American Quarter Horse Association: New executive committee |

American Quarter Horse Association: New executive committee

Peter J. Cofrancesco III of Sparta, NJ, was elected president of the American Quarter Horse Association Monday, March 7, during the 2011 AQHA Convention in Grapevine, TX.

Cofrancesco, the second-youngest AQHA member to serve as AQHA president, and the only past president of the American Quarter Horse Youth Association to serve on the AQHA Executive Committee, is realizing his lifelong dream to serve as AQHA’s president. Cofrancesco has a long heritage in the American Quarter Horse business.

Cofrancesco is chair of the Grinnell Group of Companies, which includes several entities, including solid waste and recycling, real estate and concrete products manufacturing. Cofrancesco was AQHYA president in 1991. He and his wife, Carmen, have three children, Ireland, Peter IV and Emma.

Gene Graves of Grand Island, NE, was elected first vice president. Graves is auctioneer of Diamond G Auction Co. and is a Realtor for Century 21.

Johne Dobbs of Champaign, IL, was elected second vice president. Dobbs, a director from Illinois, owns Johne Dobbs Equine Insurance. She is the second woman to serve on the AQHA Executive Committee.

Johnny Trotter of Hereford, TX, begins his second term as a board member. Trotter, a director from Texas, is president and chief executive officer of Livestock Investors Ltd.

The newest member of the Executive Committee is George Phillips, 61, of Sumrall, MS. Phillips is a longtime breeder of American Quarter Horses and past president of the Mississippi Quarter Horse Association. He has served on AQHA’s board of directors, as a member of the Association’s public policy committee and as a “Q-Contact,” who fostered relationships with members of Congress. Those roles were a good fit, considering his background.

Phillips received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Southern Mississippi and his law degree from the University of Mississippi.

In 1980, he was named the U.S. Attorney for the southern district of Mississippi. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Web site has this to say about him: “George Phillips began in 1980 as the nation’s youngest U.S. Attorney and concluded as its most senior in 1994. He once declared he’d rather have been a cowboy and proved as proficient at rounding up criminals as he was at rounding up horses in private life. One of Mississippi’s ‘Untouchables,’ he earned the reputation as tough on public corruption by helping convict over 50 county supervisors in Operation Pretense. He also received national recognition for his work with the District’s Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee. Phillips’ statement to prospective assistants characterizes the history of the office: ‘If put to a pinch, an ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.’ “

He was one of only two U.S. Attorneys to serve two terms on the U.S. Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, and in 2007, his former office named an award for him: the George L. Phillips Distinguished Community Support Award, in recognition of the positive impact he had on the office, particularly in the area of law enforcement coordination.

Phillips also served as special counsel to Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran for six years.

Phillips was director of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics before being named the state’s Commissioner of Public Safety in 2005. Hurricane Katrina struck not long after his appointment, and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour lauded Phillips for setting “a high standard that will stand as a model for other states in dealing with large natural disasters.”

In 2008, Phillips was appointed the Mississippi state director for USDA Rural Development.

Phillips is the first affiliate president from Mississippi to be a member of the executive committee. He and wife Nicole have three children: Garrison, 20; Margaret, 18; and Mary, 16.

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