Board of Directors/Executive Directors - and World Wide Collaborators

MiMer works together with other devoted people, organizations and businesses worldwide, who share our visions, missions and goals; to gain and share more knowledge about equines, to do and support more and better research, to implement better equine welfare and ethics, to be able to offer better and more sustainable results from equine assisted therapies, to be able to offer treatment for more people in need, with the help of equines, to better understand the impact of trauma on equines and humans, to be able to offer better education for Equine Professionals and Mental Health and other Human Health Professionals who want to work in the field of Equine Assisted Interventions and Activities. 

Below you find our board members and/or people who actively work in and with MiMer in different ways. Information about our Chair of the Board and CEO, you find here, Katarina Lundgren.

Emily Kieson

Emily Kieson

Emily Kieson PhD, M.S., PgDip, ESMHL,  (Oklahoma, USA)

Emily is a member of the Board in MiMer and serves as our secretary. She is the Director or our research department, which she leads together with Francesca Gatti. Emily is also our contact person and program director in US (together with Kate Causbie) and, together with Katarina Lundgren, she is also responsible for creating and developing our educational material.

Emily has a PhD in Comparative Psychology from Oklahoma State University, a MS in Psychology from Oklahoma State University, a B.S. in Ecology and Evolution from Rutgers University and a Post Graduate Diploma in Equine Science from the University of Edinburgh. She teaches and develops courses at Post University and Unity College and serves on the Equine Welfare Committee of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship. Her passion is researching equine behavioral psychology in the context of horse-human interactions with specific focuses on affiliative strategies, social bonding, and positive welfare.

Emily has spent almost 20 years as a multi-disciplinary trainer and instructor in both Texas and Oklahoma and became interested in equine-assisted activities and therapies about ten years ago. She has been trained and certified in a half-dozen models of EAAT and continues to learn about the field. It was during these trainings that she discovered the lack of research in horse-human interactions and became interested (honestly, obsessed) with developing the science in this field. Specifically, Emily is interested in understanding how horses interact with humans in ways that mimic social bonding to help develop better models of equine-assisted psychotherapy that use equine interactions to parallel interpersonal relationships. She also has ambitions of using this to help individuals create better relationships with their horses at home and create more centralized educational resources for horse owners and equine practitioners.

You find Emily at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sharolyn Wandzura

Sharolyn2Sharolyn Wandzura (BC, Canada)

Sharolyn is a member of our board in MiMer as our treasurer.

She is our program director in CANADA and is responsible for developing our online activites and learning opportunities.

Sharolyn Wandzura holds a BFA from the University of Saskatchewan and currently offers Equine Guided Leadership & Relational Development programs at Ears Forward Coaching ( based out of Azadeh Acres located in Maple Ridge, BC. As a long time student of the horse, she blends Liberty Horse Training, Equine Guided Development & Life Coaching to help clients find their voice, become compassionate leaders and have courageous conversations.

Since first beginning her studies in the field of Equine Assisted Learning & Equine Guided Development in 2006 she has been continually exploring and wanting to learn more to support practitioners and horses working in this field. Promoting education, standards and scope of practice that focuses on the well-being of the entire team, particularly equine welfare is a deep passionate goal of hers. She is thrilled to be supporting the growth of EiT so the latest equine behaviour research and best practices may be available coast to coast in Canada.

You find Sharolyn at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Francesca Gatti

Fracesca GattiFrancesca Gatti (Norway, Italy)

Francesca is a board member in MiMer and is responsible for our research departement together with Emily Kieson. 

Francesca is a biologist (PhD in biotechnology) who has mostly worked in basic and clinical research of animal models of human diseases. Her last research was a randomized clinical trial for complementary horse assisted therapy for the treatment of addictions.

Her scientific interests include human health and wellbeing, biomarkers of stress and disease in human and animals, One Health, animal welfare and wellbeing, animal assisted interventions, innovative and sustainable approaches for experiential learning and personal development.

Promotion of research and knowledge dissemination of equine assisted interventions that look at both human and animal health and wellbeing, through project proposal, interdisciplinary and international collaborations, and organization of trainings and workshops, are her main goals, as board member of MiMer!

Currently she is pursuing a training/education to become mindfulness instructor and a member of the Equine Assisted Mindfulness (EAM) team.

Francesca is mostly active in Norway and Italy, but very happy to collaborate with the rest of the world!

You find Francesca a: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jessie Sams

Jessie SamsJessie Sams, Animal Behaviourist (UK)

Jessie is MiMer's UK contact person and a substitute member of the board in MiMer.

Jessie is an animal behaviour consultant who completed a degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare Science at the University of Greenwich in 2012, she is currently doing her Bsc Equine Health and Welfare at the Royal Agricultural University. She is also currently undertaking her Certification with the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour to become a Certified Clinical Animal Behaviourist. She has been around horses since a young child and prior to working as a behaviour consultant she worked with a wide range of horses in different settings and circumstances including work with showjumpers and racehorses. Jessie competed up to young riders level and produced her pony as a Junior from British Novice to JA.From here she grew a passion for giving horses the very best start regardless of discipline using a holistic approach of the horses psychological and physical wellbeing. After completing her degree she then developed an interest in positive reinforcement training. She also works in a mixed general practice with horses and dogs, many of whom have suffered trauma. Jessie has a special interest in trauma in non-human animals and incorporates trauma informed care principles, neuroscience, Polyvagal and attachment theory into her work. Her approach is integral and focuses on the whole animal with the aim of improving animal – human relationships by facilitating safe relationships and experiences from which a solid foundation and relationship can be built.

Her own business, Animal Trauma Recovery Service in UK you find more info about here:

You find Jessie Sams at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Marta Sikorska

Marta SikorskaMarta Sikorska (Pasikonie, Poland)

Marta is a substitute member of the board in MiMer. 

Marta is a modality independent Equine Assisted Learning facilitator, a long time advocate for equine welfare and ethics in equine assisted activities. Marta has over 20 years of experience as teacher and educator and her work now is dedicated to developing education programmes for EAL practitioners and facilitators that are informed as far as equine ethics, welfare and also horse and human trauma.

Her path with horses started unexpectedly after her totally non-horsey family acquired an ex-racing arabian stallion. She’s been living with a small herd of horses since then, learning and growing both as a horsewoman and a human being. Having tried to understand the horse world as an adult she tried many traditional ways of interacting with horses. Her numerous disappointments and unrelenting fascination with horses pushed her to redefine concepts like leadership, freedom and partnership to get to have life with horses. She neither rides nor trains horses.

Marta is also a mediator working in Non-Violent Communication (NVC) approach. Due to her strong connection to children and dedication to her role as a parent she mostly counsels parents, couples, families and teachers. Marta offers supervision to EAL facilitators and practitioners.

She believes in combining horse and human welfare education thus creating a lens of understanding, cooperation and exchange between the two species. She’s created a NGO dedicated to promoting this very idea ( She loves to teach restoration and stress relief together with horses. She’s a great enthusiast of somatic approach to healing and growth.

Marta works in Polish and English.

You find Marta at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Eleanor Petitt

Eleanor PetittEleanor Petitt Licensed Psychologist (Sweden)

Eleanor is a psychology and trauma consultant for MiMer. She is a licensed psychologist, has her own company and at present works within the health care system in the Swedish county of Skåne. Eleanor grew up in the countryside and has always had a close bond to nature and an active connection to animals. Some of her core interests include treatment and research in the fields of exhaustion syndrome, psychological trauma and nature based and animal assisted psychological treatment and rehabilitation.

Eleanor received her psychology degree from the University of Linköping, where she was also trained in psychodynamic and cognitive psychotherapy. Since then Eleanor has had further training in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Eye Movement and Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) and Nature Assisted Interventions (NAI). Eleanor also has work experience and training in a number of special areas: these include psychological trauma, nature based and animal assisted rehabilitation for people with exhaustion syndrome, chronic (long term) pain, and acquired brain injury. Eleanor has considerable experience with both individual and group treatment, lecturing, planning and holding workshops, and developing treatment programs. She is passionate about spreading knowledge and lessening stigma.

You find Eleanor at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sonja Lairila

Sonja LairilaSonja is a long time collaborator and a former member of our Board of Directors.

Sonja Lairila, Equine ethics and -relationship consultant & yoga instructor (Finland, Germany) 

Sonja has 20 years of experience in different disciplines with horses. Her passion to truly understand equines was evoked by working with many traumatized horses over the years. By being close to horses that had suffered lead her to study equines, and equine-human interaction intensively from different perspectives.

Besides horses, Sonja is a Dynamic Mindfulness yoga instructor, and her passion for movement and mindfulness reaches over to the equine world as well. She is curious about mindful movement experiences, and how that connects to the relationships/interactions with horses. She believes in the power of just being and observing in order to understand, both ourselves, and our equine partners better.

Sonja’s interdisciplinary approach aims to bring a wider understanding and better welfare to the world of equines. Her aim is to help people improve their relationships with their equine partners through mutual understanding and to improve the general welfare and wellbeing of equines (and humans) by education.

You find Sonja here:

Kate Causbie

Kate CausbieKate Causbie (Washington, USA)

Kate is a long time collaborator and a former member of our Board of Directors.

Kate holds a BA in Interdepartmental Studies - Critical Social Psychology from Wittenberg University, and works in a variety of emotional support roles including as a birth doula and trauma-informed mindfulness and yoga instructor. She started spending time with horses as a young teenager, volunteering at a therapeutic riding center as well as exploring various approaches to understanding equine cognition and movement science. During her research for her BA she saw deeper nuance in the power and practices of equine human interactions, and works to find the guidance that ecological thinking, and in particular ecopsychology's ethos, can add to our paradigms in these practices.

You find Kate here: