Aside from the volunteers, there are also staff members overseeing happenings at the Center.
Terese (Tess) Dana, M.S., BCBA, is a behavior analyst and social skills consultant who has been helping students find solutions to social, emotional and behavioral challenges since 1988. She authored the social skills DVD series, Fitting In and Having Fun, which includes: Fitting In and Having Fun, Moving On to Middle School, Confident and In Control and High School Life: Unspoken Expectations and the File Factor Emotional Empowerment System. She is the educational consultant for Didi Lightful, an animated children’s TV show currently in production. Tess has appeared on national television, in the New York Times and in The Autism Sourcebook, Everything You Need to Know about Diagnosis, Treatment, Coping and Healing. She has lectures internationally on the acquisition of social skills and self-regulation strategies. Tess serves as board President of The Laura Foundation for Autism and Epilepsy and helped to create and oversees the Laura Adaptive Recreation Center in Madison, NH.
Amy Mahoney’s work experience began in the media field… from marketing departments of several large resorts to launching a resort TV station to reporting and covering major sporting events. Following the birth of her son, her life changed. Her little boy started having seizures. Her television career took a back seat, and was replaced by a full-fledged effort to stop her son’s intractable epilepsy. After years of research, unsuccessful medicines, supplements, diets and a countless number of trials and tribulations, an operation finally stopped his daily seizures. However, the years of constant abnormal brain activity left him unable to speak. The end result… he has a diagnosis of autism, and he is non-verbal. Today, he continues to make gains using technology such as an iPad to communicate.
In recent years, Amy has utilized her communication and entrepreneurial skills, as well as her new found knowledge in the area of disabilities, to create and oversee many of the happenings of the Laura Foundation. Many of her efforts include fundraising and grant procurement for programming at the Center.
Hillary Hall Osgood received her BS from the University of Southern Maine’s Therapeutic Recreation & Leisure with a Minor in Coaching. She has multiple years of neuro rehabilitation experience, and is a Certified Brain Injury Specialist. Her experience with the Laura Foundation began when she was a volunteer. Through her work with the Foundation, she’s moved to become the Program Director managing the therapeutic activities for its students and coordinating the Center’s volunteers. She works to implement and develop social skill improvements, and has created the arts & crafts program at the Center.
Kelley (Jones) Elliott has a BS from the University of New Hampshire in Recreation Management & Policy with a specialty in Recreation Therapy (she holds certifications nationally and is licensed in the state of NH). In 2016, she received her MS in Counselor Education: Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Southern Maine. Aside from organizing and facilitating all programs for the Laura Foundation (from social skills to adaptive recreation), Kelley has previous experience working with farm animals, facilitating children and adults with a variety of disabilities in adaptive and diversional recreation pursuits including adaptive skiing, snowboard instructing, adaptive cycling, sled hockey, healthy living and leisure education.
Breeanna Brennman, a recent graduate of the University of New Hampshire, with a BS in psychology, has been an avid equestrian since her first pony ride at five years old. She began volunteering in the UNH Therapeutic Riding Program while completing her undergraduate degree and found therapeutic riding instruction to be the perfect avenue to combine her love of horses and giving back to the community. While at UNH, she interned at their therapeutic riding program giving her insight into what it takes to run a successful program. From there, she completed her Professional Association of Therapeutic Horseman International (PATH Intl.) certification. Breeanna continues to be passionate about becoming a better rider, as well as a better teacher.
Nicole Graham received her BS in Occupational Therapy (OT) in 2016 at UNH. She continues her studies at the University towards her MS in OT (December 2017). Nicole returns to the Laura Center in 2017 for her third summer. Her educational background allows her to fill in for all initiatives at the facility, but her key role is facilitating the summer’s therapeutic riding program. Nicole has always loved horses. In fact, while living in California during her high school years, she was a barrel racer, as well as a member of the high school rodeo association. While an undergrad at UNH, she rode on the Hunt Seat Equestrian Team. While there, she also completed her Professional Association of Therapeutic Horseman International (PATH Intl.) certification.
Sandy Thoms of Eaton, New Hampshire is the owner of the program’s three gentle (and adorable) horses. Sandy is also an integral part of the program’s therapeutic instruction team. She got her start with horses as a child. She had been in a serious auto accident where her sister was killed. Sandy sustained severe leg injuries. In fact, medical professionals believed that she would never walk again. To help with the healing process, both emotionally and physically, Sandy was introduced to horses. She believes that these beautiful animals were what helped her to rehabilitate her leg. The horses also helped to soothe her injured spirit. And as the saying goes, “The rest is history.”