Board of Trustees
Board of Trustees
The American Quarter Horse Foundation Board of Trustees is the governing board of the Foundation. The American Quarter Horse Foundation Board of Trustees consists of the AQHA Executive Committee as elected trustees, plus trustees appointed by the elected trustees. The Board of Trustees convenes quarterly to oversee Foundation business. With advisement from the Foundation Council, the Board of Trustees is responsible for managing the business and affairs of the Foundation.
2023 Board of Trustees:
President Kenneth Banks
Kenneth Banks is an AQHA life member. He was elected as an AQHA director in 1996 and elevated to director-at-large in 2011. Banks has served on the International, Show and Contest, Nominations and Credentials, Amateur, and Marketing committees. He also served on the Foundation and Show councils. Banks currently serves on the Finance Committee.
Banks graduated with honors from Southwest Texas University with a bachelor’s degree in soil science and Texas A&M University with a master’s in soil chemistry. After more than 30 years in the business world, he sold his automotive aftermarket companies in 2015 and returned home to ranching and breeding and raising horses and cattle. Banks Ranch, located in central Texas, breeds, raises, trains and shows AQHA Ranching Heritage-bred American Quarter Horses for the show pen and the ranch. The cattle portion of the ranch includes registered Herefords and crossbred cows. The ranch’s artificial insemination program has created one of the best cow herds in Texas.
Banks is a past president of the National Snaffle Bit Association and member of the NSBA Hall of Fame. He has served as the chairman of the NSBA financial committee, treasurer, crisis fund committee, world show committee and Breeders Championship Futurity committee. Banks is also a past president of the Texas Quarter Horse Association. Currently, one of Banks’ loves is mentoring students at Texas A&M University. He is a member of the Texas A&M University Equine Initiative Development Committee, Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Development Committee, and Texas A&M University Beef Cattle Development Council.
Banks was awarded one of the most prestigious business awards when he received the Ernst & Young Master Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Houston region. Not only was he successful in the business world, but he also received the Texas Philanthropist title for his benevolent, humanitarian efforts throughout Texas by Philanthropy in Texas Magazine. At the request of Texas Gov. George Bush, Banks served on the Texas Governor’s Business Council for eight years.
Banks and his wife, Laina, an AQHA director-at-large and dedicated lover of the American Quarter Horse way of life, reside on the ranch in Schulenburg, Texas, where they spend most of their time breeding and raising American Quarter Horses. They share three children, son Paul and daughter-in-law Heather; daughter Lindsay and son-in-law David Kutac; and son Russell and daughter-in-law Dr. Crystal Banks, and the joy of seven grandchildren.
Vice President James Hunt
James “Jim” Hunt of Faith, South Dakota, is an AQHA life member and has been an AQHA director since 2013. Hunt has served on the Ranching Council, Studbook and Registration Committee, Animal Welfare Commission and Hall of Fame Selection Committee. He has also served on the governance and microchipping task forces. Hunt was the chairman of the Ranching Committee. He also spearheaded developing the AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder Young Horse Development Program and has personally donated more than 50 foals from his breeding program to this AQHYA program.
Hunt graduated from South Dakota State University with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business and worked for Hulett National Bank in Wyoming as a loan officer and then vice president. He competed as a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association saddle bronc rider, was the event director in the South Dakota Rodeo and Northwest Ranch Cowboy’s associations and was captain of the South Dakota State University College Rodeo Team. Hunt was also an agricultural reporter for radio station KLSC in Watertown, South Dakota. Hunt currently owns and operates Open Box Rafter Ranch, a working cattle and horse operation that has produced its own annual Quarter Horse production sale since 1994. He is an AQHA 30-year breeder and has bred more than 1,000 registered American Quarter Horses, including an AQHA Champion, Superior, Performance Register of Merit horses, AQHA World Show and Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifiers. Open Box Rafter Ranch was named the 2019 AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder of the Year.
He earned the 2009 Sunshine Bible Academy Distinguished Alumnus Award, was named the 2011 Black Hills Stockman of the Year and received the 2020 Black Hills Stock Show Pioneer Award.
Hunt has also served on the Rushmore Plaza Expansion Project Design Committee, Central States Fair Board of Directors, Black Hills Stock Show Horse Committee, Black Hills Stock Show Foundation Board, Sunshine Bible Academy School Board, SBA Foundation Board, Bethel Free Lutheran Church deacon and South Dakota Quarter Horse Association Board of Directors.
Hunt and his wife, Joni, have seven children, all of whom are involved in the family ranching operation: oldest son J. Tom and wife Sage, who have 4-year-old twin girls and 2-year-old boy and girl twins; daughters Jessica and Jimmie Jean; son Justin and wife Erica, and sons Joshua, Jordan and Jeb and his wife, Dr. Grace Hunt.
Member Jeff Tebow
Jeff Tebow is an AQHA life member and has served as an AQHA director since 2011. Tebow currently serves on the AQHA Executive Committee and formerly on the Studbook and Registration, Hall of Fame Selection, and Grievance committees. He has also served on the Racing Committee and Racing Council.
Tebow graduated with a master of business from Oklahoma City University, bachelor of business administration in finance from the University of Central Oklahoma and associate of applied science in business/accounting from Connors State College. He is the managing partner and licensed insurance producer at Andreini and Co. of Oklahoma, chief executive officer of Heritage Place Inc. and auctioneer and real estate agent at Buford Resources Inc. Auction and Reality.
Tebow is a life member of the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing and Oklahoma Quarter Horse associations. He is a past president of the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association and currently serves as an OQHRA board of director. He was also the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Youth Association president in 1983. He is a member of the Ranchero Visitadores-Los Bustardos, Southwest Texas Cattleman’s Association, National Auctioneers Association, Oklahoma Auctioneers Association, National Rifle Association and United States Team Roping Championship Association.
He has been an avid competitor at AQHA shows in the past and currently enjoys team roping. He also earned the reserve world champion title in boxing and was a finalist in ranch riding and heading at the 2017 Adequan® Select World.
Tebow and his wife, Vickie, reside in Piedmont, Oklahoma. Tebow also has two daughters, AQHYA Past President Ann Elizabeth and Meg, who served on the AQHYA board of directors.
Member Jim Brinkman
Jim Brinkman is an AQHA life member and has served as an AQHA director since 2011. Brinkman currently serves on the Studbook and Registration Committee and Ranching Council. He has also served on the Hall of Fame and Best Remuda selection committees, AQHA World Show Sale committee and the parentage verification task force.
Brinkman is a third-generation rancher of the Pitzer Ranch, which was founded in 1946. He runs commercial cattle and is the owner, manager and trainer overseeing the ranch’s American Quarter Horse program. The ranch runs over 500 broodmares and hosts two AQHA horse sales a year, one in the spring and one in the fall, selling about 800 head total.
Brinkman is an AQHA Professional Horseman and showed the first-ever AQHA Superhorse, Vickie Lee Pine, for grandfather and owner Howard Pitzer. Brinkman works to continue the traditions of honesty and integrity that built his family’s operation over 75 years ago.
Brinkman and his wife, Tana, a former Miss Rodeo Nebraska, reside in Ericson, Nebraska. They have two children, daughter Sarah and husband Lane; son Sam and his wife, Kendra; and three grandchildren, Kale, Rio and Brooke.
Member Lori Bucholz
Lori Bucholz of Waterloo, Nebraska, is an AQHA life member and has been an AQHA director since 2008 and was elevated to director-at-large in 2020. Lori has served as the chairperson of the International Committee and Animal Welfare Commission. She has served on the American Quarter Horse Foundation Committee and Council, the Nominations and Credentials Committee, the Affiliate Advisory Board and Hall of Fame Selection and Animal Welfare Grievance committees.
Bucholz is a Professional Registered Parliamentarian and received her bachelor of science degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She has shown horses for over fifty years and is an AQHA Amateur Champion, multiple AQHA world champion, year-end high-point winner and AQHA 10-year breeder. Lori also currently serves on the Colorado State University Ag Industry Leadership Council, Equine Sciences Advisory Board and the Temple Grandin Equine Center Steering Committee. She is also a member of the Texas A & M Equine Initiative Advisory Committee, National Snaffle Bit Association Board of Directors, the National Collegiate Equestrian Association Advisory Committee, the Omaha Equestrian Foundation Board of Directors, the Nebraska Quarter Horse Association Board of Directors, and is the current president of the Nebraska State Association of Parliamentarians. She also serves on the Carl and Caroline Swanson Foundation Board of Trustees and Plastilite Corporation Board of Directors.
Lori and her husband, Frederick “Rick” have three children, Marca Bucholz, Britta Ruoff and spouse, Chad, and Fredrick “Buck” Bucholz; and five grandchildren, Sophia Bucholz and Cayson, Bristol, Lily and Cooper Ruoff.
When she’s not in the saddle, or spending time with family and their Jack Russell terriers, Lori is an active runner who has completed multiple marathons, a certified scuba diver and also enjoys reading, gardening and needlepoint.
Appointed Member Robin Merrill
Robin Merrill of Poolville, Texas, served as the first appointed member to the Board of Trustees in 2019 and was reappointed in 2020, 2021 and 2022. She has also served on the Foundation Council, was the Foundation Council’s chairwoman from 2001 to 2004 and was elevated to AQHA honorary vice president in 2019.
Merrill and her husband, AQHA Past President Frank Merrill, have been involved in AQHA and the American Quarter Horse industry for many years and have been major supporters of the Foundation and its initiatives. Merrill was also involved with the New Jersey Quarter Horse Association, Florida Quarter Horse Association, Oklahoma Horseman’s Association, the Heart of Oklahoma Horseman’s Association, Oklahoma Quarter Horse Association was a member of the National Cutting Horse Association Historical Committee. She also serves as an board member for the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.
Appointed Member Catherine Nicholas
Catherine Nicholas of Douglas, Wyoming, is the managing partner, chief investment officer and co-founder of Nicholas Investment Partners. Additionally, she and her husband, Art, own and operate Wagonhound Land & Livestock, which received the 2018 AQHA Best Remuda Award and 2019, 2020 and 2021 AQHA Highest Money-Earning Ranching Heritage Breeder Award and the Nicholas’ have been supporters of youth activities through the Foundation for many years.
Nicholas was appointed to the Board of Trustees in 2021 and reappointed in 2022. She serves as a member of the American Quarter Horse Foundation Council, recently concluding her role as chair and is active in the finance/budgeting activities of the Foundation. Nicholas is currently serving on the Douglas Boys & Girls Club as treasurer and as a board member for the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. She previously served on the USC Marshall School of Business and on committees of Rady Children's Hospital, Francis Parker School, Scripps Hospital and on the board of the San Diego County YMCA. She earned her bachelors of science in business administration, and her MBA in finance from the University of Southern California.
Appointed Member Larry Bell
Larry Bell of Midland, Texas, and his wife, Ellen, own Parks Bell Ranch and Kalpowar Quarter Horses. Parks Ranch was recognized as AQHA 50-year legacy breeders and the Bell family have been supporters of the Foundation and the Hall of Fame & Museum for many years. Ellen’s family is deeply rooted in the American Quarter Horse industry with her grandfather, Roy Parks, serving as AQHA president in 1960 and was later inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame.
Bell is a certified public accountant and brings personal experience working with both private and public charitable entities, their governance, policy, investment oversight and charitable giving. Bell was appointed to the Board of Trustees in 2021 and reappointed in 2022. He was on the Foundation Council from 2007 to 2011 and served on the scholarship selection group and budget task force during his tenure. Bell currently serves on the AQHA Investment Oversight Committee and is active in the finance/budgeting activities of the Foundation. In addition to his work with charitable and humanitarian organizations in the United States, as well as overseas, he has also served on the boards of the Southwest Reined Cow Horse Association as president, the National Reined Cow Horse Association as executive vice president, the American Quarter Horse Foundation Council and was inducted into the NRCHA Hall of Merit in 2017.
Appointed Member Kathy Headley
Kathy Headley of Bloomington, Indiana, and her husband, Steve, operate Headley Quarter Horses, a world champion-producing operation specializing in halter horses.
Both native Hoosiers, Kathy and Steve both had a passion for horses their entire lives. They met in college at Indiana University, married and dedicated their careers to the company created by Kathy’s parents, Carroll and Donna, called CarDon, which is a senior-care company. Kathy, who is a licensed health facility administrator, has served as the board chair and treasurer since 2006.
The Headleys’ two children, Matthew and Sarah, grew up in 4-H, and Sarah’s passion for horses is what sparked the family’s growth into the highest levels of the industry as exhibitors, breeders and in sales. She continues to be a key part of their program.
The family works together in their equine passion, and among their world champions are Cauzin Trouble, Alluring Intention, Rumerz, Vawters Intention, Best Kept Secrete, Rumerz R Flyin Babe, Enchanting Intention, A Busy Affair, Exquisite Rumerz and Motavated.
They stand stallions Best Kept Secrete, Rumerz and Heartz On Fire. All three stallions stand among the top halter sires in the industry.
The Headleys are generous supporters of their communities, serving as volunteers in 4-H and local programs for decades. They also support the industry through numerous class and event sponsorships.