Board Members

Malikah Adu-Niasse is a graduate of Cleveland State University and Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL. She has studied the art of film production and film theory with a concentration in youth wellness and mental health. Malikah is the founder and owner of Camp Journey Learning Centers, working with urban youth on character building, community scouting, agricultural awareness, financial competency, and self preservation. She is a trained Scout master for the Cub and Troop Scout curriculum, Coach of Team F.R.E.E. financial advisors, and the author of the Y-Films curriculum. In addition to serving on LUCK’s board, Malikah is on the board of Organic Connects.

Elizabeth Biddick, PATH Intl Certified Instructor. Born and raised in Ardmore, OK, Liz has been a horse lover from the start—riding the grocery store pony every chance she got. Liz played basketball in high school and went with her team to the State tournament. After high school she attended University of Dallas, graduating with a BA in Spanish but her love of horses was a calling, so she took a year off to travel and work on horse farms in Australia. Upon returning to the U.S., Liz began her education as a riding instructor in Ft. Worth, TX, and completed the British Horse Society instructor training. Since then, she has taught therapeutic riding and typical lessons. It’s no surprise that Liz is passionate about horses, especially her own, and that she considers horsemanship a life-long learning experience as she continues to take lessons and ride in clinics. When she’s not on horseback or in the arena teaching, Liz is hiking in the mountains or reading.

Andrea Gale, CMSD Teacher, teaches English and Journalism at James Ford Rhodes College and Career Academy. She loves horses, yoga, and reading great books. She is in her 35th year as an educator. Discovering LUCK has allowed her to offer a unique extra-curricular opportunity to her students. She is looking forward to watching horses benefit city kids whenever they meet.

Laura Hammel, MBA, MA, PhD, “Watching a rider and horse interact is pure magic.” Laura has been privileged to see the benefits of riding on many people in her life and has gotten to know awesome equestrians who don’t laugh at her when she occasionally puts on spurs. Laura’s favorite barn chore is cleaning stalls. A Clevelander by birth, Laura has a PhD in urban education from Cleveland State University. She currently teaches communications to outstanding students at Notre Dame College, loves to read, has a passion for LUCK, and advocates for positive change and social justice any chance she gets.   

Emma Knight, B.A. Integrated Marketing Communications, is lucky to have had a great introduction to horses that fostered a love of riding, teaching, and horsemanship. She was introduced to LUCK her junior year at John Carroll University when she wanted to start a similar program within the university–and has been hooked ever since. She has owned many off the track thoroughbreds including, Aries, Beau and Linus, and has competed locally in eventing and hunter jumper shows. She placed 8th nationally in Pony Club Quiz Championships, a test of horsemanship knowledge, and loves bringing those ideas to others. Her favorite memories are working and laughing with the other “barn rats” and hopes to foster the same happy memories in Cleveland’s youth today!

Joseph Knight has been a child advocate for nearly two decades and has worked as a recruiter for LUCK since 2016. He graduated from Kent State University with a degree in communications and rhetoric, teaches Chess and works in Streetsboro. Joe loves watching sports, Ozark, and Insecure. He says, “I have witnessed meaningful gains from the LUCK program. Children have grown in knowledge and application and understanding of equestrian principles. I look forward to expanding the program as we provide a unique perspective for kids through equestrian activities.”  

Vanessa Jones-Washington, PhD, LPCC-S: A former police officer for the city of Youngstown, Dr. Washington specializes her practice in urban youth dealing with trauma.

Leon Washington, PhD, Pastor: Retired U.S. Army Special Forces Ranger, former DEA, and physician’s assistant. Currently an outreach minister to urban youth.

Board Member Emeritus

Elisabeth Geisse, MA, LUCK Founder


Dona Brady, retired Cleveland City Councilwoman

William Denihan, former Cleveland Police Chief and Head of Health & Human Services

Anne Marie Kollander, horsewoman, former program officer at Cleveland Foundation and current development officer at Case Western Reserve University

Patrick D. Swann, trainer and owner at Trumpeter Stables with 50 years’ experience in the equestrian industry; retired 34-year trustee for Chagrin Valley Professional Horseman’s Association