Foundation

Calling All Women Ambassadors and Expert Trainers

AmbassadorsPostcardEverywhere you look, women are changing the face of leadership. Why? Because they are tired of waiting. They want to see gender parity in leadership in their lifetimes. At the current pace, this will not happen until 2095. Some powerful leaders of today’s women’s movement are gathering in Santa Barbara April 19-21 to help bring about that change. It’s all about collaboration and women helping other women.
Like Elisa Parker, Grass Valley, CA, who started her SeeJaneDo radio program six years ago with a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “My girls were then four and seven,” Elisa recalls, “and they were questioning why their world seemed so broken. I felt I had to try to create a world that served them, to create a platform for women’s voices to bring about change.” Part of her strategy is to participate in the April Santa Barbara training to become a Leadership Ambassador.
Women made great progress in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties, yet their share of leadership has remained stuck at less than 20 percent for decades. It’s even worse for women of color. Doors have been opened, yet most women still do not step through to join the ranks of leadership.
Activist leaders have noticed their reluctance and begun to organize in earnest. Contrary to the stereotype of bitchy women, these women love to collaborate and partner with others. Elisa’s effort is one of thousands, led by ordinary women and stars alike, all determined to change the power equation: Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, Kimberly Bryant’s Black Girls Code organization, Rinku Sen’s Race Forward organization, Jennifer Seibel Newsom’s #AskHerMore campaign, Geena Davis’s Institute on Gender in Media, just to name a few. This movement is characterized by mutual support, encouragement and collaboration.
Longtime women’s rights advocate Gloria Feldt, a former national president of Planned Parenthood and co-founder of Take The Lead, says these powerful leaders are ready to take it to the next level. She says women can achieve parity in leadership across all sectors by 2025, that she can teach them how, and that it’s time to share her knowledge so others can do it, too. Exemplifying the collaborative trend, Take The Lead currently partners with more than 40 universities, leadership organizations and businesses.
Dr. Nancy agrees. That’s why Women Connect4Good, Inc., is underwriting Gloria’s next Train-the-Trainer in Santa Barbara, April 20-21. An application form to participate is available online. After interviewing Gloria years ago for a podcast about women’s relationships with power, they collaborated on Leading Women.
Gloria began sharing her signature 9 Power Tools curriculum with other expert trainers last year in order to accelerate women’s progress. She trained 16 diverse Leadership Ambassadors in New York City and Phoenix in 2015, all of whom were already experts working in the field, and now are qualified to deliver the training to companies and organizations.
The Santa Barbara training is the third Train-the-Trainer offered by Gloria and Take The Lead Head of Strategy, Lex Schroeder. Gloria said, “We are so excited to connect with courageous women leaders on the West Coast, by bringing Take The Lead’s training to California.”
Fast Facts

  • Women make up more than 50% of the population, are 59% of the college-educated, entry-level workforce, and control 85% of consumer spending.
  • The rapid advances women made into leadership in the 1970s and 1980s have largely stalled.
  • Whether counting women on corporate boards, in the C-suite, in politics, behind the camera or at the editor’s desk – none of the percentages rise above 20%, and most are much lower.

About the Training

  • Certified trainers can incorporate the material into their own brands or teach as a certified Leadership Ambassador with Take The Lead.
  • This training focuses on:
    • Achieving gender parity in leadership, which means advancing women to occupy half of all top leadership and decision-making roles across all sectors by 2025. This goes beyond just teaching them leadership skills.
    • Cracking the code of implicit bias that has held women back to less than 20% of leadership for decades.
    • Changing the definition of power itself. Rejecting the oppressive “power over” and claiming the “power to” accomplish something by joining with others. These concepts change women’s feeling about power from “love-hate” into “I can’t wait to use this!”
    • Fostering “Collaboration as strategy” to achieve collective leadership and systemic change through strategic partnerships.
    • Creating an intergenerational movement of women leaders,
  •  Women who become trainers join a diverse, supportive community of powerful, motivated women of all ages and backgrounds. Some are building their training businesses; all are motivated primarily to uplift and advance other women.
  • The certification process includes marketing assistance and membership in the supportive community of Leadership Ambassadors.
  • There is a fee, however organizers will seek to match participants with scholarships where possible.
  • To apply to take part in the training or for more information http://www.taketheleadwomen.com/leadership-power-tools-training/

About Take The Lead

  • Take The Lead’s 2014 launch, co-sponsored by Arizona State University and dozens of other local and national groups, filled a 3,000-seat auditorium and reached 500,000 globally via livestream.
  • Take The Lead prepares, develops, inspires, and propels women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors by 2025. It’s today’s women’s movement, the needed game changer, a unique way for women to embrace power and leadership parity.
  • In addition to offline leadership events, Take The Lead regularly hosts online learning programs, including free monthly Virtual Happy Hours and on demand learning programs, including the online certificate course version of the “9 Leadership Power Tools To Advance Your Career” workshop.
  • See more than 40 partners in Take The Lead mission
  • Read bios of diverse Leadership Ambassadors

What are you waiting for? If you are an expert trainer and want to join other women leaders, redefine power and help uplift and advance other other women, this Leadership Ambassador Train The Trainer is for you. As a Leadership Ambassador, you will bring this transformative work to new audiences so that together, we can bring women to leadership parity by 2025. Remember, it’s all about collaboration and women helping other women, and together we can do more then we can ever do on our own. Find out more about Train The Trainer HERE.
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Walk Right In, Sit Right Down: It’s Time For Women To Lead

GloriaFeldtWithout question the time has come for women to lead. Women have so much to offer and are ready to change the world for the better. The world desperately needs women to step up to the leadership plate. This requires cooperation and collaboration. Leading Women co-author Gloria Feldt points out in her book, No Excuses, that it is time to take action.
Women are still underrepresented at every level in the corporate pipeline, are lagging behind in public office, and in some instances really questioning how to have it all. To say the problem is multifaceted would be an understatement. There are hundreds, even thousands of opinions and studies as to “why” women haven’t reached parity yet. Although strides have been made in female empowerment there is still work to do.
Gloria argues that from the boardroom to the bedroom, public office to personal relationships, the major factor keeping women from parity is—themselves! In addition to barriers – both real and self imposed – many women are opting out of the very career paths that could shift those highest clout positions to gender parity within a decade or two. But women need to be willing to take those jobs and keep climbing the workforce ladder.
Gloria’s 2012 findings have been further explored in Women in the Workplace, a comprehensive study of the state of women in corporate America that grew from a long-term partnership between LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company. The report finds, “Women are almost four times more likely than men to think they have fewer opportunities to advance because of their gender—and are twice as likely to think their gender will make it harder for them to advance in the future. Women are more likely than men to say they have personally missed out 
on an assignment, promotion, or raise because of their gender. Compared with men, women also report that they are consulted less often on important decisions. These dynamics help explain why women appear to advance at lower rates than their male peers.”
It’s important to note that Women in the Workplace reports that both genders see room for improvement. Two-thirds of both women and men do not think their companies are meritocratic, suggesting a broad appetite for cultural change.
Through her research, Lean In Founder and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg writes in The Wall Street Journal  that, “The unfortunate reality is that women at every stage in their careers are less interested than men in becoming a top executive. When women get stuck, corporate America gets stuck. There is a wealth of evidence that diversity helps teams and organizations perform better in terms of innovation, creativity, revenue and profits. Using the talents of our full population is critical to our economic growth, corporate productivity and individual happiness.”
Through her desire to see women take the lead, and reach full parity, Gloria launched Take The Lead Women to prepare, develop, inspire, and propel women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors by 2025. Take The Lead teaches women how to change systems in order to create workplace cultures that are healthier for both men and women. The organization also teaches women how to use movement-building principles to overcome implicit biases, and create sustainable change.
Realizing that we are bigger and stronger than the sum of our parts, the Women Connect4Good Foundation – which has always worked to educate women to advance in their careers, improve relationships, and mentor other women – joined forces with Take The Lead Women. As a result, the Foundation is sponsoring a Train the Trainer workshop in Santa Barbara in January 2016 for motivated, successful, experienced leader-trainers who share the mission.
As Gloria sums it up, “The doors to equal opportunity have been cracked wide open, but too few women are willing to push on through them. We have to stop putting boundaries around our own vision for what we can do. We must act now, with intention, to assume our share of leadership roles.”
Exactly. Women need to be empowered to become change agents — both to change their opportunities and to change today’s organizational culture. It is time to lead, and together we can push the doors to equal opportunity wide open, making room for our sisters at the table.
 

Blog Named To Best 50 Women’s Empowerment Blogs 2015!

best-50-womens-empowerment-blogsThe Institute for the Psychology of Eating has just released the 2015 list of the Best 50 Women’s Empowerment Blogs and Dr. Nancy O’Reilly’s blog (formerly know as WomenSpeak) made the list!
Created through the Women Connect4Good Foundation, the blog serves to inform and help women create the satisfying and purposeful lives they want to benefit themselves, their families and their communities. Ultimately, this blog is a passion project that gives women the tools they need to lead empowered lives.
The Institute does fantastic work, and actively supports the wisdom and usefulness of ANY dietary approach that a woman chooses to practice. It is the world’s only online school dedicated to a progressive, positive, holistic understanding of eating psychology and nutrition. Unique and revolutionary in its approach, the Institute teaches students and professionals to effectively work with the most common and compelling eating challenges of our times: weight, body image, overeating, binge eating, emotional eating, endless dieting, digestion, fatigue, immunity, mood and much more.
For its commendation, the Institute describes our blog as, “A platform of women connecting and sharing their stories of transformation with one another. Through different voices Women Speak is a hub for connecting and empowering women to change the world.”
I would like to thank both the Institute for its recognition and every woman who reads our blog, benefits from the tools we share, and works with us to help all women live the lives that they deserve!

Donation To Provide Take The Lead Training for Experienced Presenters

ttl-logo-websiteI don’t know about you, but I’m tired of waiting for women to step into their fair and equal share of power. It’s taking far too long for women to rise. Even though we’re more than half the population, we’re still stuck at around 18% of top leadership positions in business and politics. That’s not nearly enough. Think of all the talented amazing women who are left out of the leadership of the world. It’s time to give them the opportunities they deserve to make a difference.
That’s why I recently donated $50,000 to Take The Lead Women, whose mission is to prepare, develop, inspire, and propel women to take their fair and equal share of leadership across all sectors by 2025. I’m sponsoring a Train the Trainer workshop in Santa Barbara in January 2016 for my co-authors of Leading Women and other successful, experienced leader-trainers. Workshop graduates will become certified to teach Gloria Feldt’s core “9 Leadership Power Tools” curriculum in addition to their own material.GloriaFeldt.jpeg
Women Ready to Change Relationship with Power
When women truly understand and embrace Gloria’s Power Tools, they change their relationship with power. They lose their fear of claiming and using their power to make positive change in the world. That’s what I want for all women everywhere. As more professional trainers become certified to teach these transformative principles, the movement will expand to include exponentially greater numbers of women and men. That’s 70 years earlier than the World Economic Forum predicts! Please join me in the women’s movement for today to make this happen!
We announced my gift at a Take The Lead Presents event in New York City in July. Actress Kathleen Turner (now THERE’S an empowered woman!) spoke on “The Power of a Woman’s Voice” and I was delighted to be in the presence of so many smart amazing women. Together, we can quickly bring women to parity.
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The missions of Take The Lead Women and Women Connect 4 Good are completely aligned. My foundation has always worked to educate women to advance in their careers, improve relationships, mentor other women, and conduct research and publish results. Going forward, we plan to do all of those things together. We are working out the details of how our two organizations will collaborate to advance women to leadership parity by 2025. Watch for more announcements of this collaboration as we move forward.
~Dr. Nancy

Faith and Commitment – A Young Girl’s Journey Can Inspire Us All

FullSizeRender (19)FullSizeRender (22)To connect with a horse is amazing. In fact, the power of the horse to heal the human spirit is phenomenal. This is the story of Faith, a young woman with cerebral palsy as told by her cousin, Lauren. Highlighting Faith’s journey by horseback that led her to place second in her division of Western Equitation in the Special Olympics, Lauren sees Faith’s journey as both courageous and triumphant. Faith is a regular rider at BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding and Educational Center  and truly defines the term “brave.” Her journey is an inspiration to us all. Thank you Lauren Smith, for submitting Faith’s empowering story to Women Connect4Good.
My cousin, Faith, can’t see more than three feet in front of her horse. That didn’t stop her from coming in second in her division of Western Equitation in the Special Olympics though. Faith fills me with hope. She is so carefree, and not concerned with any outcomes. She’s just in it for the love.
I know that Faith is braver than I am too. I have never been able to commit to anything, but Faith has committed to riding for ten years. She is braver than most of her non-disabled peers. I fell off a horse once and refused to get back on, but Faith has guts. Practically blind, she rides horses as often as she can and puts all of her trust in an animal ten times her size.
Faith has attended BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding and Educational Center for the past ten years and has never had any fear. In the beginning, she was taught to hold the reins “English style.” Now she holds the reins and rides with the posture of a professional. What most people don’t realize is that when Faith is riding, it takes all of her strength to fight back the pain.
Faith has nothing but love for those who accept her, and her trainer Sarah has always done just that. Sarah lets Faith try and take risks, and through the years has become another mother to Faith. Not everyone has been as good for Faith as Sarah has. There have been a lot of people who wanted to help, but hindered her instead. Sometimes people are too cautious, other times, too lax. Faith doesn’t want people to see past her disability, she wants them to work around it. That means, people need to modify or adapt to her world. At nineteen, she is crying for independence and to be understood.
In addition to her carefree, brave, and loving demeanor, Faith is funny. She is persistent too, determined to learn how to be independent despite the challenges brought by having cerebral palsy. Even though she graduated two years ago, she still attends high school in a transitions program that teaches her life skills like balancing her checkbook, cooking, and looking for a job.
Trips into the community vary, but she loves anything that has to do with horses. From the farm run by people with disabilities to grooming horses, Faith finds encouragement and inspiration in new situations. In fact, she would love to volunteer at a therapeutic riding farm, or teach riders, because she loves horses and she loves people. In her future, Faith sees herself as a recreational therapist, able to live and use transportation on her own.
To truly see Faith, we only have to look to her recent Special Olympics placement and medal ceremony. Faith and her trainer, Sarah, rode out to the field for photos. Sitting on hay bales, the photographer posed Sarah, Faith, and her horse Chica. When they were posed, sitting back to back, Sarah leaned over and whispered to Faith, “I love you.” Faith almost started to cry,. While I looked at her in awe I realized, I would give anything to be like Faith.
 

Why Volunteer In The New Year

DNOConvoyWebDuring the holidays I invited a group of women to my home to talk about Convoy of Hope and their Women’s Empowerment Program. In case you haven’t read about it, I had the privilege to go to Ethiopia, meet the women and see the amazing benefits of this program in action. I wanted to share what my volunteer experience in Ethiopia had taught me with my friends and other leading women in the community, and show them the volunteer opportunities that existed within the organization.
The dynamics that come into play when women come together is profound, and I knew that the group gathered in my home was no exception. I felt confident that my friends and colleagues would join me and donate their time, treasure or talent, collectively helping Convoy of Hope empower more women. These women in Ethiopia and elsewhere will then be empowered to strengthen their own communities and call on their sisters to do the same.
When women come together nothing is impossible and the gathering in my home reinforced that for me. I know that women have to squeeze volunteer and philanthropic work in with everything else – from raising a family to running a business and advancing their earnings and careers. Keeping that in mind, I honestly think that the evening went far beyond the benefits of helping Convoy of Hope and touched on the personal and professional bonds we build along the way.
Giving back isn’t just good for the soul, it’s also good for your career. Monster.com reports that that volunteering strengthens communities, is good for your health and can even help you land a job. New, groundbreaking research from the Corporation for National and Community Service furthered that claim with evidence of a relationship between volunteering and finding employment. In fact, the study found that volunteering can increase employment prospects by helping job seekers to learn new skills, expand their networks and take on leadership roles.
Volunteering provides you with opportunities to stretch yourself and step outside of your routine. It provides the opportunity to make a positive impact on the greater community. Volunteering can also provide you with the opportunity to meet other like-minded volunteers and form relationships that could result in career and mentorship opportunities, and even friendships!
Helping other women along, and strengthening the communities we live in drives all women. It’s our nature to want to help others and volunteering with others fulfills our sense of purpose in a real and authentic way. The women gathered in my home that evening possessed the same sense of purpose, and desire to fulfill that mission that motivates us all and creates a bond between us. And who knows? Maybe a business card was passed or a lunch meeting set that will propel one of the leading women in my life forward.
 
 

Women Tell How to Become Leaders on Women’s Eye Radio

Three Leading Women co-authors offer their perspectives on empowering women during a The Women’s Eye podcast radio program, “Power of Leadership Hour.”

GloriaFeldt.jpeg

Gloria Feldt


Guest host for the podcast is co-author, Gloria Feldt, who interviewed fellow co-authors Dr. Lois Phillips and Dr. Janet Rose Wojtalik. This fast-paced exchange includes stories from their own experience growing into leading women roles and gaining expertise in different fields.
 
Lois Phillips, Ph.D.

Lois Phillips, Ph.D.


Dr. Phillips is an expert communicator. Her chapter in Leading Women is “The Power of the Podium: Challenges and Opportunities to Be Seen and Heard.” As a communications coach, speaker and author, Lois described gender-speak and how women are often reticent to speak up. No one is born a great communicator, she says. Someone with a dynamic personality may have an edge, but you can learn to become a good speaker. If you want something done in your company or community, you have to acquire the communication skills to help you to articulate change and sell ideas.
Janet Rose Wojtalik, Ed.D

Janet Rose Wojtalik, Ed.D


Dr. Wojtalik’s expertise is in education; she works with parents to raise strong girls. Her chapter in Leading Women is “Seven Keys to Unlocking Female Leadership,” because the same principles can apply to any mentoring relationship. Since parents have the strongest impact on a daughter’s future, she asks that we look at how we brand our daughters. Is she “Daddy’s little girl” or “our little princess” or is she a strong, self-reliant hard working girl? This matters because we become what our parents tell us we are, she says.
Host interviewer Gloria Felt, who is co-founder of Take the Lead Women, is an author in her own right and speaks frequently about how women use power. Her chapter in Leading Women is “From Oppression to Leadership: Women Redefine Power.” Her insights into gender issues in business and life enabled her to focus this interview on hard-hitting facts and behaviors that can empower women to take on leadership roles.
This podcast offers a sample of the outstanding experience and advice shared by the co-authors of Dr. Nancy O’Reilly’s new book, Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Business, Leadership, and Life. As Gloria says, women everywhere need to read this book to step up to the leadership positions they deserve.
Listen to much more at The Women’s Eye: The World as We See It, Podcast Radio. And check out more about the other co-authors and their chapters in Leading Women.

Reaching Out to Help Returning Women Veterans

Our-House-FoundationWhen Dr. Rita Spilken realized there would be a “human tsunami” of veterans returning from war zones in 2005 who would need help with health issues, especially Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Military Sexual Trauma (MST), she started the Our House Foundation (OHF). Since then the foundation has served about 600 military personnel and their families.
With the wars continuing, the needs of returning veterans have become widely known and addressed through numerous wounded warrior programs. While OHF continues with counseling and other established programs, the foundation has decided to start a special program called, “The Athena Project” to specifically address the ever-growing aftermath of military sexual assault.
The VA reports that one in three women and one in five men have been sexually assaulted by a comrade in arms. These statistics are followed by another, equally shocking, fact – female veterans have become the fastest growing population of the homeless community throughout the US.

The Athena Project Helps Returning Women Vets Transition Back into Society

Athena Project to support Women VeteransBesides continuing to raise awareness of PTSD and MST, Our House Foundation is focused on raising funds to build a state-of-the-art reintegration facility in the heartland of America. The purpose of the facility is to enable female veterans from around the country to receive the help and treatment they deserve and need.
Through donations, sponsorships and grants, the facility will offer full range of health services and evaluations, neurological testing, individual and family psychotherapy, wellness activities and opportunities for women to learn new skills to accommodate employment opportunities.

From Combat Boots to Heels Life Expo

On Saturday, November 8, 2014, from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm, Joining Community Forces and Our House Foundation will present a Life Expo at The Library Center, 4653 S. Campbell Ave. in Springfield, Missouri.
The 2014 National Champion JROTC all Female Color Guard will kick off the event, followed by numerous speakers about programs for veterans and a demonstration by Harken Kennels of service dogs for service members. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend to find out more about The Athena Project and the numerous ways we can support and honor our women veterans. Click here for the Our House Foundation contact information.

Leading Women Co-Author Writes on “Day Of The Girl Child”

RebeccaTinsley1Leading Woman co-author Rebecca Tinsley recently wrote in the Huffington Post about Mary, a ten-year-old girl in northern Uganda who was not aware the International Day of the Girl Child was October 11. Mary was not celebrating, she was in fact was being assaulted by a man who held her against her will for three days. The plight of Mary is not unusual; instead it reflects the low status of woman and girls in many traditional societies. It also highlights the powerlessness of children, as perceived by those who abuse them with impunity.
Rebecca writes, “The International Day of the Girl Child is on a par with the worthy treaties some world leaders sign and then fail to implement. 190 governments have ratified the Convention on the Rights of Children. Yet, each year three million girls in Africa alone are subject to female genital mutilation. Too many nations also turn a blind eye to the 15 million girls each year – some as young as 5 – forced into early marriage”

Working to Bring Positive Solutions To Heartbreaking Assaults on Girls And Women

A former BBC reporter and human rights activist, Rebecca founded Network for Africa to help survivors of war and genocide rebuild their lives. Network for Africa has schools and clinics in Rwanda and Uganda, and focuses on the survivors of African conflicts left behind by the world after the fighting stops and the humanitarian aid moves on. Ultimately, Network for Africa helps rebuild lives by providing people with access to education, health and the means to support themselves. Tinsley’s group is one of many doing good work in these ravaged areas, and in Huffington Post she mentions several other organizations working to bring positive solutions to heartbreaking assaults on girls and women worldwide.

To Make Long Lasting Change Empower Local Women

Through the years, Tinsley has realized that that the way to make long lasting change is to empower local women rather than simply deliver aid. Her long history of journalistic reporting and philanthropy in Africa have convinced her that cruel traditions that harm women and girls must be changed, and by working together we can change the balance of power that burdens women so unfairly.
Read more at Huffington Post.
Rebecca is one of 20 smart amazing co-authors of our new book, scheduled for release December 5, Leading Women: 20 Successful Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life. Rebecca learned about the needs of the survivors of genocide in the refugee camps and told their stories through a powerful novel, When the Stars Fall to Earth, A Novel of Africa.

Articles of Interest:

What Can We Do To Change Men’s Unhelpful Behaviors?
Empowering Women Around The World

Empowerment and Healing Through Bonding with a Horse

BraveHearts horse and young clientThe power of the horse to heal the human spirit is a realization made by anyone who has had the privilege to experience the connection with this amazing animal. Dr. Nancy O’Reilly experienced it for herself and recently met and interviewed Meggan Hill-McQueeney, the COO of BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding and Educational Center, located in near Chicago, Illinois.
 

BraveHearts’ mission is “Bringing hope, joy and unlimited possibilities through the healing power of the horse.”

BraveHearts is the largest equine-assisted program in the country. It helps the greatest numbers of veterans and also serves hundreds of children from two-years-old through adulthood and into hospice care, including various diagnoses, such as autism, paraplegic conditions and a full range of physical and mental health conditions all of which benefit from therapy with horses. Watch this feature from NBC affiliate, Channel 13 on U-Tube.

The Miracle Cure that Started BraveHearts

horse and founder of BraveHearts

Max and Marge Tautkus Gunnar


Marge Tautkus Gunnar attributes her “statistical cure” from ovarian cancer largely to her connection to her beloved Lipizzan stallion, “Max.” One day when she entered his stall, he seemed to ask where she had been. She threw her arms around his neck and he responded by wrapping his neck around hers and squeezing. This powerful emotional bond with Max gave Marge the purpose she needed to survive cancer and, six years later, to enable others to feel the healing and strength she received from Max.
She volunteered at a therapeutic riding center and saw for herself the life-changing effects: children talked for the first time, autistic children became more focused, and how people confined to wheelchairs looked down with confidence from a horse. She felt this was the true reason God had brought beautiful horses into her life and helped her survive a catastrophic illness.
On this act of faith, she founded BraveHearts in 2003, with no property or horses. It became a 501c3, non-profit corporation in 2004 and has grown ever since into the premier riding center, continually searching for more ways to  help people heal, grow, learn and find peace through working with horses.

Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies at BraveHearts

Bravehearts-4When Meggan Hill-McQueeney joined BraveHearts in 2010, she brought with her a Master Level Instructor Certification by the Professional Association for Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH). Meggan explains the various benefits of working with a horse in terms of either “hippotherapy”or “therapeutic riding.” Both have similar benefits, but hippotherapy is used by a licensed therapist to help the client improve her ability to function in every day life, while therapeutic riding has more recreational and competitive goals.
Meggan says that a horse provides a multi-dimensional movement: forward to back, side to side and rotational movement that makes it an excellent tool to increase a person’s core strength, control their body, balance and mid-line orientation. It also improves muscle-tone and respiratory function. In fact, riding a horse simulates human ambulation. Even if a person cannot walk, they can develop the muscle tone through riding. Of course, when a rider begins to feel confident on a horse, it increases feelings of independence and self-confidence. Even communication skills can be improved on a horse. Listen to this clip from Meggan’s interview with Dr. Nancy.

Meggan is also a Special Olympics coach and helps Bravehearts host the equine Special Olympics tournament, where mentally challenged participants are able to compete in front of thousands of people every year.

Horse training

Foundation Horsemanship in the Round Pen

Serving Veterans and Their Families

BraveHearts works with VA hospitals from all over the country, providing free therapy to veterans and their families. Veterans benefit from doing everything associated with horses. They work with a horse in a round pen and learn from the horse’s attitude toward them if they are communicating agitation associated with PTSD or some other emotion they aren’t aware of.

Veterans standing horses with BraveHearts and U.S. flags

Veterans Drill Team


There are veteran drill teams that perform in horse shows throughout the country.Even the farm has a calming effect on veterans and their families. BraveHearts hosts retreats for families, carriage riding for those who cannot ride horseback and other services. Many veterans return to Bravehearts as volunteers and work in the barns and do other work to support the work with horses.

Ways to Support Bravehearts

Actress and horse activist Betty White

Betty White visits BraveHearts


Working with horses is therapeutic for both the volunteers and the students. Just one horse takes a lot of support. BraveHearts continues to add horses to their stables and programs to help people heal and develop.
They recently purchased mustangs from the Bureau of Land Management and added proofing a horse to their curriculum. Bringing a horse from a wild state to bridle and saddle provides a learning experience for the horse and the person learning to train it.
 
BraveHearts Farm

20 acre farm near Harvard, Illinois


Donations to Bravehearts are tax deductible. Visit their website and see the many ways you can help.

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