Some of the Messages We Have Received

Bill Rose, Esther Freeman and I will be wrapping up our various projects during December in preparation for leaving office at the end of the year.  We want to thank all those who are continuing to express their support in conversations, phone messages and personal notes.   Here is but a sampling of the messages we have received:

To:  Esther

“I must say that I am in shock and total disbelief at the outcome of the election.  You have been an extraordinary officer for this organization, and I am so sorry you will not be leading us on in the future.   My best to you, and you definitely will be missed.                         Thank you so much for all you have done to help me over the years.  I think this organization will suffer with mostly men in charge.  Women get things done!”

– From a Chapter President in a Mid Atlantic state

To:  Bill

“I’m very sorry you weren’t reelected as VP. Your candidate statement was the most positive of all the officers. This election was “new” vs. “old” instead of evaluating each candidate individually. “

– From a former contributor to the AD Magazine, New York State

To:  Lydia

“I have very little dance experience and know nothing about the issues or differences between the candidates in the recent election, so I did not vote. In any event, I am certain that you have devoted countless hours to USA Dance and I want to thank you for those efforts.”

– From a Chapter President in a Southern state

To: Lydia, Bill and Esther

“My sincere thanks to all the officers that have served our association, donated their time and for their dedication to USA Dance.”

– From a Chapter President in a Mid Western state

And may we in turn say thank you to all those members who have shown kindness, respect and loyalty to us over the years.  It is because of members like you that we have continued as USA Dance volunteers for as long as we have.

A Message to our Supporters

Dear friends:

I am very humbled by the outpouring of support that has been coming in for Bill Rose, Esther Freeman and me following the announcement of the results of the USA Dance national election.  Please be assured that we will remain engaged in USA Dance.

You have probably surmised from viewing the announcement of election results the other day that this election was decided by a very small number of voters.  In fact, 93% of the approximately 14,000 USA Dance eligible voters did not choose to vote, and so the election was decided by the 7% who did. This tells me that neither side in this contested election succeeded, in spite of the considerable social media component of this election, in getting the vast majority of our members to actually send in their ballots.  An effort must be made in future elections to find a way to engage this vast majority of our membership, competitors and social dancers alike.

This election also clarified for me that most of our members do not follow very closely what is going on at the national level, and/or are simply too busy enjoying their own dancing to vote.  Individuals who are dissatisfied for one reason or another or who simply want “change” are often the most prone to vote, while those who are pleased with the direction of the organization are more inclined to forgo voting.  The problem is that a small group of motivated voters can then swing the election in a direction the majority of non voters may not want.  But that’s the way it is – those who vote decide who will lead the organization, and then they and all who did not cast ballots must be prepared to live with the results.

Many of you have asked us what we will be doing when our terms of office conclude.  Bill Rose, as many of you know, is the president of the Orange County Chapter and on the organizing committee for the Southwest Regional Championships and NQE, and will continue with those activities.

Esther Freeman and I will also remain active members and volunteers of our local chapters, and as National Past Presidents, we will join the other Past Presidents on the newly created USA Dance Past Presidents Council come January.

Under the USA Dance bylaws National Past Presidents have always been offered the opportunity to attend and participate in Governing Council meetings, and most have chosen to do so.  They are also invited each year to attend the National Championships.

At its meeting last month the Governing Council strengthened the role of the past presidents even further with the creation of the Past Presidents Council.  This Council will advise GC members individually and collectively on a variety of issues and will also provide a historical perspective which will be needed now more than ever.  Additionally, the Past Presidents Council will undertake studies and reviews of various components of USA Dance programs, councils and committees and will make recommendations for their increased effectiveness.  The Council will be developing its list of priorities and announcing its activities for the coming year in the near future.

Again, we want to thank all who have supported us throughout this election and who have since come forward to express their good wishes.  For those who remain angry or disappointed with the outcome of this election I urge you to channel your feelings into positive avenues and work to make USA Dance an even better organization than it is already.  USA Dance is a wonderful organization with many thousands of caring people who are joined together by their love of ballroom dancing and DanceSport, and that is what will keep USA Dance strong now and in the future.

California State DanceSport Championships and NQE

I had the pleasure of attending the Cal State Championships and NQE this past weekend and had a most enjoyable time. I am very familiar with the hard work and dedication of the Nor Cal Chapter volunteers and their continuing efforts to organize good quality, reasonably priced events for the sizable Northern California DanceSport community. The event was well run and followed the established and published rules that are necessary for an NQE (National Qualifying Event).

The Nor Cal Chapter is almost entirely made up of competitors, and the chapter board has consistently run multiple DanceSport competitions every year since its founding 30 years ago.  It started running Regional Championships/NQE’s in 1992 and over the years has organized no less than three USA Dance National Championships (1995, 1999 and 2006).  Because the chapter had not organized an NQE for several years it prepared for a relatively small event, but was pleasantly surprised when attendance far exceeded expectations.  This will bode well for the future, and the chapter board has already started planning next year’s NQE.

Competitors were judged by a panel of fully qualified adjudicators that was under the direction of an experienced and knowledgeable chair. I found the event to be friendly and the energy in the ballroom to be very high throughout the day and evening all the way through to the end.  This, no doubt, was at least partly due to the large number of college competitors, who brought home-made signs and cheered their friends as they competed in multiple events. In fact, the event drew a significant number of competitors of all ages, from pre-teens all the way up through the senior ranks.

2013 marks Nor Cal’s 30 year anniversary as a USA Dance chapter, and it is the oldest chapter west of the Mississippi.  May its next 30 years be as successful as the last.

Strengthening the USA Dance National Election Policy

As we await the results of the USA Dance national election in just a few days, I have forwarded my concerns to the Task Force that has been appointed by the Governing Council to review the national election policy.  This Task Force will be looking not only at issues surrounding electronic voting, but also at such things as appropriate campaigning on social media sites with the aim of updating and refining the policy for future elections.

The specific areas I have brought to the Task Force’s attention include a determination of the appropriateness of a candidate campaigning from the podium at USA Dance sanctioned events where the candidate is serving in an official paid capacity.   It will be for the Task Force to  evaluate this issue and make a recommendation to the GC on policy language.

I have also requested that there be a consistent policy regarding campaigning on chapter Facebook pages.  At this time most chapters allow open posting by all USA Dance members, whereas several others have more restrictive policies.  At least one chapter changed its policy in the middle of the election.  Candidates have relied heavily during this election on chapter Facebook pages in order to get their message out to members, and it is my opinion that whatever policy is developed to cover this issue should apply equally to all chapters during an election cycle.

Additionally, I have asked the Task Force to address the issue of the use of official USA Dance mailing lists for partisan campaigning by USA Dance candidates and their supporters, and have recommended that policy language be strengthened so that official chapter, district and national lists are not misused.

These are the issues I have brought to the attention of the Task Force.  Not everyone will hold the same view regarding these matters.  I suspect the Task Force will be reviewing information from a variety of sources in order to refine and expand the national election policy so that it will be better able to address campaigning in future elections, taking into consideration free speech rights as well as the responsibility of USA Dance to run elections in a manner that is fair to all candidates while being respectful of the privacy concerns of the membership at large.

It’s All Over but the Counting

Ballots in the USA Dance national election are in and now its up to National Elections Director Phil Sisk and his team of tellers to tally the results, which they will be doing next weekend.  Phil is the President of the Richmond, VA Chapter of USA Dance, and also a District Area Coordinator.  This is the second national election in which he has kindly agreed to serve as the National Elections Director.  I want to thank Phil for his service to our organization in this important position.