USA Artistic Swimming Board of Directors Enacts Change

June 26, 2020, 4:44 p.m. (ET)
On Wednesday evening, the USA Artistic Swimming Board of Directors clearly demonstrated what is important to the organization. With one monumental vote, the board voted to expand the Board of Directors from 14 to 15 by approving the creation of a Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion board position.

In recent weeks, the Black Lives Matter movement has challenged the country in ways that we have never seen. It challenged us to look inward and make changes. As an organization, we made an official statement (view statement). The Board of Directors not only acted on the statement, but prioritized diversity by creating this new position in such a timely manner. 

" Over the past few weeks, several organizations have released statements about their support for racial justice and equity. To drive real change it’s important that we all back up our words with meaningful action. As leaders we must start by changing problematic policies in our own organizations. Therefore, I am encouraged by the decision to pursue a VP of D&I for USA Artistic Swimming." - Independent Director, Jim Anderson

The position will be tasked with ensuring that the Board of Directors and the organization approach strategy and action with equality at the forefront of all decision making. This action sets in motion clear objectives that will define the organization that USA Artistic Swimming will become for the foreseeable future. 

The significance of the vote did not stop at racial equality. The vote also approved that the board be comprised of a minimum of 33.3% of athletes. This decision will increase the number of athlete board members from three to five. 

The decision comes ahead of an anticipated change to U.S. Olympic sport legislation that will require this level of involvement by all U.S. National Governing Bodies. The athlete voice is more important than ever and the USAAS Board fully recognizes their importance. The decision made by the Board of Directors was to act as a leader in athlete inclusion.
 
"I am excited and proud to be a part of the decision to expand the USA Artistic Swimming Board of Directors to include more athlete representatives. In expanding to 15 members, we are creating more space for the athlete voice, which will now make up one third of the Board of Directors. USAAS is stepping up to be a leader in the Olympic Movement by recognizing the importance of the athlete voice and the responsibility of the organization and leadership to listen to the athlete perspective in all decision making processes. Athletes are the center of our organization and our community, and I look forward to having more athlete voices on the Board to ensure that we continue to serve all artistic swimming athletes in the best way possible." - Athlete Advisory Council Representative, Morgan Fuller Kolsrud

These new positions will join the Board of Directors at the 2020 USA Artistic Swimming Convention which will be held virtually throughout the Month of September. In the interim, a Diversity & Inclusion Task Force will work with the board to develop a scope of work for the VP of D&I and begin to address the most pressing inequality issues that our organization currently has.

 "As we all ask our athletes to strive to improve at each practice, the USAAS Board must do the same." - President, Linda Loehndorf