Dec 08, 2018

Business is the Name of the Game at the 2018 USEA Annual Meeting of Members

By Leslie Mintz - USEA Staff
USEA members gather for the 2018 Annual Meeting. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

When the USEA was first established in 1959 the Annual Meeting of Members was the one time of year the Association members came together. Nearly 60 years later the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention has grown into much more than the single meeting, but it is still the backbone of the week. This year’s Annual Meeting was called to order by USEA President, Carol Kozlowski who introduced Tink Eichell, secretary of the USEA. Eichell then established a quorum was present and there was a vote to approve the minutes of the 2017 Annual Meeting of Members.

The theme of this year’s meeting seems to be talk of the weather and Kozlowski’s report didn’t diverge. “Seriously we’ve never encountered the sustained hits to our competitive season that we did this year – 28 events cancelled due to rain. The loss the starter fees was enough to wreak havoc with the USEA budget but worse than that, in my book, was the widespread depression it caused our riders and organizers. I won’t launch a philosophical debate on climate change, and I’m going to insist on believing our conditions will improve in 2019.”

Kozlowski continued her President’s report by thanking the USEA Board of Governors, USEA staff, and CEO Rob Burk. “It’s been so rewarding to be partnered with someone of such impeccable character,” said Kozlowski of Burk. “I believe the leadership he shows our office staff keeps everyone motivated. He’s upbeat, he’s enthusiastic, he’s ridiculously polite, and his intuition is usually spot on.”

Carol Kozlowski. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo

Kozlowski doesn’t just blame the weather on the slipping numbers and cancellations, but also brought up the subject of unrecognized competitions where riders can get a similar experience at a lower cost. “The good news is they are interested in our sport. The bad news is that as these unrecognized events grow in popularity, we haven’t really seen a positive impact on our starters. We’ve had the discussion in the past, how do we make our competitions costs as low as possible for organizers and riders alike while keeping the standards of education and training of officials and designers in place? There’s no easy answer and it’s tough for the USEA to shoulder the burden of keeping the conditions of the competitions safe, officials well-trained, and courses well-designed and then have numerous organizers run basically the same event at half the cost as an unrecognized event.”

She shared her excitement about the USEA American Eventing Championships in Kentucky and a bet she made with Rob Burk. “I am predicting right now 1,000 starters – we will get almost 1,100 entries and run 1,000. So there it is folks, let’s get that done, the bet was for a steak dinner so start planning your trip!”

Kozlowski recognized the officials who are the highlight of this year’s Convention. “It is the absolute truth that we can’t run our sport without our long-suffering officials. We owe you so much,” said Kozlowski as she asked them to stand for an applause.

Kozlowski closed her speech in tears recognizing Kyra King Stuart who died suddenly on Wednesday. The USEA Foundation will be establishing the Kyra King Stuart Memorial Fund in her honor.

Morley Thompson, Jr., the treasurer, reported that we lost $100,000 this year, but the good news is that we have enough cash on hand. “It did concern us and we knew it couldn’t be an ongoing situation and we had to get the ship back on track,” said Thompson, Jr. The financials from 2018 can be viewed here.

Katherine Cooper, chair of the Legal Committees then explained the voting procedures for the USEA including the proxies which were mailed to all members and the in-person voting. Following the voting a motion was made to ratify the actions of the Board for the year.

USEA CEO, Rob Burk, was next on the stage and he said “I feel privileged to be your employee. I am not the boss. You as the members are the boss. You can call me anytime. Please take advantage of that any time.” He then highlighted achievements of the various departments and staff including:

  • IT department moved almost entirely into the cloud
  • Working on an event management system
  • Establish the EquiRatings feature on all of the member profiles
  • Almost all of our programs saw growth (YEH, FEH, NEH, Classic Series, Intercollegiate)
  • Over 300 certified ICP instructors
  • Educated 30 officials and tested 21 of them
  • Raised over $800,000 this year
  • Launch of the new website
  • Down 15 members this year, but still at an all-time high
  • Lots of new safety resources

Several outgoing volunteers were honored by Kozlowski and presented with gifts of appreciation including: USEA Foundation Trustees – Katherine Cooper, Tim Gardner, and Kaiti Saunders., Area IV Chair – Kathy Kerns, Area VI Chair – Chris Scarlett, Area IX Chair – Deeda Randle, and Board of Governor member: Bobby Stevenson.

Members vote on the Board of Governors. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

Cooper was invited back to the podium in her role as the Chair of the Nominating Committee.

There was only one Board of Governors spot to fill and Deeda Randle was elected as representative for Area IX.

The Board of Governors then took a brief recess when they elected the slate of officers and the Trustees of the USEA Foundation nominated by the nominating committee. This year there were three spots for the trustees to the USEA Foundation and Roxanne Booth, Vicki Howard-Fine, and Alston Kerr were elected.

The slate was presented by Kozlowski as:

Carol Kozlowski: President

Max Corcoran: President-Elect

Tink Eichell: Secretary

Morley Thompson, Jr.: Treasurer/ VP Administration and Finance

Mary Coldren: VP Safety

Doug Payne: VP Active Athletes

Jonathan Elliott: VP Competitions

Debra Dealcuaz: VP Area Affairs

Dawn Robbins: VP Membership & Program Development

Jerry Schurink: VP Education

Erik Duvander. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

Joanie Morris was then welcomed to the stage to introduce the keynote speaker, US Equestrian High Performance Director, Erik Duvander, delivering his keynote address to the membership about history as an eventer and coaching experience. The presentation was well-attended and the full speech was played on the USEA livestream and will be released on-demand at a later date.

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