Dec 09, 2023

The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting of Members Recognizes Another Year of Eventing and the Individuals Who Contribute to Our Sport

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
USEA Governors' Cup Recipients Rebecca Brown and John Bourgoin share a hug during today's USEA Annual Meeting. USEA/Meagan DeLisle photos

St. Louis, Mo.—Dec. 9— Hosting the Annual Meeting of Members each December has been a requirement set forth by the United States Eventing Association (USEA) by-laws (then the United States Combined Training Association) since 1959.

This year, USEA members are gathering in St. Louis, Missouri, for the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention from Dec. 7-10 for four jam-packed days of educational seminars and open forums full of conversation surrounding our sport. Lunch on Friday, however, served as an opportunity for attendees to gather together for the USEA Meeting of Members once again.

USEA President Lou Leslie delivering her opening remarks.

USEA President Lou Leslie opened the meeting and invited Secretary Sharon Anthony to the podium to establish a quorum and approve the minutes from the 2022 Annual Meeting.

For the first time since being elected President at last year’s Annual Meeting & Convention, Leslie opened up today’s Meeting of Members with opening remarks that celebrated the many successes experienced in U.S. eventing this year. She then welcomed Vice President of Administration and Finance, Treasurer, Brian Murray, to the stage to give the report of the Treasurer.

Murray opened up with the challenges that the Association faced in 2023, including an 8% revenue decline and decreased starter numbers for the 2023 competition year. Despite those challenges, however, Murray noted that the USEA has no outstanding debts, and the investment portfolio is currently up 14% for the year.

Hilary Miskoe and Eric Markell from the USEA Foundation stepped forward to speak about the current state of the Foundation and the many grants it offers.

“We currently have 24 grant programs ranging from the Wilton Fair Fund which allows upper-level riders an opportunity to train and compete abroad, to the Frangible Technology fund which provides every event in the country offering Modified and above the mechanicals to build frangible cross-country fences,” shared Miskoe. “Last night the Board approved an increase in available frangible funds to $150,000 so if your event has not applied for these funds, now is the time.”

Miskoe made note of the two newest funds supported by the Foundation, the disaster relief fund which assists horse trials affected by natural disasters, and the Kim Meier Memorial "Kick-On" Grant for upper-level riders.

She also mentioned that the Foundation partners with other meaningful organizations that impact our sport, such as Strides for Equality Equestrians (SEE). SEE’s purpose is to provide access to horses and eventing for people of color.

“I can report that the state of the Foundation and its financial condition, and very importantly its leadership and collaborative culture, is in very good shape,” shared Markell. “As we enter this new year, our financial assets total is approximately $2.9 million.”

Lastly, Burk and Miskoe called Murray to the stage to thank him for his service as a Trustee of the USEA Foundation as 2023 marked his final year in that role.

Brian Murray, Hilary Miskoe, and Rob Burk.

USEA CEO Rob Burk took to the stage to provide his annual CEO’s report, which included:

  • Recognition of all of the USEA staff, including the four staff members who have recently celebrated anniversaries with the Association: Rob Burk, 10 years, Kate Lokey, 10 years, Seetha Seetharaman, 10 years, and Lisa Rowe, 15 years.
  • Total USEA memberships are higher thanks to the inclusion of the new Digital memberships offered to participants of the USEA Volunteer Incentive Program who log 10+ hours of volunteer work in a calendar year (+ 6.5%),​
  • Burk noted that the total number of events offered each year did decline this year by 0.9%
  • There was substantial growth (+25%) in the number of new/elevating officials in comparison to 2022
  • The USEA Foundation has had continued rapid growth of the grant programs with 143 grants awarded
  • And that the USEA Inc. as a whole is well managed financially but in need of revenue to counter inflation.

One of Burk’s biggest points was his “focus on the future” which includes the ultimate goals of identifying viable venues across the U.S. and helping invest in cross-country infrastructure, working within all areas to build and rebuild eventing hubs outside of the already established ones in certain parts of the country, refreshing the USEA’s Strategic Plan by 2026, and elevating U.S. champions of all levels.

Each year at the Meeting of Members, there are certain honors presented to key players in the eventing space, and this year was no exception. Burk and Leslie opened up the award presentations with this year’s recipients of the USEA Governors' Cups.

“The USEA Governors' Cups are among the highest honors given by the USEA Board of Governors,” shared Leslie. “These awards are presented annually in recognition of volunteers whose services have contributed significantly to the sport; these are meant to highlight the best among us.”

This year’s USEA Governors’ Cup recipients were:

Rebecca Brown, John Bourgoin, and Rob Burk.

John Bourgoin and Rebecca Brown, for their contributions towards the USEA Young Rider and EA21 Programs;

Rob Burk and Loris Henry.

Loris Henry for her continued support of the sport, including but not limited to, being named the first female President of the USEA, serving as a judge and trainer, working as part of several USEA committees, and mentoring other athletes in our sport;

Kathy Kerns and Rob Burk.

Kathy Kerns, whose three decades of service to eventing have involved serving as an Adult Rider chair for Area IV, an Area IV Chair on the Board of Governors, and as a committee member on the USEA Volunteer Incentive Program (VIP) Committee;

Mark Andreason and Rob Burk.

Mark Andreason, a staple in Area IV eventing who often donates his time and skills as a jump builder, course builder, and volunteer all across Area IV.

Leslie and Burk then honored this year’s Andrew H. Popiel Memorial Trophy recipients. This trophy, in honor of the late Andrew H. Popiel, was presented to the USEA by the Popiel family as an opportunity to acknowledge the role of the event organizer and their commitment to eventing. This year, Lena and Mark Warner of Otter Creek Farm in Wheeler, Wisconsin, were named the 2023 Andrew H. Memorial Trophy recipients.

Suzanne Adams, Christie Tull, and Luigi Meneghelli.

The end of every year is bittersweet as the USEA bids farewell to the involved members of the community whose terms of service are up. This year, there were four USEA Area Chairs to be recognized for their service:

  • Area I Suzanne Adams
  • Area V Christie Tull
  • Area VII Luigi Meneghelli
  • Area VIII Elissa Gibbs
Sharon Gallagher and Lou Leslie.

The awards portion of the Annual Meeting was closed out with one of the most prestigious awards offered by the USEA, the USEA President’s Lifetime Achievement Award. This year, this award was given to a retiring USEA staff member, Senior Director of Competitions Sharon Gallagher. Gallagher, who has worked with the USEA for 29 years now, is best known for her tireless dedication to her role and her wealth of knowledge about the sport of eventing.

"For over a decade, I have had the honor of working with one of the most outstanding people in my career," Burk said of Gallagher. "A true professional and an exemplary human. However, I have only been the CEO and a Director of the USEA for one decade. I felt it was important to defer to the words of my predecessor, Jo Whitehouse, when honoring the 2023 USEA President's Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Sharon Gallagher."

"Sharon’s skills, coupled with her knowledge of the sport, played an instrumental role in steering the USEA through various changes that have impacted eventing since the mid-nineties," Whitehouse said in a statement read by Burk. "Sharon set a standard of loyalty, responsibility, and commitment that is not easily matched."

With the awards concluded, it was time to vote on some important matters. The following Board of Governors nominees were voted for and approved by the majority:

  • Area I Melanie Loschiavo (2024-2026)
  • Area III Shelley Howerton Page (2024-2026)
  • At Large Jacob Fletcher (2024-2026)

The following Board of Governors members were also elected for reappointments:

  • Area V Siobhan O’Brien (2024-2026)
  • Area VIII Wayne Quarles (2024-2026)
  • At Large Lauren Nicholson (2024-2026)

Both Max Corcoran and Misko were nominated for and approved by a majority vote to serve as Trustees of the USEA Foundation for three-year terms.

The 2024 Board of Governors Executive Committee will be as follows:

  • Erin Tomson: Secretary
  • Rusty Lowe: VP of Safety
  • Sharyn Antico: VP Competitions
  • Molly Pelligrini: VP of Administration and Finance
  • Brian Murray: Treasurer
  • Lauren Nicholson: VP Active Athletes
  • Deeda Randle: VP of Area Affairs
  • John Marshall: VP of Strategic Planning
  • Jennifer Rousseau: VP Education
Rob Burk, John Bourgoin, Sharon Anthony, and John Staples.

With the addition of new Board of Governors members, that also means that there are outgoing members to be recognized. This year’s retiring Board of Governors members include Sharon Anthony, John Bourgoin, and John Staples.

“I am well aware of the hours of conference calls, countless hours reading and studying, as well as your overall dedication to supporting our sport and this Association. Thank you all so much for your service,” shared Leslie in her closing remarks. The meeting was then adjourned.

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About the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention

The USEA Annual Meeting & Convention takes place each December and brings together a large group of dedicated USEA members and supporters to discuss, learn, and enjoy being surrounded by other eventing enthusiasts. The USEA organizes multiple seminars in addition to committee meetings, open forums, and tons of fun! The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention will take place in St. Louis, Missouri, on Dec. 7-10, 2023. Click here to learn more about the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention.

The USEA would like to thank the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention Sponsors: Adequan, Bates Saddles, Capital Square, D.G. Stackhouse & Ellis, Kerrits, Horse & Country, Nunn Finer, Nutrena, Parker Equine Insurance, Rebecca Farm, RevitaVet, SmartPak, Standlee, and World Equestrian Brands.

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Be a VIP at the 2024 USEA AEC by Volunteering!

Do you have plans to attend the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds at the Kentucky Horse Park this Aug. 27 – Sept. 1? Make your mark on the event by signing up to volunteer! Volunteer positions are open to everyone, including competitors, trainers, owners, fans, friends, and family that are making the trip to Lexington, Kentucky, later this summer, and the USEA highly encourages its members to find the time in their busy schedules to give back. These Championships cannot run without the support of hundreds of volunteers that donate their time.

Jun 15, 2024 Eventing News

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