Keeping Our Governance Model Current
Bill Moroney (In Stride Magazine - August 2012)
September 18, 2012
It’s time to transition into a more balanced organization, so hunter and jumper constituents can forge their own unique paths.
The restructuring and reorganization of the United States Hunter Jumper Association governance model was a concept that I started talking about with other USHJA Directors and working on late in 2011. It seemed like the right time to review our current structure because an election takes place at the end of 2012, the organization has grown from 28,000 to 42,000 members, and we need to make sure that our structure addresses the needs of our growing membership.
The discussions within the sport over the past year and increased interest of our members in the governance of our sport supports the concept of reviewing our current structure and making amendments that support our mission, create a clearer balance between our two discipline groups and provide a clearer structure and better environment for our members for years to come.
From the many meetings and discussions that have occurred over the past six months, it became evident that our governance model needed some modifications to serve our sport and members better and more efficiently. To accomplish this goal, the US HJA Planning Committee and Board of Directors focused on our mission: the inclusion of qualified, knowledgeable and interested people; maintaining representation of the different constituencies that comprise our membership; creating a more logical and linear approach for the jumper and hunter components of our sport; increasing communication among the constituents within the jumper and hunter disciplines; and increasing the efficiency of the entire governance structure.
As we enter the upcoming election season and begin to populate the committees within the newly modified model, we must all pay close attention to bringing new people into the mix. New people bring new ideas, new perspective and new energy. All of these attributes are necessary to keep our organization vibrant and valuable to our membership. I believe all of us agree that no one person can do everything, and there are workers and passengers. We have heavily relied on the workers who were with us from the beginning, and now it’s time to expand the opportunities for others and give these people back some of their time and lives.
We are all busy and therefore should focus our attention on what matters most to us within the sport. The end result will be more productive, and more members will understand and get involved in the infrastructure so they become the leaders of the future.
Working for Change
The greatest change in the new model is the establishment of a Jumper Working Group and a Hunter Working Group and providing them representation on the Board of Directors.
Both Working Group chairs will be vice presidents of the USHJA and serve on the Board with three other representatives from each Working Group. This is a significant change from the previous structure and provides equal representation for jumpers and hunters at the top of the organization.
The Jumper and Hunter Working Groups shall each have 19 members. The president shall receive recommendations from the USEF Show Jumping High Performance Committee, the USEF National Jumper Committee, the USEF National Hunter Committee, the Affiliates Council and Jumper and Hunter Zone Councils for seating of the Working Groups. Constituency and geographic representation are important considerations in populating the Working Groups. The USHJA Executive Committee then must approve the final appointments.
The jumper department will further develop and will have a jumper staff liaison who is dedicated to jumper programming, which is also a new feature and provides members of all levels with an open door on the jumper side. Both Working Groups shall create Task Forces as needed to address specific areas within each discipline, and a Working Group member shall chair each Task Force.
The Zone Councils and Committees shall also reside under the oversight of the related Working Groups. All programs, initiatives and rule changes originating from the Zones and Discipline Task Forces will be reviewed by the Working Groups before moving forward. This process ensures that each discipline will oversee the conduct and rules of its sport through balanced representation.
The newly configured Board of Directors will be composed of 21 members. There will be three national officers—president, secretary and treasurer – and the two discipline officers of vice-president jumper (Jumper Working Group Chair) and vice-president hunter (Hunter Working Group Chair).
In addition to the chairs, the Jumper and Hunter Working Groups shall each recommend three additional individuals for election to the Board of Directors. Two of the four representative directors from each Working Group must beathletes.
The Affiliates Council shall recommend two individuals for election to the Board of Directors and there shall be seven at-large seats, with the USHJA Foundation president completing the Board.
The USHJA Nominating Committee shall receive recommendations from the general membership for the national officer and at-large director positions. The implementation of a well-defined selection process for the office of president provides a method for the Board of Directors to elect a qualified and capable leader who has a thorough knowledge of the USHJA and our sport.
The definitions for determining a member’s qualification as an athlete are included in the USHJA Bylaw Policy Manual, which is posted on our website.
The Affiliates Council and Committee shall remain as they are currently structured and will continue to interact with the Board of Directors as well as the US HJA standing committees and newly added working groups. Our list of standing committees (also known as administrative and sport committees) will change slightly as the Working Groups assume some of the responsibilities of other committees.
As you read the revised Bylaws, which are posted on the “About Us” page of the USHJA website, you will find changes to the minimum number of members of committees. It’s important to remember that this is the minimum, not the maximum. The Board of Directors members felt it necessary to leave the size of a committee flexible depending on the purpose of the committee and its responsibilities.
Additional language has been added regarding the responsibilities of committees, chairs and other volunteers serving in the governance structure. We have reduced repetitive language and moved many of the policies and procedures to the US HJA Bylaw Policy Manual, which is also posted on our website with the Bylaws. Moving policy and procedure to the Policy Manual will allow the current and future Board of Directors to make necessary amendments without having to amend the Bylaw document itself.
A More Functional Sport
During the conversations that have taken place as a part of this process, some concern has been expressed that the USHJA is a predominantly hunter organization. Because members have to choose a primary discipline when joining or renewing their US HJA membership, it seems to separate the two; but the reality is that a significant number of our members participate in both disciplines regardless of the primary discipline they have declared.
The USHJA supports a number of jumper-oriented programs, and there are more that need to be developed. The “hunter” perception is the direct result of the hunter people coming to the table early on and creating, implementing and promoting hunter programs.
Through this governance restructure, our jumper constituency is being provided an increased opportunity to take part in the future of our sport by creating the national programs necessary to ensure our athlete pipeline is strong and successful.
The manner in which the USHJA and United States Equestrian Federation coordinate efforts is evolving, and communication has greatly increased resulting in a more functional sport. The USEF has the responsibility of fielding international teams, and the USHJA is responsible for coordinating with the Federation to develop national programs that comprise the foundation of our athlete pipeline.
Many of you have already expressed your interest in getting more involved with the governance of our sport by responding to the creation of the Committee Interest Form, and many members who sent their information found themselves members of our Zone Nominating Committees. As we move forward with the new model, we will look to this resource, as well as other resources, to populate our committees and task forces.
While there is no way for every USHJA member to hold a position in the governance structure, there are many ways to be involved in our organization. Volunteering to assist with programs in the field is a great way to introduce yourself to working within the governance structure and gives you the chance to see whether it works for you. I hope you will contact the USHJA office with your interest, whether it is to serve on a committee or to help as a volunteer.
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