WASHINGTON, D.C – Longtime supporter and integral staff member Mary Helen Shaughnessy has been named Executive Director of The Washington International Horse Show (WIHS).
The show will return to Capital One Arena in the heart of downtown Washington, D.C., Oct. 22 to 27.
Shaughnessy, who hails from Baltimore, Md., began working with WIHS in 2015 as Sponsorship Coordinator and then quickly moved up to Sponsorship & Hospitality Director in 2016, which was the most successful sponsorship year to date. She rejoined WIHS as Development Director in preparation for the show’s 60th anniversary in 2018. Throughout her tenure, Shaughnessy helped secure major sponsorship deals led by partnerships with mainstream brands.
As Executive Director, Shaughnessy will oversee all aspects of WIHS, including sponsorship, marketing, and development.
“WIHS represents a long-standing tradition in my family,” said Shaughnessy, who competed at WIHS herself in 2001 and 2002. Her mother attended the very first WIHS at the D.C. Armory in 1958 and was a successful amateur rider, while her father served as former chairman of FTI Consulting, a major sponsor of equestrian events and previous title sponsor of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). “I can remember the excitement I felt attending WIHS as a wide-eyed kid and dreaming that one day I could compete at the show. I am very excited to continue my involvement with WIHS in this next phase. WIHS has had an amazing 60 years of history and horses in the city, and I am excited to help keep it thriving for another 60.
“WIHS is unlike any other horse show in the United States,” continued Shaughnessy. “It is a unique experience for the riders who compete in a major sports arena in our nation’s capital, packed with horse sport fans cheering them on. It is also a unique experience for the fans and the local community to be able to walk down the streets of D.C. and see their favorite riders and horses. Finally for sponsors, their brand and messaging touch not only the riders and families that attend, but also more than 26,000 spectators.”
A graduate of New York University, Shaughnessy has an equestrian background that includes extensive experience both in the arena and behind the scenes. A veteran of the competition circuit for over 20 years, she competed across the globe, training with top U.S. talents such as Kent Farrington and Chris Kappler. She amassed championships at shows that include Spruce Meadows, Global Champions Tour Valkenswaard, the Hampton Classic, WEF, the Vermont Summer Festival, Kentucky, and more. Additionally, she traveled with the United States Equestrian Team (USET) on their Nations’ Cup tour to Europe in 2005 where she was exposed to the logistics of horse sport at iconic events such as Hickstead, Dublin, Aachen, and Barcelona.
Shaughnessy’s exposure to the inner workings of the show jumping industry cemented a love for equestrian events and led to her involvement with events like WIHS, the Palm Beach Masters, Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows, American Gold Cup, and Hampton Classic. Shaughnessy was also involved in the efforts to launch the EEM New York Masters at the IZOD Center, serving as Media and Communications Manager before the show ultimately moved to Los Angeles.
Most recently, Shaughnessy worked with the Maryland Film Festival to complete an $18 million capital campaign for renovation of the historic Parkway Theatre in downtown Baltimore, which re-opened its doors in 2017 as a state-of-the-art movie theater, unique community space, and classroom for Johns Hopkins University and MICA’s film programs.
“Mary Helen has been a very essential part of the WIHS team for many years,” said Vicki Lowell, President of the Washington International Horse Show. “Her knowledge of the event itself and the industry as a whole has been a colossal asset to WIHS, and we are excited to see how she utilizes her understanding, experience, and talents to advance the event even further through her work in this new role.”
Each year, WIHS continues a longstanding tradition as one of the world’s most prestigious indoor horse shows. After celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2018, the 2019 edition of WIHS will again play host to the $135,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Washington, presented by Events DC, with coveted qualifying points on offer for the 2020 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final taking place on U.S. soil in Las Vegas, Nev. in April. Additionally, WIHS will welcome qualified hunter, jumper, equitation, and pony riders from across the nation and celebrate year-end titles, including the coveted Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund WIHS Equitation Finals.
For more information on WIHS, visit www.wihs.org, join WIHS on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter and Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat. Tag them using #WIHS2019 #HorsesInTheCity, #FEIWorldCup, and #Longines.
About Washington International Horse Show
Established in 1958, the Washington International Horse Show is one of North America's most prestigious and entertaining equestrian events attracting more than 26,000 spectators annually to Washington, D.C., for Olympic-level competition plus community and charity events. More than 500 top horses and riders arrive from all over the globe to jump for more than a half a million dollars in prize money. Highlights include the $135,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Washington for the President's Cup, presented by Events DC, the Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund WIHS Equitation Finals, the $25,000 Land Rover International Puissance (high jump) on Military Night, presented by Caterpillar, Inc., and Kids' Day, a free, fun and educational community event. WIHS, an official USEF Heritage Competition, is rated CSI4*-W by the Fédération Equestre Internationale, the world governing body for horse sports. The Washington International Horse Show Association, Ltd. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization based in Washington, D.C.
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