Randi Gardner joined the Held Center staff in October of 2011. Previously an instructor, stable manager, and team coach at YMCA Camp Letts Equestrian Center just outside of Washington, D.C., Gardner has a wealth of experience working with horses and riders in multiple disciplines, including hunt seat, western, eventing, dressage, and even polocrosse. Prior to her work at Camp Letts, she was the barn manager and head riding instructor at Reverie Acres Riding Academy, the first United States Pony Club-approved riding center in Maryland. Gardner was also the center administrator for the USPC program at Reverie Acres, as well as the leader for the stable's 4-H club.
Gardner's role as director of equestrian operations includes full responsibility for all facets of daily life at the Held Center, including herd and facility management, oversight of stable managers and staff, oversight of lesson instruction and scheduling, event development and coordination, and working with various other campus departments to make the equestrian program a seamless part of Albion's campus.
She is also the coach of the varsity hunt seat team. Since coming on board as coach in 2011, Coach Gardner has had many individuals and the team compete at the IHSA regional, zone and national levels. The Albion College hunt seat team was the champion regional team in 2013 and 2014, and Gardner coached the team's first individual rider to IHSA Nationals in 2014.
Randi C. Heathman is a 2003 alumna of Albion College. She graduated with a degree in English and a concentration in Mass Communication, then earned her MA in Communication from Spring Arbor University in 2011. Employed in the Albion College office of admission from 2004-2010, she was responsible for recruiting students from a variety of territories across Michigan and along the eastern seaboard, as well as serving as liaison between admission and the equestrian program. In 2010, she transferred to the Held Equestrian Center to assume full responsibility for recruitment and marketing operations, a role she held until 2012.
Since 2012, Heathman has worked in private practice as an independent educational consultant, a job that has allowed her to expand her understanding of both college admissions and intercollegiate equestrian programming – knowledge she brought back to Albion with her in 2016 when she assumed the role of equestrian recruitment coordinator and staff advisor to the Equestrian Club. In her role of Director of Recruitment, Marketing, and Development, Heathman is responsible for creating and executing a comprehensive plan of outreach to prospective students, alumni, vendors, and community leaders, as well as working within the Held Center to ensure that all staff and students are able to help the program achieve its short- and long-term goals.
Outside the office, Heathman competed to FEI dressage aboard her longtime partner Ricochet, with whom she secured her USDF bronze and silver medals and accumulated a number of local and regional championships. With Ricochet now retired, she hopes to get back in the competition arena soon aboard her developing young horse, Kashmir H. She and her horses reside in Horton, MI.
Carolyn Killewald is a 2004 graduate of Albion College and holds a B.A. in English. She was previously employed as a magazine editor for a trade association in Jackson, MI before being hired at the Held Equestrian Center in August, 2008. Killewald's role at the Held Center includes planning events and projects, marketing, recruitment, accounts receivables, purchasing, and serving as a liaison between the Center, students, community members, and faculty/staff of Albion College. During horse shows at the Held Center, Killewald serves as show secretary, coordinating competitors' entries and fees, issuing awards, and tracking results.
A lifetime equestrian, Killewald competed in the U.S. Pony Club and eventually placed her focus on dressage. She has competition experience in eventing and USDF recognized dressage shows and regional championships. When not in the Held Center office, she can often be found out working with her own horse in the barn. Killewald currently resides in Concord, MI with her family.
Adam V. D'Agostino, who has coached three American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) High Point Riders to Top Five finishes at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) National Championship, joined the Albion College Equestrian coaching staff in July, 2018. Since his arrival, the Western Equestrian Team has earned the 2019 Zone 6, Region 4 High Point Team, with several riders advancing to the Semi-Finals level. D'Agostino also serves at the IHSA Nationals as a Steward and a member of the Western Horse Selection Committee.
Previously, D'Agostino was an Associate Lecturer in Equine Business Management and Business Management and Head Western Coach of the Equestrian Team at Cazenovia (N.Y.) College. D'Agostino coached the 2017 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Individual Open Reining National Champion, who also placed third in the AQHA High Point Rider competition and advanced the Western Team to AQHA Trophy competition at the 2017 IHSA Nationals. Under D'Agostino's direction, Cazenovia has advanced riders to the NRHA Derby Collegiate Cup and the AQHA World Show Collegiate Challenge.
A graduate of the University of Findlay, D'Agostino got his start in coaching as an intern with the Western Team that captured the 2010 IHSA National Championship. He also coached the junior varsity Western team for two seasons at Findlay.
As a collegiate rider, D'Agostino was a member of the Western teams that finished as the Reserve National Champion in 2008 and the National Champion in 2009. For Findlay, he was the National Champion in AQHA Trophy Team Advanced Western Horsemanship in 2008 and 2009.
A member of several equestrian organizations, including the AQHA Professional Horsemen's Association and Markel American Paint Horse Association (APHA) Professional Horsemen's Association, D'Agostino owns Empire Performance Horses, a business specializing in all-around performance horses for show competition. He has trained a number of national-level champions and year-end award winners. His career has given him the opportunity to work for distinguished AQHA Professional Horsemen Nancy Sue Ryan, Scott Jones and David Miller, as well as FEI Driving trainer, Darren Menkins. Adam also judges Open and 4-H shows and provides clinics on a multitude of topics in the Western industry.
Jamie Schmitt joined the Held Center instructional team in 2018 as coach of the College's Intercollegiate Dressage Association (IDA) team. She is a Bronze and Silver Medalist with the United States Dressage Federation and is also rated at the C-3 level with the United States Pony Clubs. Her Centerline Scores rating is 3-Stars.
She started riding horses at a very young age and has dedicated her life to studying the training of the horse, working with FEI "C"/USEF "S" dressage judge, Maryal Barnett, for more than 28 years, as well as training regularly with local FEI Grand Prix dressage rider Judy Kelly. She has supplemented her education through participation in clinics with respected and accomplished instructors, such as Michael Poulin, Lendon Gray, Jessica Ransehousen, and many others, all of whom have helped her cement a teaching philosophy that focuses on the training of the horse and rider in a manner that allows every horse to succeed while maintaining their own special personality and individuality. Her immediate impact on Albion's dressage program was apparent in her first season, which saw her team finish third in the region as well as securing her First Level rider a berth at IDA Nationals.
Katie Didier joined the Held Center staff in September 2017 as a groom and moved into her role as stable manager in January 2020. She is an integral part of the care and maintenance of all the horses that call the Held Center home. Katie holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Albion (class of 2015) and was a member of the varsity hunt seat team, competing both on the flat and over fences. She was also the secretary of the Equestrian Club as a student.
Katie grew up riding and showing hunters in her hometown of Fort Wayne, IN. When she is not busy with her duties at the barn, Katie enjoys competing in hunter/jumper shows and attending clinics. She currently resides in Jackson, MI with her partner, their three cats, and a dog. Katie also maintains a private show horse at the Held Center. Her name is Giselle and she can sometimes be seen participating in the lesson program.
Nina Fagan joined the Held Equestrian Center staff as a groom in 2018 and was appointed assistant stable manager in 2020. Raised on a small breeding and boarding facility, she showed on the Appaloosa circuit before transitioning to Quarter Horses, showing primarily in the western disciplines and winning multiple year-end awards through local organizations. She also spent a summer traveling as the lead groom with a team of competitive Clydesdales. Prior to her work at Albion, Nina worked as a deputy clerk of court, special education paraprofessional, teaching assistant, and spent 15 years as a case manager for Lucas County Child Support Enforcement Agency.
For the past 22 years, she has pursued her love of barrel racing and pole bending and keeps three horses at her home farm. Her next adventure will be to pursue ranch riding with her three year old gelding.
Brandon Fuller first began working in 2008 at the Held Equestrian Center working as a member of the part-time barn crew. In 2010, Fuller was promoted to the full-time position of assisant stable/grounds manager at the Center. He is responsible for maintaining the grounds and equipment at the facility, coordinating the hay baling operation, mowing and snow removal, and doing much of the general maintenance on the property. His experience working with and around horses is especially useful during much of his day-to-day work, and he often pitches in with barn chores and helps to drag and maintain the arenas.