Meet the Staff – Learn More

Executive Directors

Laurie Landy has pursued dreams of love, family, community and enhancing lives at the home of Special Strides. In 1998, she founded Special Strides with the support of her family. Laurie holds a degree in Occupational Therapy from SUNY Downstate and has focused much of her professional life in pediatrics. Laurie has worked for JFK Rehabilitation, a variety of school systems, Early Intervention and private practice. In addition she is NDT certified (neuro-developmental  treatment), and has years of practice and study in the area of sensory integration and hippotherapy  treatment strategies. Laurie enjoys teaching and mentoring teenagers, college students, interns and professionals in their quest to seek knowledge and understand how to help individuals reach their potential with the partnership of treatment, and horses. She takes great pride in her family farm as a haven for discovery, happiness and attainment of mastery.

 

Susie received her bachelor degree in Physical Therapy from Thomas Jefferson University, in Philadelphia, in 1986. Initially specializing in adult rehabilitation with a focus on spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury, she quickly fell in love with pediatrics and specialized in incorporating hippotherapy treatment strategies into her practice. She has been the co-director of Special Strides since 1999. Susie is also the Past President of HRH of New Jersey and the Vice President and Treasurer for the American Hippotherapy Association, Inc. She is the editor of Hippotherapy Magazine and presented three times at their International Conference. Susie loves sharing the excitement of physical therapy, pediatrics and equine assisted therapy with the many physical therapy students that have completed their clinical experiences at Special Strides. Susie has achieved her Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist (HPCS) certification showing excellence and knowledge in the field.

 

Therapy Staff

  • Maureen compressedMaureen Rubin, PT

Maureen Rubin graduated from Quinnipiac University in 1986 with a BS in PT. After graduation she continued to work in Connecticut until 1989. She moved to NJ to accept a position with the newly opened Sports and Orthopedic Rehabilitation Institute in East Brunswick where she was a staff PT and the coordinator of clinical education. Always an avid supporter of Special Strides, in 2005 she began volunteering as a side walker and never left. A year later she took an AHA level 1 course and joined the staff at Special Strides as a part-time PT. Maureen loves every minute of seeing the powerful impact the horses provide for the wonderful kids who come to the farm.

 

 

  • Meredith Gebel, DPT

 

Instructors & Equine Staff

  • charlene compressed 2Charlene Skwara-Barn Manager/Program Director Adaptive Riding

Charlene is Barn Manager/ Director of Adaptive Riding. Charlene is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University with a degree in Equine Science. She has been involved with horses since she was 4. She has been a PATH Intl. Registered Instructor for the 20 years. Charlene also serves as a mentor to up and coming instructors. Charlene has both trained and competed at top levels throughout her career.

 

  • amanda compressedAmanda Sowa – Equine Trainer, Adaptive Riding/Driving Instructor Therapeutic Riding Instructor

Amanda has always had a passion for horses her entire life. At the age of 11 she started volunteering at a therapeutic riding center, she started volunteering at Special Strides in 2007. She graduated in 2010 with a BS in Equine Studies in Equine Training from Delaware Valley College. After graduating college she received her PATH intl. certification as a registered therapeutic riding and driving instructor.

 

 

Dina Parrello holds a Masters in Industrial Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a BA in Psychology from Purdue University. She received her PATH Intl. Registered Instructor Certification from TRAC at Centenary College and also holds the PATH Intl. Equine Specialist Certification in Mental Health and Learning. She had been involved with Therapeutic Riding, as a volunteer and then as a teacher since 2003. She is also the President of HRH of NJ, the state organization for NJ centers and programs that provide Hippotherapy, Therapeutic Riding and Equine Facilitated Learning and Equine Facilitated Mental Health Services.