The North American Riders Group (NARG) is excited to announce the newly elected officers who will lead us forward into the next bright new era for the organization. Recently, the board of NARG selected Mark Leone to serve as its new board President. Mark was elected to the NARG board in 2016. He currently serves as Zone 2 Jumper Chairman and sits on several committees at the USEF. He has served as “athlete representative” to the United States Olympic Committee and was a member of the 2010 World Equestrian Games Show Jumping Selection Committee. His diverse skills are crucial to this position. Mark will keep the organization focused and he looks forward to building on the strong foundation established over the last seven years. Mark’s passion, commitment and a lifetime of dedication to the sport is compelling and his amicable nature supports team building and communication. He commands a deep understanding of the sport from the local to the Olympic level. We are privileged and grateful for the expertise and excitement Mark brings to the NARG leadership as the organization moves forward and develops new initiatives and goals.
We are also pleased to announce that Tiffany Foster will serve alongside Mark as Vice President. Elected to the NARG board in 2015 Tiffany has shown incredible insight and delivered well-informed solutions. As a top Canadian athlete that competes around the world, she will be NARG’s boots on the ground. Tiffany is one of three NARG board members currently serving on the International Jumping Riders Club communicating NARG interests to the FEI. We are grateful to have Canadian representatives actively participating in our organization.
In 2009, Chris Kappler took a concept that riders and trainers had contemplated and brought it to life by creating the North American Riders Group (NARG). Kappler has served as President and engineered the success of the NARG since its inception. Serving as President, he brought the group from a fledgling start-up to a dynamic and influential success. He organized a board that included nine Olympic athletes and seven Olympic medal winners. He boldly stood up and compelled riders, owners and trainers to join our effort. He kept the group focused on the significant tasks and aided us in negotiating tough decisions. He took the criticisms and doubts and inspired the group to flourish and develop in ways that even he possibly didn’t even imagine.
NARG initiatives have significantly improved North American shows, aided our fellow horsemen when they needed support, and compelled the governing bodies in all three countries to better serve the needs of show jumping equestrians. The group created a relationship with the International Jumping Riders Club (IJRC) that unites riders and strengthens our representation to governing bodies. We are grateful and encouraged that Chris has agreed to remain active on the NARG board as Treasurer and continue to work with NARG’s mission to improve show jumping in North America.
We would be remiss if we did not also acknowledge and thank the valuable board members that have played significant roles over the last seven years. Our former Vice President, Mclain Ward, served alongside Kappler for six years and was an asset to the organization. His determination, passion and strident commitment to the sport are unmatched. Ward maintains a clear vision and a strong attitude about the direction of top sport, and he is incredibly articulate and has an educated opinion about the issues. With Ward on your team you are likely to win, and we were fortunate to have him on our team.
The incredible group of athletes that sat on the NARG board had minimal experience in governance, and needed a strong business-minded individual to assist with process; one who could turn our knowledge and passion into successful initiatives. The perfect fit for this role, Murray Kessler understood our perspective and jumped in with passion and drive. He heard our ideas, developed them into actionable plans that we able to execute in a targeted and strategic manner. And our history of success with several initiatives, such as the NARG Top 25 and more, illustrates the results.
Beezie Madden served as our Secretary for six years. Her steadfast commitment to top level achievement is evident in everything she puts her mind to. With the utmost integrity as well as reliability, Beezie committed endless hours of behind the scenes work.
Andre Dignelli was an excellent addition to our board and his contributions for the three years he served were essential. His perspective kept our group grounded and connected to our younger athletes. He also was instrumental in the success the NARG Top 25 evaluation process. His well-presented ideas were helpful in building the successes we have had to date.
Executive Director Jen Markee would also like to thank the members that continue to serve on the board. Each board member brings a lifetime of knowledge and experience, which allows NARG to handle issues that arise in a systematic and actionable way. The work we do may not be visible to the each athlete, trainer and owner, and often goes unnoticed, but the positive effect on our sport is the result. We all share a commitment and passion for our sport. The collective wealth of information the NARG Board is substantial and each member has a unified to improve our industry.
The NARG is a strong advocacy group working for the sport of show jumping. As we advance the interests of our members our focus will remain sharp as we innovate and develop. We hope to improve our sport for every rider, trainer and owner. We support top athletes and emerging athletes as we commit to creating opportunities for the young aspiring athletes of today and tomorrow. We intend to help our members and this sport to grow, flourish and compete on the world stage. There continues to be strong interest in the NARG Top 25, and one of our goals is to further develop that initiative. We will do this by focusing on governance, fair play, horse welfare and above all horsemanship. As riders, trainers and owners, only together can we improve our sport.