Our Team

Dana Spett

Dana Spett
Executive Director

Dana founded Pony Power over 13 years ago, with 4 riders, and one horse (Mat). Dana graduated from NYU, and went on to get her master’s in social work and practiced in schools. She has been an accomplished equestrian from 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. Ten years ago, her family bought Three Sisters Farm in Mahwah and dedicated the property to be an inclusive therapeutic riding community. “We boast the only farm in the tri-state area that is solely dedicated to therapeutic riding and equine-assisted activities in an inclusive setting.”

lauren website 2

Lauren Cotton

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.

 

Erin Chaffee
Instructor

(Bio & pic to come)

 

Jackie Lowenfels
Curriculum Coordinator

Jackie Lowenfels comes to Pony Power with a background in Therapeutic Riding and has worked with special needs children and adults for several years.  She is a lifelong horse person and has a deep respect for the bond between horses and humans.  Jackie has a degree in biology and religion from Mount Holyoke College and is currently working on her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy.  Jackie lives in Suffern, NY with her son, nephew, and an assortment of pets.  When she is not at Pony Power she can be found watching her son play baseball or visiting her retired horses.

 

Bonnie Malajian

Bonnie Malajian, MSW, LCSW, ACSW
Stable Insights Director

Bonnie received her Masters 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 in 2006 to begin to study and provide equine-assisted growth and learning programs and equine-assisted psychotherapy, thus partnering the healing power of horses with traditional psychotherapy. She is certified by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA).

Bonnie joined the staff of Pony Power in the summer of 2011 to oversee the Stable Insights program which provides equine-assisted growth and learning programs to individuals, families, groups, treatment agencies as well as corporate team building. She has a private practice providing traditional talk therapy as well in Ridgewood, NJ. Bonnie also teaches in Pony Power’s therapeutic riding program and is currently working towards her PATH instructor certification.

Leigh Vaccaro

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 and universities and other nonprofits, Leigh is also our Program Director.

Gabrielle Tracey

Gabrielle Tracey
Office Manager

Gabrielle graduated from Ramapo College with a BA in international studies. Gabrielle’s love of animals brought her to volunteer at Pony Power in 2005, as well as raise and train puppies for the Seeing Eye guide dog program. Due to her friendly demeanor, excellent work ethic and longtime relationship with Pony Power she was asked to work as the office manager after graduation.

Jen Caffrey

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 Goldner
Instructor

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

 

Julia Klopacz
Equine Manager & Instructor

Julia came to us as a high school senior intern in 2009. Julia has extensive riding and showing experience in the hunter ring, as well as a natural way with any horse she works with. She is currently attending Drew University and teaches for us three days a week. Julia has been riding since she was eight, and owns Merle. She enjoys riding at a variety of barns in the area and takes pride in watching her Pony Power students progress.