Our Team

Dana Spett
Founder & Executive Director

Dana founded Pony Power nearly 15 years ago with 4 riders and one horse (Mat). Dana graduated from NYU and went on to get her master’s in social work. She has been an accomplished equestrian since a young age, taking the initiative to start NYU’s equestrian team, and competed internationally with the intercollegiate show circuit. When one of Dana’s three daughters was diagnosed with sensory integration issues, she found a way to treat her daughter by combining her passions and becoming a certified PATH International instructor. In 2005, her family bought Three Sisters Farm in Mahwah, NJ and dedicated the property to be an inclusive therapeutic riding community.

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Lauren Cotton
Director of Development

Lauren Cotton joined Pony Power in 2013 as the organization’s first full-time Director of Development. Lauren brings more than a decade of fundraising experience to her position, having served most recently as the Director of Foundation and Government Relations for PILnet: The Global Network for Public Interest Law. Prior to PILnet, Lauren was as a grant writer at the Opportunity Agenda and a consultant at the Whelan Group.  Lauren holds a MA in International Relations from King’s College London and a B.A. in Sociology from Boston University.

Leigh Vaccaro
Program Director & Instructor

Leigh began volunteering with Pony Power in 2009. Seeing students progress and grow stronger as a result of therapeutic horseback riding inspired her to teach. She became a PATH International certified instructor in August 2011. Leigh experienced the same kind of confidence-building she sees in Pony Power students when she started riding in her early teens, showing over fences and in the dressage ring. A communications professional with over 12 years experience in advancing the missions of colleges, universities and other nonprofits, Leigh is also our Program Director.


Bonnie-website3Bonnie Malajian, MSW, LCSW, ACSW
Stable Insights Director

Bonnie received her Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from NYU. As a licensed clinical social worker, she has been providing psychotherapy to individuals, families and groups who struggle with depression, anxiety disorders, trauma, addictions, eating disorders and life adjustments for over 30 years. Having a lifelong love of horses and appreciation of the horse-to-human connection led her to begin to study and provide equine-assisted growth and learning programs and psychotherapy in 2006, partnering the healing power of horses with traditional psychotherapy. She is certified by the Equine-Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA). Bonnie joined the Pony Power staff in the summer of 2011 as the Director of Stable Insights. She has a private practice providing traditional talk therapy in Ridgewood, NJ. Bonnie also teaches in Pony Power’s therapeutic riding program and is currently working towards her PATH Int’l certification.


Erin Chaffee


Kerry Donovan
Communications & Development Associate

Kerry Donovan joined the Pony Power team in 2014 as a full-time Communications & Development Associate. She is a Ramapo College of New Jersey graduate with a B.A. in Communications/Journalism and brings to her position more than five year’s professional experience in national media and communications, most recently with Toys “R” Us, Inc. Corporate Communications. Not only did Kerry grow up around animals like goats, chickens, peacocks and more, but she volunteered as a Puppy Raiser for The Seeing Eye, Inc. for more than eight years. It was this experience that led Kerry to Pony Power, as she made it a goal of hers to work with a non-profit organization that offered animal-assisted therapeutic exercises.


Gabrielle Tracey
Office Manager

In 2010, Gabrielle graduated from Ramapo College of New Jersey with a B.A. in International Studies and a minor in Anthropology. Gabrielle’s love of animals, proven by her experience as a Puppy Raiser for The Seeing Eye, Inc. in Morristown, NJ, brought her to volunteer at Pony Power in 2005. Having been an incredible asset in this capacity, she was asked to work as the Office Manager following her graduation and continues to serve as an integral part of our team.

Jen Caffrey

Jen Caffrey

Volunteer Coordinator & Instructor

Jen started riding at the age of ten and fell in love with the sport immediately.  She continued on to be a professional rider, trainer and instructor teaching and competing in both hunt seat and dressage.  She took the position of Barn Manager at a riding center that offered therapeutic horsemanship and hippotherapy in 2008.  Watching the positive effects on riders who participated in this program gave her the desire to continue on and receive her PATH International Registered Instructor Certification in 2012.  In 2013 she joined the Pony Power team and became our Volunteer Coordinator.  Jen is also Certified Equine Sports Massage Therapist.  In her spare time she enjoys running and is planning on running her first Marathon in the spring of 2013.



Elissa Goldner

Elissa has been riding since she was a child. Currently the owner of two retired Thoroughbred race horses as well as Buttons, her Holsteiner jumper, she trains at Top of the Line in Chestnut Ridge, NY. Elissa was a pre-school and kindergarten teacher for many years. She volunteered at Pony Power for a year before joining the staff as an instructor in 2012 and gaining her PATH Int’l certification in 2013. Pony Power is the ideal place to focus on her twin passions: children and horses.



Julia Klopacz
Equine Manager & Instructor

Julia came to Pony Power as a high school senior intern in 2009. Julia began horse back riding at just eight years old, and owns Merle. With extensive riding and showing experience in the hunter ring, she has a natural way with any horse she works with. After graduating Drew University in 2013, Julia joined our staff full time as Pony Power’s Equine Manager and Instructor. She enjoys riding at the farm and takes pride in watching her Pony Power students progress from lesson to lesson.



Meagan Zakheim

Not only did Meagan begin horseback riding at just eight years old, but she spent five years working as a Veterinarian Technician – she’s a TRUE animal person! It was her love of horses that led her to Three Sisters Farm last year. And, after volunteering with Pony Power for just a few months, she joined the team as a staff Instructor in September 2013. Meagan is now working toward her PATH Int’l certification. She values the time spent with her riders in each lesson and enjoys watching them overcome obstacles and reach new milestones. Fun fact: Meagan is a Mercy College graduate, holding a B.S. in Health Science.