Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Eventing: Rolex Kentucky: EEI and Rolex Kentucky Recognize Jane Atkinson's Many Years of Service and Dedication

Jane Atkinson and Mort (© 2010 Nan Rawlins/Equimage®)

 Aug 17th, 2010

EEI and Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event Announce Transition Leadership Team

Equestrian Events, Inc. (EEI), organizer of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, has announced a transition leadership team as it prepares for the retirement of Executive Vice President and Event Director Jane Atkinson after more than 36 years of service.

Atkinson will be the Eventing Discipline Manager for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games this fall and will formally retire after those games.

The EEI Executive Committee has appointed a Transition Leadership Team, co-chaired by Board Members Lisa Ball Sharp and Ralph Coldiron, that will be overseeing the day-to-day operation of EEI and the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. In the coming months, the EEI Board of Directors will be making a decision on Atkinson's replacement as Executive Vice President.

In the meantime, the EEI Executive Committee is happy to announce the creation of five departments within EEI. Each of these experienced managers will have responsibility for managing specific areas for the 2011 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event:

• Christina Gray, Director of Competition

• Linda Milligan, Director of Trade Fair & Office Manager

• Cheri Pulliam, Director of Sponsorship

• Sharon Leonard, Bookkeeper

• Vanessa Coleman, Director of Ticketing

Their day-to-day work, under the leadership of the Transition Leadership Team and the EEI Board, will ensure a seamless transition as EEI moves into a new era of producing America’s only Four Star Event, now, for the first time, without Jane Atkinson.

“While we can never hope to replace Janie, we realize that life goes on and we are prepared to continue what she has done to establish the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event as the nation’s premier equestrian event,” said EEI president Robin Cravens. “We thank Janie for her years of service and remain committed to maintaining the high standards for our event that she helped establish.”

As much as it is synonymous with the name “Rolex,” America’s only Four Star Three-Day Event is equally synonymous with the name “Jane Atkinson.” Few, if any, people are as identified with an event as is “Janie” with the Kentucky Three-Day Event. For more than three decades, Janie has dedicated her life to the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, where she has served the last 26 of those years as the Event Director. As Executive Vice President of EEI, which has produced the event since its inception, she has helped build the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event into an international equestrian event that is second to none.

With worldwide television, annual attendance approaching 100,000, a world-class venue and a unique 30-year relationship with a committed sponsor, today’s Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event is a tribute to Janie’s dedication and hard work. “Few people bring to a job what Janie has brought to her role with our event,” said Cravens. “Her store of knowledge of what needs to be done - and the absolute best way to do it - is unrivaled. There is absolutely no one who can do for any event what Janie has done for ours.”

After Bruce Davidson’s World Championship win in 1974 gave the U.S. the right to host the next championship, she helped convince the Kentucky Horse Council, a state agency for which she served as Executive Director, and the state to bid to host the 1978 World Three-Day Event Championships at the brand new Kentucky Horse Park. The Championships were a huge success and paved the way for the annual Rolex Kentucky event. Janie served as the event’s Chief Dressage Steward from 1976-1984, before taking over as the event’s third Event Director in December 1984. While most would say, “The rest is history,” it might be more accurate to say, “The rest is historic,” as virtually no career can match that of the Indiana native who came to the Bluegrass State and never left.

Her success in making the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event one of the world’s most respected events established her as the obvious choice to run the Eventing Discipline at this year’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

Janie is quick to point out the tremendous support she has received from the EEI Board of Directors. “This event would never be what it is today without the efforts of the EEI Board, with every member taking an active role in the Event’s success,” she said. “Equally important to the success of Rolex Kentucky are the more than 600 volunteers who are the ones who really put on the competition. Without them, there would be no Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.”

After decades of living the event 365 days a year, Janie has a hard time thinking about life without it. “It’s really very difficult for me to imagine not having it in my life,” she said. “After all, it’s the only child I’ve ever had!”

The only Four Star Event in the Western Hemisphere, the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event is the premier competition for the top horses and riders in the Olympic discipline of Eventing. For more information please visit the Rolex Kentucky website at

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