Meet the Committee Chair – Dr. Iris Berdrow, Audit Committee

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What is your committee’s mission? 

As an independent committee of USDF, the Audit Committee’s mission is to demonstrate USDF’s commitment to a policy of strict fiscal accountability and proper governance by adoption of best practices to improve internal controls and maintain high standards of stewardship.

How long have you been on this committee?

Since spring 2018

How long have you been the committee chair?

Since spring 2018

How did you get involved in the sport of dressage? 

I started riding Western at 8 years old when my parents sent me to a summer camp in the Blue Mountains, Ontario, Canada.  In my early 20s I switched to hunters, competing at schooling shows, fall fairs, and riding with the London (Ontario) Hunt Club.  When I immigrated to the USA in 1996, I decided to try a “safer” equestrian sport and started taking dressage lessons.  I quickly realized that I was finally really learning to ride.  I got my first dressage horse in 2007 and, as they say, am addicted.

How did you get involved with USDF?

About 10 years ago, I went with some barn buddies to Equine Affair in Springfield, MA.  I found myself chatting with the New England Dressage Association folks at their booth; given their enthusiasm for the sport, I joined NEDA on the spot.  I started to learn more about USDF when I joined the NEDA Board as their Treasurer.  Attending my first Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention in Boston, and each subsequent year, I grew to understand and appreciate USDF’s role in all of NEDA’s objectives, as well as the sport in general. 

How did you get involved in the committee? 

I really wanted to know more about how the organization worked, and how I could contribute, so I would attend convention sessions, read all the materials, and pay attention to what USDF was doing.  Another conversation at the Lexington, KY convention – in the bar of course, where all good conversations happen – led to being asked if I would be interested in chairing the Audit Committee.  Of course!!

What is your favorite part of being involved with this committee? 

Learning more about USDF’s financial structure, their stewardship of the dressage world’s income and expenses.  And meeting my committee – albeit via technology – but now I know two more horse people!

What unique qualifications made you an expert in the committee’s area?  

My first career before pursuing an MBA and PhD was as a Registered Industrial Accountant (RIA) in Canada.  As a result, I have always had a strong financial skill set (really handy when you own horses J).  I have been Treasurer for NEDA for about 5 years, as well as Treasurer for one of my town’s senior support organizations. 

What has been your committee’s greatest accomplishment, or what do you hope to accomplish during your tenure? 

Since USDF is a well-run, conscientious organization, our job is easy.  We are an external view on the financial summaries, ensuring that reported results and changes from previous years make sense and are well explained. 

Please share a little bit about yourself and your background.

I am a dual citizen (Canada/USA), having grown up in Canada on a small farm in rural Ontario and immigrating to the USA to take a faculty position at Bentley University, a private business university outside of Boston.  I love living in a small rural New England town with access to the mountains, the ocean, urban life, while still enjoying nature in my backyard.  My horse is boarded a mile down the road, in fact I bought my house because of its proximity to the barn.  I will commute to work, not the barn.  My job affords me the privilege of travelling around the world, teaching in other countries, taking Bentley students abroad, attending conferences, and conducting research.  My expertise is in international management, specifically how people develop effective competencies for working with and in other cultures.  I often relate my riding, especially communicating with my horse, to working with other cultures – different language, different perceptions of the world, different objectives – yet finding a way to work together.  Learning to understand each other, that is what riding (and life) are all about.

Do you currently compete in dressage, or have you competed in the past?  

I have and do as an AA, although my current horse is recovering from an injury, so my 2019 season got postponed to next year.  I was thrilled to have qualified at Training Level for the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Championships three years ago on my then lease horse, Beckett.  I got Beckett after my PSG Spanish Norman, Goloso’s Enamorado (Mambo) was retired to work as a therapeutic riding horse because of a suspensory injury.  I seem to have spent more than my fair share of time suffering through the frustrations of injuries and vet bills, yet there is no greater joy than to be with my own horse at a barn I love (Highland Hill Farm) sharing stories with barn buddies.  I have learned that ground work and TLC time can be just as (well ok, almost as) rewarding as the magic of the dance.

Please share a favorite dressage-related memory.  

With my own horse in recovery, I had the opportunity last year to spend 4 days with Jaralyn Gibson at her Maryland farm.  I trained with her and her school master Fabrice.  On day 4 I learned, practiced and accomplished flying changes.  Fabrice was so balanced and talented that I actually did not notice the first one until two strides later.  I was giddy.

What horse impacted your love for the sport the most? 

Mambo (Goloso’s Enamorado).  He is the only horse on whom I have experienced a piaffe.  I won’t say ridden a piaffe because he knew what he was doing and allowed me to sit (giggling) on him while he did his job.  His nickname was Yoda because he was so calm, a true gentle giant.  Now he is embracing his new life with the same gentleness and intelligence.  The kids at the therapeutic riding center love him, and he takes good care of them.

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