Congratulations to APHA’s Director of Performance Development Elizabeth Lawhorn and Communications & Marketing Specialist Desiree Heath Mills on being named to COWGIRL magazine’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2023, presented by Wrangler.
COWGIRL’s mission is to seek out and recognize young women who are making an impact in the Western industry. Whether they are corporate executives, professional athletes, media professionals, or working cowgirls, they aim to show just how vital these young and talented women are to the industry, as well as create a network of role models and mentors for future leaders of our industry.
Originally from Sugar Land, Texas, Elizabeth’s love of horses and the equestrian lifestyle began with riding lessons at age 7, where she quickly became competitive in local hunter/jumper circuits. In high school, she joined Future Farmers of America (FFA) where she served in the chapter’s leadership and competed on the horse judging team. She then attended Texas A&M University earning a Bachelor of Science in animal science in 2017, followed by a Master of Agriculture in equine marketing in 2019. She competed on the collegiate horse judging team, served in leadership roles with the Texas A&M Horseman’s Association, and assisted in equine extension events.
Her passion for judging and education led Elizabeth back to the American Paint Horse Association as the Director of Performance Development after previously serving as the organization’s marketing intern. In this position, she manages Paint Horse performance records and awards tabulation, stewards the judging department, and directs a variety of programs such as HorseIQ, APHA E-Shows, and the Paint Alternative Competition program.
“I am honored to have been chosen as one of the top women under 30 in the Western Industry this year alongside business owners, educators, and association leaders,” she said.
Desiree Heath Mills
Hailing from the Texas border town of Del Rio, Texas, Desiree grew up with a deep love of horses. She dove further into the field at Texas A&M University where she took any equine class she could find. She was a key part of several equine nutrition and reproduction projects and served as treasurer of the Texas A&M Horsemen’s Association as well as secretary of the American Collegiate Horsemen’s Association. She earned a Bachelor of Science in animal science in 2014, followed by a Master of Agriculture in equine business and event management in 2016.
Desiree joined the American Paint Horse Association as the marketing intern in 2016. Soon after, she was hired full-time as the association’s Marketing Coordinator and, in 2019, promoted to Communications & Marketing Specialist where she provides overall support of the association’s marketing plan, oversees sponsor fulfillment, manages the APHA Xtras program, and serves as a key sales representative for the association’s publications.
“I am beyond thrilled and honored to be chosen as a class member of this wonderful group of women and look forward to working together to further the Western way of life,” she said.
For more information on the COWGIRL 30 Under 30, click here.
[Reprinting all or part of this news release is permitted, so long as credit is given to the Paint Horse Journal and a link provided back to apha.com.]
The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest international equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded in 1962. APHA promotes, preserves, and provides meaningful experiences with Paint Horses.