There’s another historic change coming to Keeneland after an already-eventful 2020, as the company has officially announced its new President and CEO. Lexington native Shannon Bishop Arvin will serve as the incoming President-elect beginning Sept. 1 and will officially transition to President and CEO on Jan. 1, 2021.
She becomes Keeneland’s eighth President and the first woman to serve in that position. Her appointment was a unanimous decision by the Keeneland Trustees.
Keeneland’s current President and CEO Bill Thomason announced Thursday he is retiring after a decade with Keeneland Association, including eight years as CEO.
Arvin is a familiar face to the horse racing industry and Lexington’s historic track. She has served as corporate counsel to Keeneland since 2008 as a partner with Stoll Keenon Ogden, and she’s served as Secretary and Advisory Member of Keeneland’s Board of Directors since 2015. Throughout her legal career, Arvin represented Thoroughbred owners and prominent industry organizations in Kentucky and around the world, including Keeneland, Breeders’ Cup Ltd., Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. She also serves on the University of Kentucky’s Gluck Equine Research Foundation Board of Directors and is a member of The Jockey Club.
— Keeneland (@keeneland) July 2, 2020
The industry, and Keeneland specifically, is a family affair for Arvin. Her grandfather W.T. “Bish” Bishop was the first General Manager of Keeneland when the track opened in 1936. Her father, the late William T. “Buddy” Bishop III, grew up at Keeneland, lived in an apartment next to the Clubhouse, and held positions including Director, Secretary, Trustee and Counsel for the company.
“I have a deep love and passion for Keeneland and it is a tremendous honor to lead this organization and work alongside this amazing team,” Arvin said in a release. “By building on the foundation laid by Bill Thomason and those who came before him, and with a continued focus on integrity, innovation and safety, we will further the mission of Keeneland and ensure the future of this sport.”
Elsewhere in the community, Arvin has also held positions with Horse Country, Kentucky Bank, The Lexington School, Bluegrass Care Navigators (formerly Hospice of the Bluegrass) and the Thoroughbred Club of America. She graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, with a B.A. in Political Science, International Studies, with High Honors. After her collegiate career, she returned to the Bluegrass, where she graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 2002. She lives in Lexington with her husband Will and their two daughters, Bishop and McCutchen.
Thomason will still be serving as the President and CEO when Keeneland opens without spectators for a historic five-day Summer Meet later this month. Horse racing returns to Lexington July 8-12, and the itinerary includes several races that were originally set to take place during the canceled Spring Meet. Arvin will begin serving as the President-elect on Sept. 1, which means she’ll be leading the company during the scheduled Fall Meet this October.