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
Board Member

Gretchen has been passionate about animals since she was a child. She became involved with animal welfare issues about 25 years ago when she spent several days with an elephant named Tina who was part of a traveling circus that had come to Richmond. Watching Tina sway back and forth with boredom as she was chained to a trailer between shows and being threatened with a bull hook while forced to give rides, was unbearable. Gretchen, along with many others, fought for Tina until she and her best friend, Jewel, were eventually retired from the circus. Gretchen and Tina have developed quite a bond over the years which remains to this day. Her advocacy for the humane treatment and dignity of all animals is part of her life’s purpose and she participates with various organizations to that end. Gretchen also worked on a private, exotic animal farm from 2002-2004 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 that used horses to help people with disabilities learn trust, self-confidence, physical strength and balance. The organization’s founders retired in 2013 and decided to close their doors. But that experience brought Gretchen closer to horses as she noticed similarities between them and elephants. The desire to want to continue to explore those similarities, led her to VEWS. She joined VEWS in May 2014, began serving as the Barn Manager in June 2015 and joined the Board of Directors in August 2015. Gretchen periodically volunteers at an Elephant Sanctuary in Arkansas and a Big Cat Sanctuary in Texas. She has been a Registered Nurse for 22 years, specializing in Hospice and Home Health. She provides direct patient care but has also served as a Staff Mentor, Clinical Manager, Records Auditor and Educator. She loves meeting new VEWS volunteers, sharing the VEWS mission and teaching others how to safely interact with the horses. 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.