Two Past Presidents Honored as AHP Champions in 2015

Two outstanding women were recognized for their distinguished service to American Horse Publications and inducted into the AHP Circle of Champions during the AHP annual seminar in San Antonio, Texas, on June 20, 2015.

What makes an AHP Champion? The answer is dedication, service, and passion to an association and industry that has left a huge impact on their lives and careers.

Deborah Taylor’s initial involvement in AHP was a bit of a happy accident.

“I was attending the American Horse Council meeting in Washington, DC, back in the mid-eighties when both organizations met at the same time at different hotels. I started noticing that all the fun folks were going across the street from the AHC hotel to another hotel for a meeting about horse publications,” Taylor says.

What happened next left an indelible mark on her career.

“Two amazing days later, after soaking in about as much as I could learn in that time period, I was cracking crab with some of the most incredible minds in the industry and having one of the best times of my life. Though all I did was write and edit a newsletter as a part of my job as Executive Director of the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Foundation, they embraced me and made me a part of their merry little band, American Horse Publications.”

A social, fun-loving person by nature, Taylor dived right into being an active AHP member. In 1998, she had joined the AHP Board of Directors and later served as the 2004-2005 AHP President.

“I have many wonderful memories of Deb,” says Chris Brune, AHP Executive Director, “however her contributions to AHP go far beyond her social skills and great smile. The concept of the AHP Spirit Award was her idea. She was also instrumental in developing several time-saving methods of processing the awards contest entries that are still being used today.”

With deep regret, Taylor was unable to attend the seminar due to a previously scheduled major fundraising event for Central Kentucky Riding for Hope, where she is the Development Director.

She expressed this advice for AHP members. “Participate with an open hand, an open heart and a sense of humor. In doing so, you will enrich your profession and you’ll carry the memories with you for your lifetime. It has been my pleasure to be involved with such an outstanding organization. I will always treasure American Horse Publications and the impact it had on my life.”

Connie Lechleitner was another AHP member who like Taylor discovered AHP at the American Horse Council meeting in Washington, DC. Despite being intimidated by the large number of AHC members and the imposingly formal setting at that first meeting, this quiet, shy Ohio girl, who was in her first year of her very first job working at the Ohio Quarter Horse Association took a deep breath, put her best foot forward, and walked into the meeting room.

Lechleitner remembers feeling such a kindred spirit with the other horse publication representatives who attended that year.

“Even though I was a one-woman staff on a small state association magazine, I was welcomed by everyone from the biggest players in equine publishing to the other one-person staffs just like me,” she says.

For more than 20 years, Lechleitner served as editor of publications and website for the Ohio Quarter Horse Association. Her duties there included media relations and promotion of the world's largest single breed horse show, The All American Quarter Horse Congress.

She has also worked in communications and marketing departments in the accounting and healthcare industries, but her passion has always been with the equine community.

Currently, she serves as executive editor of the National Snaffle Bit Association's The Way To Go magazine and also provides social media and website content for NSBA. In addition, she owns Sharon Valley Communications, a freelance writing business, where she writes content for a number of equine and agricultural publications.

Lechleitner has always loved horses and continues to show horses today. She and her husband, Mark, raise registered Quarter Horse and Buckskin horses.

After becoming an AHP member in 1985, Lechleitner joined the AHP Board of Directors in 2000 and became AHP President for 2005-2006. She has recently served on the AHP board as a Past President Advisory Council Director.

“Connie and I were kindred spirits as both editors of Quarter Horse magazines,” says Chris Brune, AHP Executive Director. “We share the same passion for AHP. Connie has been a contributing AHP member in so many ways, participating on multiple committees over the years. She was instrumental in developing the student mentoring program that AHP offered for several years. Her contributions to the association helped to shape the strong identity that AHP has today.”

Lechleitner attended the annual seminar where she was presented her AHP Champion plaque at the awards banquet on June 20.

“I have met so many wonderful and talented individuals in our industry,” says Lechleitner. “I was fortunate to work with many of them in board positions. It has been a wonderful experience to watch our association grow and thrive in spite of the changes and challenges in our publishing world, and to welcome the next generation of members into our family.”

Since 2007, American Horse Publications has honored 36 individuals as AHP Champions. The 2015 AHP Champion Award presentation and a list of past recipients are available at https://www.americanhorsepubs.org/ahp-champion-award/.

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American Horse Publications was founded in 1970. AHP membership includes equine-related publishing media, professionals, businesses, organizations, and students. For further information contact: Chris Brune, American Horse Publications, (386) 760-7743, ahorsepubs@aol.com