This is an election year for USPA, meaning that each of the 22 seats on USPA’s board of directors is up for grabs by any USPA member who is qualified to run. Qualifications are simple: You must be at least 18 on or before August 1, 2018, and you must have completed a total of two years of USPA membership. Meet those two qualifications and provide a Director Candidate Biography form, a suitable photo and the $50 filing fee by August 1, and you can have your name appear on the official ballot. These requirements and other deadlines appear in Section 3-1 of USPA’s Governance Manual, which is available for free download at uspa.org.
When filing, you must also indicate whether you are running for one of the 14 regional director seats or one of the eight at-large national director seats. Your address of record in the USPA database determines the USPA region in which you can run. Any member from anywhere can run for one of the eight national director seats. The 14 regional directors and eight national directors each have an equal vote on the board.
What you are committing to should you win election is serving a three-year term (2019-2021), which requires attending two meetings each year at various locations. But being on the board is so much more than simply attending two meetings a year. Most board members wind up on at least two of the board’s standing committees, which can involve work on policies or proposals in between board meetings. Review Governance Manual Section 1-2 to learn about board structure, procedures and responsibilities.
Unlike national directors, regional directors have additional responsibilities to members in their regions by appointing Safety and Training Advisors, approving Group Member applications from drop zones, approving various applications for credentials and awards and being involved in disciplinary actions. One recent regional director estimated he spent 200 hours per year, excluding board meetings, on regional responsibilities and engaging in other board business. Section 1-4 of the manual describes regional director responsibilities.
Why should you consider running for the board? The typical answer is that serving on the board is a way of giving back to the sport that means so much to each of us. Some simply think their life experience allows them to contribute in a meaningful way to the many deliberations and decisions the board must make. Others bring specific agendas that they hope to persuade the board to adopt or endorse, whether it’s a change in the way USPA does business, a change to an existing USPA policy or a more specific change (say in training doctrine or competition rules). Desiring skydiving fame, notoriety or affirmation are the worst reasons to run. And you won’t earn any income for serving, although USPA reimburses board members for their travel and meal costs and picks up the cost of hotel rooms for meetings they attend.
And although women comprise about 14 percent of the membership and, coincidentally, 14 percent of the current board, there is no reason that more women shouldn’t be on the board. Regardless of your gender, you should think about running. If you decide to run, download the Governance Manual, review the material and make sure you submit all required materials by August 1. The gauntlet has been thrown down; who will pick it up?