Our Staff

Ashley Boswell

Founder & Executive Director

Ashley holds a B.A. in Communications from UNC-Chapel Hill, a Masters degree in Counseling from Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and is currently pursuing her PhD in Christian Counseling. She has counseled youth and families in traditional settings and taught children with autism in public school. In 2004, Ashley founded Shepherd Youth Ranch, accomplishing her life-long dream of pairing horses with youth in need. She is certified in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Learning through EAGALA. Her background in riding is jumping, dressage, liberty and natural horsemanship. She is an official Level 4 graduate of the Parelli Natural Horsemanship program and serves as the Youth Programs Coordinator for the Parelli Foundation. In 2013, Mrs. Boswell received the Soroptimist Ruby Award at the Triangle Women of Distinction awards banquet for women helping women and girls in the community. Ashley’s compassion, servant heart and energizing spirit are evident in her relationships with children, parents and horses.

Debbie Lewis

Trail to Success Program Manager

Debbie holds a BS in Health Science Education from Ohio University and a Masters in Counseling from Colorado Christian University. She has counseled middle school, high school, and college students. Debbie has worked in a residential treatment facility with people coming out of abusive and crisis situations. Debbie grew up riding horses in a variety of settings and has always seen the value of the relationship between horse and human. She is an official level 3 graduate of the Parelli Natural Horsemanship Program. Debbie is excited to join the team at Shepherd Youth Ranch.

Paul Esslinger

Facility Manager

Paul is originally from upstate NY where he graduated with an Engineering and Management degree from Clarkson University.  He then moved to North Carolina in 1996 and completed an MBA from Elon University in 2003. Paul spend 20+ years as a Quality Engineer and Engineering Manager primarily in the medical device industry. After losing his job due to a factory relocation, Paul used the opportunity to focus on community service.  Paul started with Shepherd Youth Ranch in 2019 as a weekly reoccurring volunteer and then accepted the Facilities Manager position in June of 2020.  Paul firmly believes that the continued and future success of our communities depends deeply on local participation and engagement in any activity that is focused on the well being of the community at large.  “It doesn’t matter what it is you do for your community, what is important is that you do something.  We all have unique skills and experiences that can be leveraged to make a positive impact on those around us, and by doing so we make a positive impact upon ourselves, our local community, our state, nation, and world.”

Geri Bickers

Community Outreach Coordinator

Geri is thrilled to officially join the Shepherd Youth Ranch team! Geri’s welcoming smile helps those new to SYR find their “sweet spot” in volunteering at the ranch. Geri comes to SYR with 14 years experience coordinating volunteers and events as the Children’s Minister at North Raleigh Church of Christ. Now she joins our staff to help YOU find your place at the ranch that restores dreams as the Community Outreach Coordinator.


Ragan Raupach 

Equine Specialist

Ragan is our Equine Specialist for Trails to Success and Ring Leader for Distinguished Riders.  She absolutely adores the children at the Ranch and especially has a heart for the DR kids.