What to Expect

 

 While being supported by the horses and our professional facilitators, participants are offered the time they need to heal and overcome challenges.

This work is client driven, meaning clients take the lead! There is always a licensed mental health professional, a certified equine specialist, and the horses (sometimes llamas too) in each session. The role of the professional facilitators is to ensure physical and emotional safety. Our team will set up experiences, support clients, and facilitate the learning process. 

During the sessions, the professional facilitators may step away from the clients and move around to observe the horses’ interactions, behaviors, shifts, and patterns. The observations may be discussed with the client during debrief resulting in personal reflection and insight. 

 The beauty of this interaction is the horses take what is held inside of us and translates it into tangible experiences. Horses are the agent of change; when our stories change, we change! 

 We are in pastures with freely moving animals so closed toe shoes are required. Dress according to the season and weather forecast.

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CORE VALUES + VISION

Soul to Soles Connection is committed to respecting the integrity of those who fought for our freedom and offering them their time to heal. We strive to never turn away anyone who has the courage to ask for help.

Commitment | Courage | Faith | Integrity | Trust

HONESTY

OPENNESS

NATURE

OWNERSHIP

RESPECT

Aligning Military Strength with Horses’ Freedom for Healing

The Professional Facilitators

Katie Stankiewicz

KATIE STANKIEWICZ, CPC

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR EQUINE SPECIALIST

Katie has always had a passion for horses and a deep desire to see people succeed. She understands the desire for authentic relationships in life, which horses naturally offer. Katie founded Willow Equine, in 2012, to serve those seeking counseling, personal growth, and optimized leadership capabilities. In 2017, she founded Soul to Soles Connection, and serves as the executive director and equine specialist. Katie is an Advanced Eagala certified equine specialist with her Eagala Military Designation as well as her ARCH Designation in mental health, military, and coaching. She is also a certified leadership coach and trainer. Her work allows clients to look beyond “their box” and onto their higher self. Her intuitive ardor lies with embracing Horse Medicine for Higher Purpose and Balance. Katie’s unique skill sets, combined with the power of the horses, drive clients across the finish line in life!

MARIA RUSSELL, LCMHCS

CLINICAL DIRECTOR THERAPIST

Maria has always had a passion for helping individuals, couples, and families cope with difficulties in their lives. Her desire is to help clients experience healing and life change.  Maria is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Supervisor, the Clinical Director for Willow Equine and Soul to Soles Connection. She has worked with children, adults, and families in a variety of settings utilizing a trauma focused, root causes, cognitive-behavioral, systemic model, and assists clients with a variety of emotional, behavioral, personal, and relational problems. Maria is trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Restoration Therapy, and utilizes the Enneagram in treatment. Maria is an Advanced Eagala certified mental health professional with her Eagala Military Designation as well as her ARCH Designation in mental health and the military.

JULIA ROSE,
LCMHC

THERAPIST

Animal assisted therapy has been a passion of Julia’s since earning her master’s from the University of North Carolina. She has been working professionally with horses since 2014 and enjoys working with animals to help people understand and cope with their trauma or situations. Julia has seen what it has done not only for others, but herself. Sharing this type of healing experience with clients, is not only exciting but an honor.
Julia works with adolescents, young adults, and adults with severe and persistent mental illnesses, domestic violence, and relationship challenges. She is co-owner of Davidson Family Therapy in Cornelius, NC and has a therapy dog named Winston. Julia is an Eagala certified mental health professional with her Eagala Military Designation as well as her ARCH Designation.

DONTAVIOUS THOMAS

BOARD MEMBER

Dontavious Thomas is an Army Veteran and a Strategic Partner at Schooley Mitchell. He is the coolest guy EVER! Like, cooler than the other side of the pillow, cool! Husband, father of one, Jaden! A devout father and the best husband a wife could ask for. Barbie would be jealous she settled for Ken! Dontavious is a chill guy that doesn’t take life too seriously! Helping veterans is a passion of his and he looks forward to helping as many as he can!

SHANON GERGER

BOARD MEMBER

Shanon Gerger works as a NC State Bar Certified Paralegal in the Office of the Secretary for the NC Department of Administration. In addition to her role as a paralegal, she is the Agency’s designated Rule-making Coordinator and temporary Grant Administrator and assists with drafting policies and the Agency Strategic Plan. She has worked as complaint paralegal with the State Ethics Commission, litigation paralegal with the NC Department of Justice, Law Enforcement Liaison Section and as a legal specialist for the US Marine Corps up until her honorable discharge in 2002.

ELLEN STROUD, TN LPC-MHSP

BOARD MEMBER
THERAPIST

Ellen Stroud was co-founder and vice president of Pinnacle Ranch and served as chair of the Eagala Board of Directors. At the time Eagala set the standard for professional excellence in how horses and humans work together to improve the quality of life and mental health of individuals, families and groups worldwide.

Pinnacle Ranch provided quality mental health services, personal growth, learning opportunities and organizational development utilizing equine assisted activities. It was the the Runner Up for the distinguished KOSBE Award – New Business Category.

Currently Ellen serves as the assistant project director for North Carolina’s State Opioid Response.

Ellen graduated from the ETSU counseling program with a Community Mental Health in Counseling degree. Her undergraduate work was in political science at Roanoke College.

The Board

PETE STAUNER

PRESIDENT

Pete Stauner served in the U.S. Army and is now the CEO/Owner of Computer Support Group. He is also active in our local community: F3 Davidson Group, 3 Hands Realty, and the Cornelius StormWater Committee. Peter is an advocate of community involvement, believing in bringing positive and measurable change. He strives to make his community a better place for families and businesses to thrive and grow.

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MATTHEW BARONE

VICE PRESIDENT

Matt has been a resident of the Lake Norman/Charlotte region for 30 years and became a licensed real estate agent in 2022. He specializes in Strategic Real Estate Marketing for both residential and commercial properties. He has several years of professional experience working at Realty Professionals of Lake Norman as an assistant as well as Barone Law Offices. Matt has been an asset to Mooresville Reality since 2019, providing stunning drone footage for agent’s listings through his company Barone Aerial Drone Services. Matt dedicates himself to the service of others and fostering positive changes for his community.

Steve Moeller

TREASURER

Steve has been a resident of the Charlotte area since 2017. He has served in the Army since 1998 in various capacities both active and reserve in many locations. Steve is a financial services professional and currently employed corporately at a Fortune 50, Big Four Bank. Steve is a husband, father of 3 and a man committed to Faith and service to others. In his free time he enjoys fishing and golf.