Our Team

Colleen Bragalone

Executive Director, Friends of Leaps and Bounds Pediatric Therapy

Colleen joined Friends of Leaps & Bounds Pediatric Therapy in February 2021 bringing more than 25 years of nonprofit management, communications, and public relations experience with her. She is a graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, having earned her Bachelors of Science in Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations.

Colleen has facilitated more than $10 million in charitable gifts during her career. In her previous roles as Vice President and Executive Director, she specialized in donor relations and organizational administration. As Friends of Leaps & Bounds’ inaugural Executive Director, Colleen’s experience and background are invaluable to helping the organization reach the next level. Colleen’s passion is helping connect donors with the causes they love.

Outside of work, Colleen enjoys spending time with her family and friends, boating, and generally exercising her creativity.

Wendy Wilcox

Ranch Support Aid and Sibling Support Coordinator

Wendy Wilcox wears several hats for Friends of Leaps & Bounds.  Wendy can be found on the ranch leading horses as a Ranch Support Aid as well as working closely with our families in her Sibling Support Coordinator role.

Wendy has a BA in Child Development and an MA in Developmental Psychology, both from Cal State San Bernardino.  She became Certified as a Child Life Specialist in 2001.

She worked for more than 20 years as a Certified Child Life Specialist, at many of the leading Children’s Hospitals such as CHOC, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ, and University of Loma Linda Children’s Hospital. We are lucky to have  her now share her impressive credentials both in the clinic and on the ranch.

Wendy is a Norco native steeped in the community.  She is a busy wife and mother and can be found at Jazzercise, kayaking, out in the yard with her chickens and two Babydoll Sheep (Levi and Cotton), and of course with her family.

Megan Baker

Manager of Program Administration & Sr AR Instructor

Megan is a certified Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International riding instructor. She started volunteering with Leaps & Bounds in 2010 and fell in love with the Leaps mission, which lead her to become a horse handler and now instructor. She has an enthusiasm for teaching and sharing her knowledge of horsemanship to all abilities. Growing up in Norco, she has a background in the discipline of western riding. She is a graduate of Oregon State University with a BS in Agricultural Sciences, and holds certifications in Animal Science and Horse Ranch Management from Mt. San Antonio College.

In her free time you may catch her around the ranch with her horse Patronus Charm, getting ready for their next show in Western Dressage. She is also an active member of the Norco Horseman’s Association and volunteers regularly at community events to support the equestrian lifestyle in our community.

Jenifer Rains

Manager of Horse Handling

Jenifer graduated from California Baptist University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology, May 2018. Jenifer began as a volunteer at Leaps & Bounds in October of 2018 in order to complete observation hours to apply for a Doctor of Physical Therapy program, and she is now a part of the Leaps team. It is Jenifer’s ultimate goal to become a Pediatric Physical Therapist.

Jenifer enjoys taking care of horses and has dreamed of working with horses and children during therapy, which has now become a reality. Some of Jenifer’s favorite pastime activities are horseback riding, spending time with friends and family, hiking, and traveling to new places.

Shawn Baker

Facilities Coordinator

Shawn started volunteering with Leaps & Bounds after his daughter, Megan, introduced him to the program. After volunteering for several years, he recently retired and has come to work with us full time!

Shawn married his wife, Terri, in 1983 and they had their only daughter 7 years later. Terri introduced Shawn to horses and the Norco way of life after they met, and he was bitten by the horse “bug” shortly after that. He loves the outdoors, camping, drawing, and painting. Shawn is active in the Norco Horsemen’s Association, the Horsetown USA Hall of Fame, and the Norco Fair, and he also volunteers regularly at community events to support the equestrian lifestyle we enjoy in our town.

He enjoys riding his horses, Copper, and Cheyenne, whenever he can. Cheyenne is his project horse that he works with on an ongoing basis because she suffers from PTSD and short-term memory loss, resulting from a car accident she was in many years ago. Shawn looks forward to spending many of his golden years with the horses and kiddos at Leaps & Bounds. If you see him out at the ranch, come on over and say “Howdy!” to Cowboy Shawn.

adaptive riding

Amber Valenzuela

Adaptive Riding Administrator

Amber started volunteering with Leaps in 2018 and quickly fell in love with being around the horses, the ability to give back, and the overall program. She was eager to train as a volunteer horse handler and began working in that capacity shortly thereafter.

Her love for animals has taken her on an unexpected path to be a student again. She is currently attending the Veterinary Assisting program at ACHT (American Career Healthcare and Technology) locally in Riverside, CA and hopes to apply her new-found knowledge and education at Leaps.

Amber is a kid at heart! She loves most things Disney and shopping is her favorite past time, outside of spending time with her family.

We are so excited to have Amber part of the Leaps team and love her dedication to our riders.

Kimberly McFarland

Adaptive Riding Instructor (in-training) & Ranch Support Aid

Kimberly is currently perusing her PATH TRI certification to best serve the program.  Kimberly aims to support the bonding partnership between children and horses.  As she becomes an instructor, her focus is on elevating the joy, self-confidence and ability of students with special needs.

Kimberly’s previous experience includes mentoring foster-youth during equine activities, teaching horsemanship to persons of special needs, volunteer coordination, and horse schooling.  She has also spent hundreds of hours volunteering for the industry.  Other experience include high school special education assistance as well as a youth support at a homeless shelter for teens in Hollywood.

In Kimberly’s free time she enjoys spending time with her fiance and writing music.

Amanda Dotson

Adaptive Riding Instructor

Amanda graduated from Cal State San Bernardino with two bachelor’s degrees, eager to help children with special needs. After exploring different options for a career path, she came across Occupational Therapy and starting volunteering at Leaps & Bounds in 2017. She has now joined our ranch team and is pursuing a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy.

In her spare time she enjoys spending quality time with my friends, playing games, watching movies and going on different excursions. I also enjoy my time with family, crocheting and reading books!

ranch support

Jessica Gutierrez

Ranch Support Aid

Jessica currently is a student at Azusa Pacific University who is pursuing a degree in Kinesiology with the goal to be a physical therapist. She originally joined the team as a volunteer horse handler to learn more about pediatric therapy and became a Ranch Therapy Aid in August of 2021. Jessica loves working with children and animals. Her favorite thing about Leaps is seeing patients grow in their confidence when riding. Jessica is excited to be a part of the Leaps & Bounds team!

In her spare time, Jessica enjoys going hiking, spending time with family and friends, heading to the beach, and going on adventures.

Lyssa Holmes

Ranch Support Aid

ranch support

Cristina Yates

Ranch Support Aid

Cristina joined the ranch team in January 2022. She began working with animals and discovered they were her passion at young age. As a young adult she began working at a wildlife sanctuary helping care for two blind mustangs and her love for horses grew from there. She has previously worked at Knott’s Berry Farm, training their horses and driving the Stagecoach which ultimately led to her purchasing her own horse, Pirate, from Knotts. Pirate now resides in Norco and Cristina enjoys riding him regularly and is focusing on training him to become a trusty trail horse.

Cristina enjoys working at Leaps because it is a way to continuously expanding her skills and knowledge in horsemanship as well as pediatric therapy. She also watching our riders grow and develop through the benefits of hippotherapy and adaptive riding. She sees daily how it can change the lives of so many kiddos in need.

In her free time, Cristina enjoys riding her horse, hiking with her dogs, game nights with friends and going dancing.

Samantha Grisso

Ranch Support Aid

Samantha became a Ranch Support Aid at Friends of Leaps & Bounds in March 2022. She began working with horses in high school and continued to do so throughout college. She is a graduate of Cal Poly Pomona and worked at the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Center while attending there.

She has loved horses all her life and is thrilled to have a job where she can work with them again, while experiencing their impact on all the kids at our facilities. She feels it is extra rewarding to see the kids get excited about working with the horses as well.

In her free time, Samantha enjoys spending time with her friends and family, reading, and reading and learning about horses whenever she can.