefit plans.
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Tyler Brklacich, Executive Producer

Tyler Brklacich has more than a decade of leadership in operations, project management, and team development through multiple executive positions in consulting firms, organizations, and programs. His unique multidisciplinary background spans both from the public and private sector, providing holistic and unique skillsets on client relations, branding, program implementation, strategy, and fundraising.

Tyler earned an MBA from IE University in Madrid, Spain in 2020. Tyler placed top ten in the Entrepreneurial Venture Lab for his entrepreneurial performance and strategy by developing an agricultural cooling system from unused shipping containers. As President of the Out & Allies Club, he received top recognition for growth, school-wide inclusion, and largest attendance record for our annual international conference.

Tyler has dedicated his life to social impact, including living two years in The Gambia, West Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 2016-2018. Tyler lived in a rural village of 400 people and contributed to the planting of 2,000+ trees, bringing 6,000 liters of drinkable water into the local school, and creating equitable programs for women.

Autumn Alden, Assistant Producer

After graduating from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications and a minor in Environmental Science, Autumn moved to New York City and has since worked for TED Conferences and Global Citizen.
Her passion for social impact and mental health led her to becoming the Assistant Producer of the Seen Through Horses Campaign in 2022.

Connie Maningas, Project Manager

Connie Maningas graduated from the City University of Staten Island in 2009 and focused primarily on elementary education. After four years of teaching in New York City, driven by motivation and determination she decided to pursue her passion as a global educator and moved to South Korea.

She not only learned the language but the cultural differences and the humility to adapt and immerse oneself in an entirely different culture and country. Soon after, she moved to Madrid, Spain where she taught English to elementary students as a second language. She was truly humbled to teach a language she knew natively and the privileges that it bestowed upon English speakers.

Through her years as a global educator, Connie has developed and implemented curriculum frameworks to better serve learners with a wide range of specific needs. She has also led professional development courses and mentored young professionals aspiring to get into education. She served as both an educator anda cultural ambassador by bridging the cultural gaps between English speakers and her students. She continued to serve her community for 10 years before pursuing a career in non-profit organizations.