Meet Our Board

Theresa Pugh, MD
Board Chair

Theresa’s love for horses started at an early age in Virginia, where she grew up riding hunters, jumpers and dressage horses. When she’s not at the barn pampering her horse, Hazel, she can be found at Central Family Practice where she practices family and functional medicine. Theresa was a member of the first graduating class in the Facilitator Training Program in Equine Assisted Learning where she was trained to become a HorseLink facilitator.


Shannon Taylor Parks,
Vice Chair

Shannon Taylor Parks is an Austin-based marketer, educator, and entrepreneur with expertise in strategic planning, outreach, and small business growth and management.  Shannon has been involved with horses for much of her life and is interested in increasing public awareness of the unique therapeutic benefits of working with horses.  Early in life she became inspired by the powerful breakthroughs that horses and humans can experience together; that’s what drives her to advocate so passionately for HorseLink’s vital work.
Shannon attended Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and Virginia Tech, earning a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and Physics.  She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, Brian, and two children.

Christina Crean,

Christina moved from Washington D.C. to Austin in 2011 where and continued her work in the hospitality industry. In 2016, she took a job with Tito’s Handmade Vodka with the task of managing and expanding their philanthropic event footprint in Austin.  Christina has doubled the amount of charity events Tito’s contributes to and continues to grow nonprofit relationships, while managing events throughout the state of Texas. Becoming a Texan encouraged her to reinvigorate her love for of horseback riding, which was initially discovered at summer camp as a child. As an adult, Christina continues to take riding lessons as a form of exercise and therapy.

Kate Thompson,

Kate is a native Austinite, a graduate of the The University of Texas at Austin and co-owner of Thompson Farms. While Kate is not an equestrian, she has a love for all animals and understands the important role that Horselink plays in helping horses and people. Kate also serves on the board of the Pease Park Conservancy.

Michael Kryzak,

Michael is a graduate of St. Andrews University of North Carolina and holds a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction.  A former elementary school teacher, he currently serves as an Instructional Facilitator in Dripping Springs ISD.  Being a lifelong equestrian, former PATH registered instructor, and cancer survivor has shown Michael the incredible impact that horses can have on people.  
Michael is a three year resident of the Austin area.  He is looking forward to serving on the HorseLink Board of Directors to help continue the vision of the organization and grow the impact being made on people and horses alike.

Melanie Schwartz

While Melanie grew up in Texas and has always had a love for horses, her equestrian passion didn’t take roots until living in Sonoma, CA. In 2019, she and her husband, their 2 huskies and her OTTB Admiral made the trek to Austin.  Melanie runs her own travel planning service helping visitors to Napa, Sonoma and Texas Hill Country plan wine country vacations.  Prior to being an entrepreneur, she worked in the adverting agency world for many years honing her client service skills. She also has extensive non profit experience, notably serving on the Board of Directors for Sonoma Valley’s only pet shelter for many years.   Melanie holds an MBA and BBA from the University of Texas at Austin.

Betty Layton

Betty Layton was born in 1957 and raised in Columbus, Ohio. She graduated from Kenyon College located in lovely Gambier Ohio in 1979 with a  BA in Psychology. In Austin Texas she has spent 40 years working in print and film production. Betty married Chris Layton in 1985, together they have a son, Joe 31 and a daughter, Darby 28. She is a former Board Member of the Texas School for the Deaf Foundation. Her volunteer work has been with Austin Dog Alliance and the Blanton Museum.

She is the proud owner of 2 horses, Sophie and Levon, 2 dogs, Harriet and Morty, and kitty Mabel.

She can be found year round swimming her miles at Barton Springs.

Caitlin MacRae

Caitlin relocated to Texas from Virginia in 2013. She spends her days as a UX Research Manager at Adobe and the rest of her free time with her horses. She has previous experience teaching therapeutic horseback riding and serving on the board of Still Meadows Enrichment Center and Camp, a program that provides services for individuals with physical and developmental disabilities. She has firsthand experience of the healing power of horses and believes strongly in the HorseLink mission. Caitlin also serves on the board of The Arc of the Capital Area.

“I feel very fortunate to have found HorseLink which has given Padi a new career working with people. HorseLink understands that retired show horses have been exposed to so much and have a trustful and giving nature and helping people is what they loved to do. So glad that Padi can be a part of the work HorseLink does with veterans and with those dealing with trauma through illness or loss. This work is so very important in helping people heal and move forward with their lives.”
–Judi, Previous Owner