Meet Our Facilitating Team
Heather Kirby, LCSW, CSAC
Heather Kirby is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor (CSAC) and holds a Master's degree in Special Education. Heather has worked with teens, tweens, young adults and their families for over 20 years in a variety of treatment and education settings.
Heather uses a direct, compassionate and creative approach to connect with clients that others have found difficult to reach. She draws upon alternative interventions (equine therapy, recreation, sand tray, music, writing, art, and movies) to effect life changes in those resistant to more traditional forms of therapy.
Heather brings to Project Horse a lifetime of passion for horses and experiential learning. In college she rode with the William and Mary riding team. After college, she spent three years as a dedicated volunteer with the National Center for Therapeutic Riding. In 2010, she was among the first class to graduate from Melisa Pearce's certification program in the Equine Gestalt Coaching Method™. In 2012, Heather was recruited to develop the equine therapy program at Child Help East, a residential treatment program for abused and neglected children. While there, she was quoted on CNN as saying that 4-legged therapists are better than those with two legs.
In 2013, Heather published "Wild at Heart: Adolescents, Horses and Other Kindred Spirits" in which she shares her unique perspective that adolescents and horses are very much alike and outlines her innovative approach to connecting with adolescents by using strategies known to be effective with horses. In 2014, she completed advanced training in Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy™ under the guidance of Tim and Bettina Jobes. Heather is a life-long learner and continues to add to her arsenal of clinical tools, currently working toward certification in EMDR. She swears, however, that animals and her courageous clients have been her greatest teachers.
Leslie Roberts, LPC, CSAC
Leslie Roberts, LPC, CSAC is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) with over 25 years of experience as a clinical supervisor, program administrator and direct service provider. Leslie specializes in substance abuse and mental health treatment, family therapy, relapse prevention, continuing care services, and trauma.
Leslie has been a certified equine assisted therapist for 10 years with EAGALA and PATH International, serving a variety of populations including adolescents, veterans, families and adults in recovery. Leslie has worked as an equine assisted therapist at Spirit Serving Veterans and the Project Horse Empowerment Center, both in Northern Virginia, and continues to provide direct services to a variety of clients at Project Horse.
Additionally, Leslie has been a trainer for Mental Health First Aid - Adult and Youth Versions for the past five years. She also is a trainer for Person Centered Treatment Planning for the Fairfax - Falls Church CSB Youth and Residential Divisions for Commission for Accreditation for Residential Facilities (CARF). Leslie has provided Person Centered Treatment Planning trainings at Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute, which is the state psychiatric hospital serving civil and forensic patients in the Northern Virginia region. Leslie has won an Outstanding Performance Award from Fairfax County for program redesign, implementing Stages of Change and Motivational Interviewing. She has also been awarded A Team Excellence Award for teaching Mental Health First Aid in her community.
For five years Leslie produced a benefit concert, The Recovery Road Show, for clients in the Fairfax County CSB residential divisions. Leslie has received awards for Team Excellence for CARF accreditation and Most Creative Counselor.
Kelly Cregan, LCSW, SEP, RCST®
Kelly Cregan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, and a Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist. Kelly has an office-based therapy practice in Silver Spring, Maryland. For 15 years, Kelly has developed a specialty in partnering with adult clients healing from a variety of traumatic experiences (including physical & sexual abuse, accidents, medical trauma, PTSD, and Complex PTSD).
Kelly supplements traditional talk therapy with body and sensation-based (including Somatic Experiencing and Craniosacral Therapy) approaches to healing trauma. In 2015 Kelly attended two Women's Wellness workshops –-one in Colorado and one at Project Horse. New to the horse world (though a life long animal lover), Kelly was deeply drawn to the grounded, intuitive power of these sensitive prey animals.
In 2016 Kelly began volunteering with Project Horse to get hands on experience in the care and welfare of horses. Shortly thereafter (and to her great surprise), she was introduced to Gracie, a 14 year old thoroughbred mare who was in need of a new owner and home. It was love at first sight for Kelly and Gracie. Gracie is now a member of the Project Horse healing herd and was adopted by Kelly in March 2017.
Kelly is trained in Natural Lifemanship's Trauma-Focused Equine Psychotherapy. Kelly is also trained as a facilitator in Systemic Family and Nature Constellations. She enjoys working with individual adult clients as well as groups.
ALLISON SWISHER, LPC, RPT, NCC, NCSC
Allison Swisher is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Registered Play Therapist, National Certified Counselor, and National Certified School Counselor. She has enjoyed many years working with children in private practice and public schools. She became interested in play therapy while working with children who had been impacted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Allison's interests in therapeutic approaches/interventions for children has grown and led to experiencing the usefulness of Equine Assisted Psychology (EAP). She believes EAP can be beneficial as the primary therapeutic approach or as adjunct therapy for clients. Allison continues to learn more about EAP through experience at Project Horse, self study, and consulting with her professional colleagues.
Darcy Woessner, CES
Project Horse Empowerment Center
Founder & Executive Director
Darcy grew up riding and competing horses, then left for other pursuits as a young adult. Darcy holds an MBA in International Business and has worked for large multinationals like Michelin Tire Corporation and Colgate-Palmolive. She has also worked as a marketing and development consultant in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors.
During a period of professional soul-searching, Darcy returned to her passion for horses. It was at this time that Darcy came across the horse, now known as Reeses, who could no longer be ridden due to an untreated injury and found her in desperate need of care. Rescuing and rehabilitating Reeses strengthened Darcy's long-time belief that horses are powerful healers, and together Reeses and Darcy founded Project Horse in 2008.
In addition to running the organization, Darcy is very involved with client services. She is an EAGALA-certified Equine Specialist and co-facilitates many individual and group programs. Darcy is currently in the certification process as an Equine Specialist in Trauma Focused-Equine Assisted Psychotherapy™. Darcy also leads the Mobile Minis™ community outreach programs off-site. Darcy and Fiona Fudge, one of the Mobile Minis™ team, have appeared on NBC News Channel 4 and ABC/News Channel 8's The Pet Show with Dr. Katy.
Maria Kimble, CES
PROJECT HORSE EMPOWERMENT CENTER
DIRECTOR, Equine Wellness
Maria left a successful management career in telecommunications to immerse herself in her lifelong passion of helping animals, with a specific focus on horses. She has volunteered with horse rescues, dog rescues, avian rescues, and more.
Maria served on the Board of Directors of an organization that rescued wild horses and burros from horrible circumstances, rehabilitated them and then secured lifetime sanctuary for each. She is a citizen lobbyist, making many trips to Richmond and Capitol Hill to advocate for equine welfare. Maria’s dedication to equine welfare led to her starting her own non-profit, an organization that advocates for and provides a safety net for at-risk equine in Virginia.
Since 2010, Maria has been a full time volunteer with Project Horse Empowerment Center. While her intent was to serve the horses in her care, Maria soon found herself drawn to the therapeutic work and wanted to help humans through the power of the equine spirit. Maria is a Certified Equine Specialist under the EAGALA model, co-facilitating individual and group sessions at Project Horse. She also co-facilitates Mobile Minis visits in the community and is certified in Mental Health First Aid. Maria is pursuing an Equine Specialist certification in Trauma Focused-Equine Assisted Psychotherapy™.
Maria is a Certified Equine Sports Massage Therapist and is trained in the application of kinesiology tape for equine. She regularly donates her services to equine rescues and sanctuaries, and also has several equine athletes as clients. The horses at Project Horse also enjoy massages on a regular basis.
Martha Briggs, CES
Martha has been with Project Horse since 2014, taking care of the horses as well as participating in sessions as a Certified Equine Specialist. She grew up in Vienna, Virginia and has been involved with horses since the age of 8. The youngest of nine children, she learned at an early age how to be part of a herd.
When Martha wasn't with her family, her favorite place to be was at the barn with the horses, where she found solace and peace. As she became an adult, her life steered her away from the barn, and into becoming a mother and raising her children in a loving, supportive household.
After working in the legal field for 18 years, she decided to return to her true passion of working with horses and exploring their relationship with people. This experience has resulted in her EAGALA certification as a Certified Equine Specialist. She and her family currently reside in Purcellville, Virginia.
Cris Lindsay, ES, Professional Life Coach
Cris Lindsay, an entrepreneur and business owner in the hair salon industry since 1988, has trained with industry leaders and been a teacher, mentor and facilitator to many young professionals over the years. In 2005, Cris became a Professional Life Coach through the internationally known Coaches Training Institute.
Several years ago, combining her passion for helping others with her love for horses, Cris was drawn to a new field called “Equine Guided Education”. Cris completed training and certification with Ariana Strozzi, a global pioneer in the emerging field. Cris also became certified as an Equine Specialist through EAGALA.
Cris’ career at Project Horse is the culmination of her life experiences and ideas, and her life’s work of supporting and helping others to “dis-cover“ and define the life they truly want to live. With her love for horses and humankind, Cris envisions a path in which human imagination is reintegrated with the natural world through the healing spirit of the horse, forging a bond and quest for limitless potential.
At Project Horse, Cris is leading the effort to expand Wellness Programming, including enhancing offerings for veterans, corporations, survivors, and recovery clients. Cris also supports many aspects of the nonprofit’s backend operations.
Cris volunteered for the Red Feather Development Group based in Bozeman, Montana. Her efforts with Red Feather earned her local and national recognition, including being an honored guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2003. Cris also volunteered and served on the board of Full Circle Farm Growth and Healing Center. She is also a Breast Cancer survivor.
Cris lives with her family, both the “two-leggeds” and the “four-leggeds”, in Loudoun County, Virginia.