From a young age, Dr. Elizabeth Zarkos embraced the wisdom that declares a friend is someone who shows up in times of need, even when it’s difficult and inconvenient. Combine this with a lifelong passion for animals and a steadfast commitment to education, and her calling emerged.
Few people can identify a turning point that shifts life as we know it. Directed by a desire to welcome a horse into her life, Elizabeth rescued a horse from a feedlot about a year after graduating college and named her Cleopatra – Cleo for short. The bond was immediate.
Although she was able to save Cleopatra from certain death, there were many horses who met their fate within a few days. Driven by a determined spirit, Elizabeth knew she must show up for these horses she barely had a chance to know. She was compelled to make a difference.
Elizabeth created and established Hanaeleh, in 2004. It remains the only non-profit horse rescue and advocacy group in Orange County, California that rescues and rehabilitates abandoned and abused horses.
Education and training have been Elizabeth’s forte shared with both high school students and horses. She has taught children of many ages and academic levels the importance of finding their voice through the written word. Evidence-based principles and methods that cater to individual differences are the cornerstones of her teaching style. She believes,
“Every child and every animal has diverse needs. Educators should learn to ‘teach’ them, not ‘break’ them.”
Armed with a sword for social justice, Elizabeth pursued and achieved her Doctorate in Education from Chapman University focusing on Social Justice and Critical Pedagogy. This involves scholars working together from multiple disciplines to gain deeper and comprehensive insights into the bond between humans and animal.
This knowledge and methodology coupled with her extensive experience sets Elizabeth apart as a valuable and unique expert in the world of animal advocacy, rescue, training and education. Awards have been bestowed upon Elizabeth for her dedication to her work including:
- 2006 Teacher of the Year – Tustin Unified School District
- 2012 Paulo Freire Social Justice Award – Chapman University
- 2013 Orange County Register “Everyday Hero” Award
- 2018 Above and Beyond Award – Angle Light Academy.
Additionally, Elizabeth helped create the Safe Stalls Network for The Humane Society of the U.S., which is a network of equine professionals that make immediate response possible during disasters or a crisis.
Although she would like to spend more time riding horses, and publishing more academic articles to further our understanding of animal-human relationships, she embraces the hard work and commitment it takes to make a difference in the lives of those whose voices must be heard.