The United States Eventing Association (USEA), which was founded in September 1959, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization committed to providing eventing enthusiasts with a competitive level suited to their individual skills. By assisting and educating competitors, event organizers, and officials; maintaining responsible safety standards; and registering qualified competitions and clinics, the USEA offers strong and continuous training opportunities for an ever-expanding field of world-class competitors. Just as importantly, the USEA provides a means for all riders, regardless of age or ability, to experience the thrill of eventing.
While the USEA’s home office is based in Leesburg, Virginia, many of the small staff of 17 professionals that work to fulfill the duties and mission of the Association work semi or fully remotely to accomplish their individual responsibilities. To better help the USEA members communicate with and get to know the team behind the USEA, the USEA will be featuring a Meet the Staff article once a month to help you identify which members of the team might best assist you with your individual needs. This month the USEA is proud to introduce you to the powerhouse of a team that runs the many important behind-the-scenes tasks in our IT department.
To service the many different needs of our members and ensure all of our programs are up and running online for our members, the IT department at the USEA is our largest staff department. This department is made up of Robert Winter, Senior Director of IT; Jason Caldwell, Information Systems Manager; Seethalakshmi Seetharaman, Senior Developer; and Margaret Marcus, Event Technology Operations Coordinator. Each of these team members plays a key role in our day-to-day operations.
Winter has been a part of the USEA team since 2005 and spends his days building solutions that help the USEA staff, organization, and membership thrive. As the head of the IT team, Winter works to identify challenges and design innovative technological solutions to address them, with one of the biggest responsibilities being the maintenance of the USEA’s Association & Sport Management System (ASMS). Big-picture: Winter focuses on problem-solving and developing strategies to keep the USEA’s technology secure, reliable, and aligned with the organization’s goals.
“My favorite thing about working at the USEA is having the opportunity to collaborate with our incredible community of passionate members,” Winter shared. “I love being able to provide technology solutions that enhance their experiences within the eventing community and sport. It's truly rewarding to see the positive impact of our work and how it contributes to the success of eventing. Additionally, I thoroughly enjoy working with our talented development team and the dedicated USEA staff. Their hard work, creativity, and commitment to excellence make it a pleasure to collaborate with them daily. Together, we strive to make a real difference for our eventing community.”
Outside of work, Winter prioritizes his free time by spending quality time with his wife and children.
“We embrace courage and curiosity by exploring local parks and attractions,” he said. “I especially enjoy the time-worn beauty of the Piedmont and eastern national forests through activities like hiking, biking, boating, and camping. Additionally, I'm passionate about volunteering my time with youth programs, helping to enrich the lives of young people, and contributing to our community.”
Caldwell might be one of the behind-the-scenes staff members at the USEA, but his nearly 24 years of tenure with the organization make him an extremely vital asset to our team! In his day-to-day duties, Caldwell responds to any support requests he has been assigned, typically related to fixing bug issues or supplying data and reports for a specific need. He also plays a crucial role in supporting the ongoing development of IT team projects and providing database maintenance for various users that have direct access to the USEA’s systems.
Members of the USEA team most likely share the same sentiment when it comes to Caldwell, his humor is bar none– a definite bonus at the end of a long day. If you are on the USEA staff and need a laugh, Caldwell is just a Teams chat away.
“I always say on my Annual Review that my favorite thing is the USEA Staff,” he shared. “With a few exceptions–whom we enjoy roasting at the Annual Meeting hotel bar–we seem to attract people that are excited about the sport and dedicated to doing their best for the association. Being a small IT staff allows me to do many different tasks which is far more appealing to me than strictly coding or network troubleshooting specialization.”
When he is not at work or entertaining fellow team members, Caldwell enjoys spending time with his grandkids, playing music, and visiting wineries. Although, he admits, “not necessarily in that order.”
With nine years at the USEA under her belt, Seetharaman is no stranger to the technological needs of the USEA and is an essential member of our IT team. As Senior Developer, Seetharaman oversees the development and implementation of the ASMS that powers the association’s membership, sport data collection, reporting, and internal software systems. Seetharaman works hand-in-hand with contracted developers, as well as performs her own developmental updates to existing software. Basically, if you have interacted with it online, Seetharaman has probably had her hands on it at some point!
While she admits her job can pose a variety of challenges each day, Seetharaman enjoys the work she does and the opportunity to wear multiple hats throughout the day. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, watching investigation and thriller-themed movies and shows, and spending time with her family.
In September of 2022, Marcus celebrated three years with the USEA and we are thrilled to have her on our team. Her cheerful demeanor and can-do attitude make her a positive light in the USEA staff. When you submit email inquiries to [email protected], Marcus is the first person to review your request and allocate it to the appropriate individual on the USEA staff. Marcus plays a large role in the USEA’s Xentry process, and welcomes USEA members to submit any requests they have regarding Xentry and entering events, esignatures, uploading documents, creating linked accounts, and more to her. She also is one of the key players in the ShowConenct system, which is the USEA’s community-based event management system. Any organizers or event secretaries interested in more information on ShowConnect should contact Margaret for details!
“I love working for the USEA because the staff and members are wonderful,” exclaimed Marcus when asked what her favorite part of her job here at the USEA is.
Passionate about dog rescue, when Marcus is not at work she can be found with her four rescue dogs (one Newfoundland and three Beagles). She has served on the Board of Directors for the Colonial Newfoundland Rescue (501c3) since 2016. She also loves the thrill of a good day of thrift shopping.
For technical assistance, our helpful IT support team is just a call or email away, always ready to lend a hand!
The USEA is proud to employ some of the best of the best in the country to support the needs of our members. Be on the lookout for more staff profiles to better help put faces to the names of the team behind the USEA and to help point you in the right direction of which staff member can best assist you in the future.
As most eventers know, the key to success in the show ring often lies in the preparation done beforehand. For the cross-country phase, memorizing your course and having a plan is a given, but another key factor to consider is choosing the appropriate studs for your horse. If you're new to the sport, the concept of studs might seem a little overwhelming, but former USEA President and current co-chair of the USEA Grooms Committee Max Corcoran broke down all of the basics that you need to know when putting together your stud kit for the first time or before packing up for your first show of the 2024 season.
The USEA is saddened to report that Canadian eventer Holly Jacks-Smither's five-star horse More Inspiration died on Feb. 19. He was 18. Bred in Canada by Display Farm, the Thoroughbred gelding (Inspired Prospect x Gentle Buck) started 28 times at the track and had four wins.
We might be a few months into the new year, but there is still so much to come in the 2024 U.S. eventing season. USEA Podcast Host Nicole Brown sits down with USEA CEO Rob Burk, USEA President Lou Leslie, and EquiRatings' Managing Director and Co-Founder Diarm Byrne to make predictions, dive into team selections, and just share what they are most looking forward to this year in this week's episode of the USEA Podcast.
Marley Bridges lived and breathed gymnastics. “I started at the age of 5,” said Bridges. “You always had to have the time and the mindset for gymnastics. You had to allow yourself to commit to it. You had to commit to working out four hours a day, five days a week, doing cardio every single day, train every single day. You had to stay committed to yourself, the team, and the sport.”