Our Team

An inspired group of independent contractors have come together at the Ranch, offering their unique services individually, and in collaboration with each other.

Jackie Sloan- Director of The Children’s Ranch Foundation

Jackie began riding as an adult, alongside her daughter.  Inspired by the remarkable effect that horseback riding (and caring for animals) had on her own family, she left her job as an attorney to create and run The Children’s Ranch Foundation. Jackie earned her B.A. from Harvard College, and her J.D. from Southwestern Law School.  She has also completed Level I Equine Skills and Level II Treatment Principles for Hippotherapy from the American Hippotherapy Association. Jackie also serves as the President of the Board of Directors of Cheerful Helpers Child & Family Study Center, which offers early intervention services to children with special needs and their families.

Karen Slayton – Path Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor

Karen is a Path, Intl. (formerly NARHA) Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor.  She developed her love for horses at an early age, joining the California Rangers at the age of 8 and riding with them into her teens.  As an adult, Karen studied Dressage for 15 years with her Morgan horse. After many years as a senior art director in the ad world (her “day job”), Karen was introduced to therapeutic riding and is now a certified therapeutic riding instructor.  Karen cherishes the opportunity to unite her life-long passion for riding horses and her new-found knowledge of this amazing animal’s power to heal.  Karen has the philosophy that safety for the rider always comes first.  She teaches a balanced seat, giving riders a solid foundation from which to move into whatever equestrian discipline they choose.

Christina Nicolosi, Ed.M – Special Education Teacher and Educational Consultant

Christina began her career in education teaching English as a second language at Nankai University in Tianjin, China, after graduating from Lewis and Clark College.  She then earned her M.A. from NYU in Elementary Education with a focus in Montessori education.  As a teacher of pre-K and kindergarten for eight years, she was struck by the vast differences in children’s learning styles and needs.  She enrolled in Bank Street College and earned an Ed.M. in Early Childhood Special Education and began to work with children with language-based learning disabilities at The Churchill School in Manhattan.  Christina now works at the Ranch as an educational consultant, as a group facilitator, and as a part of therapeutic riding teams.

Robin Shipley, M.S. – Behavioral Therapist and Consultant

Robin has worked in the field of special education for over 15 years supporting kids, teens, and young adults with a variety of neurodiversities and diagnoses and their families.  She has worked extensively in developing and designing best practice programs and interventions, training, and conferences to ensure that all learners reach their full potential.  Robin is the co-founder of TranZitions Consulting, providing innovative programs for neurodiverse teens and young adults as they transition through and post high school, whether going to college, a job, exploring and pursuing a career path, and/or a more independent living situation.

Tara Collins – Therapeutic Assistant

Tara joined the Ranch as a volunteer in 2009, inspiring kids with her enthusiasm and empathy for animals.  Tara’s unique ability to relate to kids and animals was obvious from the start and she joined the Ranch Team as a therapeutic assistant later that year.  Tara is the heart of the Ranch — greeting families with her warmth, mentoring Ranch kids towards independence and leading horses with her careful grace.  Tara’s background as a restaurateur in both Australia and the United States makes her uniquely qualified to juggle the myriad demands of the Ranch environment. When she is not working with Ranch families, Tara is devoted to the care and well-being of other people’s canines, large and small.

Etta Iannaccone – Riding Instructor

Etta started volunteering at the Ranch in high school and has stayed part of the community following her recent graduation from Scripps College. She loves the sense of calm the Ranch brings to everyone and finds great pleasure in seeing the students grow and reach their goals. Although she got her degree in Science, Technology and Society (concentrating on the history of psychosurgery in America) she has always been interested in the horses and their therapeutic effect. Her engagement has evolved from a more medical interest to a holistic view as she has become more involved in the every day lessons.