LEXINGTON, Ky. — Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA) announced today the appointment of Leah O’Meara, Andy Hils, Erik Johnson, Marshall Gramm, and Marette Farrell to its Board of Directors.
“We are delighted to welcome these wonderful people to the TCA board,” said Mike McMahon president of TCA. “Our board is committed to carrying on the good work started by our founders over 30 years ago. These new board members recognize that service for the common good is rewarding beyond measure. As a volunteer board, each of us works tirelessly for horses and horse people who need help. In 2020, we distributed over $1 million to successful grant applicants and through our Horses First emergency fund.”
Leah O’Meara is a native of Lafayette, La., and moved to Kentucky to attend Midway College. During college she worked for Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital and later in veterinary pharmaceutical sales. Currently, she works for her family’s Stonehaven Steadings in Versailles, Ky. and resides on the farm with her husband and children. Notable Stonehaven Steadings-breds include Shanghai Bobby, Daredevil, Hour Glass, and Olive Branch.
Erik Johnson is a 13-year National Hockey League veteran for the Colorado Avalanche. A native of Bloomington, Minn., Johnson won a silver medal for Team USA at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, BC. He became involved in racing in 2016 and has campaigned under his ERJ Racing banner multiple Grade 1 winner Bowies Hero as well as graded stakes winners Comical, Shane’s Girlfriend, Munny Spunt, and Lazy Daisy.
Andy Hils is a banker in the Lexington office of Limestone Bank. Hils is a senior vice president with 25 years of commercial lending experience primarily in the equine industry, agricultural industry, as well as commercial real estate and manufacturing sectors. Hils has been an owner in various Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing syndicates over the years and currently serves on the Finance Committee for the Thoroughbred Club of America. He also serves on the Resources Education and Assistance Community Housing board.
Marette Farrell grew up on a stud farm in Ireland and pinhooked two-year-olds to help pay for college. After graduation she went on to work for trainers in Dubai, France, Australia, and the U.S. In 2008, she formed her own bloodstock agency where she currently works in an advisory capacity for long-term clients. Farrell helped purchase and mate the dam of Belmont Stakes winner Creator and also advised in the purchase of Storm the Court and many other Grade I winners.
Marshall Gramm grew up in Washington, D.C. and became involved in horseracing because of the statistical and problem-solving aspects of betting. Gramm is an Economics Ph.D. and professor at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn. He is an avid bettor and has qualified for the National Handicapping Championships six times finishing ninth in 2019 and fifth at the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge in 2018. Gramm and partner Clay Sanders co-founded Ten Strike Racing in 2016 and currently have more than 50 horses in training.
The five newly elected board members join current board members Bob Beck, Bing Bush, Lesley Campion, Bob Edwards, Terry Finley, Lesley Howard (treasurer), Davant Latham (secretary), Brant Laue, Nathan McCauley (vice president), Mike McMahon (president), Jaime Roth, and Anna Seitz.
Gretchen Jackson, Ellen Moelis, Herb Moelis, and Dan Rosenberg are directors emeriti.
Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA) was formed in 1990 to raise and distribute funds to charities in the Thoroughbred industry that provide a better life for Thoroughbreds, both during and after their racing careers, by supporting qualified repurposing and retirement organizations and by helping the people who care for them. In 2020, TCA granted over $1 million to 70 charities working within Thoroughbred retraining, rehoming and retirement; backstretch and farm worker services, research and equine-assisted therapy. Over the last 30 years, TCA has granted more than $24 million to more than 200 charities that successfully meet the criteria set forth in its annual grant application. TCA also administers the Horses First Fund, founded by LNJ Foxwoods in 2016, to assist Thoroughbreds in need of emergency aid. TCA is the charitable arm of the Thoroughbred Owner and Breeders Association (TOBA).