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Discussion: OUSA President's Race

in: Orienteering; General

Sep 15, 2016 3:12 PM # 
It seems like the BOD election discussion has gone mostly underground. I get the feeling there's alot of talk going on in the background. One of the strangest things is that the Clubnet and AP discussions are largely independent of each other, with one set of candidates posting in one place and another set on the other, despite the fact that most of those involved in the discussions are on both forums.

As you may or may not know, OUSA's current President, Peter Goodwin, is resigning from that post, presumably right after the AGM on Saturday. Members of the newly elected Board of Directors will name the new President. I've heard rumors over the past week that there are now (at least) two candidates actively campaigning for the job: existing BOD members Greg Lennon and Kris Beecroft. Both have sent candidate statements out to the current Board members and all the new Board candidates.

Given the importance of the position of President and the fact that the membership is about to vote for the new Board that will name that President, I think the Presidential candidates should present their credentials publicly - at least here, on Clubnet and ideally on the OUSA website along with the Board candidates. I'd also like to hear the opinions of all the new Board candidates regarding Greg, Kris and any other potential Presidential candidates among them.
Sep 15, 2016 4:00 PM # 
Thank you, Eddie. I actually just sent a note to the current and future Board members last night, and was going to post it to AP and Clubnet tonight, after work. So, in the interest of time and transparency, here is my note. Although it is the BOD members who vote for the President, the VPs (Clubs, Competition, and Finance) and the Secretary, I encourage all members of OUSA to contact a BOD member to let them know about your preference for these positions. You can find their contact information here.You are OUSA and your voice counts.

Hi Everyone,

What an exciting time for US orienteering! I can hardly begin to express how encouraging it is to see so many people interested in working on the Board to ensure and enhance the future of orienteering in the United States. I might even go so far as to say that it’s unprecedented.

Having a competitive election for President is another new experience for us. Greg and I share many goals, including moving orienteering forward, working together with the new Board, and providing more value for our clubs. However, I don’t have quite as rosy a picture about the health of our sport as Greg does, which is one of the main reasons I’m running for OUSA President.

Let's take a look at some numbers over the past decade:

- Overall starts have not grown: 46,101 in 2006 and 45,662 in 2015
- Club membership is down: 6870 vs. 5211
- OUSA membership is down: 1454 vs. 1275
- A key indicator in our sport…National Events per year…is down: 15 vs. 10, with National event starts down by 30%
- I agree with Greg that our revenue is up, but one primary reason for that is that meet fees have increased since 2006. This is not a sustainable model.

I agree that having a paid professional staff, in addition to our dedicated volunteers, can only help the organization. However, one big caveat is the phrase, “Assuming we can afford it.” I believe,along with many others in OUSA, that we can’t afford it; at least not in the form it is today. We need to reassess the role of paid staff and decide what we can afford. I’m not saying eliminate the position. And I’m definitely not saying eliminate the ED role and give that money to “the teams,” as has been erroneously suggested is the underlying message of some of the new candidates for the Board. What I’m advocating is reassessing where orienteering is today in the US, determining if we can afford the ED model we have today, and if not, what roles *do* we need to outsource in order to bring in more orienteers to help sustain and grow our sport?

And I’m a little sad at the assertion that there are clubs in the US that are not interested in growing; not interested in bringing more members into their clubs. My first question to that is “why not?” Do they not have enough volunteers? Do they need to create more maps? I think we need to address the underlying issues as to why a club would not want to grow and help them overcome those issues, instead of accepting the idea of non-growth as status quo.

I want to move orienteering forward. I want to work with the new Board, whoever that might be, to advance orienteering in the US. I want to provide value-add services to our clubs. I want to drastically improve communication and transparency to the members of OUSA. I want to thoroughly examine our budget and financial processes to ensure we are operating at a level that we can afford without consistently running at a deficit.

I want to be president of OUSA because I can make a difference. I have volunteered in many different roles to support orienteering…Board member, club president, national event director, course setter for national championship events, chairperson of the Sr. Team ESC…and in all of these roles, I’ve been lauded as being a consensus builder and someone who gets the job done. I’m also in the unique position of having been a junior in orienteering, a competitive orienteer on the US Team, and now someone who is eyeing the Brown course in another year. I bring a perspective that few people in orienteering have today, and one that will help me to serve all of our constituents in OUSA.

Orienteering has been part of my life since I was a young girl. I am passionate about orienteering. I can’t imagine what my life would have been without it, and I want to do everything I can to ensure a healthy future for our sport. That is why I am asking for your vote for President of OUSA.

Thank you!
Sep 15, 2016 5:47 PM # 
That is change we can believe in. Thanks Kris!
Sep 15, 2016 10:27 PM # 
interesting spreadsheet on membership and National Events revenues
Sep 16, 2016 4:31 AM # 
In response to Eddie's post - a disclosure and my thoughts:

I have been asked privately whether I would consider accepting a nomination for the Presidency if I were elected to the board. I indicated that I would consider it. My intent in running for the board was not to run for President, but neither did I expect there to be so many new candidates for seats. There is a real possibility that our new board will have a much higher percentage of new blood than has happened for quite some time -- new blood who are enthusiastic to tackle the Federation's financial and management issues, and who want to put their mark on efforts to grow the sport. I want them to be successful. This is more likely if they can hit the ground running with as little learning curve as possible. I represent a potential President with such a small learning curve. For this reason, it might make sense under these circumstances for me to accept such a nomination.

However, I have no interest in serving as the President unless I have significant support from the Board members I am serving with. I would not accept a nomination if there were significant opposition to having me in that role. As I said earlier, I want the Board to be successful moving forward, and if I'm seen as some kind of spoiler, it won't help the situation.

I think Greg has some of the same advantages as a President. He has served on the Executive Committee for quite some time and has been considered for the Presidency in the past. I do not doubt that he has the knowledge and experience to assume the position. It's possible that after this election, Greg may be the only remaining Board member to have been on the board during the ED transition. As we evaluate that position and potentially make tough decisions about where we take it into the future, having leadership with Greg's background may be essential.

Kris joined the Board after I left it, so I don't have experience working with her in that position. Based on her written qualifications, she has a lot of experience with Board style leadership, although she has not served on the National Executive Committee. I am not convinced that she and Greg are as divergent in their positions as it might look. What experiences I have had with Kris have been positive, so I would seriously consider her candidacy as well.

Ultimately, I think it is really important that the Board respects their President and will work with him/her. So in the end I am likely to work to rally the Board behind whichever candidate seems to garner that respect.

Clare Durand
Sep 16, 2016 5:48 AM # 
As I recall, the (Greg) Lennon Family Foundation provided the startup money for the ED effort. $75,000 in 2009, $50,000 in 2010 and $25,000 in 2011 - a significant sum of money. Given the contentious issue of the ED in the current environment, wouldn't this constitute a conflict of interest for Greg serving as President of the Board? I realize he'd still only have one vote, but this doesn't sound like a healthy situation to me. What do the other Board members and candidates think?
Sep 16, 2016 6:01 AM # 
Whatever people think of this initiative, that degree of generosity directed at US Orienteering in a sincere effort to make it better for all is incredible. I'd think all US orienteers would be grateful; I know I am.
Sep 16, 2016 11:55 AM # 
Hi Eddie, you asked how candidates for the board feel about Greg Lennon's candidacy for president, and so I will answer for myself.

If I am elected to the board, I plan to vote for Kris for the presidency because I believe that her vision for Orienteering USA aligns more closely with mine. However, I do not in any way believe that Greg's candidacy is a conflict of interest. I think that his support of the ED position demonstrates great generosity and is a reflection of his deep commitment to our sport.

Further, if we disqualified candidates based on things they are passionate about, we would soon run out of people to run.
Sep 16, 2016 12:03 PM # 
Eddie asked for candidates' opinions regarding the potential Presidential candidates.

I support Kris Beecroft for President, for two main reasons: her view of what's needed, and her ability to run an effective organization.

I am grateful to Greg for his donation to create the paid ED position. I think we have gained a lot from that position over the years that lays the groundwork for further growth. I would actually like OUSA to be generating enough income to cover several paid positions that enable a well-functioning organization, and any number of projects.

However, because we haven't found enough new sources of revenue, in order to pay for the cost of the ED, we are slowly cutting away at our "spendable" (non-restricted) net assets from year to year, and squeezing other programs that were better funded ten years ago. It would have been ideal if the ED position had gradually paid for itself in increased revenue, but that has not happened. I believe Kris is willing to guide the board to take a hard look at what we can really afford, and figure out what spending would be most aligned with our mission. Maybe the answer will be to give it another year and find a way to bring in more income; I don't know - but it has to be addressed. It is not easy to change course, and she is willing to go there. She is good at listening to everyone, finding the common and most important threads, and moving the conversation forward.

I also know that Kris will do an excellent job of running the organization. Currently we do not know enough about the committees that should be doing the work of the organization, overseen by the Board. I don't know who serves on them, what their goals are, what resources they have to work with, and what progress they are making. As the by-laws state that committee decisions stand unless the board overrules them, I would think that committee reports should be minuted at board meetings. I know that Kris will take on the transparency and communication that will bring new energy not just to the board, but throughout the organization.

In order for us to change how we are doing things, the Board will need to put in more time in discussion and working together. I know there have been times that topics relating to juniors have not been discussed because it was felt there was not enough time for the Board to listen. Kris has told me that she would like to organize a retreat so that we do have the time to tackle the things we need to work on together. Hopefully this will happen regardless of who is elected President.

For me it comes back to this: Kris listens to everyone; she understands; she acknowledges; she moves the conversation forward.

For other questions about my opinions, please visit my "Ask Me Anything" thread.
Sep 16, 2016 2:22 PM # 
Thanks for posting guys. Note that Kris, Claire and Greg have all posted their presidential candidacy declarations on Clubnet. I hope Greg will also post his here so people who aren't on Clubnet can read it. I'd like to hear from the other Board members and candidates regarding their feelings about the Presidency.

I think I've kept a relatively low profile through this whole election cycle. The public discussions have been somewhat distasteful (to put it mildly). However one issue has been on my mind throughout, and I don't think anyone else really addressed it. I may be the only one who cares about it. It has to do with the relationship between the standing teams, the ESC and the Board, and is relevant here given that Kris has been a member of all three of these institutions, and three of the running candidates are currently members of the standing team. It has nothing to do with funding. My concern is with individual athletes' rights and potential conflict of interest within the governing bodies of the organization.

You may recall there were some issues with the WOC and WUOC team selection
rules and the makeup of the ESC this year. That is, the fact that there are standing team members serving on the ESC and it is the ESC that both stands up (effectively selects) the standing team, establishes the WOC selection critera each year, and names the Review Panels that make subjective decisions regarding petition appointments to the WOC team. The standing team has become quite closed recently, establishing a new mailing list over the winter without informing anyone on the old list that this had been done. In addition, at the January Board meeting an unannounced request for a rules waiver was brought forward (by the team) related to the WOC selection criteria. That waiver was granted by the Board. There have also been some issues regarding interpretation of the federation's Rules of Competition regarding protections in place for individual athletes attempting to qualify for the national teams on their own merit (i.e. not via subjective petition). There were also issues of direct violations of the Rules of Competition by the chair of the ESC regarding the WUOC team selection.

Given that there are now three standing team members running for the Board (Ian, Alex, Boris), and with Kris in a position to become Board President, I'm just a little concerned that the team and ESC will be in a position to have undue influence over changing of the Rules of Competition without the membership of the federation and the community as a whole being able to have a say. This is especially bad now that there is no outside oversight of what the standing team is discussing within its own forum. This is potentially alot of influence for a single (relatively small) group within the federation to hold.

I'd like to hear from the Board candidates on what they think about this situation. I know its easy to simply say "I promise not to have undue influence," but I'd like to hear something more concrete, particularly from the standing team member candidates, about how this might be handled.

For example, I would propose some changes to how Rules change-requests are made via the Board. I'd like to see all Rules change/waiver requests and their justification be made public (on a wide variety of forums like AP and the federation website, not just the relatively limited confines of Clubnet) well in advance (perhaps 4 weeks) so that the community as a whole can weigh in on them - so they can contact their representatives on the Board with concerns or even attend the Board meeting in advance of a vote. The Board is supposed to be a representative body, representing the wishes of the entire organization, not just the subgroup with the most sitting Board members and supporters. I appreciate your giving some thought to this matter. Thanks.
Sep 16, 2016 6:20 PM # 

I'll touch on a couple of the things you mentioned. I'm not running for the BoD but as one of the members of both the standing team and the ESC I certainly feel that I can respond to some of your points.

Part of the reason that there are team members on the ESC is to make sure that the views of the athletes are represented. I agree that having team members shaping and voting on selection criteria has a poor appearance. Maybe it's time for the ESC to have a non-voting athlete representation or two to make sure the ESC is in tune with the athletes. And perhaps this is something the team could talk about at the upcoming team meeting, taking recommended changes to the BoD/Rules Committee.

Regarding the new mailing list, it seems perfectly reasonable to me that a team have a list for just its members. Information about uniform orders and reminders to send in training plans don't need to go out to a huge list (which still exists, btw) of everyone who's ever had so much as a passing thought about the team.

I heartily disagree with your interpretations of the rules wrt this year's WOC and WUOC team selections. There may be issues that need to be addressed but this is not one of them.

Finally, I think it's important to have a diverse BoD, and I think having a few (3 of 12) younger members who are involved in international competition adds to the diversity and is a good thing.
Sep 17, 2016 4:05 AM # 
Thanks Cristina. Its most important to hear from the candidates themselves on this, since they'll be holding the voting privileges on the BOD. I would like to speak to the 3 of 12 issue though. While I agree having perhaps one Standing Team member on the Board would be a plus, having all 3 of the current candidates presents a problem when considering the makeup of the Board as a whole.

The three candidates are presenting themselves as part of a coalition of five like-minded candidates (5 of 12), and at least two of them have endorsed existing BOD member Kris Beecroft as the organization's President, herself a former team and ESC member, and a noted team supporter (that's a good thing). That makes 6 of 12. If I also include VP of Competition Tom Strat, who nominally should be the official BOD-designated "teams rep" on the Board, that makes 7 of 12. I certainly hope Tom is included in the Standing Team mailing list discussions, although I don't know since even the metadata page on the new team mailing list was abruptly closed from public view within hours of my pointing it out to the old team list in May.

The fact that the Standing Team and ESC wanted a team-only mailing list doesn't bother me nearly as much as the fact that it did so without telling anyone, continued using the old list as if nothing had changed for several months until it was discovered and pointed out, and then promptly hid the metadata page too. If the members-only group was created purely for altruistic reasons, then why the complete secrecy? I sincerely hope that the team is discussing more than just uniform orders and training reminders in there. Getting a few mundane housekeeping e-mails on the old mailing list seemed like a small price to pay to have some insight into, involvement with, and oversight of what the team (our team) was actually doing on a daily basis.

Don't get me wrong here, I quite like the ideas (and even more so, the actions) of the new BOD candidates - especially Barb and Ian. However transparency and trust are of utmost importance when considering who to elect to an organization's Board of Representatives. More so than any platform or campaign presentation. The 7 of 12 number is the one I'm most concerned about, which is why I asked the candidates about possible solutions to this situation that would put my mind at ease.

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