Our Staff

Rie Longo

Rie is the owner/operator of Starlight Farm. She started the program in 1999 and became a PATH-certified therapeutic horseback riding instructor. She has worked in every position at the farm and is now the Executive Director. 

Rie is a nurse and worked in the operating room for many years. She is also a member of the Passaic County Board of Agriculture, having once served as President.

In her spare time, Rie enjoys barrel racing her horse, Cruz. Her biggest joys in life are her husband, her 4 grown children, her grandchildren and her family.

Meredith S. Bazaar

Meredith joined Starlight Farm in 2000.  She is a New Jersey and New York licensed speech-language pathologist, and a board certified hippotherapy clinical specialist. She is the Past President of the American Hippotherapy Association, Inc. Meredith received a Bachelor of Arts in Speech and Hearing from The George Washington University and a Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology from Northwestern University. Prior to starting her own practice Meredith provided speech language services in the Montefiore Medical Center CCU, ICU, NICU and rehabilitation departments and managed a day program for adults with traumatic brain injuries at United Cerebral Palsy Association of New York State. Meredith regularly presents at professional conferences, conducts training seminars for parents and community groups and supervises graduate student interns. She is trained in PROMPT I and IIKaufman Speech Praxis Treatment and Beckman Oral-Motor assessment and intervention.

Paula Capella

 Paula joined Starlight Farm in the start up year 1999 she is an American Hippotherapy Association Registered Therapist with 25 years of occupational therapy experience, almost exclusively with pediatrics, expensive continuing education in NDT and SI techniques, ongoing work in early intervention, private practice and public schools and NJ Early Intervention Coalition Clinician of the Year.

Renee Bond

Renee has been a certified therapeutic riding instructor since 2003 and has been teaching and training at Starlight for over 17 years. In 2014, Renee earned her certification from EAGALA as an Equine Specialist. Renee has trained Western, English and Dressage and focuses her training on safe and effective riding. She enjoys hunter-pacing and endurance rides with her horse, Bob. 

Victoria Knebl

Victoria is from Ringwood, NJ and has been riding horses for 16 years. Throughout high school she was a volunteer at Starlight Farm but then moved to Ohio for college. She graduated from the University of Findlay in 2015 with a BS in western Equestrian Studies with an emphasis on business management. Her experience ranges from training horses in a variety of disciplines to giving lessons for riders ages 3-60+. She is currently pursuing her PATH International Registered Level Instructor Certification. 

Linda Rutz

Linda is a long-time horse enthusiast and an avid rider with over 25 years of equestrian experience. She is a PATH certified instructor and an EAGALA Equine Specialist. Linda earned a Master's degree in Education from the College of St. Elizabeth and is a certified teacher for Preschool through 6th grade. She also holds a Teacher of Students with Disabilities certification. She is well-versed in creating and implementing lesson plans, goals and objectives for individuals with autism, communication impairment, emotional and behavioral disorders and learning disabilities. In addition, Linda has recently completed her 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training. In her free time, Linda can be found riding her horse, hiking, kayaking or practicing yoga. 

Rieanne Tallant

Rieanne started at Starlight in 1999 as a volunteer. She has an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice from County College of Morris and a Bachelor's Degree in Exercise Physiology from Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma. While at Bacone, Rieanne competed on the rodeo team while also riding and training barrel horses. In 2006, she earned her PATH certification and began teaching lessons. 

Kathy Viken

Kathy is from Barrington Hills, IL and has three sons, Jason, Eric and Matt. Her passion for Therapeutic Riding began in 1998 when she volunteered for the first time at Starlight. She went on to become the program manager of a small therapeutic riding center in Bonita, CA. She also held the position of Southern California State Chair from 2005-2007. Kathy moved back to Ringwood in 2008 and began working at Starlight as the Volunteer Coordinator and Expert Horse Handler. Currently, Kathy is the Volunteer Recruiter and Program Organizer of Experiential Off Horse Activities which includes working with Smarty the Donkey and doing hands-on craft activities. In her spare time, Kathy rides her leased horse, Catherine. 

Rachel Badalamenti

Rachel has her Master's degree in Social Work from Rutger's University and is licensed in NJ. She has been working with infants, children and adults with disabilities for over 27 years. Her career began in college while working with adults dealing with mental illness. Over the years, she has worked for the NJ Department of Health in the Division of Developmental Disabilities and as a Quality Assurance Coordinator. Rachel's oldest daughter was diagnosed with Autism which led her to pursue training in PECs (Picture Exchange Communication System) as well as work as parent representative for the Statewide Interagency Council for early intervention. When Rachel's daughter began taking lessons at Starlight, she began volunteering and in 2016 began working as the Volunteer Coordinator. Rachel and both of her daughters continue to take lessons at the farm. 

Jenna Stapp

My name is Jenna Stapp, I have been riding and competing horses for 11 years. I own 3 horses that compete in NBHA for barrel racing and New Jersey High School Rodeo in barrel racing, goat tying and pole bending. I started as a volunteer at Starlight and eventually became part of the staff. When I'm not at Starlight, I'm riding my own horses, fishing, writing poetry, biking and enjoying the great outdoors. I attend Liberty University Online as a Junior. My life goals are to train horses and ride professionally in rodeos, own a farm with a pond and to run a hippotherapy riding center. 

Cassidy Owen

Cassidy is a Senior at West Milford High School. She was a volunteer for a year before being hired as an Expert Horse Handler. Cassidy plans to own her own farm and pursue a career in sign language interpretation. 

Victoria Gooden

Victoria (Tori) is a special education teacher at Windsor Learning Center. She earned a Bachelor's Degree in Theater Tech from Alvernia University in 2012 but changed her career path to education and started out as a teacher's assistant. She enjoyed it so much that she earned her teaching certificate and started her first full year teaching in the Fall of 2017. In addition to teaching, Tori works at the farm in the afternoons (she started out back in 2004 as a volunteer). The therapy horses and the students have taught her so much and she appreciates the benefits that horses provide to riders during sessions. When not working so hard, Tori can be found kayaking, camping and enjoying time in nature.