Local Resident Receives Harvard Nod
Writer / Janelle Morrison October 2016
Elizabeth (Liz) Coit is an inspiring example how one’s path, through all of its twists and turns, may completely change its course and lead to a very fulfilling destination. Coit is the executive director for Morning Dove Therapeutic Riding Center located in Zionsville. Her evolution from a 30 plus year career of corporate and high-level executive leadership to becoming a dedicated director of a local non-profit organization, intrigued the Ivy League school. Coit, along with a handful of her fellow alumni, are to be recognized at the Harvard Business School’s (HBS) “Making a Difference” reception that will be held later this year. The Make a Difference campaign is an effort to showcase our HBS community who are making a difference through innovation, intellectual ambition, internationalization, inclusion and integration.
Having served in positions with Citigroup and Conseco, and as a senior consultant with one of the world’s leading strategy consulting firms, The Boston Consulting Group, Coit brings expertise in strategic planning to her current position. Prior to joining the Morning Dove, she was the executive director for Networks Financial Institute at Indiana State University. She has also served on many non-profit boards, including serving two terms as a trustee and chair of the long range planning committee for the Orchard School. Coit graduated with honors and advanced bachelors in economics from Occidental College in Los Angeles, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
An avid equestrian and animal enthusiast, working with horses whose purposes are to help others was a natural fit for Coit. She is passionate about the power of the animal/human bond and the healing capabilities that she has witnessed at the Morning Dove center consistently over the years. The Morning Dove mission is to enrich the lives of individuals in the greater Indianapolis community with physical, cognitive and/or behavioral challenges through equine assisted therapies and activities. They offer year round programs in equine assisted activities, including therapeutic riding, hippotherapy and equine learning program. They also offer special summer programs and a variety of volunteer opportunities.
Morning Dove is a member of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH) and employs PATH-certified instructors to facilitate classes. They offer a number of programs including therapeutic riding lessons, hippotherapy and Heroes on Board, a veteran’s program. They also offer their summer program, A Horse Like Me, for children on the autism spectrum, as well as a host of unmounted equine-assisted programs.
“I first got involved with Morning Dove about 10 years ago as volunteer,” Coit said. “Pete Hudson, who is a long-time Zionsville resident, was on my board at ISU and he said that Morning Dove really needed somebody with a strong strategic background and asked if I would be interested in helping the organization. So, I came onto the board. Afterwards, I went through a major turnover where my volunteerism led me to become Morning Dove’s interim director and then I decided not to leave.
Eventually, I became full time member of the staff as the executive director. The mission was so real and the need was there. In the last six years, we have more than doubled our size in the number of riders that we serve. We’re a non-profit so obviously we rely on our donors but it is a pretty solid, stable nonprofit now that continues to fund its growth. I would say that 50% of our riders are from Boone
County and then the rest are mostly from Marion and Hamilton Counties as the result of our relationship with St. Vincent Pediatric Rehabilitation.
Coit mentioned that Morning Dove is looking at their long-term situation as they are at capacity at their current location. The organization owns property north of St. Rd. 334 in the Whitestown area but has not made any definitive decisions on when or where they would eventually relocate their center.
Coit emphasized that their programs are not just for people who are familiar with horses. Some of their riders have never had previous contact with a horse prior to their therapy at Morning Dove.
“I often remind people that those of us who grew up with horses take for granted that we did, and that is what we have captured with therapeutic riding. There is an understanding with a horse as a rider that is a very pure relationship. It is also very forgiving, and it is never personal. We continue to explore new ways of therapy with other populations and with other challenges that we would like to help somebody get through. One example, here in Boone County, we are starting to see an increase of ‘at-risk’ students. Hamilton County approached us about this type of program first, followed by Boone, and now we’re looking at a pilot program in Pike Township as well. The program will be focused on students who have been identified as children who are not mainstreaming well and are having difficulty performing at school.”
Coit enjoys being a resident of Zionsville and her home with her two sons, Lee and Dimitri. They are a family of dedicated animal lovers living on their farm. Coit, who grew up competing in the hunter/jumper arena, is now enjoying dressage riding with her gorgeous mare, Caraline. Coit and her sons are also the loving caretakers for an orphaned cat, their very affectionate AKC Grand Champion greater Swiss mountain dogs and the latest addition to their family, a loving berger Picard puppy. In her down time, Coit enjoys volunteering for the Boone County 4-H Canine Project as an obedience and showmanship instructor.
When asked about HBS’s recognizing her for her work with Morning Dove, Coit replied humbly, “Coming out of the Harvard Business School, I felt that I had a responsibility to do something big. I had this amazing education that I felt that I needed to step up and do something with the opportunities that I was being given.”
For more information on the services and programs available at Morning Dove Therapeutic Riding Center, visit the website at www.morningdovetrc.org.