John D. Nicholson, Director Kentucky Horse Park
John Nicholson has been the Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Park since 1997.
Under his direction, the Kentucky Horse Park has been transformed into the finest equestrian competition facility in the world. He has overseen its expansion to include $80 million in capital improvement projects including the new 6,000-seat Alltech Arena, the 7,400-seat Rolex Stadium, new barns, museum wing, and numerous new buildings quartering the park’s National Horse Center – an equine office park which under John’s leadership has grown to include 35 national and regional equine organizations. In addition, the park has implemented a massive, cutting-edge conservation/energy-savings program which will become a model for horse farms and equine facilities across the country.
He spearheaded a 12-year effort to win the United States’ bid to host the World Equestrian Games, and served as President of the World Games 2010 Foundation which organized the resulting 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, held at the Kentucky Horse Park and televised internationally to five hundred million viewers.
In 2008 he accepted the Special Eclipse Award, the highest honor in the Thoroughbred industry, on behalf of the park. In 2010 he received the prestigious Equine Industry Vision Award from the American Horse Publications for “outstanding leadership, creativity and meritorious contributions in the equine industry,” and in 2011 he accepted the United States Equestrian Federation’s Sallie Busch Wheeler Trophy on behalf of the park, which honors distinguished service in equestrian sport. In 2011 John was named one of the Chronicle of the Horse magazine’s “Overall Horsemen of the Year.”
John is a former President of the Kentucky Horse Council and Chairman of the Kentucky Horse Fair. He served on the Board of Directors of the Horse Industry Alliance, a national marketing council for the equine industry. He currently serves on the boards of Commerce Lexington, Bluegrass Tomorrow, Kentucky Farm Bureau Equine Advisory Committee, Fayette Alliance, Midway College Sports Management Advisory Committee, and ex officio Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau.