Board of Directors
Click on highlighted names to learn more about each person.
Neda DeMayo, Founder/President
Neda has had a lifelong interest in animals, especially horses, and has provided care and rescue for horses and animals throughout her life. She has held the vision of establishing a sanctuary for animals since childhood, and in 1997 she took steps to realize that dream. Neda is also recognized as an expert in horse behavior and non-invasive horse handling methods. She has innovated the technique of The Heart of Listening and conducts numerous clinics and classes. Her background in the healing and creative arts took her all over the world exposing her to many cultures. Before launching Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary (RTF), she worked as a costume designer and fashion stylist in theater and film.
Jack Carone, Vice President
Jack joins RTF with a broad background in animal rights and protection. He was Co-Director and Media Spokesman for Los Angeles-based Last Chance for Animals (LCA) and now serves on its Board of Directors. Jack has also been Special Projects Director and a contributing writer for The Animals Voice Magazine. He spent 8 years as the Volunteer Coordinator and Park and Operations Manager for Tree People in Coldwater Canyon Park, a 44-acre rustic wilderness preserve in the Santa Monica Mountains. Before devoting himself to animal issues, Jack also had a career in the music and entertainment industries.
Charles Eckberg, Interim Chairman of the Board, Finance Committee Chair
A supporter of Return to Freedom for 10 years, Charlie joined Return to Freedom’s Board of Directors in 2012. As Chair of the Finance Committee, Charlie is committed to help facilitate the creation of Return To Freedom’s larger Conservancy. Since 1975 Charlie Eckberg has served in prominent real estate management positions where his leadership, knowledge, business and fiduciary acumen facilitated successful tenures. For nearly a decade Charlie served as a Senior Trust Real Estate Officer for Security Pacific Bank and Bank of America where he had fiduciary responsibility for hundreds of unique properties that were subject to probate or held in trust by the financial institutions.
Diana DeMayo, Secretary
Diana received her B.F.A. degree in Drama from the University of the North Carolina School of the Arts. She was a founding member and served as Associate Artistic Director and Producing Director of the critically acclaimed Mojo Ensemble theatre company in Los Angeles for 5 years. There she was very involved in launching world premiere theatre that focused on social awareness and a youth theatre where teens performed to engage and educate other teens on AIDS and teen pregnancy. Diana served on Return To Freedom’s Advisory Board for youth programs since its inception in 1997 and joined the BOD in 2009.
Kevin Beckmen, Director
Dr. J. Kevin Beckmen serves as Chief of Staff for the Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Health System. A prominent and active member of the local community, Kevin had been a supporter of RTF for years before joining the Board in 2009.
Pat Hines, Director
Pat currently serves as the executive director of Safe Moves. Safe Moves is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to educating children on traffic safety. Since 1983 Safe Moves has served schools and communities in throughout the United States to decrease the number of traffic-related deaths and injuries among children. Under her leadership Safe Moves has received 45 million dollars in grant funds and has received national recognition as the leading authority on traffic safety education for children in the country. Pat previously served as the vice-president of Marketing for RKO Radio from 1978-1983.
Elissa Kline, Director
Elissa Kline has managed recording studios in both Los Angeles and NYC and currently works as the Ranch Manager/Personal Assistant & Photographer for Carole King. In 1989, she escaped the city and began managing Carole King’s ranch near Stanley, Idaho for 20 years. She has had success as fine art photographer, documenting the wild herds in Challis Idaho since 2004, and bringing their plight to the public through her photographic installations galleries nationwide. She also joins Carole King on tour as tour photographer. Elissa currently lives in Santa Cruz with her husband Erik Gillberg and teenage son Ian.
Executive Advisory Board
Bill DeMayo, Co-Founder Emeritus
Bill began his career as a field examiner for the IRS and is a retired partner of Ernst & Young. Turning attention to education, he then became a full professor at the University of New Haven, Connecticut, where he also served as Treasurer and a Planned Giving Officer. He has served and been honored by numerous professional associations devoted to taxation, financial management, and estate planning. Bill is a graduate of the Wharton School, holds an M.B.A. in taxation, and is a C.P.A.
Brian Sheehan, Owner, Eclectic Wine Bar & Grill, NoHo, Los Angeles, CA
Policy Issues and Advocacy
Virginie L. Parant, ESQ., Attorney
Laura Moretti, The Animals Voice
Carolyn Resnick, Dances With Horses
Angelique Midthunder, Media
David Midthunder, Native American Cultural Advisor
Peggy & Donald Petrie
Sigi McCormack, Local Event Committee
Equine Wellness & Conservation
Jay Kirkpatrick, Director Science & Conservation Center
John Fusco, Choctaw & Tribal Strains
Dr. E. Gus Cothran, The Equine Genetics Lab, VIBS, CVM, Texas A&M University TAMU 4458
Casey Jones, Equine Dentist, Holistic Dentistry
Natasha Lohmus, Fish & Game, Santa Barbara, CA
Youth Ambassadors: Aly & AJ Michalka