Board of Directors

Jerry ClouseBoard Chair
Jerry enjoyed a rewarding career in health care spanning 37 years. He practiced in diverse areas such as hospital pharmacy management, home health care and long- term care consulting and hospital administration. He was appointed to the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy for eight years and was an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Pharmacy and the Wright State University School of Medicine.

In 2003, Jerry and his wife Gloria, a retired elementary school principal, moved to the Brevard area, anticipating a relaxed life style in the outdoors, hiking, fly fishing, traveling and playing golf. Within a short time he decided it was time to contribute to the community and ultimately served on several non-profit boards. Jerry was raised around Standardbred race horses a good part of his life and with his background in health becoming involved with Free Rein was a perfect fit.

Jerry and his wife live in the Cedar Mountain area, along with their Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Murphy.

Andy BullwinkelBoard Member
While attending Baylor high school, Andy took horseback riding lessons and worked at the barn. There, he participated in several horse events including dressage, stadium jumping, and cross-country jumping. He also became involved with the Chattanooga polo club. At first simply by exercising and cooling off the polo horses and eventually participating in several of the weekend practice games.

After graduating from Florida State University, he taught 9 th grade physical science for 4 years at McClay high school in Tallahassee, Florida. In 1988 he was recruited to be the program director at Camp Carolina for boys in Brevard. After that first summer, Andy, his wife, and newborn daughter chose to make Brevard their home. Their son was born the next year in Brevard. Four years later, Andy became the assistant director at Camp Illahee for girls.

After seven years in the summer camp business, Andy took the Resource Coordinator position with the statewide therapeutic foster care placement agency, Omni Visions, Inc., based out of Raleigh. Andy trained, licensed, and placed long term foster children in foster homes located in Western North Carolina.

In 2005, Andy took the science teacher position at Davidson River High School, the local alternative high school in Brevard. While working at DRS, Andy first learned about Free Rein. The middle school students there took lessons at Free Rein and since Andy had his bus driver’s license, he often drove them out to the barn for their lessons. After reading a newspaper article describing Free Rein and the upcoming volunteer orientation and training, Andy became involved. For many years while still teaching school, Andy volunteered as the horse leader for a single student every Wednesday afternoon during the spring and fall sessions. This experience helped Andy realize just how beneficial the Free Rein horses & lessons were to not only each student, but also for giving the family a quiet one-hour break during the lesson time. Andy retired from teaching after eleven years and found he had some free time. Being a morning person, Andy has volunteered to feed the horses Monday thru Friday mornings for several years now. During this time, Brittany, caught him fixing small things around the barn; hose holders, door hinges or latches, motion flood lights. Now Andy enjoys working with Brittany as a handy man for many of the special projects she comes up with. Andy continues to be a substitute horse leader when needed, continues to feed horses and do morning barn chores, and always love hearing Brittany’s chuckle when she says she has another project in mind.

Carter Heyward Board Member
Carter is a retired seminary professor, Episcopal priest, and feminist liberation theologian and author. She founded Free Rein in 2000 to draw together her love of animals, especially horses, and the work of caring for vulnerable human beings. At one time or another, Carter has worked at Free Rein as volunteer, instructor, horse-trainer, stall-mucker, fund-raiser, Board Chair and Executive Director. She is the author of several books and speaks frequently to groups.
Debi GarrettBoard Member
Debi spent the majority of her career in corporate America working for telecommunications companies such as BellSouth Mobility, MCI and Sprint in sales and sales management. She also worked for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Glaxosmithkline as a pharmaceutical representative. She was part of a layoff at GSK in 2008 and opened up a yoga studio with her business partner in Athens, GA which she owned for 9 years. She sold out to her business partner in 2017 when she and her husband, Scott, moved to Brevard. She has been teaching for Brevard Yoga since she moved here, has been a volunteer for the Center for Women and serves on the Board of Directors for the Big Hill POA.

Debi’s family has owned a house in Connestee since 1976 is she had been coming to the Brevard area for many years. She had always been curious about Free Rein every time she drove by. (She did ride horses and took lessons earlier in her life) She started volunteering last year as a side walker and just loved her experience with her students. Since COVID shut the programs down, she has been coming to the barn once or twice a week to help with barn chores, grooming, bathing, etc. She and her husband are heroes to Ayla.

Denise StretcherBoard Member
Denise has been on the Free Rein board since shortly after she moved to Transylvania County in search of fun and adventure! Her initial career was in Special Ed where she worked first in adult residential services, and then as a teacher for students with multiple challenges. After teaching for several years, she went to medical school to become a Family Practice physician. She is currently at Brevard Family Practice where her approach to her patients is the same as it was when teaching her students – to meet the individual’s needs using their own unique strengths, beliefs and interests.
She has been happily married to Brian for over thirty years and they have two wonderful young adult children, Eric and Sarabeth.

Donna HunterBoard Member
Shortly after moving to Brevard in 2012, Donna began volunteering at Free Rein Center and joined the Free Rein Board of Directors. Donna says, “Sometimes I think being at the barn is more therapeutic for me than for our students.” An amateur photographer, she loves taking pictures at the barn of students and the herd.

Donna spent her 27-year career at SunTrust Banks as Vice President/IT Project Management Office, executing multi-million dollar projects through life-cycles that included mergers, software and hardware development and implementation, and systems maintenance and upgrades. Donna also developed and delivered PM training and support to the PMO.

Donna lives in Connestee Falls with her husband Dave and their two cats, Murphy and Louie.

Linda FelderhoffBoard Member
Upon relocating to Brevard, Linda wanted to be a part of Free Rein and has been a volunteer since 2017. She is honored and appreciative of the opportunity to witness the “magical connection” that happens between a student and a horse.
Linda’s retired professional background consists of Compliance Analyst for an E-Rate Program, Office Manager of The Free Clinic of Transylvania County and Business Officer at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Division of Nephrology. Linda also enjoys woodworking with her husband, Kevin and hiking with their daughter, granddaughter and dogs.
Jim GarrettBoard Member
Jim, a native of Brevard, joined Free Rein 3 years ago as a volunteer. He was amazed at the positive life changing events the students experienced while participating in our programs. After graduating from Wofford College, he spent 30 years with IBM as director of Sales and Marketing and 8 years with The Princeton Review of New York as VP of sales. His wife Toni is also a volunteer, and is working toward becoming a PATH certified instructor. They both feel very blessed to be a part of Free Rein, where they see dreams come true.
Porsha SmithProgram Chair
Porsha Smith is a Board Member as well as the Chair of our Programs Committee. A Brevard native, she started with Free Rein as a volunteer in 2004. She is a retired Speech Pathologist who spent the majority of her career working with children who have significant cognitive delays. Currently, Porsha is working on her Active Animal and Therapy certification.
porsha head shot
Susan KishBoard Member
Susan Kish, was the executive director for an urban Juvenile Court in Lake County, Ohio for 16 years and prior to that for 18 years, the supervisor of the Court’s counseling department. Her educational background includes a BA with majors in English, Sociology and minor in Psychology. My masters is in Sociology.

In addition, she was a Board Member of the Lake County United Way
serving on a special committee which advised appropriate allocations to social services in the County.

She is certified by Hazelton Addiction Center as a drug/alcohol assessment counselor and served as an assessment counselor and developed recovery family sessions for the Lake County Juvenile Court.

Under the auspices of the Governor of Ohio, she also participated in the Lake County Family and Children First Council serving as member of Council and as chair of the Children’s Committee which was tasked with resolving therapeutic and placement issues for multi-need children. This entailed chairing public discussions which included parents, service providers and school personnel to plan and resolve conflictual concerns

Susan and her husband Doug, moved full time to Brevard 15 years ago. Prior to that, we owned a condo in Cashiers which we used for family vacations since 1980 until moving full time here.

Both Doug and Susan owned horses during high school. He stopped riding when he went to college. Susan gave up her own horse but her college had an equestrian program so even though she didn’t participate in it, my friends had horses so she got to ride.

Our daughter, Cait, started riding when she was 7; we leased a horse when she was 9 and we bought Levi, her horse, when she was 11. She evented with him for many years so she was an official “show horse mom”. He was here at Shoal Creek farms for the last 6 years of his life – he passed after 22 years with our family.

Susan decided to start riding again 11 years ago and bought her horse, Copper, 9 years ago. In addition, we bought a mare, Darby, 5 years ago.

Free Rein seems to be a great fit with her interests and experience. Susan has been impressed with and supported this facility for years.