Jim Navolio, who played a key role in the building of the Kentucky Equine Education Project, will retire as executive director of the grassroots organization effective Sept. 1.
Navolio, who had retired as Kentucky's commissioner of the Department for Business Development in 2004, was hired as operations director of KEEP that summer soon after the organization was launched. He took over from Claria Horn Shadwick as executive director in the spring of 2005.
Navolio, when first hired by KEEP, told the board of directors he didn't plan to stay indefinitely. He informed the board of his decision at a June 14 meeting.
"Two years ago, I took a job for a year, but it has been two years," Navolio said June 15. "I'm re-retiring. I've got some things I need to do with my life. There have been so many positives about the organization. I'm happy with it."
KEEP chairman Brereton Jones couldn't be immediately reached for comment on Navolio's departure or plans to replace him.
Navolio spent much of his time traveling around Kentucky to speak at county meetings as part of a strategy to obtain support in all 120 counties. Because of his background in state jobs, including two years as executive director of the Kentucky Racing Commission in the early 1990s, Navolio has knowledge of the Frankfort political scene and was heavily involved in KEEP's legislative endeavors.
Navolio said he's pleased with the current board, financial commitments to the organization, the fact KEEP has almost 10,000 members, and progress on the legislative front. Though KEEP failed to win support for racetrack casino gambling during this year's General Assembly session, Navolio predicted KEEP eventually would prove successful.