2010 Nassau BOCES Education Partner Award Honoree

Lisa A. Gatti

Lisa A. Gatti

Founder and Executive Director
Pal-O-Mine Equestrian Inc.

Combining her love of special education and lifelong passion for horses, Lisa A. Gatti started a therapeutic riding program more than 15 years ago. Since then thousands of Long Islanders have discovered the life-changing benefits of horseback riding through Pal-O-Mine Equestrian Inc., in Islandia, N.Y.

Each week, more than 300 youngsters and adults — with conditions ranging from autism and cerebral palsy to attention deficit disorder and traumatic brain injury — visit the Pal-O-Mine facility.

Gatti's staff — 14 full- and part-time personnel and 150 volunteers — works with specially trained therapy horses to provide the best possible learning experience for each visitor. The results, Gatti says, are often miraculous, with benefits including increased self-esteem and confidence, and improved posture, balance, hand-eye coordination and muscle tone.

In 1996, Gatti organized the first Long Island Invitational Clinic and Horse Show, a national competition pitting riders with disabilities against able-bodied challengers. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association — an organization supporting equine assisted psychotherapy and learning professionals worldwide.

Sought after for her expertise in competitive and therapeutic riding, Gatti was tapped to lead the United States Paralympic equestrian teams for the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta and the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia.

Her dedication has been recognized by CBS's "The Early Show," which named her An American Hero, and by Long Island Business News, which selected her as one of Long Island's Top 50 Most Influential Women. Her work also garnered honors from the Theresa Alessandra Russo Foundation, the Children's Medical Fund and the Long Island Volunteer Hall of Fame.

Gatti began her career as a special education high school teacher at Nassau BOCES. She earned a dual bachelor's degree in elementary and special education from St. Joseph's College and several supplemental certificates from Suffolk County Community College as well as Molloy College. She lives on the farm in Islandia, N.Y.