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Join our Board of Directors!


Thank you for taking a few minutes to explore Board service with The Wild Hope Equine Center for Healing (The Wild Hope).  If the information below resonates with you, please complete our short application form and someone will reach out to schedule a 30-minute exploratory call with you. We look forward to hearing from you!

Our Story

In 2017, our Founder Vanessa Schmidt began mentoring survivors of sex trafficking. She would bring them to the barn with her where they were able to spend time with horses. One afternoon, Vanessa was teaching a survivor how to lead a horse. This requires that you hold your head up and fix your eyes in the direction you want to go so the horse feels safe. Before she even took a step the survivor said, "If you do this horse ranch thing, you're going to help a lot of survivors. When I was being trafficked I wasn't allowed to make eye contact with another human being. By holding my head up and looking in the direction I'm going, it makes me feel human again!" 

It made her feel human again?! Vanessa was stunned that something so seemingly simple had such a profound impact on her mentee. Vanessa had been looking for ways to get involved with the equine-assisted services industry, but struggled to find a place that quite fit what she believed survivors of severe trauma and trafficking really needed. And as someone who'd experienced complex trauma herself, she had a pretty good idea what that was. It came down to one thing - access, both financially and geographically. And not just to equine-assisted services, but also to a community of supportive relationships. 

As the survivor shared her experience that day at the barn Vanessa felt a conviction to do something, despite her own feelings of inadequacies and lack of experience. In May of 2018, Vanessa founded The Wild Hope Equine Center for Healing (The Wild Hope).

The Wild Hope is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization on a mission to ensure access to the healing power of horse to those who've experienced severe abuse, neglect, and trafficking. In 2019 we launched a trauma-focused, equine therapy Pilot Program for adult, female survivors of sex trafficking (funded by individual donations). The 1 year program extended to 2 years as we safely navigated the Covid-19 pandemic. We're proud to share that we were able to provide 280 total hours of trauma-focused, equine therapy to survivors at no cost to them. It was our first big success!

What's Next?

Since wrapping up our Pilot Program we've shifted our focus to cultivating a diverse and passionate team who possess the skills to advance The Wild Hope’s mission. This team will play a crucial role in developing a sustainable business model that will support the complex needs of survivors for decades to come.  That's where YOU come in!

Who Should Apply

  • Are you are passionate about our mission and our vision of becoming a robust organization grounded in core values like trauma responsiveness, curiosity, and humility, and capable of scaling and sustaining equine-assisted services?

  • Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and be a part of a team that's building an organization of integrity from the inside out?

  • Do you have 8-10 hours/month to commit to The Wild Hope?

  • Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit and enjoy the creation process?

  • Do you have previous board experience?

  • Do you have expertise in any of the following areas?

- Accounting/CPA

- Fundraising

- Board Development/Governance

- Nonprofit Management

- Strategy

- Legal

- Community Connections

If you responded "yes" to any of these, we'd encourage you to take the next step by completing our short application form. If you're unsure if this is for you, apply anyway! You'll be contacted within 48 hours to set up a 30-minute exploratory call with our Founder, Vanessa Schmidt.


We look forward to hearing from you!


More Information

Board Term: 2-year, renewable

Board Meetings: 2nd Monday of each month from 6-8pm (we're considering moving to a different Monday to support our team's availability)

Financial Gift Expectation: Personally meaningful and/or recurring donation

Insurance: We carry liability and D&O insurance at this time


View IRS Determination Letter

View 2024 Statement of Commitment

View Pilot Program Infographic

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