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About the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan outlines10 strategies to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in equestrian sport. These strategies seek to ensure a welcoming environment for people from under-represented and under-served communities, and evolve US Equestrian’s policies and practices to create a more inclusive sport for all participants and fans.

 
 
 
Meet the External Thought Leaders contributing to the development and execution of US Equestrian's DEI Action Plan:
 
 
Erin Brown
Photo credit: Ricky Codio of MQFactory

Erin Brown

Philadelphia, Pa.

Erin Brown, known as The Concrete Cowgirl, began her riding career at the Fletcher Street Stables and has been competing horses for nearly 30 years in both the hunt seat and stock seat riding disciplines. She has extensive experience managing stables and is a strong advocate for riding programs serving her local communities. Brown is the Executive Director of Philadelphia Urban Riding Academy (PURA), a non-profit 501c3, established as an outgrowth and extension of the original Fletcher Street Stables, focused on outreach, education, and preservation of the history of the Urban Black Cowboys of Philadelphia and creating a pathway for inner city youth to interact and learn to care for horses. Brown has also worked with the Police Department’s Mounted Patrol unit in Philadelphia.

Rob Burk
Photo credit: United States Eventing Association

Rob Burk

Leesburg, Va.

Burk is the Chief Executive Officer of the United States Eventing Association (USEA), the USEF recognized affiliate for eventing. Burk is a longtime equestrian enthusiast, actively competing in his youth as a member of Pony Club and on through college. After graduating from Otterbein University with a B.S., and Virginia Tech with an M.S., Burk started his career with the Maryland Department of Agriculture. He later transitioned to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) where he worked directly with Congress and served as a Senior Advisor to the USDA. Before accepting the position of CEO, Burk served as the Chief Operating Officer and Senior Director of Programs at the USEA.

Alexandra Cherubini
Photo credit: EquiFit, Inc.

Alexandra Cherubini

Boston, Mass.

Cherubini is the founder and CEO of EquiFit, Inc. a global designer and manufacturer that combines state-of-the-art materials with first-hand knowledge of rider experiences to create technologically advanced products to improve health and well-being for horses and humans. After launching the company nearly 20 years ago, Cherubini has continued to grow her range of products and brand recognition within the high-performance space across an array of disciplines. Cherubini has remained an active equestrian throughout her life. She demonstrates her passion to make the equestrian industry a more inclusive and welcoming space for all through her ongoing involvement, donations and support for urban riding programs, nationwide, and serving on the City to Saddle board of directors.

William Clements
Photo credit: Mars, Inc.

William Clements

McLean, Va.

William Clements is the Global Vice President of Sponsorships and Sports Marketing for Mars, Inc. and oversees the company’s corporate partnerships and activations in some of the largest sporting markets including the NFL, NASCAR, and NHL. Clements is directly involved with the creation and activation of the newly launched MARS EQUESTRIAN sponsorship portfolio, highlighting Mars, Inc.’s longstanding support and continued commitment to equestrian sport.

Emily Joyce
Photo credit: SmartPak

Emily Joyce

Plymouth, Mass.

Emily Joyce serves as the Director of Brand and Customer Experience at SmartPak, one of the largest equestrian supplement suppliers and product retailers in the country. Joyce oversees SmartPak’s extensive brand management responsibilities, as well as consumer engagement and interaction. In her spare time, Joyce enjoys riding her newly acquired, young OTTB.

Camille Schenk
Photo credit: Bethany Unwin

Camille Schenk

San Diego, Calif.

Camille Schenk has been actively involved in the equestrian community since childhood and competed at hunter/jumper shows up and down the West Coast as a working student. She was a member of the Centenary University Equestrian Team and earned a degree in Equine Studies before going on to work within the equestrian industry in numerous capacities. Schenk has experience in competition management and operation, training, exercise riding, and more.

Wren Blae Zimmerman

Wren Blae Zimmerman

Lexington, Ky.

Wren Blae Zimmerman has always had a deep love and passion for horses, which began for her as a child, though she only recently began riding herself. In 2006, Zimmerman was diagnosed with a form of juvenile macular degeneration called Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy, a progressive degenerative disease that would ultimately leave her legally blind. Zimmerman began riding at a therapeutic riding center before transitioning to a trainer who helped her learn to jump. Zimmerman remains an active equestrian competing in the able-bodied jumper divisions and is pursuing and advocating for the recognition of para-jumping as a para-discipline and future Paralympic sport.

José M. Colón
Photo credit: Photo Courtesy of José Colón

José M. Colón

Middletown, Del.

José M. Colón got his start in the Paso Fino breed at the young age of five on his grandfather’s breeding farm in Puerto Rico. Colón now serves as the Vice President of the Paso Fino Association and as a Chair of the USEF Paso Fino Committee. He is a licensed official and certified judge, judging many of the most prestigious competitions for Paso Finos both nationally and internationally. Colón is a committed advocate for the Paso Fino, educating people about this unique breed through clinics and other opportunities around the world.

Jerome Parker
Photo credit: Howard Schatzberg

Jerome Parker

Northford, Conn.

Jerome Parker, a third-generation horseman, is the grandson of the renowned black Morgan and American Saddlebred trainer Joe Parker. Jerome’s father, Hugh Parker, specialized in the Arabian horse industry. Jerome himself started out as a successful Morgan and American Saddlebred trainer before moving into judging and serving as a ringmaster.

Ali Nilforushan
Photo credit: Courtesy of the Nilforushans

Ali Nilforushan

Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

Ali Nilforushan came to the United States from Iran at age seven. He rose through the show jumping ranks, eventually making history as Iran’s first Olympic equestrian when he competed as an individual show jumper at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Nilforushan and his wife Francie later founded Nilforushan Equisport Events, a horse show management company devoted to producing world-class events on the West Coast.

Jimmy Welch
Photo credit: Don Stine Photography

Jimmy Welch

Bull Valley, Ill.

Jimmy Welch is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and he created the Operation Wild Horse program within his nonprofit, Veterans R&R. The program connects veterans and military families with mustangs and Western dressage. Veterans R&R is dedicated to enhancing veterans’ quality of life and offers programs that provide alternative treatments for military service-related challenges, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma, and traumatic brain injuries. Welch is the first Veteran Lifetime Member of the Western Dressage Association of America.

Abriana Johnson & Caitlin Gooch
Photo credit: Courtesy of Abriana Johnson

Abriana Johnson & Caitlin Gooch

Wendell, N.C.

Abriana Johnson and Caitlin Gooch co-host the popular Young Black Equestrians podcast. Johnson has been involved with the horse industry for over 15 years. A savvy marketer, Johnson has lead the branding, social media marketing, and content creation for the podcast, as well as her “Cowgirl Camryn” children’s book series. Gooch founded the Saddle Up and Read literacy program. Gooch is passionate about, spreading love and hope in her local community through opportunities to connect with horses.

Anastasia Curwood
Photo credit: Courtesy of Anastasia Curwood

Anastasia Curwood

Lexington, Ky.

Dr. Anastasia Curwood is an associate professor and Director of the African American and Africana Studies at the University of Kentucky. Curwood earned her Ph.D. in History from Princeton University. Her work in 20th century Black history has been recognized with fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and the James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference at Emory University. Curwood is a member of US Equestrian, competing her OTTB in eventing and up to Second Level dressage.

Bruce Griffin
Photo credit: Avalon Photography

Bruce Griffin

Gretna, Va.

Bruce Griffin is a successful trainer/handler in the sport horse industry, specializing in the Friesian breed. Along with his wife, Staci, he owns and operates Griffin Sport Horses. His natural talent, drive, and passion for the horses is amplified his ever growing list of awards and accomplishments. Griffin serves as President of the International Friesian Show Horse Association, a recognized affiliate of US Equestrian. He is also a member of the USEF Friesian Rules Committee.

Roxane Durant
Photo credit: Courtesy of Roxane Durant

Roxane Durant

Chagrin Falls, Ohio

Roxane Durant is one of the founders of the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) and she has served as the Executive Director since 2009. In addition to her coaching and training experience in the hunter/jumper industry, Durant’s early experience was on show management teams for major competitions, including 1996 Atlanta Olympics. She is an advocate for youth participation in equestrian sports and currently serves on the USEF Interscholastic/Intercollegiate Committee and the United States Hunter Jumper Association’s Affiliate and Recognized Riding Academy Committees.

Publications

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Action Plan outlines10 strategies to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in equestrian sport.

Racial Justice Resource Guide

A selection of informative anti-racism and racial justice resources including books, podcasts, films, articles, and organizations leading the way

LGBTQ+ Resource Guide

A selection of informative resources including books, podcasts, films, articles, and organizations leading the way for the LGBTQ+ community.

Persons With Disabilities Resource Guide

A selection of informative and educational resources including para-equestrian programs, as well as books, podcasts, films, and organizations leading the way in creating awareness around the differently-abled community.