The Governance Manual
The USPA’s Governance Manual is how USPA – the board, committee’s and staff – are expected to run. It covers what the Constitution and by-laws are, structures, procedures, responsibilities, the election of officers, disciplinary actions, and all the committees and their responsibilities. If you want to understand more about how things work behind the scenes, this is a great place to start.
The Role of National Director
The Board as a whole has a responsibility to serve as a whole and its functions 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
A National Director and Regional Director serve two different purposes. However, they share these functions and this is the sole function of the National Director:
- 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
The Role of Regional Director
There is a whole section in the Governance Manual Section 1-4 that describes the role of the Regional Director. An excerpt from the GM:
USPA Regional Directors have unique responsibilities not shared by other board members. Specifically, they have administrative duties and responsibilities to a regional consitituency. They serve both as members of the board who, along with the USPA national directors, develop the policies and programs of the association, and as regional administrators of safety, training, and membership service programs.
- Process DZ Group Membership applications
- Represent and support Group Members within the region
- Assist in disputes between members
- Ensure compliance with BSR’s
- Conduct investigations as necessary
- Appoint S&TA’s
- Assist staff in processing licenses, ratings, and awards
- Promote skydiving in the region
What Really Happens as a National Director
As far as I can remember, I had heard and assumed the National Director position was simply showing up to meetings. However, how is one to represent the membership if they are not connected with the membership? It specifically says in the Governance Manual:
- each board member MUST REPRESENT THE INTERESTS OF THE REGIONAL OR NATIONAL CONSTITUENCY FOR WHOM THAT BOARD MEMBER REPRESENTS
Here’s what I’ve discovered: you can represent HOWEVER you wish, and members will elect you based on HOW you represent them. Cool. So here’s a map of what I consider REPRESENTING THE INTERESTS OF MY CONSTITUENCY:
COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE!
For the LONGEST time, I’ve always felt a disconnect from the Board of Directors of USPA and the membership. My goal is to help bridge that gap in finding ways in reaching the members. Here’s what I’ve been doing:
- Write comprehensive blogs to recap meetings
- Conduct surveys to get member feedback
- Created a USPA Member-only Facebook Page
- share blogs
- conduct polls
- share upcoming agenda items
- recap board meetings in real-time
- share a recap of Board meetings
- share the work I’m doing in between meetings
- educate on USPA resources, USPA events, etc.
- Answer as many Facebook messages, Group page questions, and emails as I can – usually in concert with other board members
I also have developed relationships with other board members and USPA staff to communicate as well – such as with helping me answer questions I don’t have answers to. I also have shared my intentions of recent agenda items such as my intention of creating the Sport Promotion Committee, the E-license, and working out processes since I’m new as a voting Board Member. Having developed these relationships has helped me, help members.
Here’s what I plan to do:
- Connect with USPA Group Members
- Visit dropzone to connect with group members and individual members (I’ll share my 2021 calendar soon)
- Continue jumping and continue to be an active skydiver – perhaps getting my rigger’s ticket!
- Continue writing blogs and connecting with members through my Facebook Group
- Continue to connect with members and be a bridge between the board and members and communicate
How Much Time Do You Dedicate as National Director?
The work varies depending on if it’s an election year while you are campaigning if it’s a month or two before a board meeting, a board meeting, post-board meeting, or interim. It might be easier to bullet point what I have done since getting elected (this covers a 2 month period):
- Introducing to the board a new committee or agenda item (I introduced a Sport Promotion Committee and it was passed to add a Sport Promotion Sub-Committee to Membership Services)
- Create slide deck presentation and script – 1.5 hours
- Connect with 21 other board members and staff member via phone calls and emails – 10 hours
- Adding language to the SIM (I joined a Safety & Training sub-committee to help write the language in the SIM for movement jumps)
- Connecting with leaders in the community in that specific discipline – 9 hours
- Connecting with sub-committee – 1.5 hours
- Writing language to present to the committee – 2 hours
- Board Meetings – these require a day to travel to, 3 full days of meetings, and leaving the last day
- Connecting with members – this has varied depending on if I was campaigning, reading/disseminating/sharing agenda items, answering messages via Facebook, email, Messenger, texts, writing blogs, posting in my Facebook Group
And then there is campaigning if you choose to run. You could put as much or as little effort to this as you wish. I probably put in 10 hrs/week with social media posts, emails, sending flyers, connecting with members to gain support, etc. I also started campaigning immediately when the Special Elections were announced and covers about a 2.5 month period.
What Do You Have to Know to be A National Director?
My personal opinion is if you are interested in becoming a board member, start attending the USPA board meetings. It’s a great opportunity to attend as of recent, board meetings have been broadcasted for virtual attendees. Getting to know how USPA runs, and who is currently on the board.
I went to 3 board meetings in the previous 2 years of being elected. This time was spent getting to know current events and the people on the board. I thrive in collaboration and wanted to get to know more about the people on the board and see if I could work well with them. I also used this time to learn about the history as many board members have been board members for a VERY LONG time and share a lot.
I have many ideas to share with the Competition Committee in supporting host dropzones, and meeting with Sport Promotion Sub-Committee. I am also creating a sub-sub Sport Promotion Committee made up of members to help support the Sub-Committee. I have had a lot of incredible feedback from USPA members in which to do my due diligence investigating the process as many of these ideas are intended to add to next meeting’s agenda. I will report updates in my Facebook Group just as I had for this meeting to get feedback on agenda items, and the progress of the other work.
I also know the International Skydiving Museum is a hot topic as well and I will give space for people to express their sentiments and constructive feedback in the Facebook Group. I am also doing A LOT of research here to present when the conversation arises.
Thank you again for allowing me to serve!
-Melissa Lowe, USPA National Director