GallopNYC welcomes new Executive Director, Nicole L. Cicogna! Over the last ten years, Nicole had been the Executive Director of Hartley House, a nonprofit organization founded in 1897 to strengthen and serve the Hell’s Kitchen community in NYC, where she collaborated with the Board and staff to fulfill its mission, while increasing its capacity, expanding its programming, and diversifying its funding mix. Her work at Hartley House helped to serve those in the community by enriching their lives, expanding their opportunities, and building a sense of community. GallopNYC is honored to have Nicole join our team!
“I am humbled to have been named GallopNYC’s next Executive Director. It is an incredible honor to lead this extraordinary organization! My father was a New York City Mounted Police Officer. I was the most popular girl in the schoolyard when he would gallop up to the fence in his uniform. He put me in my first saddle when I was eight years old and taught me how to ride. As a little girl, the horses seemed so tall and majestic; the ring enormous. Riding always gave me a sense of freedom, even then.
In the mid 80’s, my father was severely injured on a horse and I vowed never to ride again—until recently. In 2014, I embarked on a solo trip to Italy and decided to get back on a horse, but did not reveal my intentions to a soul. I found a small ranch in the foothills of Tuscany and that day—after nearly 30 years—I rode again. It was a cathartic and therapeutic experience for me, and immediately, that sense of freedom returned. I vowed to make horses a part of my life again.
GallopNYC’s mission of using therapeutic horsemanship to help riders in NYC with disabilities walk, talk and learn, inspiring them to live their lives as fully, independently and productively as possible is one I believe in, and am inspired by. Gallop’s work is impactful, life changing, and compassionate. In a relatively short period of time, GallopNYC has been able to accomplish remarkable and ambitious achievements: now serving up to 500 riders per week, across four locations, spread out over three boroughs. But while statistics can be shared for days on end, it is really about what happens daily at the barn.
Some people say there’s no such thing as magic, but I beg to differ. There is magic in our barns…magic in the way the PATH Instructors encourage our riders to use verbal cues and their leg muscles to move the horse, magic in the laughter of our children with disabilities when they realize they are the ones propelling the horse forward, magic in the selflessness of our dedicated volunteers, magic in the tears of a parent watching their child make real progress over the course of just ten weeks. The magic happens when you believe in ability.
The opportunity to lead GallopNYC in its next chapter is a dream, but it is also a privilege. Our work is relevant and important, and I commit to all of you that I will be as dedicated and brave as those we serve. I’ll see you at the barn!” – Nicole L. Cicogna