Thinking Outside of the Ring

Pony Club Inducts Pa. Alumni Into Academy of Achievement.

Ann Farkas, RS of the Western New York Region, accepts the 25 Year Milestone Club award on behalf of Northern Exposure Pony Club. Credits: Provided by USPC
The United State Pony Club's Academy of Achievement inductees celebrate at the U.S. Pony Club's National Youth Congress with the delegates from around the country. Credits: Provided by USPC
Inductees into the United State's Pony Club Academy of Achievement are from the left, Dorothy Crowell, Rob Burk, Kat Drake and Tim Leithead. Credits: Provided by USPC

LEXINGTON, Ky. Equine enthusiasts and Pony Club members and leaders converged on the Galt House Hotel, in Louisville, Ky. Jan. 24 to 28, for the 2018 Equine Symposium and Convention hosted by United States Pony Club.

More than 600 attendees were treated to more than 60 educational workshops, presentations, and interactive learning experiences on a variety of equine topics.

Every year at the Equine Symposium and Convention hosted by USPC, The National Youth Congress (NYC) convenes for three days.

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A very special part of the NYC is the induction of outstanding USPC Alumni into the Academy of Achievement. The Academy of Achievement was created 20 years ago to honor alumni who have attained outstanding achievements in their chosen fields. Honorees this year were selected from a distinguished group of nominees. The alumni inductees join the delegates of the NYC to help guide and mentor them by bringing a voice of experience into the discussion.

Among the inductees is Tim Leithead.

According to the USPC:

Leithead is a graduate H-A from Eastern Pennsylvania Region and son of the late USPC President, Margo Leithead. He is a fine example of what Pony Club can produce in using skills "beyond the horse world."

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Leithead worked as an IT developer and business strategist for "The Purchasing Group", at one point heading up their sole European Office. After working for them for 10 years, he did two and six years, respectively, with MedRisk and JP Morgan Chase. He was then involved in the start-up Moven where he lead the creation of a financial savings app before becoming a lead and principal consultant for Finvention, a worldwide tech-innovation network and conference, that also fosters global entrepreneurship among students.

Leithead's professional life has certainly been strong, but he has been strong as well as he is a cancer-survivor and also the father of two children, his first being born 16 weeks premature. The experience of his family with Cailin led them to become major advocates for the March of Dimes.
In addition to these things, in life past horses Leithead also competes in autocross racing and has served on the Board of the University of Pennsylvania for the past two years. He comes from a Pony Club family with four siblings who are also USPC grads. Brother, Tad, was one of the first inductees into the Academy of Achievement and their father was a USPC Vice President and National Examiner.

The other three inductees are Rob Burk, now Chief Executive Officer of the United States Eventing Association (USEA); Dorothy Crowell, a World Equestrian Games (WEG) Silver Medalist, two Time Olympian, the first US 4* Champion at Rolex Kentucky Three-Day, and top 10 finisher at Badminton and Burghley; Kat Drake, PhD, Director of Informatics at Cytobank, Inc., a software startup whose aim is to make machine learning easy for biologists to help them rapidly analyze the large datasets they collect to monitor immune system function.

National Youth Congress began in 1998 to recognize outstanding Pony Club Members.

The NYC delegates are selected by their regions and are provided the opportunity to learn valuable life leadership skills to help them navigate their futures. This year at the 20th Anniversary Celebration 24 delegates were a part of the three-day Congress.

Local representatives were Olivia Crespo a member of the Pineland Riders Pony Club, New Jersey Region and Colleen Mauro from the Rolling Rock Hunt Pony Club, Tri-State Region.

Many Pony Club awards were presented at the Saturday morning Meeting of the Corporation. The Flash Teamwork Award went to The Prancing Ponies Games Team of Northern Exposure Pony Club in the Western New York Region.

Northern Exposure was also recognized in honor of their 25th Anniversary with a 25 Year Club Milestone Award. They were one of 15 clubs honored.

For more information on honored clubs and members, visit the Pony Club Pizza Blog.

The Saturday night Banquet and Dance were highlights for many attendees as they honored the recipients of the USPC Founders Awards for 2018: Tom Adams, Kimberly Cranford, Cathy Frederickson, and Anne H. Husted. Featured speaker for the evening was former Jockey and New Jersey Pony Club graduate, Rosie Napravnick. Napravnick shared stories and personal memories from her days in Pony Club and her racing career.

About Pony Club - The United States Pony Clubs, Inc. (Pony Club) was founded in 1954 as a nonprofit national youth organization to teach riding and horsemanship through a formal educational program. There are approximately 9,000 Pony Club members in over 600 clubs and riding centers throughout the country. Many of the nation’s top equestrians, including several of our Olympic team members, business professionals, government leaders and career military officers, have roots in Pony Club. Youth members range in age from as young as 4 through age 25. Pony Club also offers educational opportunities to a growing number of adults through Horsemasters membership.

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