A Healing Haven

Elizabeth Tate horse hug

Elizabeth Tate had a successful career in business and took a journey toward her own healing along the way. Now her equine therapy nonprofit Common Ground Inc. is helping heal others.

Alumna uses business success to fuel a dream: an equine therapy center

Graduation Year


Briefly describe your journey from Hood College all the way to founding your non-profit equine therapy center.  Was equine therapy always something you wanted to pursue, or something you came to along the way?

After graduating from Hood in visual communication arts in '89, I worked in the male-dominated world of telecommunications. I discovered quickly that the TV field was not for me. After some soul searching and understanding I was survivor of numerous traumas in my life, a fellow Hood alum helped me understand I needed to seek therapeutic counseling at Heartly House before I could move forward. She was right! I ended up getting my master’s degree in pastoral counseling/clinical psychology from Loyola in '97. I was able to complete my clinical work at Heartly House as a therapist for two years and work for a few years part-time after I graduated. At the same time, I was offered the opportunity to work with my dad, Raymond Tate, and we built a defense contracting company from the ground up. When we sold in 2005-06, I built my barn and started my boarding business, Paradise Stables, LLC in Mount Airy, MD on our farm.  My hope was to figure out how to bring horses and trauma therapy together.  God brought all the right people, horses, and clients together to make the dream come true with Common Ground, Inc, our non-profit. 

Describe a favorite memory or two from your student days at Hood.  

Our communications class broke tradition and started our own newspaper called Hood Today! It was a no-fluff publication that did not receive SGA funding, unlike most other campus organizations. We had an aggressive style and became a dynamic force on campus. We became the newspaper that not only reported the real news on campus, but we were the talk of the campus too! This experience gave me a sense of empowerment, the first of many to come in my life. I thank Al Weinberg and Donna Bertazzoni for that lesson and opportunity for the expression of free speech and breaking the mold in a big way! 

Dr. Martha Church was the Hood President and was also the first woman to be accepted into the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C. There is not enough space here to tell you about the Club and the honor that is bestowed by being a member (google it), but my dad, a member himself, was SO proud that it was Dr. Church and that I went to Hood. He told all his colleagues all about it. In the day, that was a big deal. A really big deal in the old boys’ network. 


Tell us about your nonprofit, Common Ground at Paradise Stables, and the clients it serves. 

I have learned to apply my knowledge of horses and therapy to create a unique program that is different than talk therapy, and not really therapy at all. It’s a program that started with wounded combat veterans to address their needs for connection and building healthy relationships. Horses do that without even trying! I decided to become a certified facilitator in Equine Assisted Learning, and our program has now turned into working with many populations of people from wounded veterans, trauma, addiction, grief, loss, homelessness and orphaned children to corporate team building with skills development and some laughter too! We have been helping our community through the power of horses since 2017 and became a charitable organization in 2022. Common Ground is where horses and humans can come together to teach, learn, grow and heal. Check us out at www.commongroundps.org.   

You are a legacy alumna: your daughter Maggie Winters graduated from Hood in 2021!  What has this shared experience meant to you both? 

When Maggie decided to apply to Hood from high school, I was so happy, but wanted it to be HER idea… you know how that is. I wanted her to want it, not because I did. When she got her acceptance letter/folder, and she was awarded the Presidents Scholarship for academic achievement (something I never did), we were both jumping up and down in our kitchen happy and crying at the same time! I am very proud of Maggie and all that she accomplished at Hood. She really tried hard, found her voice, and became an advocate for her dyslexia services so she could succeed in her education. She has now gone on to get her Montessori teaching certificate and works at the Montessori School of Westminster, where she was a student for five years. Maggie would tell you that she was embarrassed at first because she knew I know a lot of people in our community. However, she made her own path at Hood and stepped out of my legacy to make her own life there. But she did like hearing all my old stories when we would walk the campus together…at least I like to think she did! 

What does wellness mean to you personally? 

Wellness is an active process for me. Sitting idle and not being self-aware created a place of stagnate existence. I am a two-time survivor of breast cancer and fighting the fight is one thing but moving out of the fight and into the light is what motivates me to move forward every day. I have learned that making choices that lead toward a positive outcome is where my optimal health and overall well-being come from. We bring the opportunity for wellness to our community through Common Ground and the positive and supportive relationships we build with horses.