USHJA Names Shelby French New CEO

September, 22, 2010

In a joint statement, Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Va., and the United States Hunter Jumper Association have announced that Shelby French, currently the director of Sweet Briar’s riding program, has been appointed chief executive officer of the USHJA effective May 5, 2011. French will be replacing former USHJA Executive Director Susan Dotson, who recently relocated to Atlanta. Merrilee “Mimi” Wroten, who has served as associate director at Sweet Briar since 1999 and instructor since 1996, has been named to succeed French.

French has been actively involved in the USHJA as a volunteer and board member since it was approved as the national hunter/jumper affiliate in 2004. She will be the association’s first CEO, leading an organization that encompasses more than a dozen employees servicing over 37,000 members from its new headquarters in Lexington, Ky.
“While we know that this will be a great loss for Sweet Briar, the USHJA is pleased to welcome Shelby French as our new CEO. Shelby brings many years of experience in the hunter/jumper sport as well as the strong business and people skills necessary for the position,” said Bill Moroney, USHJA president.

The CEO appointment represents a new stage for the young organization with the creation of an executive position that will share responsibility for its vision as well as implementation of the board’s directives.

“It has to be a partnership with the volunteers,” French said. “For me it’s exciting to see my sport have an organization that’s dedicated to its growth and sustaining its education mission. It’s even more exciting to know the leadership has the same vision you do.”

As a volunteer, French has already helped shaped the USHJA’s direction and knows her values and approach to riding are in sync with its mission. It was the same philosophy she brought to Sweet Briar, an all-women’s liberal arts college, where the forward system of riding was already the teaching foundation under former director Paul Cronin — and his predecessors, going back to Harriet Howell Rogers.

The College anticipates a seamless transition when Wroten, a Sweet Briar graduate and Cronin’s former student, assumes leadership of SBC riding. “Mimi really understands the philosophical basis this program is famous for. She can protect its heritage but take it in new directions,” French said.

Wroten, who is committed to the program’s core values of providing the highest level of instruction to all riders, said she is ready for the role and excited about what lies ahead. “Everyone can get what they want out of our curriculum. Our instructors teach riders to become competent horsewomen who will have the skills they need to enjoy the horses and sport that they love throughout their lives.”

USHJA equally anticipates a seamless transition as French comes to the association with a commitment to education, vision of excellence and a deep-rooted respect and understanding for the history of our sport.

About the United States Hunter Jumper Association
The USHJA, as the official national affiliate for the Hunter/Jumper discipline promotes our sport, offers broad-based education for our members, and provides the framework for the conduct of our sport. Visit USHJA at

About Sweet Briar
Sweet Briar College is a nationally recognized all-women’s liberal arts and sciences college near Lynchburg, Va. Information is available at For more information on the riding program, please visit

Media contacts:
Whitney Allen
United States Hunter Jumper Association
Director of Marketing and Communications or 859.225.6707

Jennifer McManamay
Sweet Briar College
Media, Marketing and Communications or 434.381.6330

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