Lexington, KY. Monday, September 12, 2022 – Elisabeth Jensen, Executive Vice President of the Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP), announced that she will retire from her position at the end of the year.
Case Clay, Chairman of KEEP’s Board of Directors, commented on Jensen’s announcement, “Elisabeth has been an incredible asset to the horse industry and we are grateful to have had her at the helm during some of the industry’s most serious challenges. Without her leadership at KEEP, the industry would not be on the solid footing that it is today. There are many challenges and tasks ahead and that is why we are grateful that Elisabeth has agreed to join the KEEP Board of Directors. Her continued input will be immensely valuable to the organization.”
Clay continued, “It will be a challenge to replace Elisabeth in all that she has done for the horse industry, but the Board knows that whoever holds the position next will benefit incredibly by having the opportunity to build on the solid foundation of KEEP and all of the success for which Elisabeth is responsible.”
During Jensen’s tenure overseeing the daily operations of the organization, KEEP reached many milestones and greatly advanced the goal of preserving and promoting the horse industry’s role as Kentucky’s signature industry.
Jensen’s leadership, beginning in 2018, saw the organization expand to address new issues facing the industry. With labor shortages constantly hampering many of the equine businesses around the Commonwealth, KEEP became a vocal advocate in Frankfort and Washington for both expanding the number of visas available to the industry for immigrant labor, as well as building the infrastructure for creating a home-grown workforce.
In partnership with the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center, KEEP created the Equine Talent Pipeline initiative, which has promoted career opportunities in the horse industry to students, targeted second-chance populations for job opportunities, created a horseman’s apprenticeship recognized by the Kentucky and federal Departments of Labor, and worked with KET to create an In-Demand video and resource website on horse industry jobs.
Several threats to the horse industry arose related to tax rates and exemptions that protect Kentucky’s competitive edge when it comes to the national and global horse industry. KEEP was able to fend off these attempts and, as a result, Kentucky’s horse industry has seen consistent growth over this time.
On issues related to land-use policy, Jensen led KEEP’s advocacy to ensure that land-use decisions are made locally to protect the irreplaceable farmland across Central Kentucky.
The greatest challenge for KEEP and the horse industry came under Jensen’s leadership in 2021 when the Kentucky Legislature debated the continued operation of historical horse racing. Jensen united the entire industry and worked closely with the legislature to secure the passage of legislation that maintained historical horse racing as a revenue stream for the industry, resulting in increased purses, greater field sizes, and more equine businesses relocating to Kentucky.
Elisabeth Jensen commented, “A major career and lifestyle change brought me to Kentucky to work in the horse industry for over 20 years. It has been a dream to come to work every day in an industry I love and it has been an honor to be an advocate for the horse in Kentucky and across the US. I look forward to the opportunity to focus more time and energy on my and my husband’s cattle farm and being more involved in family businesses.”
The KEEP Board of Directors is currently performing a search to hire Jensen’s replacement and Jensen will serve on the KEEP Board following her retirement. Resumes can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Kentucky Equine Education Project, Kentucky’s equine economic advocate, is a not-for-profit grassroots organization created in 2004 to preserve, promote and protect Kentucky’s signature multi-breed horse industry. KEEP is committed to ensuring Kentucky remains the horse capital of the world, including educating Kentuckians and elected officials of the importance of the horse industry to the state. KEEP was the driving force in the establishment of the Kentucky Breeders Incentive Fund, which has paid out more than $177 million to Kentucky breeders since its inception in 2006, and pari-mutuel wagering on historical horse racing, which has been responsible for more than $40 million to purses and more than $24 million to the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.
KEEP works to strengthen the horse economy in Kentucky through our statewide network of citizen advocates. To learn more about how you can become a member or support our work, please visit www.horseswork.com.