Our Leadership


SONJA WINGARD / Director & Founder

In 1999, Sonja Wingard, Abby Soley, and Gwen Hunter started ANT with encouragement from Catholic Community Services. Sonja, BSN, is ANT’s Executive Director, and brings more than 30 years of experience in working with people and animals as a registered nurse, 4-H leader, equine specialist, and riding instructor. Read More


Lorna Shepardson, MA, is ANT’s resident Equine-Facilitated mental health counselor. An avid rider, Lorna has worked for more than 12 years in social services with children, at-risk youth, individuals and families.
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JACK AGUIRRE / Therapist

Joaquin (Jack) Aguirre M.A., LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who enjoys blending Equine Therapy at Animals as Natural Therapy. He has provided counseling to at-risk children/adults and their families for 22 years in hospitals, foster care and private practice settings. He also holds certificates in Biofeedback and Stress Management and as Trauma Response Specialist.

SUSAN LEWIS / Barn Manager & PATH Certified Riding Instructor

Susan began volunteering at ANT in 2008, and became a PATH certified riding instructor and ANT’s Barn Manager in 2013. She holds a BA in Business and a Juris Doctorate, but has found her true calling in the barnyard at ANT, mentoring, instructing, training new volunteers and caring for the animals.”

JULIA CLIFFORD / Assistant Executive Director / Development Coordinator

I am thrilled to be ANT’s new Assistant Executive Director. I want to help ANT continue to touch lives because we can change the world. It takes time; it takes a team and the community; and it starts with one person -- that person is you! Thank you for being a part of ANT as a volunteer, donor, visitor or participant. I so look forward to meeting you and hearing your story.

JESSIE PEMBLE / Office Manager

Jessie, who holds a Bachelor's degree in Therapeutic Recreation from WWU, is our office manager. She also works with our teens in recovery as a mentor, and is passionate about our therapy animals and their capacity to heal. Jessie is excited to help serve our Spanish-speaking families!

BETTY BARATS / Volunteer Coordinator

Betty is our volunteer Volunteer Coordinator.  She is a retired Special Education teacher and administrator.

SUE SWANK / Bookkeeper

Certified Riding Instructors:

Sonja Wingard (PATH, CHA, and EAGALA)
Lorna Shepardson (PATH, EAGALA)
Susan Lewis (PATH)

Roz Anderson (PATH)
Shannon McCune Dickerson (PATH and CHA)
Amanda Martin (PATH)

Horse Trainer:

Trisha Pendelton


Celeste Hufford
Emily Gordon


Sue Swank

Office Manager:

Jessie Pemble

Our Animals:

Horses, llamas, dogs, goats, rabbits, chickens, ducks and a cat!

Our Volunteers:

More than 60 fabulous volunteers mentor program participants and care for the animals each week!  Check out our Volunteers Page to learn more.

Our Donors:

Business, Individual and Foundation Supporters help all year long through their donations.

Our Supporters