Board of Directors


Board-of-Directors-LynnChapmanLynn Chapman, Esq.

Lynn Chapman has been volunteering with equine rescue organizations since 2008. Prior to joining the Virginia Equine Welfare Society (VEWS), Lynn volunteered with the United States Equine Rescue League (USERL), where she worked at rehabilitation barns and served on the Fundraising Committee. She currently serves as Secretary of the Board of Directors of VEWS and as the Fundraising Director. In the latter role she has worked with her committee on the planning, organizing, and running of several fundraisers. Lynn has also served on two prior boards. She was appointed in 2004 by then Governor Mark Warner to serve on the Virginia Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Board of Directors, a position she filled for two terms. For several years she served on the Byrd Theatre Foundation Board of Directors. Lynn received her Juris Doctor (JD) from the University of Akron in 1987. She has been employed in the Property & Casualty insurance industry since 1990, when she began employment as a Claims Attorney with Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company in Canton, OH. She held various positions within Nationwide’s legal department, eventually being promoted to the position of Managing Claims Counsel in Nationwide’s Portland, OR and Richmond, VA offices. She is currently employed with Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance Company, where she fills the position of Claims Attorney and Manager of the Litigation, Workers Compensation, and BI Specialist units. Lynn lives with her husband and two German Shepherd “rescues”. In her spare time she tries to indulge her passions for creating works of art and supporting the many cultural programs and venues in the City of Richmond. She also enjoys such activities as tennis, horse-back riding, bicycling, and traveling.

Nancy_photoNancy Comita, CPA

Nancy Comita grew up absolutely in love with horses. She was not allowed to own, lease, or even take lessons, but she owned a book with pictures and drew them endlessly. She has taken riding lessons for many years with her two daughters. Quite a few years ago, she finished an undergraduate degree in business while working full time with a bank. After completing that degree she went on to obtain a Master’s degree in accounting. Then while expecting her first child she passed the CPA exam. She has worked as an accountant for a CD company, a local county government, a private advertising firm and lastly for the Department of Environmental Quality for the state of Virginia. After the birth of her second child she has been working from home ever since. She has coached little league soccer, was a Girl Scout leader for nine years, and had her own tax consulting business. She has been treasurer and a board member of a local community center, in addition to a short stint as an educational tester for a psychologist. In addition to being Treasurer of VEWS, she also works with another non-profit organization whose purpose is helping single mothers get on their feet with help in the areas of emotional issues, financial problems, health concerns, etc. She started working with rescued horses approximately ten years ago, starting out as a Girl Scout project for my daughters and has turned into a true love of helping these beautiful animals. She loves to see the transformation from barely being able to look at them because of abuse/neglect to seeing them go to their forever home (albeit with a bit of sadness to see them go).Nancy lives in Hanover County with her college-aged children and rescued guinea pigs.


gretchenGretchen Mitchell
Director of Equine Health and Well-Being

Gretchen has been passionate about animals since she was a child and has always believed that all of the Earth’s creatures are divinely created; each with a purpose that helps keep our universe in balance. As a young adult, Gretchen worked on a private, exotic animal farm in which she helped care for horses, cows, camels, llamas, zebra, kangaroos, wallabies and 7 types of primates. In 2011, she began volunteering with a Therapeutic Riding organization. The organization’s founders retired in 2013 and decided to close their doors. Witnessing the powerful transformations that took place with the riders was inspiring and led Gretchen to want to continue sharing time and space with horses. That desire led her to VEWS. She joined VEWS in 2014, served as the Barn Manager from 2015-2016, joined the Board of Directors in 2015 and began serving as the Director of Equine Health and Well-Being in 2017. She has since begun an apprenticeship program through EPALA to become an Equine Facilitator Coach. Upon completion of the apprenticeship in the Spring of 2018, she plans to partner with horses to offer healing and support for those dealing with grief and loss by offering workshops and one on one interactions. Gretchen periodically volunteers at an Elephant Sanctuary in Arkansas and a Big Cat Sanctuary in Texas. She has been a Registered Nurse for 23 years, specializing in Hospice and Home Health. She provides direct patient care but also serves as a Staff Mentor, Clinical Manager, Records Auditor and Educator. She loves meeting new VEWS volunteers, sharing the VEWS mission, teaching others how to safely interact with the horses and sharing the wisdom and unconditional love that horses are willing to offer us. Gretchen lives in Glen Allen with her 2 rescued cats and enjoys traveling, hiking and reading.


Freda Cavallaro
imageExecutive Director

Freda Cavallaro grew up attending the horse auctions in Pennsylvania. She saw first-hand how the horses are handled and mistreated. At age 13, her family rescued their first quarter horse from an auction. While she did not ride too much she experienced the bond and co-being between humans and horses.

Upon graduating from high school, Freda went into the Army for 3 years. Following that she and her soul-mate settled in Richmond, VA. Freda began a career with Bon Secours in 1992, when she was hired as a Human Resources Assistant. Within 2 years, Freda was promoted to a specialist role and shortly thereafter into management. While working full-time, Freda earned a Bachelors’ Degree in Human Resources Management and then went on to earn a Masters’ in Business Administration. Presently, Freda is Vice President, HR Operations and Compensation with Bon Secours Corporate Office and is known in the healthcare industry for being a strategic transformative leader.

In 2013, Freda and her family moved to Old Church, VA on 10 acres. Having talked of owning horses for several years with her family and friends, their dreams were about to come true. To regain experience, Freda started volunteering at VEWS. In 2015, her family had a barn built and purchased, Madison, a Missouri Fox Trotter gelding. Two of her friends also keep their horses on the property.

Today, Freda and her family enjoy their time with the horses, their two dogs Lilly and Loui, and friends.