Board Members



Kevin A. Lawrence is the President of Making Strides of Virginia. Kevin has 30 years of experience with a global information technology firm in business and customer management, contract negotiations, finance, and staffing. Kevin looks forward to every opportunity to be outside and engaging with nature. His involvement as a volunteer with a children’s hippotherapy group allowed him to gain first-hand experience with enticing people to interact with horses in a safe manner. “If I can do something that can get a child to smile, it is a good day. A laugh makes it a great day.’” Kevin resides in West Chester, PA where he has lived since 1988 after receiving his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Penn State University. Kevin has been an avid horseman for many years and makes frequent trips to Virginia to work with the horses used in the program.



Hope Gillespie is the Treasurer of Making Strides of Virginia. She is from San Antonio, Texas and has lived in Midlothian, VA since 2013. It has always been important to her to give back to her community. She works with inter city youth and has the privilege of being part of multiple organizations including Autism Speaks, The Richmond Chamber of Commerce, Retail Merchants Association and UNO’s.  She has been the Finance Manager at Whitten Brothers since 2018. The first time Hope rode a horse was when she was around 10 years old. It was a large horse.  He was gentle and humble enough to know that she was afraid. Hope attests that the person who taught that first lesson was not the real teacher. It was Big Red who gave her the confidence and freedom to know that she did not need to be afraid. The lesson that she learned then still serves her today.



Merrilea R. Goulet is the Secretary of Making Strides of Virginia.  She has over 20 years of experience in the Department of Mental Health (MA) and Administration/Finance (AL, VA) sectors and most currently as the Executive Vice President of Brandywine Valley Consultants Inc. d.b.a. Making Strides.  Merrilea was raised on a rural farm in Central Massachusetts where she was introduced to horses at a young age and is a graduate of New England School of Accounting.  She now resides in S. Chesterfield, VA with her family.  In her spare time, she enjoys riding, reading, gardening, singing in the choir, and cooking.


Executive Director

Doctor of Physical Therapy

CHA Certified Riding Instructor

Dr. Robin is the founder and Executive Director of Making Strides of Virginia and the Owner and CEO of Brandywine Valley Consultants Inc. She holds multiple university degrees including a Bachelor of Science in Biology/Pre-Med from Albright College, a Bachelor of Science in Health Science, and a Master of Physical Therapy from University of the Sciences in Philadelphia (formerly Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science). Robin received her Doctor of Physical Therapy from Temple University. She is licensed to practice physical therapy in Virginia. Robin also holds certifications as a Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) and an American Hippotherapy Association (AHA) Registered Therapist in hippotherapy.


In addition to her extensive education and training, Robin has practiced in multiple settings including both inpatient and outpatient practices, serving patient populations from special needs pediatrics through geriatrics. Throughout the 1990’s, she was the owner of her own outpatient physical and occupational therapy practice in Delaware County, Pennsylvania offering physical and occupational therapy including orthopedics, sports medicine, worker rehabilitation, aquatic therapy, and general practice services to the Philadelphia market. Since 2002, Robin has directed and provided services for the hippotherapy program at the Camphill Special School in Glenmoore, Pennsylvania – initially under contract through Easter Seals of Southeastern PA, and for the last three years, under direct contract through Brandywine Valley Consultants, Inc. d/b/a Making Strides. Concurrently, she also directed and operated a private hippotherapy practice in West Chester, Pennsylvania serving a population inclusive of Autism, Hypotonia, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Learning Disabilities, ADD/ADHD, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Spina Bifida, Abnormal Curvature of the Spine, Developmental Delay, Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries, Gait Abnormalities, Cerebral Vascular Accidents, Sensory Integration Dysfunction, Spasticity & Hypertonicity.


CHA Certified Riding Instructor

Christine is the riding instructor and barn manager for Making Strides of Virginia. She has been certified through Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) as a riding instructor. She began as a volunteer in the Making Strides hippotherapy program in 2019 and fell in love with the work! She has been around horses since she was little and has loved riding her whole life. She was heavily impacted by the difference that hippotherapy makes in the lives of those who need it and has since considered it a passion of hers. In her free time, Christine loves to spend time outside or with her dog Jaxon.