Museum Leadership


 Lauren McCleary, Seat 6 - President
Lauren lives in Moscow with her husband, David, and her two young boys, Felix and Finn. She was born and raised in Colorado, and moved to the area in 2007 to earn her Masters degree in Fine Art from Washington State University. Lauren worked as the Executive Assistant at the Appaloosa Horse Club from 2013 to 2016 and is now the Professor of Art Education at the University of Idaho. Alongside art, horses have always been a major passion in her life. She grew up taking lessons and showing Hunter Jumpers. The Appaloosa Horse Museum has been a favorite spot since she first arrived on the Palouse and she believes it is an important cultural venue for the Palouse region.

Steve Taylor, Seat 9 - Vice President
Mr. Taylor retired from his position as the CEO of the Appaloosa Horse Club after serving for 13 years. He is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University and earned the Certified Association Executive designation from the American Society of Association Executives. Steve was also involved in leadership roles with the Idaho Horse Council, American Horse Council, National Pedigreed Livestock Council and Color Breeds Council.

Gaye Pierson, Seat 1 - Secretary
Gaye is a fourth generation wheat farmer from Connell, WA. She is a graduate of Washington State University with a business degree in marketing and a minor in art. Gaye’s father bought her first Appaloosa when she was 11, a mare in foal with a breed back. All these years later, she still owns and loves Appys! She and her husband, John, raised their three daughters on the farm, riding and showing Appaloosas. Her life-long love of horses and especially Appaloosas has encouraged her to be an enthusiastic supporter of the ApHC and the Appaloosa Museum.

 Lynette Thompson, Seat 4 - Treasurer
Lynette was born, raised and educated on the Palouse hills of eastern Washington. Her father bought first Appaloosa, a solid but registered gelding, when she turned 13. She has owned Appaloosas ever since. Lynette has served as a Director of the Appaloosa Horse Club since 2008 and has served on the Appaloosa Museum and Heritage Center Board of Directors for the past 19 years, serving as Treasurer for the past 17 years. She and her husband William, a retired 20-year Army veteran live in Garfield, WA, and presently own 3 registered Appaloosas plus an interest in the Appaloosa stallion Stolen Identity.

Kristopher Byrd, Seat 5 At Large - Executive Secretary, ApHC 
Kristopher Byrd was raised in a military family, moving all over the country. A lifelong horse lover, he started showing horses as an adult, where he was introduced to the Appaloosa community. He now lives in Pullman, WA, and is the Executive Director of the Appaloosa Horse Club. He owns and breeds Appaloosa horses, focusing on show stock. Kristopher is passionate about the Appaloosa horse and its history, leading to his avid support of the Appaloosa Museum. 

Craig Hatley, Seat 2
John Craig Hatley, born 6-18-1955. Son of George and Iola Hatley. Great Grandson of Riley Hatley who homesteaded in the Palouse country in 1877. Great Grandnephew of Nineva Hatley who fought in the Nez Perce war of 1877. "Due to my family history, my interest in the Appaloosa Horse and the Nez Perce Tribe, my involvement in preserving local history is important to me." Mr. Hatley is married with two children and many grandchildren.

Gia Paul, Seat 3 
Gia was raised in her ancestral homelands of the Nimiipuu with her culture. Gia comes from a long line of horse people. Training champions, show horses, jumpers, and rodeo performance horses. Her family has international rodeo history. Gia has spent hours honoring the Appaloosa by incorporating the horse into her sewing. She has taught how to carry on the culture by sharing her gift. She’s had shows at Tamastslikt Museum, Crow Shadow in Pendleton, Oregon Nez Perce Museum, Spaulding, Idaho, and the Appaloosa Her craftsmanship has been main display at many fashion and art shows. She’s highly regarded for her Western apparel, horse regalia, and traditional clothing of the Nimiipuu. Gia’s work history includes preservation of salmon, at Dworshak and Nez Perce Tribal fisheries programs. Cultural teacher for the Nez Perce Tribe. Gia has taught in the great state of Idaho, with K-12 education for the past twenty-five years, and is currently working for Idaho Digital Learning Alliance as a K-5 Reading Interventionist.

Elaine Pierson, Seat 7

Elaine has a passion for horses and a love for the area. Growing up on a wheat farm in eastern Washington, she showed Appaloosas, forging a lifelong connection with the breed. In 2017, she earned her business degree from Washington State University and still enjoys returning to Pullman for football games during the fall. Elaine moved to Moscow, Idaho in 2018 to work for the Appaloosa Horse Club as their marketing director. In 2022, she obtained her Masters in Business and now works as a writer for a locally based, international data company. Elaine has a Bernese Mountain Dog who often gets asked if he left his saddle at home :) She loves the Moscow community and that her love for the Appaloosa brought her here. 

Brian Smentkowski, Seat 8
Brian was born and raised in the northeast but now calls the Palouse home. He is Professor of Political Science, Founding Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, and Director of Service Learning at the University of Idaho. More importantly, he is a part of Flying B Farm, where he and his wife, Erin Tomson, have two beautiful Appaloosa mares, Nugget and Rosebud. He and his family work to promote awareness and preservation of the breed, young rider exposure to equestrian sports, and a connection to the land, its history, and its horses.