Our Staff

Xenophon Staff
Danielle Coburn – Program Director

Danielle with Dandie

Danielle Coburn – Program Director
Danielle grew up in Danville, attended Seven Hills, Athenian and Pepperdine University.
Prior to being involved with therapeutic riding, she spent many years working in the fashion industry at Nordstrom, followed by working as a sales rep and then in management for international watch companies. Danielle began riding at the age of 6 and was instantly bit by the “horse” bug. She took riding lessons and trained as Hunter Jumper in the Tassajara Valley. Danielle first became involved in therapeutic riding in 2006 when she began volunteering and teaching at SonRise Equestrian Foundation. Seeing the magical connection special needs children had with the horses was magnetic to her, and from then on she was hooked on the concept. She began at Xenophon in 2010 and received her PATH Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor Certification in 2011. Being a part of Xenophon combines her two passions – children and horses.

When Danielle is not at Xenophon, she volunteers as a Wish Grantor for Make A Wish, is a volunteer mentor at SonRise and is also a member of Soroptimist of the San Ramon Valley and San Ramon Valley Horseman's Association. Danielle enjoys traveling, spending time with her family, friends, her dog “Mattie” and her horse Dandie who retired from Xenophon in 2014.
Rachel and Teddy

Rachel and Teddy

Rachel Bloom - Volunteer and Admin Manager
Rachel brings years of horse and Xenophon knowledge. She began volunteering with us in 2013, starting out as a side walker and moved up the ranks to groom, then horse handler and exercise rider. Soon after, in 2015, Rachel was hired on as our Volunteer Coordinator where she encouraged others to volunteer with our wonderful program. Rachel temporarily moved out of state from 2016-2017, but was anxious to relocate back to the Bay Area where her family resides. She returned to Xenophon January 2018, and hit the ground running, working daily to connect with our herd of horses, and prepare all the administrative tasks for the gala. Rachel began riding horses at the age 9 and spent her adolescence riding hunter/jumpers at Bottomley Farms in Briones she later rode at Skyline Ranch in Oakland. Rachel was raised in Berkeley and attended Berkeley High School and Berkeley City College. She comes to us with over a decade of retail sales and management experience. Working with imports from Bali, India and Morocco led her to travel and also live in the hills of Mendocino County helping to manage a friend's ranch. Rachel has a beautiful 6 year-old daughter, who already shows a strong interest in horses when she visits the center. In Rachel is an avid gardener and enjoys spending time with her close knit family.
Linda and Pepper

Linda and Pepper

Linda Parsons - Barn Manager is a local girl. Born and raised in the Bay Area. She grew up from an early very early age riding and showing horses. She was a Deputy Sheriff working for Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department. There she was a K-9 patrol officer. One of her assignments was a Community Relations Officer working with kid in need along with her K-9, Bandit.

Wanting to do something meaningful in retirement, Linda found Xenophon a place where her love of horses and her affinity for helping special needs kids and their families was just what she was looking for. Linda currently lives in Orinda with her husband Scott and their demanding cat Jessie. When not at the center she enjoys gardening, hiking and entertaining with her husband around the backyard pizza oven and barbecue.

Mari with Wimby

Mari Parino – Instructor
Mari graduated from UC Davis in 1981 with a degree in Animal Science, working on horse breeding farms, in small animal medicine, and finally exotic animal medicine with Marine World/Africa USA. In 1993, after a transfer through her husband’s job to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Mari taught science in middle school, grades 6-8. Another move took her family to Singapore where she began teaching for The Riding for the Disabled Association, a job that combined her love for children with her passion for horses. Upon returning to the USA, Mari began teaching for Xenophon, ultimately working as the Program Director until 2005 when another overseas transfer took her to Thailand. That move provided Mari with the opportunity to introduce the benefits of therapeutic riding to the disabled community in Rayong, where she started a center. In 2010, with a final relocation back to the Bay Area, Mari took over as Executive Director of Xenophon. In 2016, Mari was awarded the PATH International Professional of the Year Award, both for Region 11 and nationally.

Outside of work, Mari enjoys time with family, dog training, and working with her 2 Friesian horses. She has competed successfully in dressage at the state level, does carriage driving, and loves exploring the trails in the Sierra Nevada Mountains both on horseback and mountain bike.

Janet with Ozzie

Janet Alexander - Occupational Therapist and Instructor
Janet began volunteering for Xenophon in 2004, while working in the corporate world. This turned out to be a life-changing experience for her. Having mastered all volunteer positions that Xenophon had to offer, Janet became a PATH Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor in 2006. She transitioned from the corporate world to the world of equine-assisted therapies as she took on the role of Xenophon’s Program Director. In 2010, she obtained her Master’s in Occupational Therapy and currently works as an OT, treating children with autism in a local school district. as well as teaching therapeutic riding and Hippotherapy at Xenophon.

Janet currently resides in Oakland with her husband, Brian, and her two dogs, Kimba and Ceara. She enjoys hiking, cycling, gardening and taking road trips

Laura Fend - Instructor

Laura Fend - Instructor
Laura graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in Child Development. She went on to get her teaching credential from St. Mary’s College, and spent 15 years teaching elementary school in both the Mt. Diablo and Walnut Creek School Districts. Laura began volunteering for Xenophon over 15 year ago and it was here she found her true love. Teaching therapeutic riding combined her love for horses and children.

Laura has been involved in the horse world for over 40 years. She is an active competitor in endurance riding, along with her husband, Gary, of 42 + years. She currently serves as the pasture manager for the Moraga Horseman’s Association, having served as president for both that organization and the San Ramon Valley Horseman’s Association. Laura enjoys working in the yard and restoring her house of 100+ years, as well as spending time with her 2 children, grandchildren, dogs and chickens. When not at the center she enjoys camping in the mountains and spending time at the beach.

Tineke with Go-Go and Ozzie

Tineke Jacobsen – Physical Therapist
Tineke was born in The Netherlands, and came to the United States in 1965. In, 19—she graduated from and became a licensed Physical Therapist, working with children in a clinical setting. In 1995, she attended a seminar on Hippotherapy and realized this was the perfect opportunity to combine two things she loved, her career and horses. Tineke began as a volunteer for Xenophon in , obtaining her instructor certification with PATH International. When a hippotherapy program was started at NCEFT (National Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy) in Woodside, she began practicing with them and then was instrumental in getting a hippotherapy program started at Xenophon. In addition, she helped develop a therapeutic riding, hippotherapy, and therapeutic driving program at Access Adventure.

Tineke has been involved with horses for over 20 years. She loves dressage and has competed successfully at 1st level. Tineke and her husband, an orthopedic surgeon, are very active in Healthcare Volunteer Overseas, an organization that offers education to professional healthcare workers in foreign countries. Their travels with HVO have taken them to Vietnam, the Philippines, India, Cambodia, Uganda and Haiti. Amidst all of this, Tineke still finds time to spend with her 4 daughters and grandchildren.

Heidi and Dinero

Heidi Koch - Instructor
Heidi received her Elementary School teaching credentials in Switzerland, where she was born and raised. Heidi move to the US in 1990, and In 2005, she started working at Xenophon with her diploma as a Therapeutic Riding Instructor from Switzerland, which she obtained while working and living at a facility for special needs children in 1987. In 2008, she became a PATH Certified Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor here in the USA. Heidi was awarded the PATH International Region 11 Professional of the Year Award in 2015. Heidi also teaches Basic Riding and Horsemanship and a variety of other equine-assisted activities at Summit Ranch. Heidi is an avid horsewoman and has been actively involved in the equestrian community for many years, serving as board member and president of the San Ramon Valley Horseman's Association and as a Junior Rider Adviser for MHA.

Teaching and working with children always gives her great joy and satisfaction. One of her greatest pleasures was teaching her own kids to ride and to enjoy the different opportunities that horses brought into their lives. Both of her daughters are accomplished riders and with the support of her husband, activities with horses became a big part of their family life. Heidi strongly believes exposure to animals teaches children a vast amount of life skills. Heidi also enjoys reading, gardening, hiking with her dogs, tutoring, traveling and spending time with friends and family. And yes, she loves the Swiss mountains and Swiss chocolate!
Haley with Ruby

Haley with Ruby

Haley Mathews – Instructor
Haley grew up riding horses on her family's cattle ranch in San Ramon, California. She graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in Agricultural Science with a concentration in horses. Right out of college she worked with at-risk high school students in various countries and Hawaii for three years. Haley worked for 12 years as the assistant director of Shepherd's Gate in Livermore, a homeless shelter for women and children.

In 2008, when her 3 children were in High School, Haley became involved with therapeutic riding at SonRise Equestrian in Castro Valley where she continues to teach riding lessons. She received her PATH certification in 2014. The beautiful connection between the horse and the child is what Haley loves most about therapeutic riding. She joined the Xenophon team in January 2015.

When not teaching riding lessons, Haley works at her family's commercial real estate business and manages the cattle ranch in San Ramon where she and her husband, Brian, live. She loves walking on the ranch with her two dogs Max and Zorro.

Melissa with Dandie and Starlight

Melissa Maker - Physical Therapist Assistant and Instructor
Melissa is a true local girl, having grown up in the Orinda area. She has been volunteering/working at Xenophon for 18 years. Melissa began as a volunteer, first sidewalking, then becoming a horse handler. She began teaching for Xenophon in 2000 and became a PATH Certified Registered Instructor in 2003. She is currently in a physical therapy assistant program and looking forward to completing that in May of 2015. Melissa has been riding most of her life, participating in pony club and then going on to compete in dressage and 3-Day Eventing. Her talented equestrienne skills led her to become a riding instructor in her teens and she has continued since that time.

Outside of Xenophon, Melissa enjoys playing tennis, skiing and running agility with the Australian Shepherds in her life, Luke and Blue.

Wanda with Ozzie

Wanda Sayuk – Instructor
Wanda received her B.S. in Medical Technology from St. John’s University in New York. She spent 5 years working in the medical field prior to having her family. Wanda was introduced to therapeutic riding as a volunteer for Cornerstone Therapeutic Riding Center, in American Canyon. She came to Xenophon in 2004, working as sidewalker, horsehandler, and Volunteer Coordinator. Expanding her skill sets, Wanda became a certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor with PATH International in 2010.

Wanda received her Personal Training Certification in 1990, and when she is not teaching at the center, she is busy instructing Jazzercise classes 5 days a week in Vallejo/Benicia, which she has been doing since 1986. Wanda has a long list of interests, including cooking, cooking shows, going to great restaurants, wine tasting, listening to live music, getting together with friends and family, and traveling.

Misha Jacobs - Instructor

Misha Jacobs - Instructor
"Michelle (aka. Misha) grew up in the Bay Area and has loved horses from an early age. She was certified as a PATH Instructor in 2010, while attending CSU Chico. She graduated in 2012 with a B.S. in Recreation Administration - Therapeutic Recreation. After being awarded a merit internship, she interned at the National Ability Center, in Park City, Utah. Misha has always been passionate about working with people with different abilities, animals, and being outdoors!

In 2013 she passed her national exam and became a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. While she is grateful for a wonderful range of learning experiences she has had (preschoolers, youth who are blind/visually impaired, adults with developmental delay, prison inmate/patients in mental health, and seniors in memory care), Misha especially enjoys community recreation and working with children. She has a certified therapy dog that she enjoys taking to work to provide animal-assisted therapy to her clients.

Misha began riding at the age of 4 and has competed in english pleasure as a youth, but now prefers western pleasure riding, as well as natural horsemanship, and attending clinics around the bay. She is also passionate about animal rescue and rehabilitation. Getting outdoors as much as possible, swimming, hiking with her dog Sheila, camping, and backpacking are favorite leisure interests of Misha’s as well. She also enjoys spending time with her family, close friends, and two horses Klassi and Cassidy.

Misha does not believe in “dis”abilities, but rather “different” abilities."