Jennifer Rios, President
Jennifer is the general manager, and co-owner of Santa Fe’s award-winning Restaurant Martin with her husband, Martin Rios. They have two daughters, Emma and Anneliese, and being animal lovers share their home with eight pets: five dogs, two cats, and a box turtle, all of which are rescues. Prior to managing the restaurant, Jennifer owned a public relations firm in Santa Fe for nine years after earning an undergraduate degree from Skidmore College and an MBA from Georgetown University. Horses became a priority for Jennifer when her mother, Jan Bandler, who founded The Horse Shelter, passed away prematurely in 2004. Jennifer then assumed the role of President of the Board of the organization.
Jay Ritter, Vice President
Jay was born in Newark, New Jersey. He received his bachelor’s degree in fine arts, specializing in photography. Jay has three daughters and is the owner of the Squeaky Clean Car Washes in Santa Fe. Jay’s daughter, Meredith, is in nursing school, rides daily and has participated in the sport of three day eventing. Jay spent much time at the barn with his daughter and decided to start riding himself. Now Jay has two horses that he rides every day. Jay is passionate about The Horse Shelter and improving the lives of the abused and neglected horses in New Mexico.
AJ O'Brien, Treasurer
After visiting Santa Fe for 50 years, AJ and his wife recently moved here full time from Los Gatos, CA. AJ grew up in Colorado and started riding as a very young boy. He owned and cared for several horses growing up and his first job was mucking stalls. He holds an MBA in Finance and has over 30 years of managerial experience working for Fortune 100 high tech companies in a variety of positions. He is very familiar with strategic planning, budgeting, and driving operational metrics both quarter to quarter and long term. Likewise, he is practiced at preparing and analyzing Income, Balance Sheet and Cash flow statements. During the last several years of his high tech career he taught operational finance to senior managers helping them to drive growth and profitability by understanding the financial drivers and ramifications of their decisions. Outside of work and for the last fifteen years, AJ served as the Founder, President and Treasurer of the West Valley Lacrosse Club, a 501c Corp serving 300 plus kids and an organization of about 25 coaches and directors. When not working, he enjoys being physically active – you will find AJ skiing, hiking or fly fishing as often as possible. With all of his experience AJ is a welcome addition to The Horse Shelter.
Tara Earley, Secretary, Marketing & Event Planning Chair
The relationship between humans and horses is one of mutual respect and earned trust. The Horse Shelter speaks to both.
Dedicated to abused, abandoned and neglected horses and with the goal of giving our horses a better chance and perhaps a forever home, I am grateful to have served this organization for six years. I bring my lifelong compassion for horses to this impassioned group of dedicated staff, volunteers and Board members with the hope of making a positive difference one horse at a time.
From Akron, Ohio and by way of Chicago, Connecticut and San Francisco, I fell in love with Santa Fe and the western way of life over 30 years ago. Now a full-time resident of Santa Fe, I am so very fortunate to call this beautiful place home and to share this space with my husband, Stephen, our beloved animals, good friends and associates.
As co-owner of Earley & Earley Marketing Communications and a top producing real estate broker with Sotheby’s International Realty, I bring my professional sales and marketing skills to benefit The Horse Shelter.
Berkley Chesen, DVM, DACVS-LA, Veterinary Care & Equine Health Chair
Berkley Chesen grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska riding horses (hunters, jumpers and young race horses). She graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1996 and went to Purdue School of Veterinary Medicine in West Lafayette, IN. After graduation in 2000, Berkley moved to Lexington, KY where she completed an internship at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. She stayed in Lexington working for Hagyards until 2005. In 2001-2002 she completed the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society Acupuncture Course in Houston, TX and became certified. She also became certified in Large Animal Rescue and has assisted in several natural and man-made disasters. In 2005, Berkley moved to College Station, TX for a large animal surgery residency, which she completed in July 2008. She became board certified in Large Animal Surgery (Diplomate of American College of Veterinary Surgeons) in 2009. She then stayed on at Texas A&M as an emergency clinician and surgeon for that year. Berkley and her husband Ben, and two daughters, spend time enjoying the outdoors of New Mexico, where she continues to ride and tries to find time to compete in the jumpers.
David Rentfrow, Strategic Planning & Equine Advocacy
David grew up in the Mojave Desert of Southern California. Growing up watching TV cowboys, he has been enamored with the culture of the wild west from a young age and as he says, has “cowboy” in his blood. When David was a teenager, his family moved to the Midwest and David went to college and graduate school in the St Louis, Missouri area where he met his wife Susan. David has spent the bulk of his professional life in a suit and tie, usually with horse cuff links to remind himself of his true passion, while working at major Wall Street-based investment firms. About one year ago he had the opportunity to join Thornburg Investment Management in Santa Fe. He was drawn to Thornburg’s corporate culture and stellar reputation and, of course, Santa Fe. David adopted his horse, Jedi, from Pat Parelli, who had rescued the gelding from a kill sales barn. David also served on the Parelli Foundation Board for three years. Equine Advocacy is David’s passion and it is the area he wants to focus on, in serving on The Horse Shelter executive board. With his background in corporate strategy and business planning, he hopes to further the success of THS by evaluating our accomplishments and assessing what we need to do to grow and remain vibrant in the future.
Carole Berger, Fund Raisers & Annual Events Chair
Carole was born and raised in New York City where she remained until she married. She and her husband Jack then moved to the suburbs of New York City where they raised two daughters who are now married with children of their own. Carole and Jack moved to Santa Fe in 1999. Carole served as an event planner on the boards of Silver Bullet Productions and The Grand Prix de Santa Fe as well as The Horse Shelter. She can often be found walking her dogs, riding her horses, skiing, or at the gym. Carole has been instrumental in making The Horse Shelter events successful.
Beth Longanecker, Trainer Program Chair
Beth basically grew up on the back of a horse and her passion for horses runs deep. She has successfully owned, operated and managed several of her own horse farms in Colorado and New Mexico. Throughout her career Beth has trained and owned many state and world champion horses, coaching several youth and novice amateur teams to top wins in the Quarter Horse and Paint industry. Her focus now is on working with really dependable, reliable and well broke trail horses, while setting up trail adventures for groups. Beth currently owns and runs Sunset Trails Ranch in Santa Fe, NM with her partner of 12 years, Jim Blake. She has a real talent for pairing up the right horse and rider to become a life long partnership. An active advocate for saving mustangs, Beth is a strong supporter of The Horse Shelter’s mission to rescue neglected and abused horses. Working with THS, Beth has been instrumental in saving horses, including her finding and reporting a horrible abuse situation which resulted in three horses being rescued from starvation and added to the THS herd for rehabilitation. Beth feels it is important to implement new training programs at The Horse Shelter to allow these horses to reach their potential and increase their adoptability so they can find their forever homes. Her expertise is vital in planning and overseeing a new full circle training program at The Horse Shelter, as well as the very successful “Gimme Shelter – Trainers Rally For Rescues” event, now in its 5th year.
Clint Mortenson, Equine Community Outreach Chair
Clint joined the shelter board in 2013 and helped start the Gimme Shelter trainers challenge. He grew up training and showing horses on the family ranch in South Dakota. After college he trained horses in LA at Will Rogers State Park. In 1992 Disneyland Paris began Buffalo Bills Wild Show in France and hired Clint as a cowboy performer. Upon returning to the US he attended a saddle making school and has operated a shop for 25 years making saddles and silver buckles just south of Santa Fe. He enjoys spending his off-time roping, going to brandings, and training horses with his son Wyatt.
Lynn Komer, Social Media, Webdesign & Marketing
Lynn Komer got involved with horses when she was about 8. Her first horse was a chocolate palomino quarter horse mare from Carrizozo, NM. Her name was Mill Iron Teri. She was stocky, sassy, stubborn and Lynn’s best friend. During horse shows if she got bored she would simply start backing up and or stick her tongue out and make slurping noises. Lynn’s dad ended up with 17 quarter horses out of the Cutter Bill bloodline and took his family all over the southwest for AQHA shows. Lynn and her sister did western only. Lynn Komer established PK Public Relations in 1998 and has 30 years experience providing executive level strategic counsel and developing integrated outreach campaigns for public and private clients. She first learned strategic communications and issues advocacy as a caseworker for a U.S. Senator and a legislative analyst. Lynn honed her skills in integrated campaigns and stakeholder engagement as the director of government, media and community relations for a multi-state health insurance company. Lynn believes in working with clients she likes and causes she believes in. Lynn says “The love of horses never leaves you, and the values you learn taking care of an animal that is dependent on you offers us all the opportunity to practice compassion and stewardship.”
Susan Rule, Volunteer Liaison
Susan has loved horses ever since Santa brought her a rocking horse for Christmas when she was 2. She grew up on a farm in Central Texas and her father borrowed horses for her to ride as she grew up. Susan graduated with a B.S. from Syracuse University and a M.B.A. from the University of Houston. Susan worked as a Legal Administrator in a corporate law department. Since that time, she has had a long history of volunteer service. She ran workshops to non-profits on Board Development, served as President of the PTA for a Montessori school, was chairman of several fundraisers for her children’s schools, and was on the board of a non-profit whose mission was to empower the people of the Yucatan to respond to HIV/AIDS. She is also the Secretary/Treasurer of her neighborhood’s Mutual Domestic and Homeowners Association in Santa Fe. She and her husband built a house in Tesuque in 2009 where they live part-time. She immediately found The Horse Shelter and began volunteering soon after, working both at the ranch and in the office. Susan enjoys yoga, skiing, and the New Mexico landscape.