The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) honored a tireless advocate for equine veterinary practice and the welfare of horses when presenting the 2020 Distinguished Service Award to its director of industry relations, Keith Kleine.
The Distinguished Service Award honors exemplary service to the AAEP or a similar organization to the benefit of the horse, horse industry or profession of equine veterinary medicine. Kleine was recognized December 9 during the AAEP’s 2020 Annual Convention & Trade Show, which was held virtually.
Since joining the AAEP in 2005, Kleine has been the staff liaison for the association’s public policy efforts. His establishment of effective relationships with the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Horse Council and other organizations has strengthened AAEP’s legislative advocacy at the federal and state levels. Similarly, Kleine has cultivated valuable relationships with industry vendors who have invested in the AAEP and its members as part of a robust Educational and Media Partners program.
As a leading advocate for creation of the Equine Disease Communication Center, Kleine spearheaded assembly of the coalition and funding that enabled launch in 2016 of this industry initiative that has significantly improved communication, education and mitigation of equine diseases in North America. In addition, Kleine has maintained operational oversight of The Foundation for the Horse, which has grown to distribute more than $700,000 annually in support of education, research and benevolence programs and projects that improve the welfare of horses. In this role, he also leads The Foundation’s response to natural disasters across North America.
“Keith has the unique ability to work with and communicate with a wide variety of people, organizations, movements and government entities,” said nominator Dr. Tom Lenz. “That ability has served him and the AAEP well as he’s been instrumental in advancing a number of critical initiatives through the years in horse health and the equine veterinary community.”
Prior to joining the AAEP, Kleine held a variety of executive communication roles with equine industry organizations, including the American Quarter Horse Association, Retama Park and Churchill Downs. He received his bachelor’s in public relations and master’s in sports administration from Eastern Kentucky University.
The American Association of Equine Practitioners, headquartered in Lexington, Ky., was founded in 1954 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the health and welfare of the horse. Currently, AAEP reaches more than 5 million horse owners through its over 9,000 members worldwide and is actively involved in ethics issues, practice management, research and continuing education in the equine veterinary profession and horse industry.