Jill Haag, Executive Director
Jill grew up in Virginia horse country and relocated to the Memphis area in late 2014. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Virginia Tech, and was previously employed as the Executive Director of EQUI-KIDS Therapeutic Riding Program in Virginia Beach. She was the founding Executive Director of the We Promise Foundation, and served on the Board of Directors of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Eastern Virginia, as well as the Virginia State Board of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Jill is a PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor, and has been actively involved in the nonprofit industry since 1996.
Jill is married to Doug, and they have two boys, Jack and John. She continues to ride and enjoys spending time with her thoroughbreds, Rhett and Bender.
Sara Zurenko, Program Director and Head Instructor
Sara is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina. She studied Business Administration and Economics at Central Piedmont Community College and has been an avid equestrian for more than two decades in a multitude of disciplines, including riding, showing and training. She is a PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor, mentor and is certified as a PATH Intl. Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning.
Sara enjoys spending time with her son, Ellison, and daughter, Charlotte.
Jordan Walker, Director of Development and Communications
Jordan was born and raised in East Texas but has proudly called Memphis home since 2014. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from the University of Central Arkansas and her Masters of Public Administration and Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership and Philanthropy from the University of Memphis. Jordan is passionate about the nonprofit sector here in Memphis, and she previously worked for West Cancer Foundation and the American Cancer Society before joining the Southern Reins’ team. She is an active volunteer for the Junior League of Memphis, Alpha Sigma Alpha Sorority and 901 POP.
Jordan joined the staff of Southern Reins in October of 2021 and she is excited to contribute to serving individuals with special needs and their families while reigniting her childhood love of horses. She and her husband William live in East Memphis with their two pets.
Meredith Massa, Volunteer and Program Coordinator
Meredith grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina and she moved to Memphis in 1987 to attend Christian Brothers University where she graduated with a degree in Telecommunications and Marketing. She worked at Baptist Memorial Health Care for 11 years as a sales representative in their managed care department before becoming a stay at home mom to her 2 boys.
Meredith started riding horses with her parents when she was 2. She began volunteering at Southern Reins in 2019 and enjoys being with our participants, horses and wonderful volunteers.
Meredith joined our team as Volunteer and Program Coordinator in September of 2021, and she lives in Collierville with her husband Joe and two boys, Parker and Carson.
Alex Shaver, Equine and Barn Manager
Alex grew up in Oregon, and her love of horses started at a young age. She competed for her high school's equestrian team and competed at the state level multiple years in a row. Alex earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Horsemanship from the University of Montana Western. While in college she was the 2019 Colt Challenge Champion.
Alex currently barrel races and enjoys going on trail rides. She joined the Southern Reins' team in August of 2021 to share her passion for horses and how they can help our community.
Diane Kirksey, Communications Assistant
Diane was born and raised outside of Memphis in Germantown, TN. She attended the University of Tennessee Knoxville where she received a degree in Recreation and Sport Management with a Therapeutic Concentration with a Minor in Psychology. Diane became a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Therapist and has focused on working with adults with various disabilities. Moving back to Memphis, Diane began working as a Recreation Therapist with SRVS serving adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She began volunteering at Southern Reins where she saw a whole new side of therapeutic activities, and became a PATH Intl. Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor in August of 2018.
Diane is married to Reed and they have a son named Logan.
Katharine Allen, PATH Intl. CTRI and Barn Staff
Katharine was born and raised in Memphis. She attended Fort Lewis College in Colorado where she received an Exercise Science Specialist degree in 2011. Since graduating college, she has spent her time teaching children to swim, as well as teaching lifeguarding classes to young adults. In 2017, she started her own swim lesson business, KatSwim, and has enjoyed helping children build self confidence while learning an important life skill.
Katharine is excited to serve people of all ages at Southern Reins. She rode horses as a child and is excited to continue doing something she loves. She started volunteering at Southern Reins in the winter of 2017, and received her Instructor CTRI certification in January of 2022.
Alicia Lartigue, Barn Staff
From New Orleans and raised in Memphis, Alicia credits the horse for many life lessons learned. Alicia spent several years at Shelby Farms Stables where she led rides through the wooded trails and helped develop summer camp programs for children to learn the basics of horsemanship and share in the fun of riding. She enjoyed caring for the entire herd of horses at Shelby Farms, as well as for the four resident horses at Graceland, and found it inspiring to see visitors of all ages experience so much joy from interacting with horses.
Alicia began volunteering at Southern Reins as a Sidewalker in January 2019 at both the Collierville and DeSoto campuses, and joined the program as a member of our barn staff in August of 2019.
Elena Smith, Barn Staff
Elena has been an equestrian since she could walk. As a native of Germantown Tennessee, she comes from a long line of competitive riders, including her mother, Sunde Smith, and her aunt, Olympian Melanie Smith Taylor.
Elena was one of our FIRST volunteers having joined our program in September of 2015. She has donated her time as a program volunteer, in the barn as a barn volunteer, and is also an exercise rider keeping our horses strong and happy. Elena was even a Volunteer Service Award recipient in 2019. Elena officially joined our barn staff family in January of 2020. When she is not at Southern Reins, she enjoys traveling the globe and spending time with her horses Bling, Amber, and Winslow.
Ginna Rauls, Community Liaison
Ginna is originally from Nashville, TN. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Rhodes College and has been volunteering to support the special needs community since she was 12 years old (when she saw an ad for a special needs school in Nashville). It has been her passion ever since.
Ginna is married to Jason and they have two daughters; Brittain and Ella. Their family has been involved with the special needs ministry at Second Presbyterian Church for more than a decade.