There were two primary issues that took up the bulk of the open portion of the Board of Directors Meeting: Volunteer Communication Policy and IAAF Council Nominee.
This post will focus on the discussion regarding a volunteer communication policy.
Obviously this conversation was spurred by the mass email that youth chair Lionel Leach sent to the youth email list. The National Office has received many complaints about it and even a threat of legal action. The email allegedly was sent to some youth athletes. This has made the National Office aware that they need to better understand how the process works by which the various volunteer groups access and send emails.
This topic is of great interest to me personally as the Communications Chair for my Association. I agree that the National Office needs better awareness of the flow of communication and policies to make sure that communications that are associated with USATF are appropriate and up to their standards.
Anyway, so after Max and Larry gave a brief intro to the topic, Stephanie attempted to give more context to her email to Tim Baker. She said that she was reviewing her appointments to all committees, and checking in with the chairs of those committees to make sure their appointees were still active and such. So somehow this led to her wanting to have a conversation with Tim Baker. She said she tried to call Tim several times and could not reach him, so she sent the email.
While I have not personally contacted Jim Murphy (the L&L Committee Chair), I spoke with someone who has, and my understanding is that he is perfectly happy with Tim’s performance as L&L Secretary. I should ask Tim Baker if he ever missed any calls from Stephanie.
Stephanie made no statements indicating that Jim Murphy was unhappy with Tim Baker, however, by jumping immediately from “I contacted all committee chairs” to “I wanted to have a conversation with Tim Baker”, I think a lot of people in the room may have drawn that conclusion.
The conversation shifted back to the fallout from Lionel’s email. People have complained that they feel like their privacy was violated, that their private emails were used for a public discussion.
Max expressed concern about the legal exposure and the negative publicity. People assume that emails like this are coming from the National Office. This is not just a youth issue, Max recognizes that they need an overall policy to handle all of this.
Larry James (the Board’s legal counsel) said that he had about three pages of questions and was still adding more. Among other things, they need to address issues such as: Should all communication with members go through the National Office? When does a committee chair get to use USATF logos, letterhead, etc.
At this point they are simply trying to gather facts. They talked about putting together a Board of Directors Sub-Committee to work on this issue.
There was some discussion among various Board members, mostly repeating points that had already been made.
Stephanie emphasized that she did not want this to be an issue that drags on for a year. She also wondered about who had access to the information from people who sign up for events and what happened to it after the event.
Steve Miller wanted to make sure they did not create knee jerk legislation, he wants all encompassing legislation. He said that we all want transparency, but how do you interpret it?
Overall, I thought it was a great discussion.