Maintenance Records Analyst Dorinda Hennings creates cool etch-a-sketch art, competes in horse shows and trains horses, mules and donkeys to perform in parades and events

Maintenance Records Analyst Dorinda Hennings has many talents outside of work. Her life-long love for horses led her to train and show horses, mules and donkeys, and she’s also recently discovered another talent – creating etch-a-sketch art.

“I had my first pony when I was five, and I started training and showing horses when I was 12,” she said. “I’ve always loved horses. Before I could even walk I wanted a horse. My mom always let me ride the live pony carousel at the mall while she shopped. I loved it!”

Her passion for training animals has continued to grow throughout her life. She currently has three horses (Thor – a draft cross, Mitch – a quarter horse, and Cinnamon – a pure bred standard who is a crippled former race horse that Dorinda rescued), one mule (Miss Sarah), two miniature donkeys (Jenny and Angel) and one standard donkey (Raindrop). She trains them all to perform in parades, costume classes, shows and events.

“I recently decided I really like mules. They’re really smart and like to perform. Miss Sarah beat 20 plus horses in a trail competition where they side step, step back, go over obstacles, etc. She was the only mule in the competition and she won!”

All of the animals know many different commands, including bowing, smiling, giving kisses and nodding. Thor, Mitch and Miss Sarah also know advanced tricks and perform at events like the Tractor Supply exhibit, the Toomsboro Mingo Trails Frontier Days event, parades, competitions and more. Mitch is currently learning how to round cattle and Thor is working on a new performance – a line dance number where Dorinda rides Thor as he line dances with several other human dancers and performs the electric slide.

Dorinda shows her quarter horse, Mitch, in local and regional show competitions where they have qualified for the state event two years in a row, and will head to states again this year in the fall. Mitch has won in competitions including halter, walk trot, western pleasure, and reining – a competition where riders guide horses through a precise pattern of circles, spins and stops.

When Dorinda isn’t focusing on her four-legged friends, she likes creating etch-a-sketch art, a talent she learned when playing with her daughters’ toy out of boredom.

“Once I realized I could draw a circle using both wheels, it was easy to learn more intricate shapes and patterns. This [artwork in the photo below] took me about 15 minutes to create,” she said.

When Dorinda isn’t whipping up an amazingly detailed piece of art or spending hours carefully training her animals to follow commands, she loves to spend her time writing, camping, trail riding, and spending time with her family and grandchildren.

Dorinda holding her Etch-a-Sketch artwork
Dorinda and Thor (left) with her niece Julianne riding Mitch (right) in costume for Halloween
Thor bowing in costume
Miss Sarah performing the smile

First Officer Ashley Dowd followed in the footsteps of her father, Captain David Dowd, to become an ExpressJet pilot

An ExpressJet pilot for 24 years, Captain David Dowd says flying was always in the back of his mind growing up, but he never expected his daughter to share his childhood dream and follow in his footsteps.

“It was Ashley’s younger brother who always talked about flying,” David said. “But he suffered a near-fatal head injury and his life turned down a different path. He would have died 11 days before his 13th birthday but his sister’s timely intervention, while the adults in charge sat idly by, saved his life.”

Even though David wanted Ashley to be a nurse like her mother, especially after she demonstrated her life-saving skills, he says he should’ve known she would share his passion for flying. She had been a world traveler for as long as he can remember.

“I thought for the longest time that the only interest she had in flying was traveling overseas,” David joked.

Thanks to their ExpressJet flight privileges Ashley was able to join her father on many flights when she was younger. She loved flying with him.

“I remember getting to pass out peanuts on a Brasilia,” she said. “On another trip with him I got on the wrong plane but realized it just in time! I didn’t confess this mistake to my dad until years later.”

After a flight from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Maui, Hawaii, David pointed out to Ashley their short, blonde, female pilot. The striking resemblance between the pilot and Ashley made David look at his daughter and say, “You know, that could be you one day,” and sure enough, it would be.

Ashley took a few flying lessons during her sophomore year at the University of North Texas where she earned her bachelor’s degree in history. After considering a master’s degree, Ashley decided to pursue her long-awaited dream of flying.

Ashley finished flight school with an abundance of knowledge, and immediately began looking for her dream job. Luckily, her father knew just the place.

“I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years, but this company has always provided me with the best training and the most up-to-date information to do my job well,” David said. “ExpressJet has great leadership, and everyone is always focused on safety, yet still manages to have fun.”

Ashley sent out multiple applications and interviews filled her calendar. Other airlines wanted her, but from the first time she walked through the door at ExpressJet, she knew where she wanted to be. Needless to say, her father approved.

“Ashley has always been an achiever. She’s a leader, she has a great sense of humor and she’s brutally honest,” David said. “ExpressJet is lucky to have her.”

Ashley was hired in the midst of big changes at ExpressJet. These changes sent her to Houston where she is now going on three years as a first officer.

“I love being a pilot,” she said. “The office view is amazing and it feels awesome knowing you are doing something only a few people will ever have the opportunity to do.”

The father-daughter team dreams of one day flying together, but they currently work on different aircraft types. While they aren’t able to fly together yet, soon they will both be based in Texas, as David will be joining our new Dallas base in February. Ashley says she admires her father and would love to have the opportunity to work with him directly.

“The only time you want to do exactly what someone else does is when they are really good at it,” Ashley said. “And my dad is really good at what he does.”

Captain Noel Harvey’s flexible schedule allowed him to help his wife start a business

Chicago-based Captain Noel Harvey and his wife Joanna know that fulfilling a lifelong dream is one of the best feelings it the world. When their after-school art classes outgrew their basement, they found themselves diving headfirst into a growing small business.

“It’s always been our dream to own a business,” said Noel. “Joanna teaches the classes and I do the behind-the-scenes work. We are very proud to be able to give back to our community and to share the power of art.”

Two years ago when Noel and Joanna moved to Atlanta with their growing family, Joanna decided to put her art education to good use. They planned on teaching a few small art classes to local students, but what started as a hobby quickly blossomed into a thriving business.

“It wasn’t long before our basement studio proved to be too small to accommodate our growing clientele. Luckily, we were able to move into a retail space a few blocks away.”

Bubbles and Brushes Art Studio officially opened in September 2011 in Newnan, Ga. The studio teaches art classes catered to all ages and skill levels, and hosts birthday parties, school groups, an open studio, mommy and me classes, and private lessons.

Joanna is the lead teacher, but they have several other artists who teach lessons, including some that specialize in art for special needs children. They offer before- and after-school classes for kids and three days a week they host a homeschool art program.

“The kids really enjoy the lessons. With all the cutbacks in the school systems, art classes have suffered. We’re happy to provide a way for kids to discover and enjoy art.”

Joanna worked as an elementary school art teacher for years before beginning the studio. Joanna’s father is a children’s author and illustrator, and her mom is a teacher, so “she put the two together.” While Joanna is the artist in the Harvey family, Noel appreciates the artwork and has started dabbling in the trade himself. He’s not ready for his own gallery showing yet, but he’s been known to sit in on a few classes and try his hand at creating a masterpiece, something he says anyone can do with the way the classes are taught.

“We both have a passion to teach, but she is the artistic one. She is teaching me!”

Building a small business with two kids under three and the schedule of a newly-upgraded captain isn’t always easy, but there is no better feeling than seeing your dream come to life

“It’s been challenging, but rewarding to pursue this dream,” said Noel. “The best part for me is overhearing people saying what a great time they had at the studio even before they know I am one of the owners.”

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