Horse Country welcomes new Board Members & Executive Committee

Horse Country welcomes new Board Members & Executive Committee

LEXINGTON, Ky – The Horse Country board of directors has undergone several updates through spring of this year, including newly elected board members at the annual member meeting on January 19th. The Board of Directors has also elected a new executive committee with some minor restructuring, and at the March board meeting, a new board member was appointed to see out the term of a board member who chose to resign due to a position change within their organization.

Newly Elected Directors

At the annual meeting on January 19th, 2023, Horse Country members voted to approve new board members, Ande Day of Lane’s End Farm, and Leslie Miller, the newly appointed Vice President of Marketing for Visit Lex. Ande fills an open board seat, while Leslie replaces Gathan Borden, whose three year term ended with the calendar year.

Leslie Miller

Borden served as the Board President since August of 2021, seeing the organization through several changes including the hiring of a new executive director and a change in the touring member structure before the end of his term. The culmination of Borden’s term on the Horse Country board coincided with a new job for him as the Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications for Destinations International. While his new position moves Borden slightly away from the Lexington tourism landscape, as he will now work from home in Louisville, Ky, he has agreed to remain on as the immediate past president where will serve in an advisory capacity.

Ande Day

Horse Country will maintain strong ties with Visit Lex as Leslie Miller replaces Borden within the organization as VP of Marketing as well as joining the Horse Country Board this year. Leslie brings extensive knowledge of the tourism marketing landscape, having worked at Cornett as VP Director of Brand Strategy, where she was a member of the executive leadership team and served as brand strategist for Cornett’s key accounts, including Keeneland, Lanes End, and VisitLEX.

Ande Farish Day joins the Horse Country board as the Farm Tour and Hospitality Manager for her family’s Lane’s End Farm. Ande has overseen Lane’s End growing involvement in Horse Country over the last several years. As well as maintaining the relationship with Horse Country, Ande hosts the tours at Lane’s End and has developed their merchandise platform which features the ever popular, Zenyatta.

Mandy Ryan

Ahead of the first quarter board meeting on March 29th, 2023, director Adam Johnson formally submitted his resignation from Horse Country’s board of directors. Johnson, first elected in 2018, brought an array of experiences from the bourbon industry and directly from his role with the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. In 2022, Adam was appointed as the Vice President of State Relations for the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. As he transitioned away from the day-to-day of the Bourbon Trail, Adam thought it best to step away from his Horse Country role and recommended another bourbon connoisseur in his wife and colleague, Mandy Ryan.

As part of several staff changes for the Kentucky Distillers’ Association in 2022, Mandy was promoted as the Director of Kentucky Bourbon Trail Experiences. She brings her marketing prowess from the KDA to Horse Country as well as wealth of knowledge and experience in the bourbon industry and specifically with the Bourbon Trail. Mandy will be an asset to Horse Country as the initiative continues to follow in the footsteps of the Bourbon Trail. The board appointed her to serve the remainder of Adam’s term, which ends with the 2023 calendar year.

New Executive Committee

With Gathan Borden’s term as a Board of Director ending, his position as the Board President came to it’s ultimate conclusion. On his way off the board, Gathan oversaw new structuring to the executive committee of the Horse Country Board. From his recommendation, the Horse Country executive committee will now see one year terms for the Board President, Vice-President and the non-voting Past President. The Vice-President will also serve as the President-Elect, qualifying a three year engagement for said elected director.

With this new structure agreed upon by the board of directors at their first annual meeting on January 31st, 2023, Dr. Luke Fallon of Hagyard Equine Medical Institute was elected by the board as the new Board President and Kara Heissenbuttel of Keeneland was elected as the Vice-President. Gathan will remain in the non-voting, advisory position of Past President.

Nick Nicholson will continue to serve as the Secretary on the executive committee. While he is not a voting director, he will continue to have an active advisory role and participate in board of director meetings as Secretary.

A Big THANK YOU and a Warm Welcome

Since the beginning of Horse Country, only a handful of people have been as involved with the organization as Rusty Thompson. He served as the Treasurer as well as an elected director and has been a pillar of this initiative. The finances and accounting of this membership organization have required a dedicated eye over the last several years. With Rusty’s leadership, as well as with help from other vital volunteers, Horse Country is proudly in a strong financial position. After seven years of his service, the time is right for a new treasurer to take the abacus from Rusty’s capable hands.

Lizy Robertson

After an extensive search and a recommendation from a Horse Country member, Elizabeth “Lizy” Robertson agreed to take on the role. Lizy is a Financial Advisor and Branch Manager for the Lexington, Kentucky branch of Raymond James located in downtown Lexington. A Bourbon County native, Lizy brings extensive experience from the financial world as well as tenure as a treasurer on another non-profit board. Graciously, Rusty has also agreed to help with the change over through the next two months as we work to finalize our budget and formally transition to our new touring revenue structure in the next fiscal year.

As well as the updates to the executive committee, the Horse Country board is working to reestablish several of the working committees in 2023 in order to provide continued opportunity for engagement across membership, necessary support to the Horse Country staff, and to serve as a conduit to the Horse Country board of directors. The committees which will be revitalized include Marketing, Membership and Operations. Two directors will participate on each of the committees, with one director serving as the chair. Leslie Miller will act as chair of the Marketing committee, Duncan Taylor will act as chair of the Membership committee and Brianne Sharp will act as chair of the Operations committee.

The last few years have seen significant changes for Horse Country. From an international pandemic, to staffing and leadership changes, to updating the revenue structure, the organization has weathered a tumultuous time. None of it would be possible, let alone successful, without the continued support and involvement of the members and volunteer board. This collaborative initiative continues to make a positive impact on the Thoroughbred industry because it is supported by the Thoroughbred industry.