Meet The Team
Board of Directors
Renee Robins has been the President of G.R.A.C.E. since January of 2020. She has been an active volunteer since 2015 volunteering in classes and fundraising. She has been a Board member since 2017 and her primary role prior to becoming President in 2020 was communications and promotions.
My involvement At G.R.A.C.E. began in Sept 2004 when my daughter purchased Pache and boarding was arranged at the G.R.A.C.E. stables. The progression was gradual, I started with helping with some barn repairs, then progressing to larger projects. Stepping into a G.R.A.C.E. Board director position in March 2007 initiated what is very common for those who become involved in G.R.A.C.E, before you know it, it is a substantive part of your life. The needs are great, resources are limited, but the rewards are very satisfying. I was raised on a mixed farm in southern Ontario, and as the saying goes, “You can take the boy away from the farm, but you can never take the farm out of the boy” is very applicable. My career leading Engineering & Maintenance organizations combined with the personal satisfaction derived from completing projects and repairs found a willing and receptive home at G.R.A.C.E.
In 2010 I commenced a three-year term as President and have continued in a Director position to present, contributing my talents where applicable to the many facets requiring support in the G.R.A.C.E organization.
Kathleen Hunter has been involved with horses for nearly 40 years. She joined the Board of Directors in April of 2019. Kathleen is the Head Instructor and a member of the Horse Parent Committee. She volunteered with G.R.A.C.E. in the 1990’s and was a CanTRA certified instructor at that time. Life’s journey steered her away for a time but she feels blessed to have found her way back. Kathleen is excited about the future of our program and looks forward to working with this amazing group!
Aunalea Cruickshank became interested in G.R.A.C.E in 2006 when she was researching enhanced therapy for her son who is severely developmentally challenged and diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Aunalea was elected to the G.R.A.C.E. Board of Directors in 2010. She coordinates all of the therapeutic programming at G.R.A.C.E.. In 2002, Aunalea was awarded the “Inclusive Educator of the Year” award. The nomination was the first of its kind in Ontario and was submitted by parents. Aunalea holds a Bachelor of Education Degree in Child Studies and is a Specialist in Special Education in Ontario. She has volunteered and worked with challenged individuals in a variety of aspects since 1989. Living on a farm breeding and raising Percheron horses enables her to contribute to G.R.A.C.E in many different and supportive ways.
Rob’s personal involvement with G.R.A.C.E. stems from a long-standing family engagement that began some 35 years ago. Both his parents, Willis and Adelaide, were avid horseback riders. One day, the couple discovered the healing magic of G.R.A.C.E. and the Center’s need for special horses. Willis, who owned a Palomino named ‘Molson’, felt that this tall, gentle creature now aged 25 and ready to be put to pasture, could be an ideal candidate for the program. They were right and so for the next 15 years, Molson proved to be a much loved team member of G.R.A.C.E. where he worked assiduously until his passing at the late age of 40.
Willis later found a new venture for G.R.A.C.E. when, in the mid 1990’s, the former property in Woodford had to be sold by its owners. He decided to buy it and lease it back to the organization for a nominal sum, still the case today after 26 years. Rob’s mom, a paediatric medical doctor who understood children’s mental and physical challenges, was instrumental in assisting with G.R.A.C.E.’s fundraising efforts. Thus it has been, and still is, with the McLeeses. For the past three years, Rob’s son Geoff and wife Heather have also been helping out at the G.R.A.C.E. Center.
Rob is Founder and President of Access Capital Corp. (Toronto), as well as Chair of ACI Energy, Inc. (Wilmington, DE). Rob has sat on a number of Boards including that of Export Development Canada (Ottawa), a federal crown corporation, where he chairs its Audit Committee. He is also Founder and Chairman of the international Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegence, Canada’s signature event showingcasing rare and historic vehicles. He was the recipient of the 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Susan was fortunate to ride horses as a youngster and into her adult years. She is now retired and enjoys being part of an organization which brings the magic of riding to youngsters and adults who live with physical and emotional challenges. Susan’s career was in medical social work so she understands how the relationship with a horse can become a very special one, and how the ability to communicate by voice or movement brings a person a sense of joy, excitement and control while building confidence and self-esteem.
Susan has volunteered with G.R.A.C.E. for a year and has been on the board for two years, working mainly in the area of fundraising.
Secretary & Treasurer
Nancy has a lifelong love of horses. Over the past 10 years, this love has been renewed through taking riding lessons, leasing a horse and many great trail rides. Over the past year and a half, she has served as Secretary / Treasurer of G.R.A.C.E. and has volunteered as a leader in past programs.
For the last 12 years Sue Foster has been our Barn Manager at G.R.A.C.E. Her job is to keep our most important members, the horses happy and healthy. Sue also volunteers for classes when needed. She finds it so rewarding to watch the progression of our riders! G.R.A.C.E is such a valuable program. She feels blessed to be a part of it!!
Karen Hanna has been with G.R.A.C.E. as a volunteer for 17 years, been a horse mom for the past 12 years and has been helping Sue out in the barn as a stable helper for almost a year.
Posh is our barn cat extraordinaire at G.R.A.C.E.. She is responsible for keeping away mice and other pests. Posh also provides laughter and amusement for everyone who meets her.
Instructors & Therapists
Kathleen is the Head Instructor for the G.R.A.C.E. program. The role of head instructor is new to her but she has been teaching riders for more than 30 years. Kathleen was previously a certified CANTRA instructor and is newly certified as an Equine Assisted Learning Facilitator. Kathleen’s background is in Hunters, Jumpers and Dressage. She is also a practitioner of natural horsemanship training.
Sandra is a Registered Physiotherapist with over 20 years’ experience. Sandra owns and operates Sandra Hall Physiotherapy, providing private paediatric physiotherapy services for children in their homes, community and at G.R.A.C.E. where she incorporates hippotherapy into physiotherapy treatment sessions.
Gillian has been involved with G.R.A.C.E. for many years as a volunteer, leading and sidewalking in lessons and also as a horse parent. In 2011, Gillian was certified with CANTRA and took on the role of Instructor. Gillian usually teaches on Tuesday evenings and enjoys every moment of her time with the riders and volunteers. In her leisure time she rides her horse Faith out on the trails in and around the area.
Mary Lynn Morrison
Mary Lynn has been involved with G.R.A.C.E. since the fall of 2003. A “Wanted Volunteers” ad in the local paper along with mention of horses drew her to the G.R.A.C.E. program. For the next 4-5 years she volunteered with classes. During that time, she started assisting the instructor with the Wednesday night classes and helped elsewhere when needed.
In 2006, Mary Lynn started the process of becoming a Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association Assistant Instructor and achieved that goal in 2009.
While continuing to assist with the riding class, Mary Lynn was asked to take on the driving program in 2011. This program allows a few of G.R.A.C.E.’s clients, who are no longer able to ride, to remain a part of the program through the use of a horse, cart and volunteers. An experienced driver is in the cart with the client and the basic principles and skills of driving are taught. Of course, it’s not all work and usually there is time to play a game or two. With the assistance of volunteers, the driving portion of the G.R.A.C.E program has continued, much to the delight of the current G.R.A.C.E. drivers.
Danyle started with G.R.A.C.E. volunteering on Wednesday nights in spring of 2014 and soon realized that she wanted to become more involved with this amazing program. Through the Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association, she became certified as a CTRII Instructor. Danyle started teaching single lessons in 2016 and group lessons in 2018. To see the rider progress in a ten-week session makes her heart sing.