As the Executive Director of SRD~Straightening Reins, Deborah handles the daily details of overseeing, promoting, and sustaining SRD, which is quite busy as a young non-profit, growing tremendously in just three years.
Her job as the ED affords her the opportunity to work directly with youth at the ranch through volunteer programs, scheduling, and academic tutoring. In addition, Deborah heads up the tasks of fundraising, acquisition of grants and additional resources, and overseeing the finances.
Her master’s degree in education and classroom teaching experience afforded her extra resources to raise her four children as a single mother. But after losing her youngest daughter to suicide, at the age of 15, it became apparent that her career had set the foundation for her new path, that of establishing a non-profit ranch facility, SRD~Straightening Reins.
Of course, between teaching full-time and running the foundation, Deborah has created a great team, each with their specialties, to serve the youth both on the ranch and in the community. The fact that horses and the ranch life provided an additional five years for her daughter, Samantha, to spend time with family and friends, before she took her life, solidified the power of horses. Deborah has used her unusual amount of energy and passion to provide hands-on experiences that develop the youth’s confidence through simple tasks of horse grooming and care, equine assisted learning workshops for communication skills, equine assisted psychotherapy for those dealing with more severe needs, as well as workshops that help create healthy self-care habits for parents and caregivers.
While Deborah’s own children are grown, she has many, many children that drive her to share the growing need for additional equine based programs that each our youth the tools necessary to pursue their dreams and become productive citizens in their own community.
Amanda Hills, LCSW
As a native of Santa Clarita, Amanda is familiar with the community and its’ resources. She received her undergraduate degree from California State University, Northridge, in Liberal Arts with an emphasis in Education. She went on to pursue a Masters Degree in Social Work at the University of Southern California. She has helped children, adolescents, and adults with varying symptoms and diagnoses in inpatient, outpatient, and school settings.
Amanda’s specialties include:
- Adjustment Disorder
- Asperger’s Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Bereavement and Loss
- Infertility Counseling
- Life Transitions
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder
- Self Esteem Issues
- Social Anxiety
- Parent/Child relationship difficulties
- Transition to Parenthood
- School Problems
Amanda’s experience in a clinical setting includes:
- Child and Family Center – Program Coordinator – Intensive Outpatient Services – Clinical Supervisor
- Hathaway Children and Family Services – Residential Therapist and School Counselor
- Children’s Hospital Los Angeles – Outpatient Therapist
- Crossroads Non-public School – DIS Counselor
- Clinical Member of the National Association of Social Workers
While assisting parents in resolving power struggles, arguments, and problem behaviors, Amanda is able to help them strengthen the relationships with their children. Through providing parents with tools for setting appropriate limits and creating clear expectations, families are able to achieve and restore meaningful communication patterns.
Child and adolescent therapy focuses on helping to improve a child’s quality of life. She has extensive experience in assisting children and adolescents who have problems in school, at home, or with developing and maintaining friendships.
Amanda’s newest therapeutic offering is equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) and equine-assisted learning (EAL) workshops. After observing several workshops and personally witnessing the healing power of metaphors using horses, Amanda immediately recognized the value and diversity for clients and has jointed the SRD ~ Straightening Reins staff. Amanda sees SRD clients, supervises weekly EAL workshops and provides supervision for many of our interns.
Vernon W. Windell, LMFT
Vernon Windell is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. He has been providing non-traditional mental health services to at-risk and undeserved children and adults in the Los Angeles area for the last 37 years. He has worked for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, Ventura County Child Protective Services and numerous hospitals and private, non-profit agencies. Vernon is also currently in private practice with his wife, Ellen Bradley-Windell, LCSW, in Valencia, California.
Stan Sorensen is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Clinical Supervisor and professor at Brandman University. As Director of the Bartz-Altadonna Healing Center, Stan and his staff of Marriage and Family Therapy interns provide services to adults recovering from childhood abuse and other trauma. Stan has extensive experience treating depression, anxiety, PTSD, grief and loss, and chemical dependency. Stan has a holistic approach to healing and uses a number of treatment modalities to aid his clients.
Stephanie was born and raised in the horse country of Arizona. At a young age she developed a love for horses, which led her to take lessons where she was trained in Western riding and gymkhana. Stephanie showed much promise and soon became the leader of her lesson groups and riding the most advanced horses. It wasn’t long after that Stephanie got her own horse. They competed in gymkhana competitions and won many ribbons. Stephanie and her horse also enjoyed trail riding, arena work, round pen lunging, bareback riding, and giving lessons.
After graduating from high school with honors, Stephanie was awarded a full scholarship to the University of Arizona where she studied Psychology. During her time as an undergraduate, Stephanie was accepted into Psi Chi, The International Honor Society in Psychology, where she served on the Executive Board. She was also a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a national service organization, where she volunteered on many service projects throughout the community. Additionally, Stephanie participated in Project SOAR, where she mentored a group of underprivileged students at a local middle school, encouraging positive choices and higher education attainment. Stephanie graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s in Psychology and minor in Business. She has since worked at a dude ranch resort, where she hosted clients for trail rides and team penning. Stephanie is excited to bring her background and passion for horses and psychology to the team at SRD Straightening Reins.