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 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.



Denise Valvo is an LMSW currently employed by Connecting Communities in Action positioned as a therapist on the Chautauqua County Mobile Crisis Team. Employed by CCA since 2014, Denise has worked with individuals who were homeless or at risk of homeless, and taking a leadership role was responsible for two long term, permanent housing programs for individuals who were formerly struggling with homelessness.

Denise was included in the Leadership Cattaraugus Class of 2018 just as she was finishing up her degree. After completing her master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 2018, she then took a position within the agency as a therapist in a clinical setting. 

Denise has both personal and professional experience with individuals who are struggling with mental illness and substance abuse. Given her experience, Denise has always focused on the impact trauma has on one’s overall wellbeing and was honored to sit on the Cattaraugus County Trauma Informed Care Committee. Denise is naturally drawn to helping individuals to achieve whatever success they are looking for and believes all people should be treated with respect and dignity. 


Vice President & Certified Equine Behavior Specialist 

Taylor has been actively involved in the development and administration of the N.E.I.G.H program since its beginning and is a certified facilitator of the Emotional Coat Model. After her experiences with N.E.I.G.H, she recognized the significance of mental health and the astounding effect Equine Assisted Therapy has on the people who experience it.


Taylor attended the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and minored in Spanish. She found her passion for working in crisis services amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and is currently positioned as a peer on the Chautauqua County Mobile Crisis Team. She recently participated in the Citizen Police Academy with the Jamestown Police Department which ignited her interest in the intersections of law enforcement and social work. Taylor returned to the University of Pittsburgh to pursue her Master’s degree in Social Work and will join the clinical staff with N.E.I.G.H. after obtaining her licensure. 



Kimberly Warner is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker-Supervisory in New York & Virginia.  Kim also is as a Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor-Supervisory in New York and Virginia, and Certified Impaired Driving Instructor for the state of New York.  Kim has 13+ years of experience as a mental health, trauma, and substance use therapist as well as Supervisory and Director experience in the field of Social Work.  Other certifications Kim has are, certified therapist in Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) for 7+ years, CPT, DBT, Grief/Loss, substance use treatment, Somatic Exposure Therapy, and ADHD-CCSP.  To address the equine assisted mental health certification, Kim holds certifications through O.K. CORRAL in Equine Assisted Learning Psychotherapy as well as gaining a certification in PATHS International, ESMHL certification.  Kim provides supervision to individuals who completed their Master in Social Work and gaining licensee, as well as individual seeking supervision for SUD licensing, residency & internship supervision through her private practice. 


Kim has a passion to give back to the veterans, veterans families, first responders and police, as well as anyone dealing with adversity or trauma. Through partnership with T.A.P.S. in Arlington, VA, Kim volunteers as a Peer Mentor and Care Group Facilitator.   


Lastly, Kim is a Gold Star Wife, and has a passion to pay it forward by assisting others to gain resiliency from their adversities.  Kim’s personal life experiences of such as being a caregiver of a war veteran, allows her to address concerns related to one’s adversities and working through these adversities through above evidence-based treatment modules, Solution Focused Therapy, Self-Actualization, and Resiliency training with the client by meeting them where they are at and focusing on their needs to recovery.  Besides veterans & families, Kim has worked with populations dealing with the following disorders: anxiety, depression, Bi-polar, ADHD, geriatric, seasonal anxiety disorder, major depression, schizoid-effective, trauma/adversities, couples, and families.  Working in settings of individual and group sessions.  



Colleen Kumiega is the chairperson for the Behavioral Sciences Department at Hilbert College. She is a professor in Human Services and Internship Coordinator for the program. In addition, she is a certified counselor with over 20 years' experience in residential care, foster care, substance abuse, mental health, trauma informed  and developmental disabilities arena of care for families, individuals and community partners. 

Colleen's certifications include a parent advocate leadership role for children with developmental disabilities in the school and community realm, certified presenter for the Enough is Enough Abuse Campaign with Best Self and Trauma Informed Practices.  

Colleen also has membership with the Kids Escaping Drugs Face to Face program, Western New York Anti-Vaping Coalition, Family Promise of WNY, Hiring in Human Services committee and the Hamburg Drug Coalition, in addition to being a board member of the National Equine Institute of Growth Through Healing, Inc.

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Sarah Wagner is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in New York. Graduated from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor's degree in sociology and a master's in social work. Sarah has worked as a helping professional in various roles and capacities for the last 11 years. She believes strongly in the values that guide the social work profession and strives to make a positive social impact. Sarah is an active volunteer for Junior Achievement and has past community service experience with Salvation Army, Toys for Tots, AMVETS, and supporting Veteran Stand Downs. 

Before embracing a career in social work, Sarah served in the United States Air Force, active duty 2002-2006 and in the reserves 2006-2008. Her initial interest in becoming a part of the National Equine Institute of Growth through Healing, Inc (N.E.I.G.H) was highly motivated by the impact The Constance Project program can have on our nation's veterans. N.E.I.G.H provides a pathway to achieve growth and support in the healing process. Sarah believes strongly in the impact nature, and animal therapies can have in the process of recovery and wellness. 

Sarah lives in Chautauqua County with her husband, three children, and saint bernard.

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Alongside being a mom to two young children, Meghan is combining her love of horses, art and caregiving into the equine therapy program with The NEIGH. She spent most of her early years working and training in assisted nursing while attending college for art therapy. While life happens and priorities shift, what was put off was then ignited when she met Dawn at a Woman’s Empowerment group that she was hosting. Since then, Meghan has been eager to learn and absorb what she can about Equine Assisted Therapy world. She has been certified in Individual and Group Crisis and trauma care and working towards a Peer Service certificate. Meghan has recently been certified in Equine Expressive Arts and will be integrating this in our NEIGH program along with being certified with the Masterson method for Equine Specialist.

Meghan lives in Erie county with her husband and two children.



In 2011, Julie made the journey from Montana to New York, interning under the nationally recognized Horse Behavior Specialist and CEO of N.E.I.G.H., Dawn Samuelson. This experience paved the way for her to earn an Associates degree in Equine Studies from the University of Montana-Western. Following the internship, Julie became a Certified Equine Behavior Specialist through N.E.I.G.H. and assumed the role of Barn Manager at Grandview Farms in Bemus Point, where our NEIGH horses reside.


In 2016, Julie redirected her path back to the Central Coast of California. She now lives with her two dogs, Sig and Bear, along with her quarter horse, Klare. Julie proudly holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Natural Horsemanship with a Business Minor from UMW. Currently serving as the Office Manager for the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Association and as the Community Manager for Riverview Apartments and KMG Prestige, Inc., Julie's multifaceted role extends to traveling during the horse show season. She serves as a Scribe for Open Shows and AQHA shows in California, Nevada, and Arizona.


Maintaining a strong connection with NEIGH, Julie volunteers as the Secretary for the Board of Directors. She passionately believes in the transformative healing that horses offer to all who embrace them.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert T. Moore


Lieutenant Colonel Robert Moore is presently serving as the Inspector-Instructor for Marine Corps Advisor Company Alpha and Site Commander for Site Support, Washington D.C. He was initially commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army in December 2004 through Army Officer Candidate School, Fort Benning, GA. As an Army Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Moore has deployed two times to Operation IRAQI FREEDOM and served as a Platoon Commander, Company Executive Officer, and Company Commander.

Following his active duty time in the Army, Lieutenant Colonel Moore decided to conduct an inter-service transfer into the United States Marine Corps Reserves in August 2009. Lieutenant Colonel Moore attended The Basic School at Marine Corps Base Quantico and Logistics Officer Corps at Camp Johnson, NC.

As a Reserve Component Officer in the Selected Marine Corps Reserve, Lieutenant Colonel Moore was mobilized and deployed as a Company Commander for General Support Motor Transport Company, 2d MAGTF Support Battalion (2d Supply Battalion [Fwd]) In support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF) 11.2, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Immediately following the OEF deployment, Lieutenant Colonel Moore was assigned to U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa (MARFOREUR/AF) and served as a G-4 Plans officer, Deputy Program Manager for the Georgian Deployment Program – International Security Assistance Force, and the MARFOREUR/AF Belleau Wood Ceremony Planner.

Lieutenant Colonel Moore was accessed to the Active Reserve Program in 2014. Active Reserve assignments include Reserve Affairs Personnel Management -3 OIC, Operations Officer for 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Current Operations Officer for Logistics Plans/Installations and Logistics, 38th Commandant of the Marine Corps Transition Team researcher/writer, Diversity & Inclusion Officer for Lieutenant General Bellon, and Manpower Plans and Policies Section Head for Manpower & Reserve Affairs. Lieutenant Colonel Moore earned a Bachelor of Arts from Brigham Young University. Notable military education includes U.S. Army Ranger School, Airborne School, Jumpmaster School, Army Reconnaissance Course, Infantry Captains Career course, MAGTF Planners Course, Command & Staff College (CDET).. 

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