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US Equestrian announces the appointment of Graeme Thom as Director of FEI/High-Performance Sport Programs and David O’Connor to the new position of Chief of Sport

Friday, 23 September 2022

Photos © Graeme Thom and USEF Archives/Pam Spaulding Graeme Thom and David O’Connor. Photos © Graeme Thom and USEF Archives/Pam Spaulding.

US Equestrian (USEF) has announced the appointment of Graeme Thom as Director of FEI/High-Performance Sport Programs and David O’Connor to the newly created position of Chief of Sport – both beginning October 3, 2022. Thom will replace Will Connell, who will step down from his position after eight years with USEF.  However, Connell remains with USEF through the 25th of November and Thom's start date will allow for a smooth and collaborative transition. 

Thom’s responsibilities will be primarily sport operations focused, USEF announced. "By supervising the activities of the Managing Directors and Directors for each international discipline recognized by the FEI, Thom will be responsible for developing and implementing the Strategic High-Performance plan and programs and overall administration of all aspects of sport programming and pathways for those FEI disciplines. Thom will serve as the staff liaison to the USEF International Disciplines Council and the Athlete Advisory Committee. Additionally, he will fill the role of Chef de Mission at the World Equestrian Games, Pan American Games, and Olympic Games and is the primary sport contact to the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and the International Equestrian Federation (FEI)," it was stated in a press release from USEF. 

“I am very appreciative of being offered this exciting role,” Thom said in the press release from USEF. “I have some extremely large shoes to fill with Will’s departure. He is legendary in his role as a Chef de Mission and High-Performance Director. It was a fitting testimonial that he was able to share in the USA successes at the recent World Championships. I will do my best to move up the curve as quickly as possible and hope my ten-plus years as a Chef D’Equipe in Eventing will act as a springboard for continued success in the future across all FEI disciplines. I look forward to meeting the staff and Team personnel very soon and am very eager to join the USEF organization.”

O’Connor’s responsibilities will be primarily strategically focused, USEF announced. "He will be responsible for working with the Executive Team regarding overall international and national sport support of the USEF Strategic Plan and its initiatives, sport integrity, education, and equine and human safety and welfare. Additionally, he will provide oversight of the international and national sport operations, ensuring that the Sport Department’s short-term and long-term strategic plans align with USEF’s priorities, and he will focus on strengthening relationships with stakeholder groups such as the USOPC, FEI and USEF's Recognized Affiliates," stated a press release from USEF. 

“I very much look forward to the opportunities afforded by this new role within the USEF,” stated O’Connor in the press release. “The chance to perform a 365-degree view of equestrian sport from a national and a global perspective and share strategies to ensure safety, welfare, and enjoyment while growing the sport across all breeds and disciplines will be an exciting prospect. My passion has always been horses and promoting equestrian sport both within and outside of our equine community is a very important mission, both personally and for the USEF as a whole.”

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