Dec 12, 2020

A Historic Year for the USEA as Annual Meeting Held Virtually

By Leslie Mintz - USEA Staff

The USEA Annual Meeting of Members has been held without fail every year since 1959 and while this year members of the USEA couldn’t gather in person, they gathered virtually to do the business of the Association and enjoy the keynote speeches.

USEA President Max Corcoran called the meeting to order before inviting Secretary Tink Eichell to establish a quorum and announce the results of the online vote to approve the minutes of the 2019 Annual Meeting of Members. Eichell reported that 477 votes were received in approval, 0 in dissention, and 15 abstentions. Corcoran then delivered her report of the president.

“2020 has been quite the year,” said Corcoran. “Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine my first year as USEA President would be like this! It has exhausted all of us in some capacity; emotionally, financially, thoughtfully. It is almost over and 2020 will be behind us in a few short weeks.”

Corcoran commended the staff and USEA Board of Governors for all of their hard work keeping the Association viable during the pandemic crisis. “The pandemic has caused the effect of pent-up demand; for us – not a bad thing. We are all guilty of wanting more. We realized how much these horses mean to us, how much the sport means to us, and how much our camaraderie means to us. Once we were back up and running, the starter numbers were as strong as ever. With the USEF COVID-19 Action Plan being well followed, it kept our sport going and to keep us all safe. We will continue to see these guidelines for 2021 and hopefully not have to see a time again where we have to stop competing.”

Corcoran went on to touch on some highlights of the year: raising nearly $500,000 for frangible fences; raising funds for the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab; seeing the first female USEA Rider of the Year since 1981; the kick-off of the Interscholastic Eventing League; the introduction of the Youth Team Challenge, and the development of the USEA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. She also was sure to thank the heroes of our sport – the organizers and volunteers, as well as recognizing the adult amateurs.

“All signs are pointing to a widely distributed vaccine for COVID-19 that will hopefully get our lives back to as close to normal as possible. We will have to continue to follow the USEF COVID-19 Guidelines until further notice, but competitor parties and social gatherings, hugs, and high fives will hopefully be back and allow us to enjoy each other again,” said Corcoran.

The stage then turned over to Treasurer Morley Thompson Jr. who delivered his final treasurer’s report.

“I usually start these presentations with some quick summary, this year the most descriptive thing I can say is, ‘we survived,’” said Thompson. “Most of our money comes from all of us – our membership dues and competition fees, and obviously our competition fees were hugely affected by COVID-19 this year. We started the year with a basically balanced budget, but after COVID hit, competition revenues ended up over $500,000 below our budget and our membership revenue was over $100,000 below our budget as some members needed to reduce their expenses. COVID also affected our sponsorship, advertising, merchandising, and so on.”

“Through the end of the year, our revenues would be down over $800,000 which is a huge number for an organization of our size. Starting back at the end of February we looked for any expenses we could cut to minimize the effect on our members and our staff. We were able to get one government loan through the PPIL program for $326,000. We hope that loan will be forgiven since we have met all the requirements. In the end, we were able to reduce our operating expenses by almost $500,000 and our net operating income was only $300,000 below budget,” he continued.

Thompson also explained the bond which was secured from the USEA Foundation and the stipulation of the $5 COVID-19 recovery fee which was required to be added on to membership and starters in order to repay it.

Darrin Mollett, chair of the Legal Committee then explained ratification. Pursuant to the USEA’s status as a nonprofit organization and in accordance with the bylaws, the membership is asked each year to ratify the routine actions of the Board of Governors. All votes were submitted via an online vote in advance of this meeting.

For the vote to ratify the routine actions of the Board of Governors 481 votes were received in approval, 1 vote was received in dissention, and 11 abstentions were received. The routine actions of the Board of Governors were ratified.

USEA CEO Rob Burk then presented an update of the year.

Updates from Burk included:

  • A thank you to USEA Staff which includes 17 full-time employees. Two employees are hitting big milestones this year. Robert Winter and Wendy Weinstein are both celebrating 15 years with the USEA. It is also important to note that Jo Whitehouse is retiring from her position as Chief Development Officer.
  • The headquarters of the USEA is following all COVID-19 protocols and still strongly recommending telework.
  • 42 officials attended the Continuing Education Clinic; 58 officials attended the three training programs that were offered; 10 prospective officials attended the final exam; and 51 prospective officials are working toward licensure or promotion.
  • 30 competitions were rescheduled and 92 were canceled in 2020, 152 competition results were uploaded, and the competition department handled 116 calendar modifications for 2021.
  • The competition department also worked to develop the new leaderboard point system which will be rolled out in 2021.
  • Member numbers reached 11,635 this year and digital membership cards are now being offered for all new members which can be downloaded directly from Online Services.
  • We had over 6,000,000 website views and published over 750 articles between and Eventing USA.
  • This year we launched a new USEA Podcast in partnership with EquiRatings and Nicole Brown Media.
  • A Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee was established to advise on accessibility and openness for current and future Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) members.
  • Safety is always a top priority and the USEA has certified 160 Safety Coordinators to date, successfully absorbed the USEF Frangible Distribution Program, administered two frangible grant programs, and developed several safety-related rule proposals.
  • The USEA announced the formation of the USEA Interscholastic Eventing League (IEL) and has already enrolled 65 teams.
  • The Young Event Horse Championships set records on both coasts.
  • Launched the Volunteer Medal Program and seven volunteers have achieved their bronze medal already. Registered 2,362 new volunteers through
  • The IT department extended access of electronic signatures in Xentry and 30,000+ electronic signatures were recorded in 2020. They also continued to support the development of the USEA Event Management System and Event Companion App.
  • The USEA Foundation launched the Broussard Charitable Foundation Trust Going Forward Grants (nine grants in three categories); the Kyra King Stuart Legacy Endowment; and the Frangible Technology Fund and Grants.

Burk ended his time on the podium with a tribute to those who were lost this year.

Several outgoing volunteers were honored by Corcoran and will be sent gifts of appreciation including USEA Foundation Trustees Tink Eichell and Diane Snow as well as Area Chairs: Sarah Adams (Area I), Cyndi Kurth (Area III), Lisa Sabo (Area VI), and Wayne Quarles (Area VIII).

Katherine Cooper was invited to the microphone in her role as the Chair of the Nominating Committee and gave her nominating report and introduced the nominees for the Board of Governors.

Siobhan O’Brien (Area V), Wayne Quarles (Area VIII), Cynthia Bayles (At-Large), and Lauren Nicholson (At-Large) were all nominated to serve on the Board of Governors for three-year terms. John Bourgoin (Area I), Sharon Anthony (Area III), and John Staples (At-Large) were all nominated for a second three-year term.

Corcoran announced that the slate of nominees were elected with 477 votes received in approval, 9 votes in dissention, and 7 abstentions were received.

Three trustees were then appointed two the USEA Foundation for three-year terms: Debra Dealcuaz, Hilary Miskoe, and Brian Murray (reappointment).

The 2021 Executive Committee was introduced by Corcoran and includes:

  • Max Corcoran: President
  • Sharon Anthony: Secretary
  • Mary Coldren: VP Safety
  • Jonathan Elliott: VP Competitions
  • Eric Markell: VP Administration and Finance
  • Brian Murray: Treasurer
  • Lauren Nicholson: VP Active Athletes
  • Deeda Randle: VP Area Affairs
  • Dawn Robbins: VP Membership & Program Development
  • Jerry Schurink: VP Education

The USEA Board of Governors will be meeting on Tuesday, December 15 at 6:00 p.m. EST via Zoom and the meeting will be open to those who wish to join as observers.

Corcoran then led the appreciation of outgoing Governors Tink Eichell, Morley Thompson Jr., Doug Payne, and Debra Dealcuaz.

Following the motion to adjourn the business part of the meeting, the microphone was turned over to Nicole Brown who moderated the two keynote speakers: Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp and Piggy March. Their full speeches will be available to be watched on the replay of the Annual Meeting, which will be available on demand on the USEA website later this evening.

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