top of page

Board of Directors

Young Hearts Therapeutic Riding is a nonprofit organization served by a governing Board of Trustees. Trustees volunteer their time to ensure that the organization upholds the “public trust” in Young Hearts’s charitable purpose. They help Young Hearts remain worthy of the significant tax benefits that are granted to nonprofits, as well as make sure that Young Hearts follows nonprofit law, adheres to its mission, and stays financially stable. 

Kristin Sturdivan 

Executive Director & President

Kristin Sturdivan's love for horses started at a young age, “attending” horse shows in her grandparents' field with Nana as the judge. She continued her passion with riding competitively in multiple disciplinaries, enjoying every moment spent at the barn. In high school, an interest in children with special needs and communication modalities joined together with her love for horses in what started the idea of therapy on horseback. Kristin maintains a double role on the board of Young Hearts, serving as Executive Director and President. Obtaining a PATH certification and masters in Speech Pathology, Kristin provides therapeutic riding lessons and speech stimulation sessions to our riders. Kristin resides on the property of Young Hearts with her fiance Jostin, two dogs Kali & Kruzer, and the herd of horses! While not at the barn, she works at a local clinic as a Speech and Language Pathologist. On the weekends you can find her and Jostin at roping jackpots, trying new restaurants, going to concerts or BBQing with friends.

Shannon Neilson

 Vice President

Shannon Neilson, Young Hearts Vice President, grew up riding horses with her sister in Auburn Washington. When her daughter Kristin at a young age developed a love for horses, she was her biggest supporter and fan. Knowing the beauty that can be created between horses and children, Shannon has loved seeing the passion Kristin has for the program. Shannon plays many roles at Young Hearts, leading high school transitional groups on Wednesdays, keeping our rider snacks full, and preparing stations for the events. Shannon’s favorite thing about serving at Young Hearts is seeing the riders progress week to week while enjoying their time on the horses. She and her husband Stan reside in Buckley Washington with their chocolate lab, Bentley. In her spare time, Shannon enjoys cheering on the Husky football team, getting coffee with her friends, playing grandma to Kali and Kruzer and going to the movies. 


Andrea Jay


Andrea Jay, known to our Young Hearts family as Ajay, started volunteering at Young Hearts in August of 2021. She continued her dedication to Young Hearts in 2022, taking on the role as Secretary. Ajay has lived in Bonney Lake for 14 years, although one day hopes to move a bit farther out to settle in a slower pace of life. She enjoys spending time with her 3 grandchildren and getting together with friends and family. Her hobbies include gardening, barbecuing, and anything that involves being out on the water and in the sunshine. Ajay's favorite thing about serving at Young Hearts is getting to spend time with the riders, being able to experience the riders growth, and being apart of an amazing program, advancing the lives of our riders.  And of course- getting in some horse time brings her joy!! 

Stephanie Sasser


Stephanie joined our board in 2024.  She has more than 25 years of accounting experience. She has served on numerous non-profit boards and is excited to serve with Young Hearts. 

Stephanie enjoys spending time with her husband and their three children.  Her family enjoys camping, hiking and sports activities.

At the beach .png

Trina Cassell

Board Member

Trina Cassell started as a volunteer at Young Hearts in August 2021. She joined the board in 2022 and served a two year term as Treasurer. Trina resides in Enumclaw, Washington with her husband Corey, two dogs, one opinionated cat, a BLM Mustang pony, one goat and a flock of chickens. After raising three children, Trina’s hobbies now include trail riding with her Mustang, gardening, razor clam digging, camping and hiking. Trina’s favorite thing about serving at Young Hearts is getting to know the individuals that help her see the world through a different lens.

Tessie Baird

Board Member 

Tessie Baird is employed at BECU. She enjoys her job because they support non profits, which are a big passion of Tessie's. Tessie has over 35 years of experience working with non profits who focus on youth programs. One of Tessie's missions is developing healthy and loving environments for children. With a love for communities, horses, and children joining the Young Hearts board in 2023 was a perfect fit! In her stare time, Tessie enjoys dressing up as the Easter Bunny, practicing yoga, and photography!

Screen Shot 2024-04-09 at 9.57.12 PM.png
bottom of page