I’ve been asked how much time I devote to serving as the current National President of USA Dance, which after all is a volunteer position. My response is that while the hours may vary somewhat from week to week, the job of National President of USA Dance is a full time occupation. Archie Hazelwood used to say that for him the presidency of USA Dance was a full time job, and that he regretted he couldn’t spend even more time doing it because there was always something that needed doing. I suspect that it wasn’t that different for the two presidents who came after him – Esther Freeman and Peter Pover. I too view this position as requiring a full time commitment to overseeing the affairs of the organization.
But what does the National President really do? Here’s a partial list: Answering e-mail inquiries from members, chapters and national officials on a variety of topics; making and returning numerous phone calls; reviewing and signing documents including a variety of contracts; participating in frequent conference calls; consulting and reviewing recommendations on complaints, grievances and other actions that may be pending at any time; drafting or revising policies; preparing correspondence on behalf of the organization, including regular thank you letters to donors; working with a management team on the preparation of press releases and other announcements; overseeing the budgetary process; chairing committee and council meetings, including meetings of the Governing Council, the Executive Committee and the Annual Membership Meeting and preparing reports and recommendations as necessary for those meetings; representing USA Dance in front of national and international organizations such as the USOC and the WDSF; and traveling on USA Dance business as necessary.
Some of the above work can be assigned to other national officials, but all too frequently it ends up on the president’s desk because that’s where the buck stops. Many of our members or officials within and outside our organization simply want to speak with the person at the top and need to be accommodated because the issues they wish to discuss with the National President are important ones that require immediate attention.
Anyone aspiring to the presidency of this organization must be prepared to devote the necessary time because our members expect and deserve that from the president and there are no short cuts in this job. While we work for the day when an executive director can be hired to help take the workload off national volunteers, that day has not yet arrived and may not arrive for several more years. In the meantime, the workload of national volunteers will remain heavy.
Before I became National President of USA Dance I used to think that by being extremely well organized and relying on the other national volunteers around me I could reduce the workload. I was wrong. The job of National President simply cannot be parceled out to others. But I have also found that in spite of the many hours it takes to do the job, the work has been extremely satisfying and I have never regretted the time I am spending to do it.
It continues to be a great honor to lead an organization made up of so many fine volunteers at all levels, who are also working long hours to make USA Dance the preeminent Ballroom Dance and DanceSport organization in the country. Let’s all continue our work to make USA Dance better still!