AQHA International Department Directory

Get to know the members of the AQHA International Department.

Jamie Hughes
AQHA Director of International Activities 

AQHA International is excited to welcome Jamie Hughes as the director of international activities. In this role, Jamie is responsible for serving AQHA’s international membership, which equates to nearly 15% of the Association’s business. She oversees the formulation of policies and procedures to provide an overall direction of AQHA’s international activities, functions, and international business relationships, and facilitates strong and collaborative relationships with AQHA’s international affiliates, prospective affiliates and Quarter Horse enthusiasts.

Prior to joining AQHA, Jamie held leadership positions at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) as well as Boeing and Lockheed Martin. While at PNNL, Jamie developed her international expertise by leading complex, capacity building international projects with governmental and business touchpoints. Through this opportunity, Jamie traveled to and developed relationships in Mexico, Belgium, Austria, Greece, Romania, Kenya, Portugal, Thailand and Malaysia.

In addition to her work experience, Jamie has an extensive equine background. She is an avid endurance rider and member of the American Endurance Ride Conference and earned her first buckle by completing The Tevis Cup in 2019. In preparation for the Tevis Cup, she had the opportunity to ride with and learn from Pat Chappell, the owner/rider of the horse with the most Tevis Cup completions, which happens to be a Quarter Horse! Jamie recently expanded into breeding and started a small Shagya-Arabian breeding program, standing her own stallion.  

Jamie is excited to be part of the AQHA team and looks forward to expanding international partnerships and innovative programs and services in support of AQHA’s affiliate and prospective-affiliate organizations.


Joanne Sapudar
AQHA Manager of Multilingual Resources and Communication

As a previous professional with the AQHA Member Experience Department, Joanne brings a vast knowledge of AQHA rules and processes to AQHA International as the new AQHA manager of multilingual resources and communication. During her time with AQHA, she has grown to love the agility and diversity of the American Quarter Horse.

International experiences and travel abroad have been rooted in Joanne’s life in many different aspects. Starting her life in Okinawa, Japan, gave her an appreciation of Japanese cuisine and culture. Exploring Vianden Castle, located in Luxembourg, and completing multiple volksmarches in Trier, Germany, inspired her love of Europe and international exploring. From Europe, she would sail across the English Channel to the port city of Plymouth in Devon, England, to visit her extended family. As her family settled back in the United States, she found a passion for the French language and culture through her secondary education cultural classes. Across numerous international experiences, it is clear to say that Joanne has a wealth of experience in international affairs and is excited to relate those experiences to our international affiliates and members at AQHA. 

Prior to moving to Texas, Joanne attended Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, New Mexico, where she graduated with her bachelor of science degree in psychology and a minor in communications. She later obtained her master of arts in communication from ENMU. During her time at ENMU, she served as a student leader, which gave her the unique opportunity to attend several multicultural events and meet international students from 26 different countries, including Africa, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Mexico and many more.

Joanne joined AQHA in April 2019 as an AQHA member experience professional. Since then, she has assisted hundreds of AQHA members through her proficiency in membership, web navigation, registrations, transfers, duplications and corrections, and genetic testing. In her current role within the international department at AQHA, Joanne assists with the management of programs and initiatives that are committed to improving the international member experience. This includes the international educational marketplace program, international on-site service events and activities related to the translation of forms and resources into AQHA's five core languages – French, Italian, German, Spanish and Portuguese. Improved communication and implementation of easier-to-access, multilingual resources are at the forefront of her goals.

Melyna Bencosme
AQHA International Administrative Assistant 

AQHA International is excited to have Melyna Bencosme as the AQHA International administrative assistant. In this role, Melyna is essential in providing improved services to international members by assisting with the organization and implementation of international activities, programs and initiatives.

Growing up in Lehi, Utah, Melyna was surrounded by horses from a young age. She was an avid member of the Pony of the Americas Club, which allowed her to travel as she competed in the all-around events. She also served as a Utah POAC youth board member, helping organize clinics and shows, and also write for the national magazine. In high school, Melyna additionally was actively involved in the FFA horse judging program. These experiences led her to appreciate the prestige and versatility of the American Quarter Horse.

Melyna graduated in December 2021 from Utah State University where she double majored in marketing and international business. Although the global pandemic prevented her from studying abroad, Melyna participated in the international arena remotely. In addition, she interned at the Utah State Capitol where she worked directly with legislators to influence agricultural-related initiatives.  Melyna also competed on the Utah State University Western Equestrian Team through the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association and served as an ambassador for the Women in Business Association and the Institute of Government and Politics.

A new addition to AQHA, Melyna is excited to be working in the equine industry and to have the opportunity to make connections with horse enthusiasts globally. She hopes to gain a better understanding of the global unity found through the love of the horse while promoting the value of the American Quarter Horse worldwide.   

Questions or want to learn more about AQHA International programs and events? Contact us at