USRowing Annual Meeting

summarized by David DeWinter
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Speakers

Amanda Kraus CEO, USRowing

The 3-Sentence Summary

In Amanda Kraus’s first year as CEO in 2021, USRowing had ambitious goals on top of already arduous year working through COVID and a USOPC assessment of high performance. The biggest changes in 2021 were to the organization itself–setting up its structure and business model to be able to execute against programming, DEI, coach education, and development aspirations in 2022. USRowing underwent a modern rebrand in preparation for those goals.

Timestamps

0:10 Introduction – Amanda Kraus

0:53 Brand refresh video

2021 in Review

7:13 Goals for 2021

  • Optimize structure and staffing at USRowing
  • Revenue Generation to be a long-term sustainable organization
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • High performance planning

8:03 Other important work

  • COVID and its impact on racing at every level
  • USOPC assessment of high performance
  • Governance overhaul
  • Reputational repair–still a lot more ahead

Accomplishments

10:02 Restructuring: We are one organization. Every outlet of rowing (junior, para, collegiate, national, masters) should be supported by similar key infrastructure at USRowing (marketing, fundraising, ops, etc.)

12:29 Communications: Monthly newsletter, quarterly town halls, collegiate connections, consistent social media, Swing of Things podcast, rebranding

13:59 Development Team: multiple new fundraising initiatives

14:49 Governance change to the structure of the board to be smaller and more impactful.

15:43 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: monthly community Zooms, STEM to Stern, $100k in Olympic Development Scholarship for youth, DEI woven into convention, new hire for leading department (Jennie Trayes)

18:43 High Performance and Planning: we earned some medals but there is a lot of work to do. We have new clarity of vision around what it takes to build up athletes and win medals and are currently searching for a new head of high-performance.

20:49 Racing: we held trials before the vaccine for Tokyo selection and informed Olympic-wide guidance on how to run events during COVID. We successfully held youth nationals, summer nationals, and masters nationals.

22:08 Lessons learned:

  • All the changes we’re leading now take time. We’ve started by getting the right structure in place to support leading those changes.
  • Get better at evaluating what we do – how can we get better?

2022: Looking Ahead

25:17 Focused on members:

  • Resources (new websites, webinars, thematic zooms)
  • Staffing – consistently high caliber
  • Higher Education
  • Safety focus
  • Launch of the USRowing Foundation

26:46 Constructive feedback is a good thing. Let’s grow the sport together.

28:31 THANK YOU!

Questions

29:44 (Feedback) Thoughts on the new logo?

  • Sleek
  • Don’t see rowing in it – see the boat?
  • What’s the thinking behind the meaning, look, and feel?

31:40 The design team interviewed a lot of rowers, referees, regatta directors, etc. about what do you see when you think of USRowing. We wanted it to be modern with a fresh color scheme. The classic shield shape comes from national team tradition and the lines form the boat and the wake. Being stylized is okay in our opinion; other NGBs like USA Soccer also aren’t in your face with the sport in their logo.

35:07 What’s the purpose of the USRowing Foundation vs the NRF?

  • The NRF was created in the 60s because no one was raising money for the US National Team.
  • Today, we spend $4M on the national team and receive $1.5M from the USOPC and $1M from NRF.
  • We believed it would make sense to develop our in-house fundraising arm to fund these expenses, in addition to DEI and coaching education efforts.

38:49 Can you talk about the new staff structure?

  • Board of Directors
  • CEO
  • Heads of each department (development, marketing and communications, programs, high performance, community – DEI, operations – finance, HR)

41:10 What was the USOPC Assessment?

For a number of years the USOPC received negative feedback about high performance at USRowing, critical of culture, selection, communication, etc. They spent January to September interviewing several parts of the organization (including athletes) and came back with a report on what USRowing could do better. We’re still digesting at the board and CEO level, and we should be able to start acting on this feedback soon.

43:21 How does STEM work in STEM to Stern?

STEM to Stern partners with a local college/university where the STEM instruction can take place.

44:20 We’re looking for a new person to help run social media at USRowing.

47:04 Big jumps in membership almost back to pre-pandemic levels.

  • 2019: 1350 organizations, 75000 individual members
  • Dropped to 32000 members during the pandemic
  • Now: 1275 organizations, 69000 individual members

49:56 Building relationships with the CRCA

51:16 We (USRowing) have to be transparent at all levels and do a better job communicating everything that we provide for the sport. (It’s not just insurance.) And then we need to do a better job helping all of you illustrate those costs to your stakeholders.

54:24 What does USRowing do about coaches who have made Safe Sport violations?

The Center for Safe Sport makes a determination on individuals being removed and we are legally bound to follow their rulings.

57:36 The Nuts and Bolts Newsletter contains a calendar of useful dates.

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