Kristen de Marco has shown in a few years what can be accomplished by one woman with vision, commitment, and an understanding of critical unmet needs in her community.
Believing in the teaching and healing powers of horses, and wanting them to be accessible to everyone rather than an elite experience, she is leading the way in developing, promoting and providing Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) and Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) services throughout the area.
With a lifetime of experience riding and training horses, and an education in Communications Arts & Psychology from Villanova University, in 2011 Kristen learned about a cutting-edge, experiential therapy that incorporates horses for emotional growth and learning, and was inspired to gain certification as an Equine Specialist in the internationally recognized EAGALA Model®. The following year she founded WorkHorse, an Equine Assisted Professional Development company serving the needs of teams in corporate, academic, and government organizations.
Kristen is passionate about educating the mental health community about Equine Assisted Psychotherapy with a focus on underserved and marginalized populations. To ensure that all people in the community have access to EAP, she founded Gateway HorseWorks, a nonprofit organization offering transformative EAP services to children, adults, and families in a healing, farm-based environment. In April 2017, Kristen and Gateway HorseWorks launched two innovative pilot programs tailored to meet the needs of teen girls in the juvenile probation system and women in post-release from prison.
In addition to developing and managing Gateway HorseWorks as Executive Director and WorkHorse as President, Kristen participates in sessions as a certified Equine Specialist. She is also working alongside colleagues to conduct research on the effectiveness of EAP, and presents workshops to mental health practitioners on animal-assisted interventions. As she looks to the future, she aims for Gateway HorseWorks to provide increased access to mental health services for women and girls.
Kristen lives in Malvern, PA with her 6-year-old son, and spends as much time at the barn as she can.