Founding member, Lisa O’Connor, grew up with horses and is passionate about providing a loving home for horses in need. Over the last eight years, Lisa has used her background in business, sales and marketing to help Sunrise grow as an organization and provide a safe home for severely abused and neglected horses. "I am very inspired when I see the spark come back into their eyes as they learn to trust again….they have so much to teach us about forgiveness." Lisa and her family currently live in St. Helena, California.
Mary Taylor is the Volunteer Coordinator of Sunrise Horse Rescue, a founding member, and Vice President of our Board. She was born and raised in Napa County, where she worked as a registered nurse for many years. Mary now enjoys the challenge of helping to build and manage a safe place for horses to live, and for people to learn about animals and nature. "I'm blessed to be working as part of a team to provide holistic care to horses who have been so neglected in the past." Mary and her husband have two grown daughters and now live in Napa, California.
Lindsay Merget is a highly experienced horsewoman who has been riding, competing, and caring for horses her whole life. She was a leader on the Equestrian team at Cal Poly University, has completed various specialized training courses, and is currently working towards her Instructor Certification through PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International). In her professional life, Lindsay is Co-Owner of Streamline Irrigation Design and Compliance, and an Account Manager at Dexter Estate Landscapes. Lindsay is passionate about the Sunrise mission and her skills are a huge asset to our team. “We offer a place for horses where there are no expectations, just unconditional appreciation and love. I am so grateful to be a part of that.”
Shari Bluband first became involved with horses as a young girl, when she and her father rescued a beautiful Appaloosa Mare from an abusive home. That experience led to a lifelong love of horses and other animals. In her professional life, Shari is currently the Executive Director for Oncology, Radiology, Physical Therapy & Job Care at St. Helena Hospital. Her business, management, and non-profit experience has been invaluable to Sunrise as we have continued to grow. “It is an honor to serve our herd, the horse community, and our volunteers that love and care for our horses each day.” Shari graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota and received her MBA from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She currently lives in St. Helena, California with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.
Jan Flynn grew up in Belmont, California, and has been involved with riding and caring for horses her entire life. During her professional career, Jan was a business owner, actress, middle school teacher, city counsel member and mayor. She retired in 2014 from her position as the Idaho State Director for the American Lung Association of the Mountain Pacific, to devote time to her abiding interests of writing, education and horses. “I feel very lucky to be part of such an outstanding group of dedicated and hard-working equine advocates.” Jan and her husband have two grown sons and live in St. Helena, California.
Dr. Claudia Sonder, DVM, joined the Board of Sunrise Horse Rescue in 2012. She is widely regarded as one of the premier equine veterinarians in the country, and is currently Director of the Center for Equine Health at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Sonder was an equine practitioner in Napa, California for a number of years before returning to UC Davis to serve in her current role.
Diana is our Trainer and Operations Manager. She is a very accomplished former 2 Star Parelli Natural Horsemanship instructor who has been working hard to assure that the rescue is a welcoming, friendly and enjoyable place for people, regardless of whether they want to advance their horsemanship skills or just spend quality time with the herd. "My job is to get our horses to learn to trust and to be comfortable and happy. We wan them to experience great relationships with people and enjoy the time that is spent with us.