April 8, 2014, Lexington, Ky ~ The United States Equestrian Federation Board of Directors has voted unanimously to appoint Chris Welton as Chief Executive Officer effective June 1, 2014. Welton will replace John Long who announced his decision to retire from the position a year ago.
Welton possesses a broad background in sport development and management and has acquired a deep understanding of and experience with the Olympic movement. After practicing law in Atlanta for six years, in 1991 Welton was named Vice President for Corporate Partnerships and Sponsorship for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games where he managed the domestic sponsorship program for the Atlanta Games. Following those Games, Welton founded Meridian Management, and the new company became the exclusive marketing representative of the International Olympic Committee, responsible for managing all sponsorship and marketing activities for the IOC, including the IOC’s TOP Program. In 2005, after eight years as Meridian’s CEO, Welton joined the international sport marketing consultancy Helios Partners. Helios’ primary businesses included corporate sport consulting, sport property and media consulting, and representation of cities and countries bidding for the opportunity to host major sporting events. He served as Helios Partners’ CEO until early 2013.
“This is an exciting time for the Federation,” remarked USEF President Chrystine Tauber. “The stage is set perfectly for Chris’ extraordinary strategic leadership skills. He is a proven leader who has consistently demonstrated the ability to build consensus, develop and implement innovative programs, and utilize his deep connections throughout the international sports movement.”
In addition to his experience at the Olympic level, Welton has a passion for horses and equestrian sport. He and his family own a horse farm, and he is a western pleasure rider, while his wife rode hunters and jumpers. “The balance between International and National was a key focus in the eyes of the Search Committee,” reported Murray Kessler, Chairman of the USEF CEO Search Committee. Kessler continued, “This balance is a key strength for Chris. He will serve the entire organization, including a clear desire to build the sport at the grassroots level.”
“The opportunity to serve as the Federation’s Chief Executive Officer is tremendously exciting for me,” noted Welton. “I ride because of the joy it gives me, and I look forward to working to grow participation in equestrian sport at the national level, the visibility of horse sport in media, as well as the success of our elite riders in international competition.”
Welton will join John Long and Chrystine Tauber representing the U.S. at the upcoming FEI Sports Forum and Extraordinary General Assembly in Lausanne, Switzerland, later this month and work from the Lexington, Ky., headquarters beginning June 1, 2014.