Lexington, Ky. – US Equestrian Chief Executive Officer Bill Moroney was joined virtually by Shelley Campf Chairman of the Member Services Council, to kick off the 2021 US Equestrian Annual Meeting with an hour-long session focused on the work of the US Equestrian Member Services Council. The presentation provided an update to members and attendees on accomplishments of the organization in 2020 and outlined key goals for 2021.
The Member Services Council (MSC) is comprised of individuals with a diverse set of skills and experience in the sport. The Council’s responsibilities and functions account for nearly half of the annual operating budget each year and involve the operations that directly affect the membership.
An overarching and fundamental necessity of the MSC is the ability to be consistent, but nimble, allowing for adjustments and flexibility to best serve the needs of members and ensure the vision and strategic goals are guiding all decisions and processes.
“Much of our focus this year has been managing the challenges of the pandemic,” said Moroney. “As you know, we had a period of eleven weeks where we ceased to have USEF-licensed competitions. During that period, it’s easy to assume that our staff may not have a lot to do, but we had quite a bit to do.”
Moroney and Campf outlined the core responsibilities of the MSC and gave attendees insight into the departmental successes and challenges of an unconventional year, and how the outcomes of 2020 will influence the management of the goals ahead.
The Finance Department met the pandemic head on, successfully managing the organization’s budget through an eleven-week shutdown and assisted in securing a PPP Loan to offset revenue losses from competition cancellations. The department will be keenly focused on the careful monitoring of projections and forecasting of the future impacts of the ongoing pandemic.
The Executive Department approved than 545 rule modifications to create flexibility for pandemic-era operations and a robust COVID-19 Action Plan was developed and implemented for all USEF-licensed competitions to ensure a safe environment for all members. The Executive Department remained committed to the strategic plan initiatives and is focused on diversifying sustainable revenue streams and increasing efficiencies to maximize the member experience in the year ahead.
Leadership remained strong in the Legal Department. The team implemented an international travel waiver to assist international athletes entering the USA to compete in the face of international travel restrictions, and successfully navigated to virtual-only hearings as a result of the pandemic. Looking ahead, amendments to the Competition Licensing rules and Bylaws, as well as implementation of revised SafeSport MAAP policies and updates to the Safe Sport Code will remain a major focus in 2021.
A shift to the Healthy at Work program, as mandated by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, was efficiently managed by the Human Resources Department, which involved a transition to remote work and limited in-office staff. The Member Health Benefits program launched a year ago was successfully rolled out and has continued to add value to members, positively impacting an increase in membership interest. The continued expansion of the Member Health Benefits will highlight departmental efforts in the New Year, as well as the support of facility cost analysis and continued focus on key organizational goals and strategies.
As the world quickly transitioned to “digital-only” in 2020, the Information Technology Department found ways to navigate an influx of staff and member requests and successfully managed service needs in a technologically-savvy way. Payment storage and online horse ownership transfers and lease registrations were a highlight of project work. In total, the team completed more than 2,200 software requests amidst the transition to remote work for majority of staff. The launch of the USEF Member App will lead the way in the months to come, as well as the development of new, accessible website features for USEF members.
Major advancements in the Compliance Department saw the hiring of a new Compliance Director and a streamlined process to support the rules and standards that govern the competition environment. The department was able to interface more effectively with members and conducted evaluations of 40 competition venues hosting 379 competitions. The department is focused on improvements to the processes regulating that competition environment; a scoring process for compliance requirements of competition venues is in development, as is a rework of the process for reviewing Steward/TD reports and member evaluation submissions.
Education is key to success in the Licensed Officials & Education Department, which launched a continuing education system for officials and quickly pivoted to accommodate clinics, applications, and officiating extensions amidst COVID-19. Improving collaboration and oversight of education provided by Affiliates and adjusting exam timelines and procedures to increase the value of educational experiences are the department’s targets in 2021.
The application and management challenge of the stringent COVID-19 Action Plan was met with success by the Competitions, Athlete & Horse Services Department, which processed more than 729 license modifications and mileage exemptions to provide flexibility in a new competition landscape. The department collaborated closely with organizers and officials to ensure the safe operation of events, making equestrian one of the first sports to successfully return during COVID-19. Modification of the licensing timeline to continue offering flexibility will be key in maintaining success in 2021 and the ongoing analysis of calendar management and licensing data will support further opportunity and success in the year ahead.
With the pause of competitions for eleven weeks, the Drugs & Medications Department took advantage of the valuable time, which also saw a halt in sample processing. The Stall-Side Data Acquisition process, which will communicate sample information to the University of Kentucky Equine Analytical Laboratory, was beta tested, and updated education and training materials for testing veterinarians and technicians were produced to provide more clarity and understanding of the collection, packing, and testing functions. A full implementation of the Stall-Slide Data Acquisition System will headline 2021 work flow, as will the complete launch of the USEF Testing Veterinarian Dashboard.
Pivoting to find new opportunities while maintaining engagement with members proved to be a core focus of the Marketing, Communications & Customer Care Departments as digital content consumption significantly increased, and innovation to capture audiences online pushed the department into new, creative territory. Sponsorship fulfillments were successfully redirected and a call to publicly acknowledge the lack of diversity in equestrian sport led to the launch of the USEF Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Action Plan. In 2021, the Annual Meeting motto of Listen, Learn, and Lead Together, thorough implementation of the outlined DEI strategies and the expanded strategic plan will be lead priorities. Producing quality coverage and content while evolving the USEF Network to engage current and new members will remain also central to the team’s efforts.
Watch the full Member Services Council: Ideas into Action presentation on USEF Network.