Three individuals with strong ties to the Western performance horse industry were recently appointed to the American Quarter Horse Foundation (AQHF) Board of Trustees.
The American Quarter Horse Foundation Board of Trustees is the governing board of the Foundation and convenes throughout the year to oversee Foundation business. With advisement from the Foundation Council, the Board of Trustees is responsible for ensuring the charitable purpose of the Foundation is met through its grantmaking and programmatic activities.
The newest appointees are Robin Merrill, Catherine Nicholas and Larry Bell. They will join Norman K. Luba, Dr. Scott Myers, Kenneth Banks, James “Jim” Hunt and Jeff Tebow, who were elected to the Board of Trustees during the 2021 AQHA Convention in San Antonio.
“We are very pleased to have Larry, Robin and Catherine appointed to the Board of Trustees leading the Foundation,” Interim Chief Foundation Officer Chris Sitz said in a statement. “They each bring extensive experience and understanding of the fiduciary responsibilities associated with leading a charitable entity.”
Robin Merrill of Poolville, Texas, served as the first appointed member to the Board of Trustees in 2019 and was reappointed in 2020 and 2021. She has also served on the Foundation Council, was the Foundation Council’s chairwoman from 2001 to 2004 and was elevated to AQHA honorary vice president in 2019.
Merrill and her husband, AQHA Past President Frank Merrill, have been involved in AQHA and the American Quarter Horse industry for many years and have been major supporters of the Foundation and its initiatives. Sporting an Equi-Stat record of more than $228,000, Merrill is involved in several Quarter-Horse related groups and organizations and is a member of the National Cutting Horse Association Historical Committee. She also serves as an executive director for the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.
Catherine Nicholas of Douglas, Wyoming, is the managing partner, chief investment officer and co-founder of Nicholas Investment Partners. Additionally, she and her husband, Art, own and operate Wagonhound Land & Livestock, which received the 2018 AQHA Best Remuda Award and 2019 AQHA Highest Money Earning Ranching Heritage Breeder Award.
Nicholas serves as chairwoman of the American Quarter Horse Foundation Council and is currently serving on the Douglas Boys & Girls Club as treasurer. She previously served on the USC Marshall School of Business and on committees of Rady Children’s Hospital, Francis Parker School, Scripps Hospital and on the board of the San Diego County YMCA. She earned her bachelor’s of science in business administration, and her MBA in finance from the University of Southern California.
Larry Bell of Midland, Texas, and his wife, Ellen, own Parks Bell Ranch and Kalpowar Quarter Horses. They were recognized as AQHA 50-year legacy breeders in the ranching industry and have been Foundation supporters for many years. Ellen’s family is deeply rooted in the American Quarter Horse industry with her grandfather, Roy Parks, serving as AQHA president in 1960 and was later inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame.
Bell is a certified public accountant and brings personal experience working with both private and public charitable entities, their governance, policy, investment oversight and charitable giving. Bell was on the Foundation Council from 2007 to 2011 and served on the scholarship selection group and budget task force during his tenure. In addition to his work with charitable and humanitarian organizations in the United States, as well as overseas, he has also served on the boards of the Southwest Reined Cow Horse Association as president, the National Reined Cow Horse Association as executive vice president, the American Quarter Horse Foundation Council and was inducted into the NRCHA Hall of Merit in 2017.