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, ACMHC, CTRICo-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, and graduated with her Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling Degree at the University of Massachusetts Boston after completing her internship at Strides Pediatric Therapy. 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, Nelson and Benson.
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.
Grace Lebrecht, CMHC-IManager of Operations
Grace graduated from the University of Utah with her bachelor’s degree in Recreational Therapy. She is a state licensed and nationally certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. She is currently completing her Master of Arts in clinical mental health counseling at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She has years of experience working with horses, riding competitively since the age of 10 and teaching riding lessons for several years. Her passion for horses and a love for working with children drive her role at Strides. The adaptability of recreation allows her to facilitate interventions with a variety of populations and diagnoses. She is excited to see the changes and progress the kids make as they develop new skills and meet their goals. In her free time, Grace enjoys riding her horse Ronan, playing with her dogs Jude, and Josie and being outside with friends and family.
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.
Krissy Andrus, M.S., CF-SLPSpeech Therapist
Krissy recently obtained her master's of science degree in Speech Language Pathology from Brigham Young University in Provo and is currently completing her Clinical Fellowship. She is thrilled to be carrying out her lifelong dream of helping families and individuals communicate and connect in meaningful ways. Krissy grew up on a small farm in Idaho and has a great appreciation for the country and the great outdoors. She has seen the positive impact of hippotherapy first hand as her little brother's language, mobility, and confidence has grown exponentially through his participation in it the past 10 years. In her spare time, Krissy loves spending time in the mountains, reading, tinkering, and having dance parties with her husband and child.
Stacie Bryant, MOT, OTR/LOccupational Therapist
Stacie was born and raised in Salt Lake City, and has had many adventures living outside of Utah before returning back “home”. She graduated from BYU-Hawaii with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Sport Science, and from the University of Utah with a Master of Occupational Therapy. She moved to Arizona after graduation and worked in home health and outpatient pediatrics, where she discovered her passion for working with children with autism and sensory processing disorders. Stacie enjoys working with children and families in order to increase independence and quality of life. Stacie’s specialties include sensory integration, feeding, emotional regulation, and vision therapy. Stacie loves animals and nature, and has always searched for ways to integrate these passions into helping children. She is excited to begin the process of completing the level I hippotherapy training through the American Hippotherapy Association. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, camping, running, being at the beach, and spending time with her family.
Brooke Hartman, MOT, OTR/LOccupational Therapist
Brooke recently graduated with her Doctorate of Occupational Therapy from Columbia University in New York City. She completed her Level II Fieldwork experience at Strides and joined the team as soon as she graduated! She is originally from Nebraska but has settled long term in Utah after her graduate school adventure in the big apple. Brooke is passionate about about working with children on a variety of goals and needs, and specializes in sensory integration, executive functioning, feeding, and emotional regulation. Brooke has a special talent for working with teenagers and making them feel valued and independent during treatment. She is excited to begin the process of completing the level I training through the American Hippotherapy Association.In her spare time, she enjoys baking, rock climbing, and running, as well as being a dog mom to her boy Harry.
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.
Taylor Lemmon, PT, DPTPhysical Therapist
Taylor grew up in Spokane Washington, but fell in love with her husband in the mountains of Utah during her first year of graduate school in Salt Lake City. She graduated from the University of Utah Magna Cum Laude with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy. She has worked in a variety of settings and has a strong clinical background of neurological rehabilitation. She enjoys working with children and adults with a variety of diagnoses, but is particularly passionate about those with spinal cord injuries, strokes, traumatic brain injuries, and other neurological conditions. Taylor is a lifelong equestrian and participated in the United States Pony Club (USPC) for over 15 years, attaining the second highest national ranking. She values the power of connection with equines and intimately understands the benefit of incorporating movement of a horse into an individual’s therapeutic approach. Taylor and her husband have two young children and enjoy developing creative ways to help them learn and grow. In her spare time she enjoys being with her family, hiking, playing the piano, cooking, listening to audiobooks, and of course - riding horses.
Kaela Fischer, PT, DPTPhysical Therapist
Kaela is originally from Colorado and grew up loving the outdoors, especially from the back of a horse. She received her bachelors in Kinesiology from the University of Wyoming where she was part of the equestrian team. She then went on a cross-country adventure to the University of New England in Maine to get her doctorate of physical therapy. While there she was able to complete a LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) program. This program provided interdisciplinary training to enhance the clinical expertise and leadership skills of professionals dedicated to caring for children with neurodevelopmental and other related disabilities including autism. This program taught her how essential interprofessional family centered care is to helping children reach their full potential. Kaela has worked in pediatrics since 2013 in a variety of settings and loves the zeal that children have for life. She is in the process of completing the level I hippotherapy training through the American Hippotherapy Association. In her spare time she loves exploring the mountains of Utah with her dog, reading, baking and of course riding horses.
Kristen Wright, ACMHC, EMDRMental Health Therapist
Kris completed her bachelor’s degree from BYU-I in Marriage and Family Studies and graduated Cum Laude. She completed her Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Bellevue University, a CACREP accredited program. Kris enjoys working with both children and adults with varying diagnoses, but she is particularly passionate about working with an adolescent clientele treating trauma. Kris specializes in individual and group counseling treating anxiety, depression, trauma, and complex trauma. Kris uses many strategies to help her clients and is a collaborative therapist who works with her clients to discover what works best for them. Kris is best described as empathetic and caring. She has a client-centered philosophy, and understands the importance of mutual trust, empathy, and unconditional positive regard in the client/counselor relationship. It is this desire for a strong therapeutic alliance that allows her clients to help themselves as they work through life’s challenges. Kris has an innate love for animals and has experienced first-hand the healing power that animals play in one’s life.
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!