DAWN SAMUELSON, BS, ESMHL, EAL/EAP
Founder & Executive Director
Dawn Samuelson is the founder and Executive Director of N.E.I.G.H. She brings a lifetime of experiences and knowledge that have culminated in her unique ability to truly change the lives of those who come into the program, horse and human.
Born into a service-oriented family in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, Dawn’s mother was a nurse and her father was a police officer. Tragically, she lost her mother at a young age. Then, in the 1970’s during a time with different expectations, her father underwent a gender change and retired from the police force as a woman.
Dawn turned to horses for comfort and support as she navigated through her childhood and into adulthood. They provided not only personal strength, but defined her calling.
She graduated with an A.A.S. in Animal Husbandry from the State University of New York at Alfred, and then with a B.S. in Animal Science in Colorado State University. She became certified as an Equine Behavior Specialist, and has a unique gift in helping “problem” horses. She has never stopped learning, earning certifications through: Parelli Natural Horsemanship; John Lyons Horsemanship; the National Mounted Police Training; O.K. Corral’s Equine Assisted Learning/Equine Assisted Psychotherapy; EAGALA; and as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning through PATH Intl.
Continuing in the steps of her service-oriented family, Dawn also became a volunteer firefighter, and has been serving in New York State for 30 years. She is certified as an EMT, and currently works within the Mobile Crisis Unit. She has received training in many trauma-informed interventions, from suicide and child abuse to PTSD and reintegration challenges for military servicemembers. She is a member of the Chautauqua County Suicide Alliance and the Chautauqua County Youth Advisory Committee.
Dawn’s sister, Constance, also maintained the tradition, joining and serving in the U.S. Air Force for 4 years. She lost her life to suicide at the age of 25.
Still reeling from the loss of her sister, Dawn’s son, Ryan, underwent four organ transplants over the course of ten years. Simultaneously, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor herself. As Ryan was in the hospital awaiting his last transplant, Dawn underwent brain surgery.
Now that both Ryan and Dawn are recovered and in remission, she is working to create meaning from her own loss and struggles. Dawn has vowed to help military and first-responders who are struggling, in the same way that has helped her: through horses. Investing herself in growing The N.E.I.G.H. to reach those in need, it is her mission to give back.
To give back as a way to honor the memory of her sister.
To give back as a way of saying thank you to everyone who has supported her and her family.
To give back as a way to share the resilience and strength horses bring into our lives.
The NEIGH has been featured on the Military Makeover with Montel Williams on Lifetime TV. Dawn has been featured in Country Woman Magazine; as a national clinician presenting at Equine Affaire (Ohio/Mass), Can-Am Expo, and Certified Horsemanship events. She is the author and illustrator of Emotional Coat ™ as well as the owner of Grandview Farm Training Academy, a boarding and training stable in business for more than 20 years.
KIM WARNER, LCSW, CASAC-T, EMDR CERTIFIED
President & Equine Facilitator
Kimberly Warner is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of New York as well as a Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse trained counselor, and has 8 years of experience as a clinician and a supervisor in the field of chemical dependency. Kim also has credentials as a trauma certified therapist with use of Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) for three years. Kim holds certifications in Equine Assisted Learning and Psychotherapy through the O.K. CORRAL as well as gaining a certification in PATHS International, ESMHL certification this fall. Kim has a passion to give back to the veterans and works and volunteers for several organizations such as T.A.P.S. out of Arlington, Virginia as a Peer Mentor and Care Group Facilitator.
Kim is opening her own PLLC, private practice, to serve others who are dealing with challenges such as PTSD, depression, grief/loss, anxiety, and adjustment conditions. Kim is also a Gold Star Wife, and she spends her time volunteering for organizations in order to pay it forward and help those who have served our country. Kim’s personal life experiences of being a caregiver of a war veteran, allows her to understand concerns the veteran and caregiver(s) are dealing with when working through their own trauma/loss and/or secondary trauma, and has given her a better understanding of how to help others.
Stephanie Sawtelle is an expert on the dynamics of the horse-human relationship on the physical, emotional, and energetic levels. Whether for the purposes of equestrian endeavors, personal growth, or healing, she facilitates meaningful horse-human interactions with a focus on the mind-body connection, emotional intelligence, and intuitive development.
Certified Equine Behavior Specialist
Taylor is a full-time student at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford majoring in Psychology and minoring in Spanish. She plans to continue her education to receive her master's degree in Social Work. Taylor completed her certification in equine behavior through N.E.I.G.H in 2017 and has been actively involved in the development of the N.E.I.G.H program since its beginning.
Her facilitator role perfectly blends her dedication to bettering her leadership skills and her life-long love of horses. Only after her experience with N.E.I.G.H did she realize the importance of mental health and the effect Equine Assisted Psychotherapy has in bettering the lives of the people who experience it.
Emily Knapic is a U.S. Army veteran, 2019 graduate of St. Bonaventure University with a Bachelor’s in Psychology, and a Ph.D. student of the Counseling Psychology program at the University at Buffalo. Born in Virginia, she lived up and down the East Coast before settling in Western New York in 2016. She took her first riding lesson at the age of 5 and has been bit by the horse bug ever since!
Her work as a journalist in the military is internationally published (under her maiden name, Knitter). After being honorably discharged from the service, Emily struggled with the transition. She found her footing at St. Bonaventure, where she served as chapter president of the Student Veterans of America (SVA) for the school.
Throughout her life, she swears that horses are the main reason she has been able to persevere. Through her program at UB, she is working to help improve the transition out of the military for other service members. It is her goal to ignite conversation around the “emotional” side of the veteran transition journey. She is also passionate about sharing the healing power of horses. She, and her mare Star, are honored to be sharing their journey with N.E.I.G.H.!
Certified Equine Behavior Specialist
Tyler is a certified high school mathematics teacher. Currently he is teaching high school level mathematics in an online setting. Teaching has been a life changing experience. Being exposed to at risk youth through his teaching experience has been every impactful and has led to a desire to improve the lives of students outside of the traditional classroom.
Tyler has been certified as a facilitator in the N.E.I.G.H. program. His facilitator role helps combine two of his passions: teaching and horses. After witnessing the positive impact fist-hand, he believes that equine therapy is a great resource for children of any age.
Certified Equine Behavior Specialist
Mike is a retired Police Lieutenant, range instructor and member of SWAT. Mike has been a great help as a N.E.I.G.H equine facilitator at our events.