Meet the Staff at Strides Pediatric Therapy
Elizabeth Lebrecht, MA-Leadership StudiesCo-Founder -- President
Elizabeth graduated with a bachelor’s in Biology and Marine Science and a Master of Arts in Leadership Studies degree from the University of San Diego. She has experience in education and human resources departments, in assisting with starting and operating a small business, and in running a very busy family of six. Elizabeth’s passion lies in being a mother and raising her children. A few years ago, Elizabeth’s oldest daughter fought and won a tough battle with stage four lymphoma. Through that experience, she learned just how difficult it is to watch your child struggle, but she also learned just how comforting it is to find a facility and a team that can help. This experience, as well as her passion for being a parent, led Elizabeth to start Strides, as she wanted to offer an organization that gives parents confidence and comfort that their child is receiving the best care available to them. Elizabeth has ridden horses since she was a child and watched three of her children enjoy a passion for horses and the benefits that brought. She still enjoys riding to this day, and in her free time she is either watching one of her children’s sporting events or spending time outside.
Marley Juarez, CMHC-IP, TRICo-Founder -- Director of Operations
Marley has years of experience working in the mental health field in a residential treatment setting. She graduated with a double bachelors degree from the University of Utah, is currently completing her Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling Degree at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and will be pursuing licensure as a clinical mental health counselor upon graduation. She is also a PATH certified therapeutic riding instructor. She has ridden horses since she was five, has competed in the sport, and has taught riding lessons. She has seen the benefits that a relationship with horses had on both her own life, and the lives of her riding students and residential patients. She brings her passion for mental health and horses into her role at Strides, and is excited to see the joy the kids have as they build their independence and accomplish new things. Outside of work, Marley enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family and toy Australian Shepherds, Tucker and Nelson.
Kacie Preysz, MOT, OTR/LCo-Founder -- Director of Clinical Services
Kacie is passionate about occupational therapy and has centered her life around it. She graduated from the University of North Dakota in 2009 with a Masters in Occupational Therapy and has continued to expand her skill sets since. She has worked in a variety of settings, including inpatient rehab – adult and pediatric, and long term care, but her heart belongs to outpatient pediatric rehab. She has been working in pediatrics since 2010 with years of experience incorporating equine movement as a treatment tool. She has taken many courses through the American Hippotherapy Association to grow her skill set and has served as a mentor for therapists in a variety of practice areas with an emphasis on sensory processing and hippotherapy. In 2019, she became an AHCB board certified therapist with the American Hippotherapy Certification board as well as a Registered Therapist with PATH, Intl. Her passion for horses started later in life but grew exponentially when she saw the power of incorporating equine movement into therapy sessions while living in Georgia. The benefit of the child/horse relationship is extraordinary and is what has driven Kacie’s ongoing passion to make this intervention more readily available. Kacie’s areas of expertise and interest are sensory processing, behavior management and coordination disorders. She loves the opportunity to help children and families find success together and helping facilitate growth and progress for children to work towards their most meaningful and independent lives. Kacie and her husband have two beautiful children and love to adventure together. In her free time, she enjoys camping, mountain biking, riding horses, boating and traveling.
Sandra Beverlin, MOT, OTR/LOccupational Therapist
Sandra has several years of experience working in pediatrics and is passionate about working with kids. She graduated with her Masters of Occupational Therapy at Governors State University in Chicago, Illinois and has worked in both Chicago and Denver in outpatient and home-health settings. Sandra’s specialties include feeding, sensory-processing disorders, and developmental delay. Sandra loves working with families as a whole and encourages parent and caregiver involvement in all aspects of the therapy process. She is excited to continue her journey at Strides and is in the process of completing the level I hippotherapy training through the American Hippotherapy Association. In her spare time, Sandra enjoys van-life traveling and rock climbing, canyoneering, and camping across North America with her significant other and their two dogs.
Lindsey Rose Pace, PT, DPTPhysical Therapist
Originating from the Pacific Northwest, Lindsey has experienced firsthand the incredible healing which nature, and its animals, provide to families and children. Lindsey traveled across the nation to receive her doctorate in physical therapy from the University of New England. While living in Maine, she completed the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopment Disabilities (LEND) mentorship program, which included advocating for the rights of those with alternative abilities in the community, as well as meeting with senators in Washington D.C. to fight for equal life experience opportunities and healthcare accessibility. Since then, she has worked with children who have neurodevelopmental disabilities and adults with neurological chronic pain in Southern Utah. She has completed her Level I Hippotherapy training through the American Hippotherapy Association and is continuing her training to become an AHCB Hippotherapy Certified Therapist. Lindsey is married to a Southern Utah cowboy and enjoys spending time with him on horse backpacking trips and helping on his family’s ranch. She loves the outdoors and feels that everyone should have equal opportunities to explore through adaptive experiences.
Melissa Garrity, M.S., CCC-SLPSpeech Therapist
Melissa is a nationally certified and state licensed Speech-Language Pathologist. She obtained her master's degree from the University of South Florida. Melissa has years of experience working with pediatrics. Melissa has a focus on Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) device evaluation and implementation, as well as training in treating speech, language, and feeding disorders for children with a wide variety of disorders and challenges. Melissa completed her Level I hippotherapy training through the American Hippotherapy Association. Melissa’s admiration for hippotherapy stems from seeing it as a more comprehensive treatment than conventional therapy approaches. Melissa appreciates how incorporating hippotherapy supports sensory integration, attention, and cognition as well as targets traditional speech, language, and feeding goals. Melissa understands the positive impact that a horse can have on the child’s confidence, communication, and motivation. Melissa’s passion for speech and language therapy comes from her belief that everyone deserves to have a voice. On the weekends, Melissa enjoys being outdoors, spending time with her animals, and eating ice cream.
Dawn Armstrong, CMHCMental Health Therapist
Dawn grew up in Montana and came to Salt Lake to attend the University of Utah. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and later attended Walden University for her Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and is now a Nationally Board-Certified Counselor. A lot of her experience is working directly with children with autism and co-occurring disorders and their families. Dawn has had experience providing direct ABA treatment, individual therapy, developing and monitoring treatment plans, and providing parent education. Dawn conducts thorough biopsychosocial evaluations to aide in diagnostic formulation as a springboard for treatment. She has several years in program management in both Salt Lake and Utah counties. Dawn is passionate about providing comprehensive and collaborative services with parents and providers in order to maximize the abilities for all children and their families. Dawn is excited to incorporate equine facilitated psychotherapy as an integrative treatment modality alongside the Strides team. Dawn enjoys being outdoors, camping, and hiking with her family and four dogs!
Kami Houck, TRS, CTRS, CTRI-IPRecreational Therapist
Kami is a Certified Recreation Therapy Specialist and has been for the past 7 years. Kami believes she was meant to be in the RT field. When she had two semesters left of college, she met the BYU Recreation Therapy Director. She got into BYU three weeks later and finished with her degree in three semesters. Kami feels like Recreation Therapy has been more of a calling than a job. She has worked with teenage girls on the autism spectrum, teenage girls at the Utah State Hospital, teenage boys in foster care, adults in substance abuse recovery, and is currently also working with military families, specifically with the children. Kami has been a consistent member of Utah Recreation Therapy Association. She has helped plan the annual conference, assist with executive meetings, enhance and advocate for RT and just finished her term as President. Kami's very passionate about life. There is so much joy in challenging yourself, learning new strengths, getting out of your comfort zone and learning new skills. Whether it be sports, horses, art, or nature based connection, there is a benefit to it all. Kami is a small town girl from Morgan, UT. She enjoys spending time with her large family (6 siblings, 25 nieces and nephews), being in the outdoors, playing sports, trying new things and engaging with people.
Bergen Russon, TRS, CTRS, CTRIRecreational Therapist
Bergen graduated from the University of Utah with her bachelor’s degree in Recreational Therapy and is a state licensed and nationally certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. Bergen is a Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH) and certified Equine Specialist through the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA). Bergen has focused her professional career over the last several years working with people with a wide range of diagnoses and disabilities. She has years of experience working with adaptive riding programs, youth residential treatment centers, as well as other outpatient and inpatient facilities, but her heart always comes back to working in equine related activities field. Bergen has been riding since she could walk but has been competitively training and working with horses since 2006 within various riding associations and disciplines. Her passion is helping others build life connections, heighten personal confidences, strengthen independent skills and work to improve overall quality of life with the help of horses. In her free time Bergen enjoys competing in barrel racing, hiking, and taking road trips on motorcycles with her husband.