Rhonda Smith | Founder & Executive Director

For native Texan, Rhonda Smith, her life's work became clear to her following a near-fatal accident involving an 18-wheeler in 1999. After the wreck, she left her job as Corporate Benefits Manager for Dell and founded Spirit Reins in 2003. Rhonda is a 1994 graduate of Texas A&M University with a B.B.A. in Finance and a professional background in human resources management. She has served on the Board of Directors for both the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) and Eagles Wings Retreat Center and is active on several local committees focused on improving the mental health of children who have experienced trauma. Rhonda is also a trained Equine Specialist in Natural Lifemanship.


Kris Weixel | Director of Finance & Technology

Kris has a B.S. in Business Administration from Minnesota State University - Moorhead. A former fiscal analyst for the Texas Department of Commerce and software engineer for IBM, Kris is in charge of the operations of the organization including financial controls, technology, and budgeting.


Keri Cooper | Clinical Director

Keri has a BS degree in Psychology and an MA degree in Counseling. She has over 20 years of experience working with children and families. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor - Supervisor and a certified Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapist with specialty training in trauma resolution, crisis intervention and psychological first aid. She has a passion for supporting trauma survivors and feels her work at Spirit Reins supports that passion.


Kym Alexander Lipscomb | Equine Director

Before coming to Spirit Reins, Kym served as a founding partner and Executive Director of GRIT, a therapeutic horsemanship a center north of Dallas, that she ran for five years. Kym has completed the advanced Natural Lifemanship training, the Masterson Method of equine massage training, and is a member of PATH (Professionals of Therapeutic Horsemanship), as well as a certified PATH Instructor. Kym considers herself a lifelong student of the horse. She has participated in multiple natural horsemanship clinics, received her certification as a barefoot trimmer and continues her studies of equine health and wellness. Kym's passion is using the relationship with the horse and her spirituality to help others understand their own identity and grow in well-being.


Austin Painchaud | Development Director

Austin previously worked at Southwestern University, where he served as Associate Director of Annual Giving. He has also worked at the University of Tulsa and Vanderbilt University. Austin has a B.A. from Southwestern University and an M.Ed. from Vanderbilt University. He and his wife Laura reside in Georgetown.


Ana | Revenue Cycle Manager

Ana is a graduate from Texas State University with a Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration. From a young age, she showed interest in the healthcare field and pursued studies of healthcare finance, healthcare law and policy, as well as quality improvement. Ana completed an internship with St. David’s Medical Center in the Quality Department where she discovered her love for the clinical side of healthcare. Eventually, she would like to pursue a master’s degree in accounting/finance or nursing. Prior to joining Spirit Reins, Ana worked in the customer service field for six years, spending the last four of those years in management.

Monica | Grants & Communications Coordinator

Monica received her B.A in English writing from Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri. Her love of animals, interest in mental health and equine therapy, and vocation to be of service to others drew her to the mission of Spirit Reins. Monica hopes to continue sharing the incredible and innovative work of Spirit Reins with others through her grant writing and storytelling.

Shirley | Therapist LCSW, MSW, MPH

Shirley has a MSW as well as a MPH from the University of Michigan. She has over 20 years of experience working with adults, children/adolescents, and families. She has worked in schools, home-based, domestic violence shelters, community mental health centers, as well as wellness clinic settings. Her life’s work has been in helping people recover from invalidating experiences, trauma, and other mental and physical health issues.

Sara | Therapist LPC, LCDC, MA

Sara received her master’s in individual and family counseling from St. Edward’s University.  She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor.  She has spent the last few years working with adolescents and their families who are struggling with substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders.  Sara has a passion for helping individuals and their families recover from trauma and develop resiliency.  Through experiential approaches such as equine assisted therapy, Sara helps her clients develop mind body awareness.

Araceli | Licensed Clinical Therapist LPC, MA

Araceli is a licensed professional counselor, bilingual in English and Spanish, and has experience working with children of all ages and their families.  Her background is in working with children in foster care, community organizations, residential treatment centers, and schools.  She believes that we all share a fundamental need for trust, connection, and empowerment.  Through therapeutic work with horses, those relational needs can be identified and accessed in powerful and genuine ways. Araceli’s counseling approach is trauma-informed and client-centered.  She has been known to let her quirky sense of humor out in session and you will most likely see her wear one or ten shirts with animals on them during your experience at Spirit Reins.

Ellie | Equine Professional

Ellie grew up loving horses and firmly believes in the transformative power of equine-assisted therapy. She received her master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Liberty University and has combined her degree with coursework through Prescott College's Equine-Assisted Mental Health program. Ellie places strong emphasis on the importance of connected relationships for healing, renewal, and resiliency, and the power of horses to be transparent teachers of one's capacity for awareness of and connection with self and others. Ellie is guided by her Christian faith, standing by the value that exists at the core of each individual and how a partnership with horses can uniquely and authentically bring that to light. 

Thomas | Facilities Manager

Thomas earned his B.S. in Building Construction from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, 1969, and a Master of Arts in Science Education from the University of Texas at Dallas, 1979. His experience includes: 23 years in Commercial Construction Management, 8 years in steel door manufacturing, 14 years in subcontracting in the commercial construction arena, and 13 years as a ranch hand at Spirit Reins.

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