The HAI Conference is a unique and innovative human-animal interaction professional development experience in beautiful Brewster, New York. Green Chimneys’ expansive campus is just one hour north of Manhattan.
Enjoy photo highlights from previous conferences and envision the perks of participating at hai2023.
Animal-Assisted Services: Focus on the Animal
Often our focus is on the professionals engaged in animal-assisted education and intervention, but what about the animals in the interactions? This conference will highlight the role of the many species of animals in human services including those animals participating in a wide range of environments and with diverse populations.
Who should attend hai2023?
Strengthening the practice of incorporating dogs, horses, and many other species safely, ethically, and effectively is relevant for occupational and mental health therapists, humane educators, equine-assisted service professionals, and others in order to achieve best outcomes for all.
Attendees will hear from dynamic keynotes, audit demonstrations from experienced animal handlers, take part in interactive sessions, as well as observe how Green Chimneys staff combine animals and nature-based programs to support 200 children with psychosocial and developmental disabilities in a day school and residential setting.
We are requiring that all hai2023 attendees show either proof of vaccination or proof of a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of the conference in order to attend. Proof can be shown at check-in, or in advance by sending a scan or photo of your vaccination card to Meg Slavin at [email protected].
*Pets are not permitted. Dogs or other pets are not allowed at the hai2023. With 200 children and over 300 animals of many species on our campus, and in order to maintain a safe and cohesive environment in our school, at the farm, and in the wildlife center, we are unable to integrate personal pets into the conference. Even if your pet offers emotional support at other times, we thank you for respecting the needs of our community, including our animals, by leaving your companion at home. Service dogs have full access.
Leaders in the field of human-animal interaction share their expertise at hai2023.
Click on or tap an individual photo to learn more about a specific speaker.
Equine Program Coordinator, Green Chimneys
Samantha Arevalo is the Equine Program Coordinator at Green Chimneys. After graduating in 2011 from Post University with a degree in Equine Business Management, Samantha initially started her work managing the therapeutic riding program but quickly expanded her skills and responsibilities once camels arrived to the Green Chimneys campus. Samantha currently holds certification as a Therapeutic Riding Instructor through PATH, Intl. and oversees the riding and groundwork program. Her work incorporating camels into traditional therapeutic groundwork sessions has driven the evolution of safe and educational camel interactions for children and adults. Samantha has presented this work at a variety of conferences and workshops, most notably the Southwest Camel Conference in Texas.
Brian Bello, MA
Research Associate, Institute for Human-Animal Connection
Brian Bello supportsresearch design activities such as protocol development, overseeing data collection, management activities, qualitative and quantitative data analysis, report writing, and dissemination. Brian received his bachelor's degree in psychology at Mercy College in New York. While completing his bachelor's, Brian worked at New York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital as a child life assistant. Brian also completed his master's degree at the University of Denver Morgridge College of Education in research methods and statistics while also working at the Family and Child Neuroscience lab at DU.
Sarah M. Bexell, Ph.D.
Director of Humane Education, Institute for Human-Animal Connection
Sarah M. Bexell, PhD is the Director of Humane Education with the Institute for Human-Animal Connection and Clinical Associate Professor with the Graduate School of Social Work, both at the University of Denver, Denver, Colorado, USA. Bexell is also a faculty member teaching Animal Protection for the Institute for Humane Education-Antioch University New England and Senior Advisor to the Education Department of the Chengdu Research Base for Giant Pandas, China. She teaches and does research in the areas of environmental and social sustainability and animal protection.
Farm Program Manager, Green Chimneys
Maureen Doherty has held various positions at Green Chimneys over many years. She worked in the school, became the longtime animal caretaker in the farm animal area and for the last ten years has been a farm staff supervisor and farm facility manager. Maureen ensures USDA farm license compliance and developed farm emergency protocol. She is the co-creator and supervisor of the innovative Dog Interaction Program, which engages students in helping with the socialization of shelter dogs (the program is currently on hiatus due to the pandemic). In her time at Green Chimneys, Maureen has facilitated farm programs for people of all ages and has been a life-changing mentor to many students. She has coordinated the livestock at the Putnam County 4-H Fair for nearly 20 years and has a passion for working with sheep. Maureen regularly trains professionals on nature-based services and considers Green Chimneys Founder Dr. Samuel Ross a major mentor in her life.
Human Resources Training Associate, Green Chimneys
Heidi Duelfer has worked in the Human Resources field for 15+ years first in corporate hospitality and luxury retail positions before transitioning to the non-profit sector in 2009. Currently employed as a senior staff trainer at Green Chimneys, Heidi supports the organization with a variety of training roles including compliance and data tracking, onboarding programs, and supervisor advancement. Heidi regularly collaborates with all levels of leadership to ensure training continually supports evolving organizational goals. A lifelong New Yorker, Heidi holds a B.A. and M.A. from state universities. Outside of work, she enjoys training her deviant standard poodle Asher who is also a campus dog. Asher and Heidi have the privilege and opportunity to provide enrichment for staff and students coming to work as a team.
Nina Ekholm Fry
Director of Equine Programs, Institute for Human-Animal Connection
Nina Ekholm Fry is the Director of Equine Programs at the Institute for Human-Animal Connection at University of Denver, Colorado, USA, where her work encompasses therapeutic human-horse interactions and equine behavior and welfare. She is an Adjunct Professor in the Graduate School of Social Work and the Graduate School of Professional Psychology, and leads the post-master Equine-Assisted Mental Health Practitioner Certificate program. For the past 15 years, she has focused on horses in human services, specializing in the inclusion of equine interactions in psychotherapy and counseling. Nina has a background as a mental health professional, specializing in trauma treatment, as a competitive rider, riding instructor (CHA), adaptive riding instructor (PATH Intl.), and equine behavioral consultant. She teaches Equine Behavior at Yavapai College and is actively engaged in national and international organizations for both human and equine health. She has a particular interest in applied ethics and social justice perspectives within human-animal interactions, including human-horse conflict.
Jennifer Enger, DVM
Veterinarian, Mid-Hudson Veterinary Practice
Jennifer Enger, DVM was born in New York and lived in Waccabuc as a child before moving to southern Texas for ten plus years. She put herself through Westchester Community College while working at 3 local animal hospitals (in Danbury, Goldens Bridge, and South Salem) and as a lifeguard in North Salem. After completing a biology major at Pace University in Pleasantville, she attended the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine where she graduated in 1999. Dr. Enger has been the Green Chimneys large animal veterinary care provider for almost 20 years with a patient roster that includes the Bactrian camels, pigs, goats, sheep, llamas, alpacas and herd of over 20 horses, ponies and donkeys. She lives in Sherman, Connecticut.
Aubrey Fine, Ed.D.
Educator & Researcher
Dr. Aubrey Fine is a native of Montreal, Canada. He received his graduate degree from University of Cincinnati in 1982. Dr. Fine has been on the faculty at California State Polytechnic University since 1981 and is presently a Professor Emeritus and a licensed psychologist. In 2001 Dr. Fine was presented the Wang Award given to distinguished professor within the California State University system (23 Universities).
Aubrey has been recognized by numerous organizations for his service and dedication to children, animals, and the community. In July of 2016 he received the William McCulloch Award for Excellence in HAI Education and Practice from the International Association of Human Animal Interaction Organizations, in Paris, France. Additionally, he was awarded the Educator of the Year, from the Learning Disability Association of CA as well as receiving the 2006 CA Poly Faculty Award for Community Engagement.
Aubrey’s primary research interests relate to the psycho-social impact of human animal interactions and animal assisted interventions, social skills training and children with ADHD, and resilience in children, Dr. Fine is the author and editor of several books including the Our Faithful Companions, Parent Child Dance, Therapist's Guide to Learning and Attention Disorders, Fathers and Sons, The Total Sports Experience for Children, Give a Dog Your Heart, The Handbook on Animal Assisted Therapy, Afternoons with Puppy, The Welfare of Animals in Animal Assisted Therapy and The Handbook on Human Animal Interactions and Anthrozoology (Routledge, 2023.) He also has had a featured monthly column in Dog Fancy Magazine on the human animal bond entitled the Loving Bond. He has been a guest on numerous national TV and Radio Shows including on programs on ABC, Discovery Network, KTLA, NPR, PBS, Fox, and CNN. His work has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, People magazine, Allure Magazine, Associated Press, LA, and N.Y. Times.
Karin Hediger Ph.D.
Psychotherapist & Researcher, University of Basel
Karin Hediger Ph.D. is a psychotherapist and researcher at the University of Basel, Switzerland, at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and a neuro-rehabilitation clinic, investigating effects of animal-assisted interventions. After studying psychology at University of Zürich, Switzerland, she did her Ph.D. in Rostock, Germany, in the field of human-animal interaction. She has a certificate in animal-assisted therapy, a diploma in equine-assisted therapy and recently founded a center for animal-assisted psychotherapy. She is president of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Human-Animal Relationship (IEMT Switzerland), secretary of the International Society for Animal Assisted Therapy (ISAAT) and gives courses on animal-assisted interventions in many different institutes.
Rebecca Husted Ph.D.
Rebecca Husted Ph.D. holds a B.S. in Biology from Wofford College, a Ph.D. in Animal Physiology from Clemson University. A past Biology adjunct professor, her current scientific research interests include a national survey of barn fire causality and improving fire prevention standards for animal facilities, study of animal physiological responses to Technical Rescue procedures and equipment, and investigation into horse neglect and cruelty cases. Her first book on Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue was published by Wiley-Blackwell in 2008, with chapters in several veterinary textbooks. She is a decorated combat veteran, retired Signal Officer, US ARMY, holds B.S. (Biology) Wofford College, Ph.D. (Animal Physiology) Clemson University.
Director of Farm & Wildlife Director & Director of The Sam and Myra Ross Institute at Green Chimneys
Michael Kaufmann is the Farm & Wildlife Director and Director of The Sam and Myra Ross Institute at Green Chimneys. He directs all aspects of the nature-based therapeutic/educational programs and supervises The Institute dedicated to education and research on the human connection to animals and the natural world. He serves on the board of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, is an advisor to the International Center for Anthrozoology, Norway, is on the advisory council of TAT Center for Human Animal Interaction, Vienna, Austria, Advisor to The Canadian Institute of Animal-Assisted Interventions, serves on the editorial board of People and Animals: The International Journal of Research and Practice, and is on the editorial board of the magazine GREEN CARE, Switzerland.
Farm Education Program Manager, Green Chimneys
Miyako Kinoshita is the Farm Education Program Manager of the Farm & Wildlife Center at Green Chimneys. She serves as the key facilitator for over 200 children with psychosocial disabilities currently in residential and day school, and facilitates and co-supervises a wide range of animal-assisted programs. She has a master’s degree in educational studies, and specializes in animal-assisted activity and animal-assisted education. She looks back on over 20 years of working in direct service with children and animals as a PATH Intl. Certified Advanced Therapeutic Riding Instructor. Miyako is the former president of the Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association (EFMHA) and a former board member of PATH Intl., serving as chair of the board governance committee and as board secretary. Miyako was instrumental in reintegrating equine-assisted mental health programs back into PATH Intl. She is an author of several chapters in textbooks, including Handbook on Animal Assisted Therapy by Aubrey Fine.
Dog Trainer and Owner of Animals for Adoption
Jane Kopelman is a Dog Trainer and Owner of Animals for Adoption. Jane was on the behavior staff at the ASPCA in New York City, teaching volunteer training workshops and classes for the general public. Appointed by the City of New York, she has served on the board of ACC (Animal Care and Control) in New York City, served on the Board of Directors of Angel on a Leash and has an extensive background in evaluating and training dogs. For more than twenty years, Jane has owned All About Dogs, a dog training business in New York. She offers private training and behavior counseling, is a certified therapy dog team evaluator for Pet Partners (formerly Delta Society), an AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator and teaches therapy dog classes trough out New York. Jane serves as a consultant for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s therapy dog program and has evaluated and trained hundreds of therapy dog teams. Jane has been doing pet therapy with her own dogs for more than twenty years. For the last six years, Jane has been working with Green Chimneys on a program that brings shelter dogs and special needs children together. Jane has lectured nationally on sheltering and community outreach. She was the national director of the Training WheelsÒ shelter outreach program which was featured on ESPN’s Don’t Be Like Mike video. She has also appeared on “It’s Me or the Dog” with Victoria Stillwell.
Denise Luft, LMHC
Associate Executive Director of Quality Assurance and Compliance at Green Chimneys
Denise Luft, LMHC is an Associate Executive Director of Quality Assurance and Compliance at Green Chimneys; her primary role is to assist all employees with performance quality improvement plans for programs to meet our goal of positive youth development. She is a certified member of the National Counseling Association and a licensed Mental Health Counselor in New York. Ms. Luft has worked with children and families at Green Chimneys for over 20 years as a residential care staff member, a therapist before being promoted as supervisor in the clinical program and into her current position. Ms. Luft developed an assessment to identify the function of behavior for youth who engage in harming behaviors towards animals. She participates in a staff committee to guide therapists and those in direct care roles to engage youth in prosocial mutually beneficial interactions with animals on campus, at home, and in a community setting. Ms. Luft has previously presented at professional conferences, including HAI.
Director of Nature’s Nursery at Green Chimneys
Deb Moore is the Director of Nature’s Nursery at Green Chimneys, a preschool and summer camp for children in the surrounding communities. One of her passions is how to engage very young children with animals and plants in a safe and joyful way. Deb has spent the entirety of her professional career at Green Chimneys and has been fortunate to have been given many opportunities to grow and advance within the agency. She has served on the organization’s Animals in the Therapeutic Milieu committee for many years and continues to do so currently. She holds a BS in Psychology, an MS and NYSED Permanent Certification in School Administration and Supervision.
Kevin Morris Ph.D.
Chair and Research Professor at the University of Denver, Executive Director for the Institute for Human-Animal Connection
Kevin Morris Ph.D. is the American Humane endowed Chair and a Research Professor within the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver. As Executive Director for the Institute for Human-Animal Connection, he oversees both research and education programs at the university. Trained as a molecular biologist, he spent 20 years conducting preclinical and clinical cancer research before adapting the focus of his work to improving animal health and welfare through scientific understanding of the human-animal bond. Dr. Morris’ research portfolio currently focuses on measuring the clinical efficacy of animal-assisted interventions and on documenting the reciprocal impacts between companion animals and communities. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs and on the Core Scientific Advisory Board for the Michelson Prize and Grants. The overall goal of his efforts is to raise the health and welfare of both people and other animals within the One Health framework through innovative, in-depth research and education.
Marisa Motiff, MSW, HAEI-SW
Research Associate, Institute for Human-Animal Connection
Marisa Motiff is a research associate at the Institute for Human-Animal Connection at the University of Denver. She supports social science research projects focusing on human-animal-environment interactions (HAEI). Her current research examines the connections between HAEI, self-regulation, and positive youth development of students in a residential treatment center. Marisa received her MSW and Animal-Assisted Social Work certificate from the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social work in 2020. She is passionate about creating projects and communicating research outcomes in a way that is accessible and useful to study participants and marginalized audiences.
Megan K. Mueller, Ph.D.
Co-Director, Tufts Initiative for Human-Animal Interaction
Dr. Megan K. Mueller is an Associate Professor of human-animal interaction at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, and Co-Director of the Tufts Initiative for Human-Animal Interaction. She is also a senior fellow at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University, teaches in the M.S. in Animals and Public Policy program at the Center for Animals and Public Policy, and advises the Tufts Paws for People therapy animal group. Dr. Mueller is a developmental psychologist, and her research program focuses on assessing the dynamic relationships between people and animals in families and communities. In particular, her work focuses on how human-animal interaction can support youth with social anxiety and promote thriving for adolescents and their families. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and private foundations, and she was recently the recipient of a NARSAD Young Investigator Award. Dr. Mueller is also a board member of the International Society for Anthrozoology and serves on the Pet Partners Human-Animal Bond Advisory Board.
Riding Instructor, Green Chimneys
Claire Oestreich is a PATH Intl CTRI and ESMHL, is the school riding instructor at Green Chimneys. Claire’s interest in horses started at a young age and eventually found an outlet at a 4-H Club in southeastern PA, which provided a hands-on opportunity to work with horses. Following this passion, Claire graduated from Lake Erie College with a Equine studies Major and a Minor in Therapeutic Horsemanship. Once certified to be an Instructor with PATH Intl. in 2012, Claire taught at a few therapeutic riding facilities in Pennsylvania before joining the Green Chimneys team in early 2021 to continue her work of empowering people of all ages and abilities to ride and partner with horses.
Riding Instructor, Green Chimneys
Valerie Parody is a PATH certified therapeutic riding instructor in the Green Chimneys horse program. She began as an intern in the horse barn after graduating from the University of Maine with her bachelors in Animal Veterinary Science. While interning she found a passion for working with children and horses, building their relationships and helping them reach their goals. She went on to pursue PATH certification in California after spending a year in the intern program. After coming back to NY, Valerie began teaching and working as the after school/ evening riding instructor for the residents at Green Chimneys.
Animal Caretaker & Farm Program Assistant, Green Chimneys
Maggie Pasquarella is the animal caretaker and farm program assistant at Green Chimneys’ Clearpool Campus. At a young age she immersed herself in the field of animal husbandry by volunteering at the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, NY as well as a local wildlife rehabilitation center. After achieving a M.S. in Zoology from the University of Maine in 2017 she successfully completed an internship with The Sam and Myra Ross Institute at Green Chimneys. During this time, she specialized in facilitating one-on-one therapeutic interactions between students and animals at the Farm & Wildlife center. The internship experience furthered her background in animal husbandry and incited her passion in animal-assisted activities. Maggie currently is co-authoring an academic paper on the potential of sheep in human-service programs.
Animal Caretaker, Green Chimneys
Danielle Powers is the Animal Caretaker for the Teaching Barn at Green Chimneys. As a graduate of the University of Connecticut with Bachelor’s in Animal Science, she gravitated towards finding a way to combine a passion for livestock with a mission to help people. She has a background in livestock and equine husbandry at independent farms as well as environmental management with US Fish & Wildlife. While heavily involved in the direct care of the livestock at Green Chimneys, she is also focused on guiding others into the practice of Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA) with livestock. Danielle currently is co-authoring an academic paper on the potential of sheep in human-service programs.
Wildlife Caretaker & Licensed Rehabilitator, Green Chimneys
David Spillo is the wildlife caretaker at the Green Chimneys Farm & Wildlife Center and a federally licensed wildlife rehabilitator. As a child, Dave loved watching birds from the window bird feeder and fell in love with them at an early age. While attending college at Pace University Dave worked at the Pace Environmental Center taking care of birds of prey and farm animals in between classes. Dave received his B.A. in Environmental Studies and a M.S. in Environmental Science with a focus on wildlife management from Pace University. Dave has worked in a few areas of Green Chimneys including Wildlife, as the Teaching Barn manager and as a 1:1 aide in the school. David really enjoys working with the students at Green Chimneys and teaching them all about wild animals and rehabilitation.
H. Marie Suthers, DVM
Professor & Chair of Anthrozoology at Carroll College
H. Marie Suthers, DVM is Professor and Chair of Anthrozoology at Carroll College in Helena, Montana. For over thirty years Dr. Suthers has enjoyed a career in veterinary medicine (Ohio State ‘82), in private practice, the no-profit sector and academia. She has been integral to the field of Anthrozoology. In the early 90’s while running a veterinary technology program at Columbus State Community College in Ohio, she developed and delivered an Animal-Assisted Education Certificate Program, one of the first of its kind. From there Dr. Suthers developed the Center for Human Animal Relationships at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. In that capacity, she served in leadership roles in the field including President of the American Association of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians, Board of Directors of the International Society for Anthrozoology, and Board of Directors of the Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association. Dr. Suthers served the country as a Veterinary Medical Officer for the Veterinary Medical Assistance Team of the National Disaster Medical System at the World Trade Center disaster caring for the search and rescue dogs. In 2005, she was awarded the Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year from the American Veterinary Medical Association and in 2006 the Commonwealth of Virginia Distinguished Veterinarian of the Year.
Michael Yellow Bird, MSW, Ph.D.
Dean & Professor of Social Work at the University of Manitoba
Michael Yellow Bird, MSW, Ph.D., is Dean and Professor of the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Manitoba. He is an enrolled member of the MHA Nation (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara) in North Dakota, USA. He has held faculty and administrative appointments at the University of British Columbia, University of Kansas, Arizona State University, Humboldt State University, and North Dakota State University. His research focuses on the effects of colonization and methods of decolonization, ancestral health, intermittent fasting, Indigenous mindfulness, neurodecolonization, mindful decolonization, and the cultural significance of Rez dogs. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles, book chapters, research reports, and the co-editor of four books: For Indigenous Eyes Only: The Decolonization Handbook, 2005; For Indigenous Minds Only: A Decolonization Handbook, 2012; Indigenous Social Work around the World: towards Culturally Relevant Education and Practice, 2008; and Decolonizing Social Work, 2013. He is the co-author of two recent books,: A Sahnish (Arikara) Ethnobotany (2020), and Decolonizing Holistic Pathways Towards Integrative Healing in Social Work (2021).
Green Chimneys is the host venue. All hai2023 Conference activities will be held on the Brewster campus. Sessions will take place in various school buildings as well as on the farm and among animals.
Get an intimate overview and gain insight into the diverse nature-based programs that are integrated into Green Chimneys’ therapeutic day school and residential treatment center. Explore the wildlife rehabilitation center; a PATH Intl. accredited therapeutic equine program, a teaching barn and its farm animals, and two organic gardens.
This meeting is hosted by The Sam and Myra Ross Institute at Green Chimneys which was established in 2012 to deepen the vision and impact of its animal and nature-based programs by demonstrating how purposeful contact with animals and the outdoors can enhance formal therapies and traditional education, and sharing knowledge to bring continued growth and leadership to the field. The Institute is inspired by the remarkable work of Green Chimneys Founders Sam and Myra Ross and strives to honor their legacy through education, advocacy, and research.
The Hilton Garden Inn is within walking distance of several casual restaurants, Starbucks, and other shops. The hotel also has a restaurant on the property.
Transportation to the Hilton Garden Inn Danbury
GO Airport Shuttle www.2theairport.com Reservations are required for shuttle service. When making your reservation, tell them that you are going to the Hilton Garden Inn Danbury, and they will make a stop at the hotel.
With the completion of an elaborate new habitat built by Green Chimneys’ woodshop students, the Farm Science classroom was able to welcome Brownie into her new home. Brownie previously lived alone in her cage in the farm and wildlife office, but guinea pigs do best in larger environments. The new habitat allows her to live in a herd as she would in the wild, with many places to hide and ways to practice her skills. Brownie has always been a social creature, and she has taken over the guinea pig herd but is a very peaceful leader.