About the USPA National Director Position

WHO IS USPA

First, let’s understand who USPA is, to understand the broader context of what a USPA National Director does. Per USPA’s website, “The United States Parachute Association is a voluntary non-profit membership organization of individuals who enjoy and support the sport of skydiving.” It further states, “membership in USPA provides education that enhances safety, benefits that keep you secure, and services that keep you skydiving.”

USPA BOARD OF DIRECTORS

If you were once like me, much of USPA is a mystery. I have been fortunate enough to have attended many USPA Board meetings throughout my skydiving career trying to bid for USPA Nationals, trying to approve 4-Way VFS as a competitive discipline, as a concerned member, and being a part of PIA Symposium, which USPA normally co-locates a meeting with. Of all the meetings I’ve been to, I realized, you REALLY have to get involved to understand how USPA and the Board really work, otherwise, it IS a mystery!

Skydivers are usually more concerned with their local dropzone’s rules and regulations as that’s what’s in focus to them. Most skydivers aren’t into the paperwork and politics of the sport – and who could blame them! Jumping out of planes is certainly more fun! Therefore, it is incredibly important to do your due diligence in knowing those who are running when you vote for a USPA Board of Director. Because ultimately, they are representing YOU and the bigger picture of the sport.

WHAT DOES A DIRECTOR DO?

Great question! I’ll summarize the details here, but you can find out all the specifics, by-laws, and more about the Board in the USPA’s Governance Manual.

First, the Board has specific responsibilities as a whole and they are:

  • determine policies of the association
  • establish the operating budget for the association
  • develop and establish programs for the association in concert with the headquarters staff
  • hire and remove if necessary an executive director to serve as the association’s chief staff executive

Then each Director (National or Regional) has their responsibility:

  • each board member must represent the interests of the regional or national constituency for whom that board member represents
  • all board members are expected to consider the interests of the association as a whole in all deliberations

In short, the National Director is a person who represents and oversees the big picture for jumpers across the country. A Regional Director on the other hand, has a lot more responsibilities, paperwork, and more or less is a voice for those regional jumpers.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD USPA NATIONAL DIRECTOR?

First, I must be clear, I am also running for the National Director. However, I do my best to objectively lay out ideas that would be the best qualities of a candidate.

  • Is a current, active skydiver
  • Has experience in various roles of skydiving (for example: DZO, DZM, Instructor, S&TA, Examiner, Demo Jumper, Load Organizer, Competitor, Fun Jumper, Pilot, etc).
  • Believes in servant leadership, not representing solely their own personal politics
  • Is a team player and willing work and communicate with other board members
  • Communicates with jumpers to be their voice at board meetings
  • Willing to lead innovative ideas to keep up with the technology and training

A BALANCED USPA BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Today, skydiving is made up of many disciplines – from canopy piloting, CRW, angle flying, freeflying, VFS, FS, MFS, camera flying, wingsuiting, acro wingsuiting, novelty skydivers (tubes, tracking, hoops, lingerie, etc.), freestyle, world record skydives, stunt jumpers, high altitude skydives, military jumpers, test jumpers, demo jumpers, and instructors. And I’m sure I’m missing something! Then there are the types of skydivers: DZO’s, DZM’s, S&TA’s, Lead Instructors, work jumpers (instructors, coaches, load organizers, military, test jumpers, etc.), student jumpers, competitive jumpers, judges, and fun jumpers. A balanced board would be one where all disciplines and types of skydivers are represented.

The present board consists of: 

3 current DZO’s, 2 former DZOs
2 DZM’s
1 Pro Camera Flyer (retired)
2 Wingsuiters
6  Judges
3 Examiners, 2 former Examiners
8 Tandem Instructors
8 Demo Jumpers
1 Stunt Jumper
5 active FS Competitors
1 current S&TA

17 of the 22 are Formation Skydivers (aka belly fliers)
4 currently do not skydive or are not active in the sport
2 are freefliers
0 angle flyers / freestylists / VFS / MFS
0 Canopy Pilot (Albert is now moving to Executive Director position)
0 CRW jumpers

You can find out more about the current USPA Board of Directors here: https://uspa.org/bod.

It is clear some disciplines are under represented or not represented at all. I hope this inspires others to consider running for the board in the future or get involved, and/or challenges USPA members in voting to consider a more relevant and balanced board to represent this vast and growing sport.

MORE ABOUT MELISSA