It takes big bucks to support the spectacular outdoors events center, Great Meadow, whose mission is “to preserve open space in service to the community.” Rest assured that Cate Magennis Wyatt is uniquely prepared for the challenges being encountered as new Chair of Great Meadow’s Board of Trustees.
“Thanks to the leadership of General Kievenaar, over the past four years Great Meadow Foundation has doubled in size to 360 acres now in easement and built a world-class 3-day eventing arena and cross-country course, which has already hosted three international competitions, including the first FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ outside of Europe,” Cate said. “The Board of Trustees knew we would incur debt, even with the incredible generosity of our supporters, and we’re working on launching a number of exciting initiatives within Great Meadow.”
The first Chair was the founder of Great Meadow, the late Arthur W. Arundel, who stepped aside in 2009 for Kievenaar. At that time, Arundel asked Cate to join the board. Last spring, Cate was about to term off when Kievenaar stepped down for health reasons at the end of April.
“That’s when I was elected Chair,” Cate said. “I never sought nor expected to serve in this capacity, but I’m honored to do so. I’m also blessed with an outstanding Executive Committee and Board of Trustees.”
Outstanding applies equally to Cate whose credentials are out-of-this-world impressive. Her stellar career includes such highlights as being the youngest Vice President within both Xerox Realty and Weston Capital Corporation. In 1991 she exited the private sector to serve in the public sector as the Secretary of Commerce and Trade and as Director of Economic Development for the Commonwealth of Virginia within Governor Wilder’s Cabinet. Cate was instrumental in the Commonwealth earning several prestigious awards for being well-run. She also co-chaired the first Defense Conversion Commission in the country, with Four-Star General John Loh.
Cate’s specialty, however, is right up Great Meadow’s iconic tree logo: she demonstrates a genius for turning challenging opportunities into money-making initiatives and for incredible expertise in building the right team of personnel to see the plans implemented successfully. She’s a dedicated conservationist and knows her way around non-profits from their creation to sustaining them.
Two projects near and dear to Cate’s heart are The Millennium Society (1979-2000) and The Journey Through Hallowed Ground. “The fiduciary responsibility of any board member is to ensure the financial solvency of any corporation, but most particularly non-profits,” Cate said. “Because when you take a donor’s dollar, you are taking their trust, and I take it very, very seriously.”
The new Chair relishes a good challenge. “I love working with people. I love creating teams. I love finding new and innovative ways to raise funds,” Cate said. “Great Meadow is dark during the winter months into early spring, and there are many things we can be doing, so we’ve launched an initiative to make people aware that we’re open for weddings. We’re exploring ways we can increase community offerings like Movies On The Meadow and Music On The Meadow. We’ve been brainstorming to determine the best ways to utilize Great Meadow during winter months. We’re looking into the potential of creating a pop-up ice skating rink and winter fair although I just heard there may be a new skating rink coming to Marshall.”
At this disclosure, kids of all ages might find themselves thinking what fun it would be to skate under the stars or a full moon at Great Meadow. Others might be planning to invite friends to an old-fashioned afternoon or evening skating party complete with hot chocolate loaded with marshmallows…
Of course, horses are — and always will be — the heart and soul of Great Meadow, created to be the new home of the Virginia Gold Cup after developers bought the historic Broadview Farm steeplechase course a few miles down Route 17 in Warrenton. The whole reason why Great Meadow exists today is because of horses.
In fact, Great Meadow is looking to host more equestrian competitions, thanks to Fleming Farm being annexed to take the burden of wear and tear away from the steeplechase course — and rightly so. The Gold Cup course is Great Meadow’s Hallowed Ground. Now that Great Meadow is also home to The Brook Ledge Great Meadow International FEI Eventing Nations Cup™, it’s on the global map as the only leg of the FEI series to take place in North America. Watching world-class riders at Great Meadow is more than just fun and, for the serious rider, educational — it’s extremely exciting.
This past July marked the third GMI FEI Nations Cup™ and the first with title sponsor Brook Ledge Horse Transportation. Entries in GMI’s July event have increased steadily since its debut in 2014 as the final prep event before the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France. This year, Brook Ledge Great Meadow International recorded the largest field of entries to date with 46 riders from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Switzerland, and the USA. Three teams (12 riders) competed for the Nations Cup™, and 34 went round as individuals. It was a great event that received rave reviews, but the Great Meadow Foundation wants GMI to grow even bigger and better.
In June, Middleburg Horse Trials took place at Great Meadow with well-filled divisions from Baby Novice to Preliminary. With Olympic Gold Medalist David O’Connor involved, great things are possible, including the possibility of holding a classic long format 3-day at Great Meadow.
Given that Great Meadow has facilities to showcase steeplechasing and eventing, the sky’s the limit and other equestrian competitions will likely follow. It’s also chock full of glorious settings for weddings, anniversary parties, celebrations of life, awards dinners, and much more. There’s a lot of excitement and energy being generated at Great Meadow and they want the community to get involved.
“Cate’s arrival certainly signals a transition at Great Meadow, something we were looking for as we go up the rungs of the ladder,” said Robert L. Banner, President of the Great Meadow Foundation. “We’ve taken on making changes that adapt Great Meadow to the style of the larger event calendar. With 12 months in the year, we use only six or seven of them, and we’d like to expand the calendar to increase people’s participation in events at Great Meadow during the off times of the year. Cate brings her own style of management, and she’s aggressively pursuing the best dates for Great Meadow.”
Both the new Chair and the President are pleased with what’s happening even this early in the newest growth stage that will keep Great Meadow Foundation thriving, healthy and financially secure for future generations.
“Cate’s a good teammate for me,” Rob said. “We need fund-raising and Cate’s a great fundraiser. The two of us are well suited to take the next steps up the ladder – which is where Great Meadow needs to go. Cate’s style of governance is totally different from the first two chairmen: Nick picked Buzz to succeed him because they were quite alike in the way they managed. Cate’s style of governance is much more broad-based and inclusive. Almost every board member chairs a committee and sits on a sub-committee to feed information to the Chair, info that Cate needs to know to make good decisions. This broadens the base of responsibility to a lot more people. Cate’s brought with her an energy that has activated the skills sets of every member of the board.
“We want people to come here and have fun and enjoy everything that Great Meadow has to offer,” Rob added. “We also want people to feel they are part of the Great Meadow community. We have the land to support Great Meadow’s future, and we have a new Chair who has already shown that she is the right person to take on the next huge chapter in Great Meadow’s history.”
In keeping with their plans for financial security, Great Meadow decided to seek bids for management of Great Meadow International with outside agencies. The move is a surprising one, but brilliant. By booking more “landlord” events, all of Great Meadow’s staff have more time to focus on what they do really well: keep Great Meadow beautiful, ready for action and garner bookings.
“We host over 200,000 people a year at Great Meadow,” Cate pointed out. “We provide the use of the grounds and Summer House to dozens of non-profits every year. Great Meadow is a refuge for so many within the community, who walk, jog, play with their dogs, cross-country ski, etc. Yet, few understand that we are a non-profit and that it costs millions each year to keep the doors open. Everything we do is to support our community, to conserve and celebrate our precious landscape, and to enhance the lives of our visitors. So now, we are asking all who love Great Meadow to join us in this mission.”
For more information: GreatMeadow.org or call 540-253-5000