ELISABETH JENSEN AND THE RACE FOR EDUCATION

 

Jensen was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana. “I took the long way to Fayette County,” she said. She went to college in New York, studying design and apparel manufacturing, and then worked for an international company that had her spending time in Hong Kong and Istanbul. She moved to California to work for Disney Consumer Products and would visit the Bluegrass from time to time for the Thoroughbred sales. During a trip in 2000 with a friend, she decided not to leave. “I sent a résumé to Tracy Farmer, never thinking he would hire me,” she said.
But the horse owner did hire her, and 15 years ago Jensen became the racing manager for his racing stable. “I worked there a very short time,” she said, “basically doing race entries, getting licensing in different states and managing transportation.”
Then she found the PR job at the new Thoroughbred horse farm in Versailles, WinStar, and Race for Education soon after that. RFE used to share space with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission at the Horse Park. “It made it hard to stay focused on work,” Jensen said with a laugh. Now RFE’s office is on Versailles Road, which is convenient for horse farm workers who live in Cardinal Valley. “People can get help with college applications and financial aid forms,” Jensen cited as an example.
Race for Education is no longer a private foundation. “In 2008 we were declared a public charity because we have such a broad donor base,” Jensen said. This is a good thing for the 501(c)(3), as there are many grants that don’t give money to private foundations but they will donate to public charities.
RFE’s after-school programs are operated in a partnership with schools in Fayette and Bourbon counties, and are open to the general population at the recommendation of guidance counselors, with priority given to children in agriculture and equine families. 
“The scholarship program is very strong,” Jensen said. “We are hoping to expand the after-school program.” Homework help at Crawford Middle School, for example, focuses on literacy to give kids experience in reading and writing. 
“We started out doing homework, but realized kids’ reading skills were so poor,” she said. “If you can’t read you can’t do social studies or science.” The students and their parents sign a contract, because space is limited and this is not a drop-in program, so the attendance rate is really good.
Fundraisers for RFE include the Horsemen of All Ages Bachelor Auction at the Red Mile each February, and the Race to Read 5K and 10K through downtown Midway in April. “We’re able to do a lot of good work for the horse industry and the community,” Jensen said. 
Most of her free time involves her 11-year-old son, who plays basketball on the Special Olympics team and is involved in other sports. “His hobbies have become my hobbies,” she said.
Jensen is a member of the Kentucky State Advisory Panel for Exceptional Children and the Circle of Blue, which is an organization of women philanthropists for the Kentucky Children’s Hospital. She has also joined the board of directors of Groom Elite and is involved with the racing syndicate It’s All About the Girls. 
“I have lived all over the world,” she said. “I’m so happy to be in Lexington.”

 

 


Posted on 2015-07-14 by Kathie Stamps
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