Board of Directors

RTCA Leadership

The RTCA Board of Directors is comprised of men and women with a heart for God and a passion for serving the workers in the horse racing industry. Many of them have personal ties to the equine world and each of them serves faithfully in their local chaplaincies. The Board consists of an Executive Committee of four officers and five elected representatives from key groups within the organization.

  • Elliott Walden

    President

    Elliott has been involved with RTCA for several years. He has previously served as the RTCA President and Council President for the New York Race Track Chaplaincy. Elliott uses his platform as a well-respected figure in the Thoroughbred racing industry to expand awareness and promote the ministry of RTCA and our respective Chaplains.

    Elliott is a third generation horseman from a noted Kentucky family entrenched in thoroughbred breeding and racing. He is the son of the late Ben Walden, Sr. formerly of Dearborn Farm. His brother Ben Walden, Jr is also a noted horseman in Kentucky who has established several successful breeding operations, most notably Vinery.

     

    Before taking out his first training license in 1985, Elliott worked under trainers such as Leroy Jolley, Dennis Ebert, and John Gosden. In 1995, he had his first Grade 1 Winner with Hawk Attack winning the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington. Walden rose to the pinnacle of the sport in 1998 when he trained Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Victory Gallop who returned at 4 to win both the Whitney Handicap (G1) and the Stephen Foster Handicap (G2) and was named Eclipse Champion Older Horse in 1999. Elliott finished 1999 ranked #3 in the nation with his career-best season earnings of $7.2 million.

     

    Elliott was a three-time leading trainer at Churchill Downs during the prestigious spring

    meet, as well as two-time leading trainer at Keeneland. In July 2005, Elliott changed roles within the organization, going from private trainer to Racing Manager. In December of 2005, Walden was elevated to the role of Vice President of WinStar Farm where he is responsible for management oversight, both on and off the farm. Notwithstanding his expanded role at the farm, he remains deeply involved in the management of WinStar's racing operations.  In November of 2010, Elliott was promoted to President and CEO of WinStar Farm.

  • john shumaker

    vice-president

    Chaplain John Shumaker was born in Mesa, AZ and raised in Tempe, AZ.  He and his wife, Amy, have been married for a wonderful 21 years.  They have 3 children: Travis who has moved back to the Phx. Az. area to be closer to family, Casey Jo who is finishing up her first year of college at Arizona State University, and the bow that completes their family is Jacob who will begin High School next year.

     

    John started out in RTCA as president of the AZ Council in 1995 and then was asked to move to Houston, Texas, where he was an Assistant Chaplain under Chaplain Randy Weaver at Sam Houston Race Park, starting in 1999.  After a year, Randy decided he was being called to start a church just north of Houston so John took over as Sr. Chaplain at that time and has enjoyed being a RTCA Chaplain ever since.  In 2007, God opened another door for him and his family and he return to Phoenix, AZ to take over as Chaplain at Turf Paradise Race Track in the winter and Arapahoe Race Park in Denver Colorado during the summer.

  • Rich Gimmel

    secretary

    Rich Gimmel is the owner and chairman of Atlas Machine and Supply, Inc., a fourth-generation family industrial machinery manufacturer. He currently serves as the Executive Director for the Kentucky Race Track Chaplaincy (KY-RTC) whose network of chaplains and volunteers serve four tracks in the state. Along with his wife Angie, Rich currently lives and serves in Louisville, KY. Rich's heart for service is evidenced by his heavy involvement in organizations with missions bent toward helping the citizens of Jefferson County and Central Kentucky including the KY-RTC, KY Board of Education, and the Global Church Missions Team of his local church.

  • Tony valazza

    treasurer

    Tony is a native of Arcadia, California.  He grew up going to Santa Anita Race Track at an early age. He loves horses and the game of racing. He has owned horses since 1994.  Currently serving as President of the Race Track Chaplaincy of California.  Tony is married with two grown children.

     

    Professionally, Tony has worked for Thrivent Financial for 33 years. Thrivent is a not for profit, faith based, financial services company.  Tony serves the individual, family, and business market and loves working in the charitable planning field.

     

    Tony has several financial services degrees including Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), and Chartered Advisor for Senior Living (CASL). Tony is in the Thrivent Hall of Fame and the InFaith Foundation Hall of Honor and is a Life and Qualifying Member of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT).

  • michael bingaman

    Chaplains' Representative

    Chaplain Michael Bingaman received a BA Degree in Pastoral Ministries from Northwest College of the Assemblies of God in 1983. He became a Qualified Chemical Dependency Counselor (QCDC) in Washington State in 1992 after completing that education at Bellevue Community College.  He received his MA in Professional Counseling from Texas State University in 1999, and became a Licensed Professional Counselor in 2004.

     

    Michael began his relationship with RTCA in 1981 while serving as a Children’s Pastor for the Renton Assembly of God when he approached the current Chaplain to provide a children’s outreach for Longacres Race Track.  Michael served on the Longacres’ Chaplaincy council from the summer of 1981 until February 1986, when he was made the Chaplain at Longacres.  Michael served at Longacres until it’s closing in 1992.  He then served the same community in 1993 as they held the Longacres meeting at Yakima Meadows in Eastern Washington.

     

    1994 found Chaplain Bingaman moving to Texas where he served both Bandera Downs and Trinity Meadows until the opening of Retama Park in San Antonio.  Michael has been Chaplain at Retama Park from the opening day on April 7, 1995, until the present.  He has also served the national organization as the Chaplain’s representative between 1997 and 2000. Chaplain Mike served as a Field Director for the National RTCA from 1995 through 2011.  He has served as a member of the National Executive Committee as secretary for the year 2011-2012.   He resides with his wife, Charo and his son Tommy.  His oldest son, Joshua, ministers at the First Church of the Open Bible in Des Moines, Iowa where he is the director of Harvest Bible Institute. Joshua and his wife, Zia, have three sons, Ezra, Titus and Jude. His daughter, Amy and her husband Paul live in the Dallas metroplex. Amy works at the Dallas extension of Abilene Christian University where husband Paul works at Southwest Assemblies of God University. Youngest son Thomas is completing his degree in finances at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

  • corey johnsen

    racing industry representative

    Corey Johnsen currently serves as the RTCA At-Large Ambassador. Corey has an extensive and varied background in horse racing. He’s been a groom, horse owner, breeder, publicity and marketing director, track president and owner who has overseen the launch and re-opening of numerous facilities in the United States and the Americas. He understands horse racing like few others and is a sought-after resource by many. Said Eric Hamelback (National HBPA, CEO), “Corey is a positive presence in our industry. He has always remained upbeat, focused, and he believes in being a team player and working together with horsemen and other tracks. He is very appreciative of what it takes to be a stakeholder in this industry and what each one of them gives to this industry we all love. If everybody had his attitude, the racing industry would be in great shape.”


    Whether it’s been at Longacres, Turf Paradise, Arlington Park, Louisiana Downs, Remington Park, Lone Star Park, Kentucky Downs, or anywhere else, Corey has been a supporter and advocate of the Chaplains of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America. He understands that the Chaplain is a very important part of the team at any racetrack. At Lone Star, Corey championed the chapel as part of the building plans and once called Chaplain Sam Ed Spence, “One of the most valuable assets of the track.” Being a horseman, Corey understands and appreciates all the workers and participants at every level of a racing facility, and understands that each of them have spiritual, emotional, physical, social, and educational needs that must be met. 

  • Marie Friesema

    Women's ministry representative

    Marie is the Academic Coordinator of the English Department at Wheaton College, and is also an adjunct instructor in the English Language Program at Moraine Valley Community College. She has taught adult ESL for eight years, and currently teaches the migrant adults who work at Arlington and Hawthorne race tracks in Illinois, which was also the context of her master's thesis on English teaching at the backstretch of America's race courses.


    Born in the Philippines, Marie immigrated the US with her family as a teenager in 1971, where they settled in the San Francisco Bay area. Marie accepted Christ at the age of 10, spent 16 years as a Navy wife, and eventually settled near Chicago. She became involved with the workers at Arlington and Hawthorne during her graduate studies and worked to re-establish the Chaplaincy programs there. She has served as the Council President for RTCA Chicagoland since 2016. Marie enjoys playing the piano, sewing, and writing both fiction and creative non-fiction.

  • Rick hooper

    region ambassador representative

    Rick Hooper is Chief Counsel for Shaw Industries Group, Inc., a Georgia corporation that supplies carpet, resilient, hardwood, laminate, tile and stone flooring products and synthetic turf to residential and commercial markets worldwide. 


    At Shaw, Rick directs the legal and corporate compliance departments located at the corporate headquarters in Dalton, Georgia. He has been with the company for 25 years and became its chief legal officer soon after the company was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway in 2001.  Rick earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia and a law degree from the Walter F. George School of Law, Mercer University.  


    Prior to joining Shaw, Rick worked in private legal practice, representing businesses and individuals in general business law and litigation in state and federal courts.  He continues to be involved in his local community in various roles. At the state level Rick serves on the Board of the Georgia Association of Manufacturers as Treasurer and chairs it’s Legislative and Public Policy Committee. Nationally he is the chair of the Carpet and Rug Institute’s CARE & EPR Panel. 


    Rick and his wife, Sandee, have three children and attend Rock Bridge Community Church.


  • Robert aquino

    Council President’s Representative

    Robert has been involved with the North Texas Race Track Chaplaincy at Lone Star Park for a decade serving as the board’s president. Most recently he accepted the position of the Council President’s Representative to the Board of Directors of the National Office.


    Robert has been a follower of Jesus for most of his life and was baptized at the age of 12. He obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture and Biology from East Texas State University which is now Texas A and M. In the fall of 1970 he was drafted into the US ARMY, serving in the BIG RED ONE until honorably discharged in 1972; it was then that he married his wife Elizabeth. Elizabeth and Robert were blessed with 3 children: Robert John, Karrye Burt and Anthony Edward.


    Early on in his career Robert became Division Manager of 17 Waffle Houses and eventually the vice-president. This position kept him very busy as he traveled throughout the country, leaving too little time to spend with his family. He eventually went to the truck industry for a short time and then became involved with the insurance industry. This position allowed him to devote more time for his family and for church activities. In 1989 he became an active Deacon at Tate Springs Baptist Church, proudly watching his children grow up to be active Christians, being baptized and married in that church.  


    Now Robert is the grandfather to 9 grand children ages 14 – 6 years old and all Saved by Jesus.  Robert’s goal in life has been to always put God first, family next and then his friends; always striving to share his favorite Bible verse: John 3:16.