Jack Davis, chair of the Board of Governors, Western Fair Association, announced today the appointment of Hugh Mitchell as chief executive officer of
the Western Fair Association, effective March 1, 2009. Mitchell will replace current CEO Gary McRae, who will remain with the organization, for a short period, in an advisory capacity.
“The Board of Governors is pleased with the appointment of Hugh Mitchell to the role of CEO for the Western Fair Association,” said Jack Davis, Board Chair. “Our Board believes that Hugh is the ideal candidate to succeed Gary McRae. He is a leader with the energy, skills and experience an organization like the WFA needs to successfully position the Association for the future. ”
Mitchell, a graduate of the University of Guelph, will be only the fourth paid general manager of the 142- year-old Association.
Mitchell first joined the Association in 1982 as the agriculture manager. He then spent time with Purina as a sales manager before returning to Western Fair in 1990 as Raceway Manager. To further his career, in 1998, Mitchell joined Woodbine Entertainment Group and was the senior vice president of Racing.
In 2005, Mitchell returned to Western Fair Association as chief operating officer. In the ensuing years he successfully streamlined operations and developed new business components through successful partnerships with local businesses and organizations.
Mitchell has remained active in the horse racing industry and currently serves as chair of the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) and president of Harness Tracks of America (HTA). He is also a director of the London Chamber of Commerce.
Outgoing CEO, Gary McRae says that “Mitchell is absolutely the right person for the job. This potential was recognized when he rejoined the organization five years ago. With the support of an active Board of Governors and a very capable and dedicated workforce he will advance the Association in the coming years.”
Mitchell will be responsible for taking Western Fair Association to the next level, building upon the Association’s solid foundation achieved under Gary McRae’s leadership. One of his first tasks will be to develop a new Strategic Plan that will identify future direction for the multi-faceted, agriculturally based, community organization.