Maja Hadziomerovic, Founder & President

Maja holds a degree in Biology with a concentration in Neural and Behavioral Sciences from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and is well-versed in work with neurodiverse children.  She is currently working for CEB as the Director for their UK HR Practice in London.  Besides her curiosity for the human brain, she is a human rights activist and has supported efforts ranging from relief missions in Haiti to public health reform projects in Bosnia.

Maja has been riding horses for over 20 years across 4 different continents and a multitude of countries.  Her equine experiences range from run-down shacks in developing nations to world-class Olympic training facilities.  Riders of Hope offers Maja a unique opportunity to combine her studies in mental and physical disabilities with her passion for horses and commitment to the people (particularly children) of Bosnia.  Many years ago, as a child refugee, Maja discovered emotional refuge in her interactions with horses.  Now as an adult, she is eager to provide other adults and children with special needs the opportunity to experience the emotional and physical benefits of a therapeutic riding program, currently reserved mainly for the more developed nations.

Senada Pekaric Muratovic, Founder, Vice President & Executive Director

Senada has majored in Sociology and Political Science.  She holds premium certification as a registered therapeutic riding instructor through Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.), which recognizes knowledge of designing and implementing therapeutic riding programs for people with disabilities. She is certified as a Special Olympics coach, as well as with the Horsemanship Safety Association, which requires advanced equine knowledge, training, and riding skills. Also, she is has been train in natural horsemanship methods and horse psychology.  She has been volunteering and working in premium horse stables in Pennsylvania.  Senada is the most highly educated and trained professional in the space of Therapeutic Riding in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina and is dedicated to spreading the benefits of her work as well as her knowledge through the development of the Riders of Hope center.

Edwin Ford: Chairman of the Board of Directors

Ed has a master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh in Health and Physical Education.  His doctoral coursework was in Educational Administration from Widener University.  He has spent 45 years in education as a teacher, coach and principal.  His coaching was at the international level coaching women’s gymnastics during the 1972 and 1976 Olympics.  His interest in therapeutic horseback riding centers on his relationship with his stepson who has cerebral palsy and Senada Pekaric-Muratovic, President and Co-Founder of Riders of Hope.

Emin Muratovic, Program Coordinator

Emin is a physical education professor who focuses his knowledge on developing young sports enthusiasts and increasing the quality of equine sports in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole.  His equine education began in the Foundation Land of Friendship and Pace, after which he traveled to France for additional training and experience, where he enhanced his natural talent for riding and coaching by developing skills in several Olympic equine disciplines.  Much of Emin’s acquired equine knowledge is recognized with the high-ranking Gallop 6 Diploma.

Jointly with his colleagues from Land of Friendship and Peace, Emin is one of the first individuals in Bosnia and Herzegovina to begin working with horses and people with special needs.  Emin helped inspire the first sense of urgency and need for a separate specialized therapeutic riding program for citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Today he is involved in the work of Riders of Hope and focused on improving riding as a sport, but also as a therapy in BiH.

Nirvana Pistoljevic

Nirvana holds a B.A. degree in Psychology, M.A. in Regular/Special Education and Applied Behavior Analysis, Ed. M. in Instructional Practices in Special Education, M.Phil in Behaviorism, and a Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis.  She is the Assistant Director of a private research based preschool (non-profit organization) Fred S. Keller (specializing in Early Intervention through Integration) tied to Columbia University.  She is also an Adjunct Professor of graduate courses in Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Nirvana is a published researcher in the field of education, behavior science, and language development.

Elaine Ford: Member-at-large of the Board of Directors

Elaine has been an Occupational Therapist (OTR) for the last 35 years. While most of her professional experience is in geriatrics she personally experienced therapeutic horseback riding when her son, who has cerebral palsy, received hippo therapy at a young age.  Her personal relationship with Senada Pekaric-Muratovic has led to her commitment to Riders of Hope.


Sandy McCloskey

Sandy played a key role in the inception of Riders of Hope.  She is the founder and President of Quest Therapeutic Services Inc., one of the most prestigious centers for hippotherapy and therapeutic riding in the United States.  In conjunction to being recognized for its expertise in Therapeutic Riding and flawless infrastructure, Quest also possesses a recognizable quality in stable management and equine training.  Sandy is a physical therapist, hippotherapist, specialist in early intervention and long-time rider.

Her involvement in Riders of Hope began when she met Senada Pekaric and agreed to mentor her in areas of therapeutic riding and hippotherapy.   In the years to come, beside being a mentoring centre, Sandy and Quest had become a home for Senada Pekaric, offering her educational and financial support, as well as friendship and love.  The initiative and the very ‘birth’ of Riders of Hope took place in Quest, with the support of many friends and all of them, lead by Sandy, are the godparents of Therapeutic riding in Bosnia and Herzegovina!  We thank you for helping propel this from an idea into a reality.

Tanja Djozo, Project Manager & Assistant Instructor of Therapeutic Riding

Tanja is an economist and a top-class athlete, instructor of karate, swimming, sports climbing and the only female member of the Mountain Rescue Service. Tanja's love for horses and horseback riding started in the Land of Friendship and Peace organisation where she was trained by Emin Muratovic. She joined the Association through the Equestrian Club “Pegasos” and is currently working as an Assistant Instructor of therapeutic riding.

Merima Jakubovic, Executive Assistant 

Merima is a youth educator with the most demanding career – being the mother of a five-year-old baby girl.  Her interest in the work of the Riders of Hope initiated out of her friendship with Senada, and was further reinforced as she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  Since she was 17 years old, Merima has had mysterious problems that prevented her from progressing in her career and personal life. In spite of this, she managed to lead a normal life until childbirth, when her health condition worsened and it was concluded that she is suffering from multiple sclerosis. Merima is now coping with her diagnosis and leveraging it as a motivating factor for a more meaningful life.  She has taken on an active role helping get Riders of Hope off the ground.  She shares our vision of creating a therapeutic riding center where persons suffering from multiple sclerosis will be met with kindness and activities that will meet their therapeutic, sports and recreational needs. 

Zana Hadziomerovic, Pro Bono Consultant and Advisor

Zana holds a B.A. degree in Mathematics from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and is currently enrolled in Harvard’s Business School Masters program.  Prior to HBS, Zana was working for Credit Suisse in strategy consulting in New York City and as a management consultant for McKinsey & Co. in Budapest, Hungary.  Zana has generously offered her advisory services to Riders of Hope from the initial stages of our market research and the program's inception through today, as we think about expanding and strengthening our program.  Zana is a horse rider herself and was originally born in Sarajevo, Bosnia.

Ismet Lisica, Head of Design and Web Presence

Ismet, born and raised in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a final year student of the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo. His area of work ranges from graphic design to film production. His exhibits have been housed in the Art Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina, at the Belgrade Design Week, the Assembly 05 Design Week in Graz, Austria, the UN global headquarters in New York, and at the International Winter Sarajevo Festival. He has developed visual identities and worked on campaigns for clients such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Commission on Missing Persons, the Erasmus Student Network, UNICA, the Children’s Movement of Creative Education, and the British Council among others. Ismet is a designer for Riders of Hope.

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