Our Staff

  • Tom Waters

    CEO

    Tom Waters, is the President and CEO of Easterseals Southwest Florida, otherwise known as “Happiness House,” and is also the new CEO of InStride Therapy. As a longtime local philanthropy leader, Tom brings significant experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, and community partnerships to his new role at InStride

    Before Easterseals, Tom was the Chief Advancement Officer at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. During his time at Mote Marine he was responsible for leading the laboratory and aquarium’s 2020 Vision and Strategic Plan. Tom was also responsible for heading the organization’s fundraising efforts.

    In addition, Tom has held leadership positions at nonprofits including Mile High United Way in Denver, Colorado and Community Foundation of Sarasota County. As CEO of Easterseals, Tom is looking forward to leading one of Southwest Florida’s oldest and most successful nonprofits serving children, teens, and adults with developmental disabilities.

    “My passion to help others’ abilities shine started years ago when I participated in one of the first Muscular Dystrophy Dance Marathons. Together we did more than raise money…we provided hope and the ability for people to help themselves.”

  • Jacque Ruch

    V.P. of Programs

    Jacque Ruch is Vice President of Programs at Easterseals Southwest Florida and InStride Therapy. She comes to Easterseals Southwest Florida from the Chicago affiliate, Easterseals Metropolitan Chicago, where she worked as the School Administrator for the Easterseals Autism Therapeutic School in Machesney Park, Illinois since 2009.

    Jacque brings with her more than 20 years of senior management experience in operations, new business development, social services and education administration. She has extensive grant writing and rating experience and facilitation of grant writing courses. Jacque specializes in development and facilitation of professional development coursework, and has completed over 200 course work hours in education, social work and educational leadership.

    Jacque’s proven ability to collaborate with multiple community partnerships to ensure program growth is a huge asset to both InStride Therapy and Easterseals. Her extensive knowledge of Special Education, specializing in Autism, is second to none in this area.

    Jacque’s educational accomplishments include a Master of Science in Educational Leadership, a Master of Social Work, and a Bachelor of Science in Education. She has been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker since 2011.

    Jacque is the mother of an amazing adult son with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Jacque Ruch is dedicated to helping our local community be Disability Strong.

  • Lisa Morningstar

    EAAT Coordinator

    Lived in the Hudson Valley Region in New York before moving to Florida over 30 years ago. Lisa has owned horses for over 25 years and has shown in English and Western disciplines. She had her own lesson program for 6 years before being hired at InStride Therapy in May 2017.

    Lisa also has worked with Individuals with developmental disabilities for over 30 years. She owned and operated a Med Waiver Care Provider Agency, providing services to hundreds of individuals in the community for 10 years.

    Lisa is thrilled to combine her two passions in life: horses and helping people reach their fullest potential regardless of the physical, mental or emotional challenges they may face in life; here at InStride Therapy.

    Lisa is a PATH certified ESMHL and TRI.

  • Daila Lybarger

    Director of Programs and Services

    Daila is a Florida native who grew up riding and showing horses in speed events, dressage, jumping, equitation, and western horsemanship. Her career in the equine industry began at the age of 18 when she was hired to care for and prepare horses to play polo in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2001, she was hired as a barn manager at Woodmere Farm (Andy Moorman) in Venice, FL, and worked there for the next 5 years. Following her career at Woodmere Farm, Daila continued to train riders and horses for English and western competition, was an organizational leader for 4H for 14 years, and has been a member of the AQHA Professional Horseman’s Association since 2004.

    Daila first began working at Instride as a volunteer in March 2017. Her desire to apply her knowledge about horses and horsemanship to help people overcome physical disabilities, mental health issues, or emotional trauma is what led her to want to work at InStride. Daila joined the staff at InStride in January 2018 and is now the Director of Programs and Services.

  • Nicole Murby

    Director of Development& Partnerships

    Nicole MurbyistheDirector of Therapy and Partnershipsat EastersealsSouthwest Florida,overseeing the Therapy Department at multiple locations throughout Manatee and Sarasota County. She is alsotheDirectorof Therapyfor InStride Therapy andcurrentlyserveson the Board of Directors for the Early Learning Coalitionas well as beinga former Board Member for InStride Therapy.

    The EastersealsTherapy Team is comprised of Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Infant-Toddler Developmental Specialists, Behavior Analysts, Registered Behavior Technicians and Music Therapists. Thisteam provides Hippotherapy at InStride Therapy in Nokomis, and at present time theserves over 700 individuals per year in our community.

    Nicole was born in Michigan but spent most of her years in the Northeast in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. She graduated from Salem State College in Massachusetts with a B.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders. In 2005 received her M.S. in Communication Disorders from the University of New Hampshire to become a Speech-Language Pathologist.

    Nicole has been creating programs and working with children and adults with unique abilities for the past 17 years in Florida and New Hampshire.

  • Susan Thomas

    Equine Staff

    Susan is originally from up-state NewYork, she has lived in Florida for over 30 years. She worked over the years, with her husband in his small animal Veterinary practice. The Herald Tribune ran a request for Volunteers at a place called InStride…she had never heard of us. However, having had horses most of her life, she knew this was another dream come true. She couldn’t wait to get the aroma of horses, barn, hay, leather etc. J Susan has been with InStride for over 7 years and the miracle’s she has seen are truly “AMAZING”! “ The clients get SO much from the horses and that gives me the reason why I’m Here!! I’m so blessed! “

  • Juliana Colombo

    Equine Staff

    I am a recent graduated from Venice High School. I first started at InStride as a volunteer and from an early age, I have always been intrigued by horses. When InStride asked if I’d like to be hired, it was a “no brainer.” To work with horse daily is like heaven on earth for me. I am currently attending the State College of Florida for photo journalism and hope to shoot for a professional equine sports company for thoroughbred race horses in the near future. I have been fortunate to meet the 2014 Kentucky Derby winner, California Chrome who is my all-time favorite race horse. I am very happy to be a part of the InStride team and enjoy being able to further my knowledge of these beautiful creatures!

  • Charlotte Duval

    Office Coordinator

    Charlotte joined the InStride Therapy in December of 2018, as the Office Coordinator with a background in finance and previous experience as an administrative assistant for a CMMS software company.

    Charlotte was a home health caregiver for many years which left her with many heartfelt memories. She then had the honor of working with children and adults with disabilities, in which she provided respite and companion care services. This combined with her love of horses was a natural draw to InStride Therapy where she began volunteering in 2017.

    Charlotte is so thankful for wonderful volunteers and co-workers at InStride Therapy and all the amazing clients and families they impact

  • Karen McKay

    Bookkeeper

    I was born and raised in Michigan. I have been coming to Manasota Key Florida for over 45 yrs., where my family owns two vacation rentals. I am married with two grown sons that have both flown the nest. My husband and I moved to Englewood Florida and became year round residents in 2016. Growing up I owned my own horse and was a member of 4H. I also volunteered at Beekman Center, a center for the Mentally Handicapped, with their HippoTherapy program. My careers include; Medical Sales, Business Owner, Literacy Teacher and most recently became a Published Author of a Children’s Christian Book. I came to InStride in December of 2016 as a volunteer Side Walker and Office support. I was hired in May of 2018 as a Part time Office Coordinator. During my free time I enjoy fishing with my husband, who is a certified Fishing Guide, reading, writing, playing Pickleball, golf and biking. I feel truly blessed to be a part of the InStride Therapy family.

  • Deirdre Shue

    Barn Manager & Equine Partnership Coordinator

    Deirdre graduated from the University of Florida in 2011, where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science with a concentration in Equine Industry as well as a minor in Agribusiness Management and Sales. During her time at UF she was on the Horse Judging Team as well as Co-Captain of the Western Equestrian Team, she won the award for Most Valuable Rider in 2011. Deirdre then moved to Weatherford, Texas where she was the Equine Veterinary Technician and Foaling Manager for a large equine reproduction center, later returning to Florida to work in equine pharmaceutical sales as an Equine Specialist covering central and south Florida. She has also worked as assistant manager for a boarding facility in Ocala, FL as well as a research assistant for the University of Florida where she specialized in equine nutrition, reproduction, and behavior research. Deirdre’s passion for horses has taken her across the country allowing her to experience multiple disciplines; from riding for Quarter Horse trainers prepping for shows to foxhunters conditioning for paces and even all the way to Montana working for ranchers training young horses to work cattle. Through these experiences she was able to witness the tremendous & undeniable power that horses have to improve and change people’s lives and was thrilled when an opportunity arose to work for InStride in April 2018. In her free time Deirdre enjoys spending time with her husband Josh, son Easton, and their dog Jack.

  • Sue Button

    Hippotherapy Resource Coordinator

    Sue started volunteering at InStride in 2001. She became a full-time employee in 2004. Sue shared…”The horses are what first drew me to InStride. The riders, however, are what have kept me here for the past 17 years. I feel as though we make a positive difference in all the lives we touch. Not only our riders, but their families, our volunteers and our own staff.” Sue has worn a lot of hats over the years, from working with our therapy horses, leading, side walking, working directly with our therapist and more! Sue believes.. “Here at InStride, we are not only a team, but a family!.”

    Sue is a PATH Certified TRI

  • Lauren Kirby

    Equine Staff

    My name is Lauren Kirby. I first became involved with InStride Therapy when my mare “Missy” became a part of InStrideas a therapy horse. Since I will be attending college soon, I’d have less time to invest in her, so I believed she would have a fulfilling career as a therapy horse at InStride. I became a volunteer to complete school community service hours, with the luxury to see my mare as often as possible. After a couple months, I was offered a position to become a staff member at InStride. Being a member of the InStride Therapy team is amazing and has given me the opportunity to work with such incredible staff, clientsand horses.

  • Rebecca Brantley

    Equine Staff

    Rebecca Brantley began riding horses at the age of nine years old after her father passed away. When she first started, Rebecca was riding for the love of horses, but as she continued she realized how much riding and working with the horses was also helping her mental well-being. Rebecca chose to come to InStride Therapy so she could not only watch others experience what she was able to with horses but be a part of their journey. Rebecca attributes 100% of who she is today to working with horses and forever will!

  • Mick Wells

    Facilities Manager

    My name is Mick Wells and I was hired at InStride Therapy on March 27th. It has been nothing but great! The people are great to work for. I have experience working in plumbing, electrical, carpentry, heavy construction, you name it and I have done pretty much everything! There is nothing here that I can't handle and again a great place to work! I love it and can't say enough about the staff, volunteers and especially the clients. So glad that I came to InStride!

  • Cheryl Weichert

    Medical Billing Specialist
    Hello! I started at Easterseals as Therapy Coordinator in May of 2018 and through partnership with InStride Therapy, joined the InStride family in July. I have worked in the Special Needs community doing billing and handling insurance for the last six years. When I am not hanging with the horses, I enjoy traveling with my family and taking pictures.
  • Tom Waters
  • Jacque Ruch
  • Lisa Morningstar
  • Daila Lybarger
  • Nicole Murby
  • Susan Thomas
  • Juliana Colombo
  • Charlotte Duval
  • Karen McKay
  • Deirdre Shue
  • Sue Button
  • Lauren Kirby
  • Rebecca Brantley
  • Mick Wells
  • Cheryl Weichert

OUR PARTNERS

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1629 Ranch Rd • Nokomis, Florida 34275 • (941) 412-9333

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