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James River Horse Foundation

Horses and People Helping Each Other

The horse program at the State Farm Work Center in Goochland County was operated by a local board of volunteers for twelve years as the James River chapter of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. The program was highly successful and received the Excellence in Government Award for Public-Private Partnerships from the VCU School of Government and Public Affairs in 2019.

In the fall of 2019, the local board reorganized as the James River Horse Foundation. The core mission is the same, to rehabilitate former race horses, adopt them out if possible, otherwise care for them for life.


Meet Our Board and Staff

A board of volunteers directs the James River Horse Foundation, and the Deep Run Hunt Club very graciously donates their clubhouse for quarterly meetings. The program is further supported by many other volunteers from the equestrian community of Goochland and surrounding counties.

Debby Dunham


Debby’s professional experience includes over 13 years in financial services and operations. Debby joined The Colony Group in 2015 where she is responsible for client service and development, portfolio management and operational support.  She oversees community engagement and philanthropy in the Richmond office in addition to being the coordinator for the philanthropic ambassadors across the company.  She started her career in the petroleum industry where she worked in sales and management. Debby is a graduate of SUNY College at Cortland where she earned her BA in Economics with a minor in Marketing. Debby grew up on a small horse farm outside of Syracuse, NY where she participated in Pony Club, shows, eventing and foxhunting.  Her riding ended when she went away to college but her love of horses has remained.   Debby is our current Vice President and is also a member of the Communications and Sponsorship Committees.

Beverly Thurston

Vice President, Recording Secretary

Beverly Thurston spent her career in education after being awarded an undergraduate degree from Lynchburg College, a masters degree from The London School of Economics, and a doctorate in history from Carnegie Mellon University. After teaching at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, Bev worked at the Virginia Department of Education as the coordinator for K-12 history, social sciences and international studies. She led teams of students to Russia multiple times for the International Space Olympics. She also oversaw K-12 textbooks for the Commonwealth.
A native of Richmond, Bev developed her love of horses spending her childhood summers on her grandfather’s farm in Goochland. She fulfilled her dream of owning her own farm in Goochland where she keeps her horses and boards a few others. She is a member of Deep Run Hunt Club and has served on the Board of JRHF since February 2020.

Randall Hagan


Randy Hagan, a graduate of the University of Missouri (BS Ch.E--1967) and the Harvard Business School (MBA-1969) spent 30 years in the management of chemical and fiber manufacturing companies, and, 15+ years in financial services. He is currently Vice-President of Institutional Marketing at James River Financial Corp. Randy serves on the boards of Goochland Pet Lovers and the James River Horse Foundation charities, and is president of the Deep Run Hunt Club. At JRHF he is currently Treasurer, and also heads the Repair and Maintenance sub-committee.

Scott Richeson

Corresponding Secretary

Scott serves in an executive level position for the Virginia Department of Corrections where she oversees programs, education, mental health, victim services and reentry preparation efforts for offenders incarcerated and on probation and parole supervision.   She is also a local resident and member of the Goochland County equine community.  The James River Horse Foundation brings together her passions for horses and for helping persons involved in the criminal justice system to change and live law abiding lives.   Scott is currently the volunteer Corresponding Secretary for JRHF as well as the group’s liaison with the Virginia Department of Corrections.   She is also engaged in community volunteer work with Goochland Pet Lovers (local animal shelter) and Goochland CARES food bank program.  Scott has a MS in Rehabilitation Counseling and an undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice.

Mary Atkinson


Mary is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a B.S. in Hospitality and Tourism Management. An avid traveler, she is currently a travel consultant at a local agency in Richmond and has been working in the travel industry for over 10 years.
Her love of horses began at the age of 8 when she started taking riding lessons and has endured ever since. As a junior she competed in the local hunters and was on the Equestrian Team during her college years. She now has a Thoroughbred from JRHF and is training him for a dressage career and is also a member of Deep Run Hunt Club. She sits on the Events and Communications Committees.

Mary Ruth Burton


Mary Ruth Burton created Burton-Fuller Management in 1987 to work with individuals, teams, and organizations to help them grow to their fullest potential. She has provided organizational development expertise to many industries including working with NCAA athletics and Fortune 100 companies. She also served as an adjunct faculty member of The University of Richmond’s Management Institute for over ten years.  She is a Senior Birkman Method Consultant and uses the tool to help individuals and teams thrive.
Mary Ruth served on the Board of the Richmond Symphony for six years and chaired the Organizational Culture committee.  She served six years on the Board of Directors for the Richmond Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth, including one term as Vice President of Membership. She also served on the Virginia Commonwealth University Ram Athletic Executive Board. For four years she served on the board of Richmond’s Peter Paul Development Center which provides services to children at-risk. She has also served as a volunteer consultant to the leadership team of Richmond’s YWCA.
She enjoys riding the woods and fields of Goochland on horseback and is pleased to bring her lifelong love of horses to serve on the James River Horse Foundation.

Karen Fowler

Director, Past President

Karen holds a B.S.Chemistry and Physical Science and has spent a lifetime with horses.  She spent her junior years riding and showing hunters, jumpers and eventers as well as working for a Thoroughbred trainer breaking, exercising and rehabbing racehorses.  After graduation, she spent several years as a vet tech at a small animal practice in Northern Virginia before coming home to the Richmond area.  Then she spent 8 years training and managing lesson and show barns, teaching and training horses and riders, before moving to her current employment as Operations Manager for a multi-doctor equine veterinary practice.  Karen has served on the board of JRHF for 8 years, currently as President as well as a member of the Events and Nominating Committees.

Katie Huffman, DVM


Dr. Huffman was born and raised in Goochland, Virginia. She received her bachelors in animal science from Virginia Tech in 2013. Her doctorate of veterinary medicine was completed in 2017 at the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. After graduation, Katie began working for Thomas J. Newton, DVM at Little Hawk Farm, first in an intern role and then an associate. She took the practice over in September, 2019, renaming it Little Hawk Equine, LLC. In addition to her veterinary duties, Katie is a founding board member of the Little Hawk Reentry Foundation, which offers employment to graduates of the horse program at the State Farm Work Center. She cares for the entire herd of the James River Horse Foundation and serves on the Program Committee.

Pam Johnson


Pam is a long-time resident of Richmond, Virginia and attended the University of Richmond. Her business experience includes 11 years as an Office Administrator of a busy dental practice and a successful career as a real estate agent. During this time she served as a Director on the board of a regional Bank, Jefferson National Bank. Pam then had the opportunity to pursue her passion in fulfilling  leadership roles on a number of non-profit organizations, including a United States Pony Club Regional Board. She is a past President of the Goochland Woman's Club and served on the Deep Run Hunt Club Board where she also held the position of President. Pam has served many years on the Deep Run Hunt Horse Show Association board and is currently President. Her role on the board of the James River Horse Foundation board is Chairman of Strategic Planning.

Janis Paiva


Janis is a Senior Paralegal with McGuireWoods LLP and has worked in the Corporate and Business Tax Department of its Richmond office for over 37 years.  She has extensive experience in corporate transactional work including mergers, acquisitions and business restructuring.  She also worked in the tax-exempt organization area preparing annual returns for private foundations and IRS applications for recognition of exemption.  Janis received her B.A. degree in 1976, summa cum laude, from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  In her “previous” life, Janis danced professionally with both the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater and the Pennsylvania Ballet.  She currently owns two Warmblood horses and participates locally in the hunter show circuit.  She has served on the Board of a local therapeutic riding program and the James River Horse Foundation.  She serves on the Executive and Strategic Planning Committees.

Anne Tucker


Anne, Ph.D. University of Kentucky, retired from a successful career in immunotoxicology with over 30 publications in peer-reviewed journals in 1992 to pursue her equine interests. She served on the board of the Deep Run Horse Show Association until recently, serving three years as president. When Colonial Downs opened for racing, she assembled a small band of broodmares and bred and raced in the Mid-Atlantic area. During this period she was on the board of the Virginia Thoroughbred Association. Her retired horses, along with three adopted Thoroughbreds, now work in her equine-assisted therapy business, Through the Gate. Anne was a founder of the James River Second Chances chapter in 2007, served three years as President, and was instrumental in the transition to the James River Horse Foundation in June of 2019. Currently she is  chairman of the Program and Communications Committees, and helps with events and strategic planning.

Cynthia Weldon

Program Manager

Cynthia (CJ) is the horse barn program manager for the James River Horse Foundation program operating at the State Farm Work Center. CJ is an experienced equine professional with an extensive background in barn management and horse training. She has a passion for theory-based classroom and hands-on education. A native of Zimbabwe, CJ worked with horses in many parts of the United States and Europe before settling in Richmond, VA.

Jennifer Ernst

Adoption Coordinator

Jennifer graduated from Western Michigan University with a B.A. Fashion Merchandising and Management in 1982. Her retail career from 1982-2009 included specialty and department store management, department store merchandise buyer, sales representative for a dress manufacturer in Manhattan and retail coordinator for Jones Apparel Group. In 1999, Jennifer volunteered with local refugees to resettle here in Richmond which led to 10 mission trips to Africa and the founding of a non-profit organization which constructed and continues to operate a secondary school in South Sudan. She served as Executive Director for 15 years. She has served in leadership roles at church, both vestry, “visioning” and fundraising committees and Missions and Outreach.  Jennifer has enjoyed a life-long passion for horses and returned to riding and horse ownership as an adult.  Through the horse community she met Anne Tucker, who hired Jennifer in 2013 to serve as the Adoption Coordinator.  In addition to securing good adoptive homes for several of our horses, she started the Sponsorship Program as a means of financial support for the organization. She currently serves on the Communications and Program Committees and chairs the Sponsorship Committee.

Lisa Keller


Lisa is a longtime resident of Goochland County.  A lifetime love for all creatures great and small started at an early age when she began riding and showing her first pony. After a 17 year career in the financial industry, Lisa spent 7 years working for a local thoroughbred race horse breeder learning about the thoroughbred breeding business and the racing industry. She served as Treasurer on the James River Second Chances  board from 2012 to 2015.