Patrick Neely, executive director of the Kentucky Equine Education Program, is leaving the post Oct. 18 to take a job in Michigan.
Neely told the KEEP board of directors of his decision in a letter he subsequently circulated to the media. Hired by KEEP in January 2007, Neely said he accepted a position as president of a company in Michigan, where his wife has family.
KEEP has spearheaded efforts to educate Kentucky residents and lawmakers about the scope and value of the horse industry. It also has been involved in lobbying for expanded gambling in Kentucky.
"Thanks to several generous donations and commitments, KEEP will remain financially strong for years to come, and will be able to continue its mission of helping fund equine activities throughout the state," Neely said in his letter. "Perhaps more important than our financial health, the strength of our grassroots organization has never been better. As we have continued to grow our membership and expand our outreach efforts, the level of industry participation in legislative and electoral matters has never been higher.
"I have always believed that the key component of KEEP, one that separates us from other industry organizations, is the extensive grassroots organization that we have cultivated since KEEP was founded."
Neely noted that KEEP was instrumental in the passage of historical race wagering regulations by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and pushed to have horses included in the "Kentucky Proud" program administered by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. KEEP also created a foundation to assist in development of local equine activities in the state.
Before he was hired by KEEP, Neely served as campaign manager for Kentucky Congresswoman Anne Northup's campaigns in 2004 and 2006. He also served for more than a year as the chief of staff for Louisville's Metro Council Republican Caucus, was an associate attorney with Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs, and was Northup's press secretary in Washington, D.C.