Board of Directors
Joey Bristol, Board President
Joey started volunteering at BDF shortly after it was established and became a board member in 2007. She has spent most of her life riding horses and worked as a riding instructor before moving to Georgia. She is retired from the UGA Cooperative Extension where she worked as a 4-H Program Assistant in Oconee County. She now enjoys spending plenty of time with her granddaughters. As board president, Joey is an invaluable source of information and support for connecting volunteers and community members to the farm. She oversees short and long-term service projects with the program and heads up all major fundraising functions benefiting the farm.
Cat Thompson, Founder
Cat was born in Limestone, Maine, but since her father was in the Air Force, she moved throughout the country during her childhood years. After starting college at Oregon State University, she transferred to the University of Georgia in 1985 and has lived in Watkinsville ever since. Cat works as a speech therapist and specializes in working with children who are medically fragile, have severe communication deficits, and have difficulties with feeding and swallowing. Cat worked for St. Mary’s hospital in Athens, Georgia, for eight years, but she now has an outpatient pediatric therapy practice in Watkinsville, Georgia, that employs physical, occupational, and speech therapists. Cat has seven adopted children and a birth child. She has also been blessed with ten grandchildren. She co-founded BDF Therapeutic Riding Program with friend Tracy Mosher, after the loss of her daughter. Alli was an adopted, severely disabled child who, during her short life, experienced great healing and joy from her love of the horses at the farm that is now BDF.
Judy Marable, Secretary
Judy is a retired public school educator with more than 30 years as an administrator and teacher in the Oconee County and Greene County public school systems. Twenty-five years ago Judy ‘cantered’ into the equine world with her daughter’s obsession with horses. When her daughter left for college, she realized she missed the equestrian community and was happy to be able to support the mission of BDF by serving on the Board of Directors. She values the team effort of therapists, trainers, volunteers and parents to provide an incredible experience for the clients at BDF. Mrs. Marable is committed to serving the local community as a volunteer, mentor, and member of several organizations.
Diana Bonds, Accountant
Diana is a realtor with Virtual Properties Realty in Athens and is a Certified Health Coach with Optavia. She and her husband Cliff love to travel. They are the parents of two daughters and have two grandchildren, and 2 grandhorses named Hope and Danny that live with their youngest daughter in East Athens. Diana began volunteering at Butterfly Dreams as a side walker in 2014 and shortly after joined the Board of Directors. In her role as Treasurer, Diane oversees the management of the organizational finances.
Debbie Grainger, Board Member
Debbie is thrilled to become a member of a team that literally Gives Back to the community by contributing 10% of her commission to local charities and non-profit organizations for every client. She is passionate about making home ownership possible for everyone. When she’s not working for a client, she enjoys restoring her Athens home built in 1890.
Erika Lawrence, Board Member
Erika, a P.A.T.H Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor, has been teaching therapeutic riding since November 2019. She has been riding competitively since she was 8 years old and has a deep understanding of horse behavior and equitation skills which directly translate into her lessons. Erika is a graduate of University of Georgia in Risk Management and Insurance, with minors in Spanish and Religion. Her hometown is Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Post-graduation, Erika hopes to begin her career in the business world while continuing to teach therapeutic riding. Developing the relationship between the horse and rider is of high importance to Erika as well.
Cal Powell, Board Member
Cal Powell serves as director of communications for the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences. A former journalist, Cal is passionate about storytelling and reaching diverse audiences with news and information that builds relationships and strengthens communities. He became familiar with Butterfly Dreams when his younger son, John, began hippotherapy in 2018. Cal and his wife, Miriam, both UGA graduates and natives of Thomasville, Ga., live in Watkinsville with their two sons.
Mandi Ellis, Board Member
Mandi is a Georgia native who received her Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from the University of Georgia and J.D. from Pepperdine School of Law. She became involved with BDF when her youngest son began hippotherapy. Her son did traditional speech therapy in an office setting for several years. When they transitioned to hippotherapy they found he was more calm and engaged during the sessions. After seeing this powerful transformation with her own child, Mandi decided to donate her time and valuable expertise in both the legal field and PR.
Chris Huskey, Board Member
Chris is the parent of an autistic student that rides here at Butterfly Dreams. As a local small business owner and treasurer for the Kiwanis Club of Athens, Chris loves having a pulse on the community and devoting his time to the betterment of society as a whole. He is married to his beautiful wife Catherine and they have two kids, Abigail and James. Chris is also a veteran that served for almost 8 years, including two deployments, in the United States Army as a Signals Intelligence Analyst. He holds an undergraduate degree in Intelligence Operations and an MBA from Troy University. When he is not volunteering or training dogs, Chris loves to travel with his family, cook, play golf, and get lost in nature. “I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of Butterfly Dreams Farm. This organization does so much good for the special needs community while also giving these horses a grander purpose. I look forward to moving BDF to the next level to providing an even better experience to more kids in our community and beyond”