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.
Tom is a financial advisor with over eighteen years of industry experience. He oversees the financial strategies for a select group of families and small businesses primarily in the Phoenix, AZ and Buffalo, NY areas. He began his career in 2002 with Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, and joined Edward Jones Investments in 2015.
Prior to beginning his career in finance, Tom worked with both the Buffalo Bills Football Club (Media Relations Department) and the Town of Hamburg Police Department (as a Community Liaison in the Detective Bureau). Hailing from a family with strong law enforcement ties (father and paternal grandfather were both officers), it was an experience that meant a great deal to him.
He earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Hilbert College in 1997, where he was named ‘Man of the Year’ for his graduating class. He earned his Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix in 2002.
Tom works closely with many non-profit organizations and charitable causes, including Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Ride for Roswell. However, he is most proud of his work with the Pat Tillman Foundation, where he has served on the Tillman Military Scholar Selection Committee, Tillman Scholar at Arizona State University Mentoring Program, and on the Pat’s Run Race Committee Staff.
He lives in Scottsdale, AZ with his wife Tracy and daughters Ava and Violet.
Graduate from SUNY Buffalo with a Ph.D. in organization, administration, and policy. Served as a public school teacher, principal, asst. superintendent before going to St. Bonaventure University as a professor. Became acquainted with NEIGH through work with veterans and university students in 2006. Since then has served as elected National Commander for the Sons of The American Legion (a program of The American Legion) some 370,000 members throughout the country. Supporting veterans, their needs, and their issues. Working with legislators to move forward veteran friendly legislation. His interest in NEIGH comes from the good that equine therapy can do for veterans, their children, and families suffering from PTSD, loneliness, fears, etc. Has served on board since inception.
KIM WARNER, LCSW, CASAC-T, EMDR CERTIFIED
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.
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.
SARAH WAGNER, LCSW
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.