Alejandra "Alex" Abella is an equestrian and animal husbandry facility planning and programming specialist, instructor and consultant currently residing in the Annapolis area of Maryland, about an hour away from Washington, D.C. An entrepreneur at heart, Alejandra has had many passions and diverse career paths that led her to discover a love of design, planning, programming, operations, management, and teaching/training. Her experiences and self-designed courses, as well as her programming and facility planning, follow a theme that has kept constant throughout her life: how can we communicate better by learning from our non-human cousins, and how do we incorporate living with and through the teachings of animals in our lives?
Alejandra is also an author and illustrator and in 2013, she created Stormy Tales, a project that marries her love for art and animals and that currently includes a series of children's books on animal behavior and communication.
Alejandra's first university studies were in the fine arts, through which she experienced painting, drawing, sculpture, graphic art, drafting and fashion design and merchandising. The first hint that teaching might be in her future came in 1990, while still in college, when she joined her university's Peer Tutoring Program. She graduated Cum Laude with a BA in Studio Arts and years later, while working full time, she began teaching horseback riding as a hobby but she soon became a certified instructor and stable manager, winning the American Riding Instructors Association Instructor of the Year Award in 2004.
While pursuing her hobby on evenings and weekends, her business life started with a decade in international development at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC, where she was hired to perform an inventory of the Bank's art collection. She also assisted in the purchasing of Latin American and Caribbean art for the collection, in addition to assisting in exhibit and event production for the Bank's Cultural Center. From there she expanded into international event and conference organization, and video production and script-writing for social documentaries. The creative and flexible environment of the office taught Alejandra to multi-task and wear many hats, essential skills for an entrepreneur. Alejandra coupled her stint in international development with teaching and studying equine science part-time at night, and she earned a CC in Equine Science, Suma Cum Laude. In 2002, she left the Bank to pursue her dreams of working with animals and went back to school for graduate studies in animal science with a focus on ethology, communication and animal welfare. A second career in the equestrian industry followed.
She started a company consulting for equestrian clients on teaching, lesson programming and horse purchases, and ended up joining forces with an equestrian design company to grow their enterprise from two to over thirty employees in just a few years. As a small business in a niche market, the experience allowed Alejandra to utilize and expand her varied skills into equestrian facility development, marketing, brand building, research, feasibility studies, program design, operations, business and staff management, and client services. Staff and client training sessions reminded her of the love for teaching, and her knowledge of programming allowed for proper reverse-engineering of facility planning with decreased labor and overhead. In addition to her work with horses and other animals, Alejandra still enjoys artwork and writing, and she has published numerous articles on horses, their management and care. She is fluent in Spanish, English, French and Portuguese, and has a working knowledge of Italian. She has traveled widely and/or lived in Europe, North America, Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and the Caribbean.