Erin Malia – Co-founder, President
Born and raised in western New York, Erin was drawn to animals at a young age and became a horse owner as a teenager. She had the fortunate opportunity to volunteer for a therapeutic riding center while in high school and knew then that she wanted to make a career out of sharing her passion for horses with others. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in social work and spent several years teaching riding lessons, managing a stable, and working for an equine veterinary practice. Erin became a PATH certified therapeutic riding instructor in 2006 and since then has served in various roles for therapeutic riding centers, including instructor, volunteer coordinator, equine manager, program director, board member and board president. With her partner Adam, a herd of horses, dogs, and cats, she moved to Texas in 2012. Erin has become increasingly passionate about equine welfare issues and taking a natural approach to equine care, handling and training. She is now certified as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning, which focuses on unmounted horsemanship education for personal growth. Erin enjoys spending time with family, riding and interacting with her horses, and helping horse owners build meaningful relationships with their horses based on trust and understanding.
Patrick W. Lyons – Vice President
Pat has lived in The Woodlands for over 20 years, now empty-nesting with his wife, Wendy. They are the proud parents of two grown children, Michael and Katie, who reside in Houston and Cleveland, OH respectively, and grandparents of one handsome little boy, Lincoln. Pat graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a BS in Aerospace/Mechanical Engineering and subsequently received an MBA from Lehigh University. He served 5 years in the Navy nuclear submarine program, and then spent the next 35 years of his career in increasingly responsible commercial/executive roles with Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. After retiring in 2013, he became active with a few equine programs that provide therapeutic riding lessons to disabled children/young adults in the community. He currently serves on the board of two equine therapy organizations and volunteers as a side-walker during lessons. Pat and his family have lived in various US cities and in Mexico City, Mexico, and they continue to enjoy travelling and experiencing the history and culture of other parts of the world. Wendy is an active volunteer and active in book/garden clubs in the area. Pat is mechanically handy and an avid cook/golfer. He finds personal fulfillment in the support of worthwhile non-profit organizations, where his prior practical and business experience would add value.
Wendy Lyons – Treasurer
Wendy attained her Bachelor’s degree from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA in Urban Management. Later while working in consumer finance, she completed a post degree certificate in Business Administration from Muhlenberg College. Wendy has spent a lifetime serving in volunteer positions of leadership and responsibility—approximately 50 positions at last count! Most notably, she was President and Vice-President of the 900 member Newcomer’s Club of Mexico City, Mexico, and served in 5 Board positions for National Charity League-Bluebonnet Chapter including President, President-Elect, Regional Finance Director & Treasurer. In addition, she has served as treasurer in 2 additional non-profits. For the last 8 years, Wendy has volunteered as a horse handler and sidewalker at two local therapeutic riding facilities for special needs children & adults, in addition to working 2 years as administrative staff.
Russ Gunther – Co-founder, Secretary
Since moving from Connecticut in 2001, Russ has lived in Conroe and The Woodlands with his wife Danielle and greyhound Duke. A 1985 graduate of Western Connecticut State University, Russ received a business degree in business administration concentrating in Management Information Systems, a degree he has put to good use since. His business and IT experience have help transform problem IT groups into quality, efficiently functioning operations for several multi-million dollar corporations throughout the Houston area. Russ leverages his computer and business skills in his volunteer endeavors; frequently handling all computer operations for the organization he volunteers with. In 2012 he became active in several volunteer organizations working with foster children and also equine oriented programs helping behind the scenes as well as on the front lines as a side-walker and horse leader as well as serving on several committees. In 2017 he helped co-found Ruby’s Home for Good and plays an active role in the daily operations, handling the bulk of the technology and administrative chores. Among his many hobbies are playing drums in a highly respected jazz group in The Woodlands, cycling, running and puttering around in the yard. He is also a private pilot and enjoys taking to the skies when he can get away.