Phone: 317-838-7002

rider cleaning a horse in a stall

Strides to Success Staff

Strides to Success Staff

Close up picture of Director Debbie

Debbie Anderson ESMHL CTRI

Executive Director

Debbie has served in the animal assisted therapy industry for over 40 years. Debbie has held every position including lead stall cleaner, program director, board member, fundraiser, founder, executive director and has always been a great instructor. In addition to being involved on a program level, Debbie volunteered her time and energy to PATH International for the last twenty years serving on committees and on the PATH Board of Directors for ten years including four years on the Executive Board.

After years of traveling on the horse show circuit and training several world champion riders, Debbie settled in Indiana and co- founded Strides to Success with a vision of meeting community needs through EAL and Therapy programs.  Debbie also loves to serve as the welcome mentor for people that are new to EAL. She loves to listen to their vision and lend them any experience that may be helpful and guide them to resources that will help them make their dream a reality.

Debbie is a PATH certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor since 1996 and is also certified as an Equine Specialist is Mental Health & Learning. Additional certifications include Certified Equine
Interaction Professional in Education, E3A certified corporate trainer, and EAGALA trained and a HorseWork Master trainer.



Blair McKissock PhD ESMHL, CTRI, CTRS

Director of HorseWork Education

Blair McKissock has been in the field of human-animal interaction and experiential education for over 20 years. She earned her BS in Recreation Therapy and her MS in Education and has a PhD in EcoPsychology. She is a PATH registered instructor, certified equine specialist, EAGALA Level 1 and certified WellCoach.  She is the chair of the equine facilitated learning (EAL) community for PATH and works nationally to establish standards in EAL.  Blair is honored to be a part of the Strides staff as an instructor and workshop facilitator.


Savannah Smith ESMHL


Savannah Smith started at Strides to Success as a volunteer after hearing about the program in high school. After graduating, Savannah took the position as barn manager at Strides.  The more she learned from her wonderful mentors, Debbie and Blair, the more she fell in love with the work.  After a few years of living in North Carolina, Savannah is excited to be back at Strides in training as PATH certified equine specialist and Therapeutic Riding instructor.


Woman in scarf and glasses smiling for camera

Dana Amburgey ESMHL

Board President/ Instructor

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” -Winston Churchill.

Dana was the kid who leaned on the fence and watched horses in the pastures that surrounded her family home. Over the years her fascination and interest for horses grew into what has afforded and offered her opportunities to support, educate and provide service to others in need through Equine Assisted Learning (EAL).  Outside of her “big girl job” in the pharmaceutical industry, Dana is a HorseWork Facilitator helping with educating others who are interested in learning more about Equine Facilitated Learning.  A PATH International Certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning (ESHML) instructor, Dana works with survivors of trauma, human trafficking, veterans and those who just need a little help along their journey.  Earning her associate degree in Business Law and Executive Administration Dana is also a graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy. She serves as chairman of the board at Strides to Success and is humbled by the honor of receiving the Presidential Service Award for volunteerism

Kristy Smith-Parnell, LMHC, ESMHL


Kristy is a master’s level Mental Health Therapist licensed by the State of Indiana since 2013 and has worked in the industry since 2010.  She was inducted into the Chi Sigma Iota Counseling Honor Society and is EAGALA Level 1 and PATH ES  certified.
Krtisty has worked with children of abuse/trauma, sexual abuse, children in foster care and domestic violence. She has also done extensive work with play therapy, art therapy, addictions (also assisting in the Re-Entry program in Lafayette, Indiana), and trauma. Her specializations include training in substance abuse, addictions, child abuse/neglect, play therapy interventions, sexual abuse, trauma focused cognitive behavioral interventions.  She  served in the Army for 18 ½ years and held a position as a Behavioral Health Specialist (therapist) for military soldiers focusing on; trauma, PTSD, crisis intervention, suicide, suicide prevention, depression, anxiety and other behavioral health issues. 

Mary Gilyeat

Office Manager

Mary’s childhood was highlighted by her longing for a horse under the Christmas Tree each and every year. She was thrilled when given the chance to have a horse of her own during her late teenage years. In her travels as a young adult and college student, she continuously sought out opportunities to maintain equine friendships. After 15 years in the field of Social Work, she moved to a new community, obtained her LSW, married and became a new mother. Feeling the equine tug at her heart once again, Mary was drawn to Strides in 2000 as a volunteer. In addition to helping with client sessions, she also began to help with a variety of office projects. Since that time, Mary became a Certified Quick Books User. She now feels blessed with a happy mix of serving Strides as an Office Manager, while continuing in her volunteer role with the horses.


Heather Teike

Mental Health Professional and Equine Specialist

LMSW & PATH certified ES,  EAGALA Certified