Understanding the USDF Governance Structure and Elections in 2023

Voting at the Board of Governors meeting during the USDF Annual Convention. Photo by Jennifer Bryant

Every year at the Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention, the USDF Board of Governors (BOG) votes to fill open seats on the USDF Executive Board (EB). The EB consists of 16 positions: four Officers (President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary); nine Regional Directors (one per region); and three At-Large Directors (Activities Council, Administrative Council, and Technical Council). The positions up for election each year are based on a rotational schedule outlined in the USDF Bylaws.

This year, there are elections for the Activities Council, Administrative Council, and Technical Council At-Large Directors. The deadline for Executive Board nominations was June 1, and nominations from the floor of the BOG meeting are not permitted for At-Large Directors. Current candidates are listed on the USDF website, and for more information on the candidates, please view the USDF Connection article, “Meet the Candidates.”

With over 30,000 members, USDF relies on the leadership of the EB to guide the organization. Therefore, the members of the BOG (a combination of Participating Member (PM) Delegates and Group Membership Organization (GMO) Delegates) must take their jobs seriously as the representation of the general membership. Not only do they vote on the USDF EB members up for election, but they also vote on important governance matters, such as committee proposals and the annual USDF proposed budget. This gives the leaders of the organization direction for USDF and the sport of dressage regarding the collective membership.

Participating Member (PM) Delegates are elected every year in June by the PMs in their region, and once elected represent the interests of those PMs.  The number of PM Delegates each region can elect and how many votes each of those delegates carries is determined by a region’s size.  In addition to voting on various governance matters, PM Delegates elect their respective region’s Regional Director, and vote with the rest of the BOG for the Officer and At-Large Director positions. PM Delegates communicate with their respective Regional Director regarding needs and issues that arise from the general membership.

Group Membership Organization (GMO) Delegates are appointed by their GMO, which must have a minimum of 25 members and be in good standing with USDF to have representation on the BOG. The number of delegates a GMO can appoint and how many votes they carry is determined by the size of the GMO. GMO Delegates represent the interests of their GMO on the BOG, which includes voting on various governance matterselecting their respective region’s Regional Director, and electing the USDF Officers and At-Large Directors of the USDF EB. When a GMO Delegate cannot attend the Board of Governors meeting, a proxy may be designated so that a GMO does not lose their vote(s).

First off, if you are not a USDF member, the best way to get involved in influencing the sport of dressage is to join! Here, you can see what type of membership is best for your needs.

If you are already a member, the next best thing to help the USDF governance structure and voice your opinions is to contact your PM Delegates, or if you are a GMO member, by talking to your GMO Delegate. By logging into the USDF website, you can find the contact information for your region’s PM Delegates and, if you are part of a GMO, can contact your GMO Delegate(s).

Lastly, if you plan to join us in Omaha, for the 2023 Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention, feel free to attend the BOG General Assembly! The meeting is open to all attendees, not just delegates and officials. This is the prime opportunity to watch USDF governance in action, and to see how the USDF officers and BOG delegates form a cohesive team to further the organization’s mission and goals.

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