Return To Freedom
Return to Freedom (RTF) Wild Horse Preservation and Sanctuary is dedicated to preserving the freedom, diversity and habitat of America’s wild horses through sanctuary, education, advocacy and conservation, while enriching the human spirit through direct connection with the natural world.RTF, founded in 1997 by Neda DeMayo, operates a 300-acre ranch in California owned by the DeMayo family and cares for nearly 400 horses.
- Read our current Annual Report
- Visit us on Guidestar or Charity Navigator for financial reports and to view our current IRS Form 990.
Neda has had a lifelong interest in animals, especially horses, and has provided care and rescue for horses and animals throughout her life. At 9 years old, a young activist in the making, Neda and her sister Diana rode their horses to Burger King in protest of horse meat in hamburgers, while their mother Stella advocated against horse slaughter on the local news!
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 Journey’s with Wild Horses, herd immersion experiences and has conducted 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 theater and film.
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.
Growing up in California’s Bay Area, Kelsey competed extensively on the Hunter/Jumper circuit throughout her formative riding years, but also took time to learn strong foundations in natural horsemanship. In her 15 years of involvement in the horse world, Kelsey has spent time training in dressage, jumping, trail, eventing, reining and cutting.
Merced has been with Return to Freedom for more than a decade. He is a first-class and highly professional asset to our team, as well as a gentle spirit that all animals respond to. We consider Merced to be the heart-and-soul of the day-to-day operation of the ranch.
Alex is the youngest member of our staff and has been a valuable asset to Return to Freedom for more than three years. He has learned a great deal from his mentor, Merced, and we consider him a super team player because of it. That, and he’s a joy to be around because he always has a smile on his face!
Paulun is Merced’s brother; together they are a dynamite team. Like his brother, Paulun has been with Return to Freedom for more than ten years. They both intimately know the ins-and-outs of the ranch’s daily operations.
Jill is a Michigan native who graduated from the University of Michigan, Dearborn with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. During her time in college, Jill worked directing field operations for political campaigns, interned for the Arab American Institute and travelled extensively through Europe and the Middle East. After 11 years as an integral part of Return to Freedom staff, from Development Director to Director of Internal Operations, Jill has successfully launched “Shadow’s Fund” , a rescue for senior and hard to place dogs. Jill remains part of the Return to Freedom family, supporting the CEO on various projects and research.