Meet Our Staff



Dana A. Johnston, CEO

A former senior executive in the Printing and Mailing industry, Dana is currently founder and President of S.M.A.R.T Consulting Services, a business consulting practice focused on assisting companies develop digital communication strategies.  These strategies are designed to take full advantage of the “digital transformation” occurring in their business, through the effective and efficient use of digital technologies.  Dana developed SmartTouch™ a customer engagement platform for use by Small Businesses; Colleges and Universities; Health providers and Non-Profits.

In addition to his consulting practice, Dana serves on the Board of Advisors for the University of California Davis, School of Education (SOE).  In this role, he advises and mentors faculty and staff at both the SOE and the MIND Institute (a research organization focused on Neurodevelopmental Disorders such as ADD/ADHD; Autism Spectrum Disorders – ASD and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - PTSD) in their efforts to commercialize technology and services developed by the University.  In this capacity, he led an effort to develop an information management portal (Navigate Autism or NavAut) for families with children diagnosed with ASD to educate families; help them make informed decisions about the system of care available to their child and create life plans for their child.  Dana also consults for a unique learning company (Empowered Learning and Transformation Centers - ELTC) that runs three learning centers for children and adults with various learning challenges where he collaborated with the founders on the development and deployment of a digital curriculum aimed at students who are home schooled or for parents who are seeking online after school programming.  Prior to moving to Sarasota full-time in July 2014, Dana lived in Northern California for 6 years where he volunteered at a rescue ranch - The Grace Foundation, who rescued Mustangs and sheltered abandoned horses.  Dana has been a volunteer at InStride for the past 2 years where he helped support the Literacy Program and the Hippotherapy Riding Program at the Oak Park School.

Dana received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Managerial Economics from Union College in Schenectady, NY and continued his studies in Entrepreneurial Management at Babson College in Wellesley, MA.


Mary Nastan, Co-founder, Interim Executive Director 

Mary is a true Floridian, native-born in Fort Lauderdale and a graduate of University of Florida Health Related Sciences in Physical Therapy. Mary has served on numerous boards, including National-American Hippotherapy Association/Muscular Dystrophy Association, State Early Development Council, and the United Cerebral Palsy Association.

Mary has over 31 years of clinical experience in physical therapy with a specialization in Hippotherapy, Aquatic Therapy, Pediatric Developmental Therapy, and Cranio Sacral Therapy.

Her Special interests include equine studies, gardening, and boating. She is married to Richard Nastan and is extremely proud that their married daughter Stacey is a recent graduate of USF.

Sue Button Staff SMALLER.jpg

Sue Button, Senior Instructor & Barn Manager

Sue has an extensive equestrian background, and we are fortunate to have her as a senior instructor. Sue started as a volunteer with InStride after moving from Colorado 12 years ago. It was her calling to be around horses that brought her to InStride, but it is the powerful impact the horses have on the children that have kept her here.

Sue is PATH, International certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor and is currently a Level 3/4 in Parelli Natural Horsemanship.


Cindy Eaton, Program Coordinator

 It only took eight months in a volunteer role to realize the Cindy was destined to join the staff of InStride. Though Cindy's official title is Program Coordinator, she is still an active volunteer sidewalker.


Mike Bigner, "Director of Stuff"

Mike joined InStride’s team in July 2009.  He has found his "dream job" at InStride, working with both children and horses. Prior to joining InStride, Mike consulted with a variety of community corporations across the United States in planning and change management, governance, social entrepreneurship, and business development.  For 11 years, until 2008, Mike directed all aspects of grant making for largest community foundation in Florida. He also taught at elementary school and college levels and served as Dean of Academics for Keiser University. Mike earned a B.A in Communications and Marketing from the University of Dayton and an MBA in Management from Xavier University.   



Linda Frease, Occupational Therapist

A native Floridian, Linda left Gainesville in 1997 to join InStride. Linda is an avid equestrian and is an NARHA Registered Therapist and an Occupational Therapist. She received her Master's degree in Health Science and Occupational Therapy from the University of Florida. She has been a registered member of AHA since 1997 and is the Florida state liaison. She is currently participating in the faculty development process with AHA. Linda is now a Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist, one of only 77 in the entire United States.

MaryDillalo WEB3_14_12.jpg

Mary DiLallo, Speech Therapist

Mary came to us from Chicago, Illinois where she worked in the public school system for 26 years.  She is a licensed and certified speech/language pathologist and an AHA registered therapist.

Mary enjoys the opportunity to combine her love of animals and her professional skills while providing therapy and volunteering at InStride. When not at InStride Mary enjoys almost anything that lets her be outside in the great Florida weather, including biking, swimming, kayaking and walking with her husband and her dog.



Sarah_Sigmund Staff12.11.14.jpg

Sarah Sigmund, Marketing & Special Events

Sarah moved to the area from Connecticut. Her love for children and horses drew her to InStride begining as a volunteer 2013. In 2014 she was hired to help with marketing, social media and lend a hand where needed. "I am so fortunate to come to work every day surrounded by such wonderful people and watch the transformation of lives."


Susannah Cripe, Volunteer Coordinator

Susannah joined InStride in 2017. She brings over 25 years of nonprofit experience with adults and children with disabilities working in management, business, program, and board development. Because of this, Susannah is a great resource to the families we serve. In her spare time, she loves to spend time with her husband, five children and two grandchildren. She loves spending time outside with her horse Kato and dog Boomer.


Susan Thomas, Equine Staff/Horse Leader

As an owner and lover of horses for most of her life, Susan found InStride to be a magical place for many reasons. Over five and a half years ago, Susan became a volunteer side walker at InStride. The children, along with the horses became part of her daily thoughts and before too long, she was volunteering several day a week. When the opportunity arose, Susan accepted the position of Therapy Horse Leader and she was trained in the Parelli Natural Horsemanship Program. Susan states "Being here, I'm continually in the process of learning. With a diversity of responsibilities, from mucking stalls and grooming to being in the arena with a child and the horse, InStride continues to be a magical place for me."


 Emily Scanlon, Equine Staff/Horse Leader

Emily is currently attending Sarasota High School as a junior in the AICE Program. She has been involved with horses for about eight years. Her passion for horses brought her to InStride as a volunteer in the summer of 2013. She became an employee of InStride in November of 2014. She enjoys seeing the progress that the kids make through riding, and how the riders make bonds with the horses.


Tracy Crane, Equine Staff/Horse Leader

Tracy has been involved with InStride since 1999 as a volunteer side walker, barn worker, and horse leader. She recently moved into the caretaker's house on the ranch. She does the night checks and during the day shares the role of facility manager, which entails mowing, trimming and weed control in the pastures. When Tracy is not doing any of the aforementioned (and we are not quite sure when she has time), she enjoys biking, kayaking, tennis and golf. She fulfills her passion for adventure travel by hiking or biking in a foreign country at least once a year when not working as an international tax consultant at KPMG, LLP. Tracy participates on our Natural Horsemanship workshops and has most recently added Equine Bodywork to expand her knowledge and help with increasing the wellness of our much loved therapy horses. Tracy says "my favorite part about being at InStride is being witness to the little miracles that happen when a child or a young adult gets on the horse. There is always a smile and a feeling of gratitude from all involved."


Pat Heath, Physical Therapist Assistant

Pat came from Rhode Island but has spent 90% of her life in Florida - so almost a Floridian! Since earning her A.S. in Physical Therapy, she has worked in multiple settings from hospital acute care, schools, home care, clinics and of course hippotherapy.

She first became involved with hippotherapy when her son started in the program with Mary Nastan in 1987. He continues riding to this day, benefiting from all hippotherapy has to offer. Pat went from parent, to volunteering, to being a therapist in the program.

Pat says, "This is where I want to go to work when I get up in the morning. Everyone wants to be here. We look forward to the sheer joy on the children's faces and the parents when they see their children enjoying therapy. There is a special interaction when the horse turns his head to the child just dismounted that words just cannot express."