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The new face of FAST: Fowler named Director of Advancement

If her name sounds familiar it’s likely because she’s played a role in two important facets of the local community. A seasoned veteran in the media business with a heart for the horse, Sadie Fowler is now combining her unique skillset as the new face of FAST — the Foundation of Advancement and Support for the Tennessee Walking Show Horse.

FAST has named Fowler, of Shelbyville, to the newly-created position of Director of Advancement as of Jan. 2, 2020. She will assume public relations and fundraising responsibilities, overseeing FAST’s mission to promote, protect and preserve the show horse arm of the performance horse.

“Sadie brings a unique experience and perspective on the industry to this position,” said Celebration CEO Mike Inman. “Her media and communication skills are as broad as they are deep and will prove invaluable to FAST. She is an outstanding choice.”

Fowler is the former editor of the Shelbyville Times-Gazette and most recently served as editorial director at Dabora, Inc., publishers of Walking Horse Report as well as various other publications including the VIP brand of magazines.

“Ms. Fowler has built a network of journalistic and professional relationships and has demonstrated the work ethic, experience and contacts required to fulfill a key objective for FAST — to tell the positive story of the Tennessee Walking Horse,” said Kasey Kesselring, president of the FAST board.

FAST also aims for its website to be a portal of useful information about the performance horse, ranging from all divisions including pleasure and performance, and Fowler will oversee this function as well.

Fowler’s blend of people and media skills combined with knowledge of the horse and what makes the industry tick make her a rare find that Jeffrey Howard, her former publisher and a FAST board member, endorsed as being good for the collective whole.

“Sadie did an excellent job during her time at Dabora and continued to develop strong relationships in the industry that will serve her well in her new role,” Howard said. “She has a unique set of skills that will benefit the Foundation, but also the industry at large.”

Howard said one of Fowler’s most valuable assets is the perspective she will bring to FAST, which is one that has seen the industry from several viewpoints.

“Not only is Sadie knowledgeable about the industry, but she has also seen it from the other side as a member of the media who was put under intense pressure to comply with other media over the years and attack the industry,” Howard said. “The fact that she took the time to learn the facts, hear from both sides and report responsibly on the industry while at the Times-Gazette prove how valuable Sadie will be in her new role … Her insight will benefit all of us that rely on this great horse.”

Fowler, who served as Times-Gazette editor from 2011-17 and continues to write the popular “Sadie Says” column, has written many times about her support and devotion to not only the horse but to the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration and its vital role in the local economy. She was also the driving force behind several award-winning editorials in support of the breed.

Fowler grew up showing Morgan horses in New England and later moved on to the Syracuse University’s prestigious S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication where she received her education in broadcast journalism and political science.

Although initially planning to launch a career in television news, Fowler’s love for horses called her to Shelbyville instead, when the late David Howard offered her a position at Dabora where she received a hands-on education in both work ethic and the walking horse.

Fowler is a graduate and former board member of the regional Gattis Leadership group, established strong connections with the Tennessee Press Association among several other groups during her tenure at the T-G, which she has maintained.

The decision to hire Fowler began in 2019, following FAST’s 10-year anniversary celebration, which can be highly attributed to founding board members Kesselring, Inman and especially Kathy Zeis, who recently died after a short illness, further leaving FAST with a great need for leadership.

“In early 2019, the FAST Board carefully evaluated our work and the efforts necessary to advance the work of the foundation in the future,” Kesselring said. “We concluded that it was time to invest in an individual who could tend to the work of the foundation on a daily basis in order for us to make measurable strides to support the industry.”

Fowler’s role will be funded by proceeds from the gala and horse shows sponsored by FAST. “It is my goal to pull from everything about which I’ve been fortunate to learn and put it to good use on behalf of a horse and community I love and call home.”

Fowler said. “I want to be a connecting dot that serves the industry well and makes its founders and supporters, especially Kathy, proud … The fact that I get to do what I love and call it my career is something for which I’ll always be grateful,” said Fowler.

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