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Not every Jeff Winton Associates consultant dreamed of a communications career as a child. Meet Joan Todd, who initially wanted to be a horse trainer and now shows her horses in her spare time.

Joan Todd is a midwestern girl through and through. Born in Muncie, Indiana, Joan enrolled in Earlham College in her home state when her dad insisted that she get a college education to support her “horse habit.” Joan ended up majoring in philosophy with an eye toward becoming a lawyer. She loved writing papers on complex concepts in language that was easy to understand and digest. Along the way, Joan realized that she was tired of formal education. “I wanted to get out into the world and earn a living,” says Joan. 

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Above: Joan’s pet miniature horse Coolio.

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Above: CH-HS Candor, who has won several world and national championships, takes a victory lap with Joan after one of his national wins.

Her first foray into communications came right after college when she landed a production direction job at a local radio station that also allowed her to read the news on weekends. From there, Joan added newspapers and television to her resume, for Voice of America and United Press International, before working as an editor at Indianapolis Monthly and then editor-in-chief for Indianapolis Woman. After seven years at Indianapolis Woman, Joan decided to explore opportunities outside of journalism and landed her first pharmaceutical communications job at Lilly. Joan’s former administrative assistant introduced Joan to Jeff Winton when he joined Lilly knowing of their shared interest in American Saddlebred horses. “We hit it off immediately,” Joan recalls. “We were lucky to work on some projects together there, but more importantly, we became good friends.”

The need to be closer to her aging father prompted a shift from pharma to academia. “The president of Ball State University wanted to put the university on the map, and I was ready for a new challenge,” says Joan. She moved up the ladder in her six years there, from executive director of public relations to chief communications officer, before leaving to start her own communications consultancy.

In her personal life, Joan and her previous husband bought a farm outside of Indianapolis while she was still working at Lilly. Sadly, he died unexpectedly a few weeks after she started her university job. Joan was grateful for her two children, new career, the farm and dear friends who supported her during that difficult time.

Five years later, Joan met her current husband, Dr. Melvin Gale, whose medical practice was well-established in Ohio. “Since my skills are highly transferable, I sold the farm and moved to Cincinnati with the four dogs, three cats and a dozen chickens into the home of a Brooklyn-raised guy who never had a pet,” says Joan. The eight horses she had at the time went to boarding and training stables, but Mel put up a fence for the dogs and built a chicken coop in their backyard by himself. “That’s a good man!” she says. Soon after, when he relocated his practice to a bigger building, Joan reciprocated by redesigning the office and doing construction management, including moving walls, building a bathroom, choosing flooring and paint colors, and scouring resale shops for artwork, furniture and accessories. Joan loves hearing that many patients comment on the warm and inviting feel of the office, noting, “That was the goal!”

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Above: Joan with husband Mel, traipsing through Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.

Below: Joan having fun with Gamecock, aka Rooster, a five-gaited American Saddlebred.

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Meanwhile, Joan has never lost her passion for horses, saying, “I love the relationships I have with them. In addition to my four big horses, one which I bred and raised, I have an adorable mini horse who is a pet.” She still competes, with one of her horses having won multiple world and national titles with Joan on his back, and another that has done well on a regional level. 


When she’s not riding, tending to her pets, redesigning spaces or putting out p.r. fires, Joan likes to cook, entertain, garden and sew. You might say she is a modern Renaissance woman!

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