Meet our Leadership Team
Laureen Andrews comes to Bella Terra Stables Board of Directors after a career that includes extensive experience in governance, organizational development, grantmaking, and financial operations, working at several nonprofit organizations, including a national grassroots membership organization, four prominent research, education and advocacy groups (“think tanks”), various school and community groups, and, in retirement, leading volunteer development and coordination for a unit of the US National Park Service. In these positions, she has secured IRS tax exemption for the launch of two organizations, provided fiscal sponsorship for a start-up nonprofit, structured and negotiated three five-year IDIQ contracts with the US Government and secured a GSA Mobis contract, in addition to numerous foundation grants and sponsorships. She holds Bachelor of Arts from George Washington University, Masters from Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and completed Georgetown University's School of Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate Program. She makes her home in Washington, DC, and has been pulled into the world of horses by the youngest of her two daughters and husband both of whom trained with Bella Terra Stables Co-Founder, Amber Power, former General Manager of the National Park Service unit Rock Creek Park Horse Center in Washington DC.
Melissa Destefano comes to Bella Terra Stables with a love for animals, a career in higher education administration, and a dedication to volunteer service in her local community of Murrysville, PA. Working in higher education provided experience in areas including the development and maintenance of recruitment programs on the local, state, and national levels, assessing and supporting the emotional, financial, and academic needs of students, and serving as consultant/member to faculty, staff, and alumni groups within the academic community. She was Assistant Director of Admissions at Southwestern at Memphis/Rhodes College, Director of Graduate Student Services at the College of Business Administration at Georgetown University, and Assistant Direct of Admissions at Tepper School of Business at Carnegie-Mellon University. Upon retirement to raise her children she maintained an active role in her community volunteering and serving on the board of parent/teacher organizations. Most recently she volunteered for 11 years with The Dog Reading Pals, a dog therapy reading program for children located at the Murrysville Community Library. She and her certified therapy dog attended the program and she later served as administrative team member, public relations liaison and photographer. She holds a B.A in psychology from Allegheny College. She owned a horse when younger and is honored to help the beautiful retired horses at Bella Terra Stables.
Ilse Eisele, LPC
Ilse brings a strong foundation for compassionate service to Bella Terra Stables. Having lived abroad in Papua New Guinea, Australia, and Austria, Ilse possesses an informed global perspective on the human conditions of suffering and healing. After a 15-year career as a professional photographer, Ilse answered a calling to help victims of trauma and human trafficking and returned to university to become a licensed therapist. With a lifelong passion for horses, she became a certified mental health professional with EAGALA in 2019 adding yet another layer of expertise to her repertoire for therapeutic healing. In 2021, Ilse became a mental health practitioner for the OK Corral organization (specializing in horsemanship and psychotherapy) and is currently working on EMDR certification.
Ilse holds a B.A. in Psychology and a second B.A. in Communication Theory, as well as an M.A. in Professional Counseling Psychology from Washington Adventist University. Prior to joining Bella Terra Stables, she worked as a licensed therapist and counselor at Synergy Family Services in Hyattsville, MD, and the Family Wellness Center in Washington DC.
Amber is the third generation of horse professionals in her family to make Murrysville, PA her home after returning from a 20-year career at Rock Creek Park Horse Center, a National Park Service unit located in Washington DC. As General Manager of the horse center, Amber was charged with managing and coordinating all aspects of numerous programs, riding instruction, equine therapy services, a 60 member staff, a 100+ volunteer force, private boarders, public events, summer camps, and the trusted care of 57 horses. As an employee of the National Park Service concessionaire, Guest Services, Inc., Amber was responsible for the annual $1M budget and contract relations between corporate headquarters and the National Park Service federal unit. Amber’s frequent witnessing of the healing powers of horses during her tenure at the horse center led her to seek and achieve certification as an EAGALA Equine Specialist in 2018 resulting in the creation of the equine therapy program as a new service offering at Rock Creek Park Horse Center. In 2021, Amber went on to get certified in the OK Corral Series focusing on horsemanship and equine-assisted psychotherapy as well as an ARCH (Arenas for Change) horse professional focusing on narrative therapy in treatment approaches.
Amber holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Pittsburgh and an M.A. in English Literature from Gannon University.
Laura McGee has spent much of her life as a fierce and passionate advocate. Whether it be for her four children, family, and friends, past clients she served while Director of CRR/DOM programs for a local nonprofit, or in her role as Housing Specialist on one of Mercy Behavioral Health's Assertive Community Treatment Team (ACT), Laura utilized a person-centered, trauma-informed approach as the voice for countless individuals and continues to do so. She does not look at a situation and see limits; instead, she focuses on possibilities. For example, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, she dedicated her time to aiding the vaccination initiative through a personal campaign that focused on removing universal barriers for 400+ individuals seeking the opportunity to receive the vaccine. In addition, she successfully envisioned two family-centered yearly fundraisers, Bella Terra's Halloween Festival and A Day of Magic which welcomed nearly 1,600 guests from nine counties to the farm. With an excitable eagerness, she is committed to sharing her passion for the healing, resilience-oriented work done at the stables with as many families, organizations, providers, schools, and community leaders as possible to expand Bella Terra Stables' reach through the Pittsburgh region and surrounding counties.
Katharine McHugh is passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, human-centered design, and creating excellent customer experiences, including for horses! She worked in international development for more than 11 years -- primarily on market-based water and sanitation projects -- before transitioning to domestic non-profit work with AARP as a Senior Experience Designer, a role in which she is committed to helping people choose how they live as they age. Katharine has an MBA from the University of Maryland and a Masters of Science in Control of Infectious Diseases from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She is honored to participate as a board member of Bella Terra Stables, in particular because it is an opportunity to help care for these retired horses who previously cared for her during riding lessons at Rock Creek Horse Center, a National Park Service unit located in Washington DC.
Jeffrey Fromknecht, MSW
With a reverence for the healing power of horses and nature, Cynthia Seale brings an entrepreneurial spirit to Bella Terra Stables. As a semi-retired Landscape Architect, her career path has spanned both the private and non-profit sectors. Cynthia has spent decades creating eco-sensitive landscapes and communities - promoting green infrastructure, working to save a river and its watershed, and designing outdoor learning centers for public elementary schools that double as Community Parks in underserved urban neighborhoods. Equine interests have remained with her since childhood. As an encore career, she is currently practicing Equus Coaching, guiding cognitively sound adults and youth through interpersonal development, co-facilitated by horses. Cynthia has served on numerous board of directors for civic organizations and has served as a volunteer for several equestrian centers dedicated to horse rescue, sanctuary and equine therapy for children and veterans. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape Architecture and is certified as an Equus Coach® through the Koelle Institute for Equus Coaching.
Jeff is a lawyer, author, and speaker who has a passion for helping others. He is the the co-founder and Managing Attorney of Side Project Inc. Jeff is licensed to practice law in both Pennsylvania and Florida. He holds graduate degrees in both social work and law and has more than 15 years of experience working at nonprofit organizations in a variety of direct-service and management roles.