Board of Directors
The Richmond Therapeutic Riding Association provides the therapeutic benefits of horseback riding to people with disabilities. While participation in some activities may be denied to people with disabilities, horseback riding can be adapted appropriately in most cases. It is recognized as an aid in treating various physical, mental and emotional disorders. Reported benefits include improved strength, balance and co-ordination, increased confidence and a sense of achievement.
Melanie Stefiuk – Chair
Melanie has a long history of commitment to her community, having been an active volunteer with the BC Landscape and Nursery Association (BCLNA) for over 10 years, as well as a past Board Member of the BC Common Ground Alliance. Through her work as a Strata Account Executive with HUB International Insurance Brokers, she has also volunteered with the HUB Gives team at food banks across the Lower Mainland, coordinated with the BC Lower Mainland Spring Insurance Soccer League, and spearheaded the company’s JDRF Revolution Ride team for several years. Melanie has a passion for animals and is thrilled to be a part of the Richmond Therapeutic Riding Association
Bob Flynn – Vice Chair
Bob was born in England and served in the British Army from 1961 to 1969. He emigrated to Canada in 1969. Bob became a British Columbia Land Surveyor in 1974. He became a Partner in a Vancouver Survey Firm and retired in 2016. Bob is married with children and grandchildren.
John Wells – Treasurer
John moved from Toronto to Richmond in 1971 in order to open a Vancouver Group Insurance Claims Office for Confederation Life, where he served as its Regional Group Claims Manager – Western Canada for 25 years. At age 50, he retired and set up his own Consulting firm, specializing in Disability Claims Management. He has consulted on a full-time basis for several large Canadian Insurance Companies and continues to do so now on a part-time basis.
John was a member of the Richmond Kinsmen Club for 15 years. He is currently a member of the Richmond Golden Rods & Reels Society where he has held several executive positions over a 6 year period.
John joined our RTRA Board of Directors in April 2018. He has recently assumed the duties of the Treasurer.
Peter Levelton – Past Chair
Peter is a mainly retired greenhouse/nursery operator. Past Chair of RTRA, current director of the BC Agriculture Council, member of Richmond Sunrise Rotary Club, and Past President of the BC Landscape & Nursery Association. Peter is married with two children and two grandchildren who are all healthy and happy. He is glad to be able to help those who aren’t as fortunate.
Laurel Gardner – Secretary
Laurel’s passion for horses started with volunteering with the Therapeutic Riding Organization in Medicine Hat, Alberta. She followed it by taking the Equine Business Diploma and Bachelor Degree in Agriculture Business Degree at Olds College. Laurel’s work experience includes trail ride guiding in Lake Louise, Assistant Manager at Spruce Meadows and other top stables in Alberta and B.C. She also spent 6 years in Australia working as a Broodmare Manager on a thoroughbred stud farm. Laurel currently works at Westway Feed & Hay in Delta. She has volunteered with RTRA for the past four years and has recently joined the Board of Directors.
Dr. Kim Steele – Board Member
Dr. Steele grew up on a farm in Langley. She soon realized that horses would become her lifelong passion, shaping her decision to go to vet school. She graduated from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010. Dr. Steele enjoys getting involved in community programs and has been on the RTRA board of directors since 2015.
John Newman – Board Member
April Boni – Board Member
My name is April Boni. I have been volunteering with RTRA for over a year. My favourite part of volunteering is seeing the connections between our riders and the amazing horses that make up the program. Our riders’ problems and stress from the day seem to melt away with the time spent on our ponies. When I attended my first AGM last year I saw the opportunity to use my experience as an Educational Assistant with the Richmond school board as a member of the board. I am currently serving my second year and believe in the need for this program and how much it benefits the children in our community. Thank you for this continuing opportunity to serve.
Erendira Torres Pina – Board Member
Erendira worked for 7 years as a teacher in Mexico. She moved to Richmond in 2005 and is the mother of two boys. Eren is currently a Home Educator and very strong advocate parent for her children’s education. She is an enthusiastic volunteer and always willing to give back to her community.
Pia Schattner – Board Member
Kal Mahal – Board Member
Honorary Lifetime Members of RTRA
Founder and 1st Honorary Lifetime Member of RTRA
Frances Clark was a fantastic advocate, successful fundraiser and a feisty and caring person to have on your side. It is these characteristics that made her such a successful Chair of the RTRA Board of Directors for 18 years. Without Frances all these years, RTRA wouldn’t be where it is or what it is today. Frances taught us to stand up for what we believe in, to be strong in our conviction and to share our passion for the programs at RTRA and how they benefit children and youth with disabilities.
We honour Frances by making her the first Honorary Member of the Richmond Therapeutic Riding Association.
2nd Honorary Lifetime Member of RTRA
Vic Atkinson is a kind hearted gentleman who started volunteering at RTRA in 1998. Growing up with a love of horses this was the perfect place for Vic to volunteer. Vic was a side walker in our original location and found his passion helping the children in the lessons. Vic joined our board of directors as our treasurer in 2010. He remained in this position until 2018 when he retired from RTRA after 20 years of service.
We honour Vic by making him the second Honorary Member of the Richmond Therapeutic Riding Association.