Mike Tanner, USTA Executive Vice President and CEO, unveiled a proposal for a Standardbred Transition Alliance (STA) at the general session of the USTA Board of Directors annual meeting Sunday (March 11) at the Hilton-Easton.
In his address to the board, Tanner proposed the creation of the STA, which would be an industry-wide group that would, according to its mission, "accredit, inspect, and award grants to approved organizations that acquire, rehabilitate, train and re-home Standardbreds, using industry funding."
"In October, [USTA Director of Registry and Member Services] TC Lane and I attended a meeting of key industry stakeholders at the Red Mile to discuss Standardbred aftercare," Tanner said. "The meeting was borne out of frustration concerning the plight of a Standardbred named Killean Cut Kid, who was found in poor condition in a sales pen in Louisiana.
"The case had drawn particular attention through social media, and because of many, both within and outside harness racing, who believed that not only had Killen Cut Kid’s owners let him down, but that the industry had, as well."
The STA would be an independent, non-profit 501©(3) that would be governed by an independent board of directors composed of key industry stakeholders, and including at least one USTA director and a designated USTA representative.
"It would solicit and raise money from across the industry, which would then be distributed to accredited Standardbred rescues that have undergone a thorough application and inspection process," said Tanner.
To view the video of Executive Vice President and CEO Tanner's proposal, please click here.
In his address, President Russell Williams updated the board on working committees within the board, including the creation of the USTA Center for Innovation committee, which will, according to its mission, "lead innovation efforts that will help harness racing adapt and thrive in a technologically empowered world;" and the board protocol committee—which will look to develop a USTA Director Handbook and define the fiduciary duty that each director owes to his or her member constituents.
To view the video of President Williams' address please click here.
The board sat the following new members at this year’s session: David Siegel (District 3), Bruce Alexander (District 4B), Dein Spriggs (District 6), Kevin Decker (District 7), Corey Callahan (District 11) and Peter Koch (District 12).
The following officers were unanimously re-elected to their positions: Chairman Ivan Axelrod (District 3), Vice Chairman Don Marean (District 9), Treasurer Richard Brandt Jr. (District 1), and Corporate Secretary Sally Stauffer. President Russell Williams (District 7) is serving the remainder of former President Phil Langley’s term, which will come to an end in 2019.
The keynote speaker for the general session was Mary Byers, co-author of "Race for Relevance: Five Radical Changes for Associations." Byers, an expert on best practices for associations, had the directors break up into small groups and discuss opportunities for growth at the USTA and what an ideal USTA and its board would look like.
"You can have conversations that don’t lead to decisions," she said. "It’s OK. Conversations aren’t dangerous. Not having conversations is dangerous."
At the awards luncheon, 20-year service awards were presented to Robert Yohn (District 4B), Bruce Tubin (District 8), and Russell MacKinnon (District 11).
President’s Awards were given Skip Hoovler (District 1) and USTA CFO Dennis Fisher for their work in the USTA defined benefit plan buyout. Dan Ater (District 1) also received a President’s Award.
"If any of you have a son or daughter in the industry, and you can give them one piece of advice, it should be to be more like this guy," Williams said when presenting to Ater.
The annual meeting continues with afternoon meetings of the Racing and Registration committees. Reports from each committee will be posted here to ustrotting.com. (USTA)