Catlett Takes the Reins at High Hopes

... But three retiring Trustees will not be allowed to hang up their boots 

Old Lyme, CT – High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Inc. announced that John Catlett has been appointed Chair of the Board of Trustees. Catlett takes over from Barbara Earle Ballard who today retired from her latest three-year tenure as Chair, and after over 20 years serving the whole High Hopes community.

Catlett will lead an experienced team of Trustees and Officers including Vice Chairs Seymour Smith of Essex, Scott Douglas of Lyme, and Jeff Ridgway of Chester. Jackie Kangley (Secretary) and Deborah Welles (Treasurer) also take up officer positions. John spent more than 26 years with the consulting firm Accenture before retiring as a senior partner and lives in Lyme with his wife, Athana, and three daughters, Sarah, Sabrina and Anna. 

“It has been an honor to serve alongside Barbara. As Chair and as Co-Chair of the Strategic Planning Force,” said Catlett. “Barbara has not been afraid to ask the hard questions that have helped us create a strong vision which will take High Hopes into it’s next fifty years. Her invaluable leadership and support truly exemplify the spirit of High Hopes.” 

It was that “commitment, dedication and compassion” which led to Ballard being selected by her peers and High Hopes staff, for the 2014 Sally Aubrey Award. She will continue to support High Hopes in a voluntary capacity, while also continuing her position as President of Odyssey Enterprises Inc. a multi-media company she runs with her husband Dr. Robert Ballard. 

“Barbara has served High Hopes in so many different capacities from Co Chairing the annual major fundraising event, to her two full terms on the Board,” commented Kitty Stalsburg, Executive Director. “In her capacity as Chair she has been instrumental in helping High Hopes build a reputation for fiscal responsibility, strong corporate governance, visionary thinking and professional inclusiveness.” 

Also retiring from the Board are Jeb Embree and Cheryl Heffernan, both of Lyme. Jeb and his wife Dianne have been involved with, and staunch supporters of High Hopes, since it’s earliest days. Most recently he has served on the Finance and Human Resource Advisory Committees, where his experience with a number of leading NYC financial firms has provided a unique resource for the Board. 

Cheryl Kelly Heffernan is a Chair Emeriti, a past Volunteer of the Year and also a recipient of the Sally Aubrey Award in 2007. Heffernan was described in 2013 as “the embodiment of a Working Trustee … who puts her words in to action, and whose actions have helped transform High Hopes into a strongly supported, international leader in the therapeutic riding world.” 

“Cheryl is always the first to step forward with a leadership gift, and then encourages others to join in her support,” remarked Stalsburg. “She leads, she gives and best of all, she does!” 

Joining the Board’ class of 2020 are returning Trustee Sarah Hill Canning of Stonington, and new Trustees Hannah Metcalf Childs of Old Lyme, Vicki Newton of East Haddam, Robin Schonberger of Old Lyme, and Peter Watt of Lyme CT and NYC. “I welcome the diversity of experience, and perspective that our new Trustees bring to High Hopes,” concluded the new Chair in his remarks to the Board. Our Annual Meeting is the perfect opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to improve the lives of everyone touched by the magic of High Hopes, whether as a participant, family member, volunteer, corporate sponsor, or neighbor here on the Connecticut Shoreline.”