The United States Eventing Association (USEA), which was founded in September 1959, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization committed to providing eventing enthusiasts with a competitive level suited to their individual skills. By assisting and educating competitors, event organizers, and officials; maintaining responsible safety standards; and registering qualified competitions and clinics, the USEA offers strong and continuous training opportunities for an ever-expanding field of world-class competitors. Just as importantly, the USEA provides a means for all riders, regardless of age or ability, to experience the thrill of eventing.
While the USEA’s home office is based in Leesburg, Virginia, many of the small staff of 17 professionals that work to fulfill the duties and mission of the Association work semi or fully remote to accomplish their individual responsibilities. To better help the USEA members communicate with and get to know the team behind the USEA, the USEA will be featuring a Meet the Staff article once a month to help you identify which members of the team might best assist you with your individual needs. This month the USEA is proud to introduce you to the powerful team that manages the Marketing and Programs department.
If you have been involved at a higher level with the USEA, you probably recognize the names of two ladies that spearhead all of the efforts of the USEA’s Programs, Partnerships, and Marketing department: Kate Lokey, Director of Programs and Marketing, and Kaleigh Collett, Marketing Coordinator, but a new member of this team has also joined the USEA staff in Heather Johnson, Programs and Inventory Assistant. If you have considered sponsoring or advertising with the USEA or are involved in the USEA’s Young Event Horse, Emerging Athletes U21, New Event Horse, Adult Riders, Young Riders, Classic Series, or Grooms programs, you probably have or most likely will interact with one of these staff members.
In November of this year, Lokey will celebrate a decade with the USEA. Her many years with the Association have allowed her to grow professionally in her current role where she wears many hats to make sure that the USEA’s members are able to enjoy the many different programs offered by the Association. One of Lokey’s biggest, and most rewarding projects, is planning for, preparing, and seeing through the completion of each of the USEA-owned annual Championships such as the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC), the USEA Intercollegiate Championships, and the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) East and West Coast Championships.
“There is significant planning and work that goes into each of our Championships” said Lokey. “The AEC is a huge team effort that is about a five-month project for my department each year. Everything is worth it when we’re in the main arena for awards ceremonies and get to meet all the excited juniors, adult amateurs, and top professionals as we hand them their ribbons and prizes. The smiles, the high-fives, the excitement of the victory gallop—I love it all. I especially love the moments when competitors get overcome with emotion and cry, and make the effort to say thank you to everyone involved. A small ‘thank you’ is so impactful for our staff, and those awards ceremonies are truly what make it all worth it for us!”
In addition to those large projects, Lokey handles all sponsorship and partnership agreements for the Association and oversees the marketing efforts for the USEA alongside Collett, and Lokey works as liaison with a large amount of USEA committees for programs such as the Young Event Horse (YEH), USEA Young Rider and Adult Rider programs, the USEA Emerging Athletes U21 (EA21) program, Eventing Riders Association of North America (ERAofNA), Grooms Program, Classic Series, and many more.
“I love that every day is different,” she said when asked what she enjoys most about her career. “I think the USEA takes on a lot for having such a small staff, but we are mighty! Staying busy keeps things interesting, and each day is always different from the previous day. I love that I get to combine my passion for eventing with my office job. Prior to my time with the USEA, I worked and rode for David and Karen O’Connor, as well as Lauren [Kieffer] Nicholson, in the O’Connor Event Team [OCET] program for over six years. I was also lucky enough to spend significant time riding or working in the programs of Emily Beshear and Sharon White during my high school and college years. I idolize every single one of them, and consider myself so lucky to have worked with each of them to prepare me for my professional role at the USEA.”
Outside of work, Lokey has four main passions: horses, music, traveling, and soccer. While she is not actively eventing at this moment, she is fully invested in the sport in a new way and aims to get back in the tack in the future when she is able. Lokey loves attending concerts, exploring the world and introducing herself to new cultures first-hand. She grew up playing soccer, attends professional games regularly, and enjoys following along with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. Fun fact: it was Lokey’s goal to travel to every continent by age 30, and she did just that! Shortly after her 30th birthday, she went with a group of girlfriends on an expedition to Antarctica, which marked her seventh continent.
Collett dove into her roles and responsibilities with the USEA headfirst and will celebrate her one-year anniversary on the team in July of this year. Her key roles and responsibilities include creating and managing all of the annual marketing and promotion plans for the USEA programs, working alongside the USEA Media Team to write press releases and strategize social media efforts promoting all of the USEA’s exciting activities throughout the year, and managing advertising sales for the Association. Whether she is behind her computer screen designing advertisements for the Eventing USA magazine or onsite assisting at a USEA championship, you can guarantee you will find a smile spread a mile wide across Collett’s face.
“My favorite part of my job is the variety of projects I work on in any given week and being able to travel to and work at so many amazing events throughout the country,” said Collett. “No two days are ever the same in regard to what I am working on, and I enjoy the fact that I am always being challenged to learn new things. My first trip after joining the USEA staff last July was to Kalispell, Montana, for the 2022 USEA American Eventing Championships, and it was one of the most enjoyable work trips I have ever been on. Working in one of the most beautiful locations in the country alongside coworkers that are just as passionate about the sport as I am was so special. This year, I am looking forward to returning to the Kentucky Horse Park for the 2023 AEC and hopefully going to California for the USEA Young Event Horse West Coast Championships.”
When not at her desk, you can find Collett in the saddle with her 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, Worthy. She enjoys competing in low-level eventing and show jumping competitions with Worthy in her free time. Other hobbies that she enjoys include pilates and running, hanging out with her friends and visiting some of the local establishments in her area, and traveling with her best friend while taking off her USEA hat to enjoy a horse show as a spectator.
As the newest member of the USEA staff, Johnson has jumped right in to her new role as Inventory and Programs Assistant. Her position, like many at the USEA, involves a touch of this and a dash of that, and Johnson has proven herself to be quite the team player in taking her new responsibilities on.
"In this role, I manage and maintain the ShopUSEA site, fulfill any orders that come through, and am the primary touchpoint for frangible devices," she said. "I also collect and process all results from YEH competitions, ensuring the online leaderboards stay updated, and coordinating ribbon and prize shipments for various events throughout the season. You’ll even catch me managing the USEA merchandise booth throughout the year at events such as the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, Maryland 5 Star, and the USEA American Eventing Championships."
Johnson has had a lifelong love of horses since she was young and is excited about the opportunity to join the USEA team and work within the industry. She describes this job as a, "dream role for me that I look forward to continuing for a long time to come."
When she leaves the office in the evening, Johnson heads out to the barn. After competing in the hunters and on the IHSA circuit in college, she made the switch to eventing a few years ago and hasn't looked back since. She enjoys spending time with her 10-year-old OTTB, Romeo.
"He’s good at keeping me on my toes and ensuring I always have an endless supply of carrots," she joked. "Although we have had quite a few roadblocks along the way, we are hoping to make our eventing debut together later this year."
The USEA is proud to employ some of the best of the best in the country to support the needs of our members. Be on the lookout for more staff profiles to better help put faces to the names of the team behind the USEA and to help point you in the right direction of which staff member can best assist you in the future.
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