Meet our Staff

Sandy Hardie, CSAC, ICS, CTS

Founder and Executive Director of Mahala’s Hope

Sandy is the Founder and Executive Director of Mahala’s Hope.  Sandy is a certified Clinical Substance Abuse Counselor, Independent Clinical Supervisor, and is completing her certification as a Certified Trauma Specialist. Sandy completed a two year apprenticeship in Tucson, AZ to learn equine experiential learning and has been facilitating equine programs since 2001. She is an advanced instructor of Eponaquest Worldwide of Tucson, AZ. She has worked in the substance abuse field for over 30 years specializing in women and trauma for 20 of those years. While working with a sexual assault agency for 10 years she was an advocate to incarcerated women through PREA.

Sandy facilitates training state wide on Trauma Informed Care and Vicarious Trauma to law enforcement, health care systems, first responders, substance use providers and other collaborative agencies.

Sandy served on the Trauma Informed Care Advisory Committee of Wisconsin. Currently she serves on the State Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council and is active on the Diversity Committee as well as Secretary’s Advisory Council on Child Welfare. Locally she serves on the Opioid Task Force, NAS Project in Fond du Lac County as well as several other committees. Ms. Hardie has worked as clinician and held various management positions throughout her career. Most importantly she is in long term recovery herself. As a student of the horse, she continues to learn from her daily interactions with her herd.

Renee Krause

Administrative Assistant

Renee is the Administrative Assistant at Mahala’s Hope. While she has only been with the organization for a short time, she can attest to the overall positive vibe and family feel at the residence. Renee graduated in 2010 with her degree in Criminal Justice with a dream to become a Probation and Parole Agent specializing in Reentry. She worked towards that dream for 10 years then she was finally offered the job that would fulfill that dream. Just a short time later, it became obvious to her that becoming an agent was not where she could best serve the community. She spent almost a year searching for the next “dream job,” and one day, she found herself being offered a position at Mahala’s Hope where she could utilize her gifts and talents and better serve the community. It became obvious to her that she is finally where she needed to be, she stated; “it just feels like I’m finally where I was always meant to be!”

Renee is a mother of four adult and teen children. She and her husband of 20 years live on a hobby farm where they raise chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, cows, and horses who have come to live with them in their retirement years. They also have two dogs, Ella and Winnie. When not at Mahlas’s Hope, Renee can be found walking the beaches of the Great Lakes with her husband, making crafts, or capturing memories for others with her photography. Renee states: “Mahala’s Hope is making a difference in not only the lives of the women who come here to begin their recovery journey, but in the lives of the staff/team that works so hard to make it what it is, this includes all the hard working volunteers as well as the horses.”


Karen Simon

Counselor Aide

Karen Simon is a Counselor Aide who has been employed part-time at Mahala’s Hope since the Recovery Residence opened its doors for its first client October 2016. She has a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Marian College in Fond du Lac, and has over 16 years experience counseling clients in her full-time social work position.

Growing up with good family values and a strong work ethic have enabled Karen to reach her goals and utilize her strengths to guide others in reaching their full potential. Her ability to mentor the clients at Mahala’s Hope with daily household duties and cooking techniques is one of the many things that give her fulfillment in her career.

Karen is able to recognize the importance of a work-life balance, and when she is not busy helping others, she enjoys spending time with her pets, kayaking, and grounding herself in nature and all the blessings it has to offer. She is involved in her local church and is an avid reader; she also appreciates the benefits of staying fit both mentally and physically through walking, hiking and yoga.
The holistic approach and rural setting of the Recovery Residence at Mahala’s Hope is what makes this a perfect fit for Karen, as she is a country girl at heart.

Alexa Strehlow

Equine Specialist

I have my A.A.S. from Black Hawk East in Galva, IL, as well as 20 years experience with natural horsemanship and holistic methods. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel the country and attend natural horsemanship courses with legendary clinicians. Over the summer of 2021, I worked at a Christian camp for kids as a riding instructor/trail guide. That experience allowed me to see the effects horses have on humans on a scale I had yet to see, and through that incredible exposure grew my already present passion for healing people through horses. That is what led to my role here at Mahala’s Hope where I offer supportive care to our herd and assist in our Equine Experiential Learning programs. My favorite part of the role is working with our equine colleagues to not only benefit clients physically, but mentally and emotionally in a powerful way that is only able to be understood with horses. I am very excited to learn from all of the endless opportunities and experiences that Mahala’s Hope has to offer.

While not at work, I enjoy trail riding and camping with my horses, instructing horse riding and training, traveling (specifically to Colorado), judging livestock shows, and finding new local eateries.

Ruth Holmquist

Counselor Aide

As a non- traditional student Ruth earned a B.S. in social work at UW Oshkosh and an M.S.W. at UW Milwaukee. In her 50’s she followed a dream and enjoyed two year as a U.S. Peace Corp. volunteer in the Eastern Caribbean, returning to Wisconsin where she earned an AODA certification and was introduced to human informed care.

Prior to retirement Ruth provided mental health and substance abuse counseling in a variety of settings developing a passion for supporting people as they grow.

When not working, she can be found learning from experiences, with grandchildren, meditating, doing yoga, traveling, hiking, gardening or volunteering.

Galina Anqud

Counselor Aide

Galina is a graduate of UW Green Bay with her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. She is passionate about social justice issues. Another big part of her life is animal advocacy. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, fitness and various arts.

Keri Bushweiler

Peer Specialist

I am a woman in long term recovery, and enjoy helping other ladies find their way through the recovery process.  I love being a part of the Mahala’s Hope team because they teach everything I strive for in my daily life. The facility is a beautiful place to begin the most wonderful and rewarding part of any women’s journey in recovery, and I’m grateful to be a part of it.

Tierra Yonker


In 2011, I began an internship in a women’s residential setting and knew right away that working with women was my calling. I completed an associate degree in AODA that year and continued working for that facility for over 10 years. During that time, I went on to complete a bachelor’s degree in social work with a minor in psychology at Marian University in 2015, and a master’s degree in social work specializing in mental health at UW Madison in 2020. I believe that all things happen for a reason and how I came to work for Mahala’s Hope is an example of that.

I went on an open house tour just before the residence opened, and, after chatting with Sandy, I found out that they were still looking for a weekend counselor aide. I was lucky enough to join the team and be a part of the opening to the first client in October 2016. I left the part time position at Mahala’s Hope to pursue my master’s degree and was fortunate enough to come back to complete my internship, where my creativity was nurtured, and I got the opportunity to organize and operate the phototherapy group. I am beyond grateful that I am now in the counselor position at Mahala’s Hope as the program is nature-based and focused on healing mind, body, and spirit … something that I believe is essential in recovery.

In my free time I enjoy spending time outdoors, especially walking my dogs, doing yoga, or doing an art project. It fills my soul to see the growth that comes from empowerment and building on the strengths each women brings when they come into recovery.

Holly Mulder

House Manager

As a person who has experienced and overcome personal and family traumas, substance use disorder, depression, and many other adverse childhood experiences, Holly Mulder is no stranger to understanding how to connect with others who have experienced similar struggles. Because of this, she has strived to understand and best love herself and others, and has worked on developing greater interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence. Holly’s growth and development in these areas are what she believes have been the key to finding a life of peace within herself and with others.

In 2013 she began her journey into sobriety, and has since obtained her certification as a Peer Support Specialist, Recovery Coach, Reiki Practitioner, and Theta Healing Practitioner, and has goals to continue learning more with the intention of training others in these areas. Holly is employed as a Special Education Assistant in her local school district as well. She volunteers her time as a board member for Stop Heroin Now, an Advisory Council member for Wisconsin Voices For Recovery, is a member of Drug Free Communities of Fond du lac County, all of which envelope advocacy work for those in recovery. She also voluntarily does Reiki sessions with the women at Mahala’s Hope, and seeks opportunities to share her story at events, churches, and schools, and encourages others to do the same.

In her spare time, Holly enjoys hiking in the woods, spending time with her family, kayaking, reading, making custom essential oil blends, and doing research in various fields of interest.

“I am honored to be a part of Mahala’s Hope, and truly believe people who have a substance use disorder have the ability to be successful in all avenues of their lives. I appreciate Mahala’s Hope’s strength-based and holistic approach, and it is a humbling privilege to be able to work with and support women in recovery.”

Elaine Schwartz

Counselor Aide/Peer Specialist

If we want different results, we need to do something different; that’s what Mahala’s Hope has been for me. It was the different piece I had been missing for many years. Being one of the first ten women here at Mahala’s Hope, I was given another chance to do something different. I was in and out of recovery for many years, unable to see how unresolved trauma was affecting my chances at long- term recovery. Mahala’s Hope gave me the holistic view on recovery that was able to be integrated into my life for substantial change. Three years later, I come back as the house manager and am able to be a part of other women’s recovery process and show them that recovery and happiness is possible.

After doing hair for 17 years, I realized that hairstyling was no longer where I wanted to be. I felt called to give back to people on their recovery journey whom are often unaware of the effects trauma has on their recovery. I became a Certified Peer Specialist, emphasizing in trauma informed care, and also became a recovery coach trainer to help people become recovery coaches and spread the hope in communities all over. I have been blessed and truly humbled to be able to come back and work at Mahala’s Hope and apply my unique skillsets to the women who come through the house. I believe at Mahala’s Hope, we put emphasis on empathy, compassion, and understanding, which allows women to have their own recovery and healing process, because everyone’s care should be as unique as their experiences. With our trauma responsive treatment and equine sessions, Mahala’s Hope is truly unique and specialized for each woman who comes through the door. I love being able to be a part of the process and part of the bigger picture that Mahala’s Hope offers for women seeking recovery. I continue to live life holistically and to the fullest and bring those values to women at the house, helping to point out that recovery is mind, body, and spirit. I feel that being the first alumni to come and work at Mahala’s hope is truly an honor and a job that I am extremely dedicated to and look forward to being a part of for many years down the road.

Adriana Bakic

Peer Specialist/Counselor Aide

Adriana is a Wisconsin State Certified Peer Specialist who recently obtained her AAS from UW Oshkosh. She plans to complete her BA in Sociology and Anthropology with an emphasis in Women’s and Gender Studies. Adriana has professional experience supporting women and children with trauma backgrounds and has a personal interest in assisting survivors of systemic abuse and undue influence. Adriana is an ally for the LGBTQ+ community and advocates for social justice as well as non-human animal rights.