Unsung Hero – Lisa Dean

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An “unsung hero” is defined as someone whose contributions are unacknowledged or little-known. In this series, we will feature and recognize some of these heroes from throughout the dressage community. To nominate your own Unsung Hero, visit the USDF website.

Unsung Hero: Lisa Dean

Nominated by: Jer C. Fuller-Matheny

Describe in detail what contributions to the sport or the dressage community makes this person an Unsung Hero.

Kentucky Dressage Association (KDA) has a member who is a professional photographer. Lisa Dean has been KDA’s photographer for every USDF show and nearly every KDA schooling show (as well as several other schooling shows for Mid-South Eventing and Dressage Association and clinics with the Louisville Dressage Society) for several years. Lisa can be seen standing in the hot sun each day of the shows for free, often without being offered as much as a lunch, just to take photos of members’ rides. Lisa also attends annual GMO award dinners just to provide that organization, and its members, photos with their awards. Lisa has supplied the photos for the newsletters and annual awards dinners for years, as her generosity is amazing.

What motivates her to make these contributions?

Lisa gains great pleasure from pleasing others as she captures art through emotions from behind the lens. An avid rider herself, she has not had a reliably sound horse of her own to ride for quite some time. Through her photography, she enjoys being plugged in and contributing in a special, unique way.

How long have you known her and how did you become aware of her efforts?

I have known Lisa for roughly 5 years. I saw her several years ago, standing in the hot sun all day long, and went online to see if there was a way to view the photos she had taken of my ride that day.

How long has she been involved in your group or the dressage community?

25+ years

How would your group/events be impacted should the nominee be unable to play their role?

There would be TONS of unhappy riders near and far. People don’t just look for her great photos after shows, they count on them for awards dinners, and they ask to be photographed ahead of time to make sure she captures them in her unique style. KDA especially counts on Lisa to be at every USDF/USEF show.


Please provide any additional information you would like for us to know about her.

Lisa Dean has had a rough year, haven’t we all? She had been furloughed as an occupational therapist due to COVID-19 for months, her father is suffering through a recent cancer diagnosis, she had to put her dog down and still, she showed up with her million dollar smile covered in a mask to shoot every show that was held this year.

Provide a brief biographical description.

She was born and raised in Kentucky and has lived here her entire life. She attended Eastern Kentucky University for her undergrad and grad school work as an OT. She specialized in pediatrics and is working with kids on the Autism Spectrum. She has been riding since she was 2 having shown barrels, saddleseat, dressage, lower level evening and jumping. As an OT she has also utilized hippotherapy as a treatment strategy and was certified as a therapeutic riding instructor. She loves combining her love of horses and capturing memories through photography.


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