Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia / Big Sur, California
Education: Brown University, BA Double Major with Honors 1988
- Why do you want to be a member of US Sailing’s Board of Directors?
I am excited by the opportunity to help US Sailing re-energize existing sailors and inspire a new generation of sailors across all skill levels. Sailing is the most rewarding when there are many participating across all walks of life. This is true for both the elite sailor and the beginner.
- How can community sailing centers, yacht clubs and other sailing organizations collaborate with each other more on key initiatives to grow sailing?
For collaboration to happen, there needs to be awareness of others with similar goals and a way to connect. Connecting at the local level may be fairly easy, but connecting to great ideas from across the country is harder. The spectrum of sailing organizations is vast, so it would be helpful to collect creative ideas/approaches to grow sailing and share them in an interactive ongoing collaborative way that is crowdsourced from sailing programs around the country, using an online format. One size does not fit all, so having a menu of ideas will enable organizations to choose what will work for them and their objectives.
Within these ideas, we might suggest that regional sailing organizations be more collaborative by communicating and actively promoting each other’s events. Consider travel trophies and creative ways to get newer sailors attending, such as experts crewing, two boats’ scores making up their overall score, shorter race formats so beginners aren’t racing alone in the back, active interaction on the water to “penalize front sailors” and push them back in the fleet, rotating a bench of sailors from shore/a motorboat and changing out every race, a strong social component onshore, etc. Hosting clubs should network with non-hosting organizations, including community sailing programs and other classes, to connect boats, skippers and crew – a common barrier to participation. Look for opportunities to invite camps, schools etc. to try sailing and increase the pool of sailors. The ideas are endless, so let’s gather and share them so we can all benefit!
- How can these organizations and other sailing industries integrate with their local communities to provide more awareness for prospective new sailors?
A prerequisite is to enlist sailors/families ready to drive the effort, who will demonstrate by example why sailing is a great way of life. When potential sailors show up, they need to see something they want to spend time doing something for everyone, spanning great onshore camaraderie to fun on the water experiences. Experienced sailors need to be ready to help others, not just focused on winning races themselves. Consider partnering with local employers, schools, etc. to host learn-to-sail days. Use social media to spread the word. Provide on land social opportunities before, during and after for networking and be sure your club sailors of all levels participate. Have fun activities for kids both on and off the water, and the ability for non-sailing family members to get on the water to watch. If your area has an off-season, continue sailing chalk-talks and social meetings. Follow up with communications regularly!
- What can US Sailing do to help facilitate these partnerships?
US Sailing should provide a forum for sailors to share their ideas to grow sailing, and organize the information so organizations can use it. We then need to promote and communicate where and why to find the information at every opportunity! We should continue to provide a roadmap of sailing experiences that range from beginner/local to elite opportunities, and given the number of programs, we should look for opportunities to bridge sailors from one program to another. Again, we need to proactively reach out and encourage sailors from one program to the other. Don’t let them fall idle or miss opportunities to advance due to lack of knowledge.
We can do better at reaching out and educating clubs, inviting and enabling young sailors to meet each other and achieve milestones at any level. Use online communication channels including social media to increase awareness, generate excitement and interact with potential sailors. Educate sailing clubs/organizations about US Sailing opportunities, such as junior ladder regattas. The inspiration when someone from your club qualifies is electric to the other sailors and parents included. Many organizations have never experienced it.
- How has US Sailing’s programs and services impacted your overall sailing experience?
I was fortunate to grow up at a strong inland yacht club with racers concentrated in four one-design classes. Regional class racing and rivalries made the racing fun for all levels. Most sailors joined US Sailing simply to get the rulebook, as it created “the rules”. We were not aware of other services until Evans Harrell joined our club. I expect many clubs/sailors are still in this paradigm.
Through sailing, I met mentors who guided me to collegiate sailing and introduced me to international sailing opportunities. I read the rules and appeals, but US Sailing was not on my radar until after college. A US Sailing coach called and invited me to try the Olympic Europe Dinghy class. It took a village to find needed boat parts and repair the boat US Sailing had lined up, but thanks to fellow sailors and a loaned sail from Bill Shore, I made the races and was hooked. This experience may be a good analogy for many US Sailing programs. It takes sailors and a lot of volunteers to make a program work, but good planning can make it easier!
Our club has gone through a slow evolution and I am now proud to see juniors, who, thanks to US Sailing sponsored events, can see and choose a path from local to regional and even national aspirations if they so choose. I also see a very knowledgeable active set of professional race officers running our races and expert judges at our regattas.
- Is it important for sailors to be members of US Sailing?
Yes, without a doubt. Being part of a national organization in your sport brings pride and a sense of belonging to something bigger than yourself. Then thinking tactically, racers need the rules governance and depend on race committees to run quality races. US Sailing PRO certification programs cascading to local race committees have changed the game. Having international juries and on the water umpires for larger competitions is also critical – and again we have US Sailing to thank for their training and creating an even playing field. On the broader sailing topic, US Sailing plays an unmatched role in fostering a safe boating environment, through education programs for all types of sailing administrators, racers, and boaters. Membership supports safety for all of us.
Sailing is part of my DNA, having been raised by parents who raced Snipes together and who developed the Atlanta Yacht Club (AYC) Snipe fleet into one of the most active in the country. I started crewing for Dad’s rival at age 5, began skippering Snipes at age 11, and by 15 was winning junior regattas, women’s championships and some local Snipe regattas. I was named AYC’s Most Outstanding Sailor in 1981 and the AYC Goodwill Ambassador in 1983. I raced on the Brown University sailing team and upon graduation, joined Arthur Andersen/Andersen Consulting in Atlanta where I spent the first 7 years working with global clients on customer information systems, program management and benchmarking.
Continuing my sailing passion, in 1991 I represented the USA and won a bronze medal crewing in Snipes at the Pan American Games in Cuba. In 1994, I won the Olympic Europe Dinghy National Championships and took a leave from work to pursue a spot on the 1996 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team. The next year I placed third at Savannah Olympic Spring Regatta, which ranked me for the US Sailing Team.
August of 1995 I suffered a back injury due to a car accident, and returned to Andersen Consulting. Coming back from 1997 back surgery, I placed second at the 2010 Snipe Women’s Nationals. I qualified and raced in the Snipe Western Hemisphere Championships in Buenos Aires Argentina in 2012, and in 2013 I qualified and competed as the only female skipper in the Snipe World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I won the AYC Halloween Snipe regatta and was awarded the William H. Lynn Memorial Trophy by AYC in 2013. In 2015 I won the U.S. Snipe Masters Championships.
- Two-time US Sailing Team member; Pan American Games bronze medal winner in Snipes; Europe Dinghy National Champion: US Snipe Masters Champion; Snipe Western Hemisphere and World Championship skipper
- William H. Lynn memorial award recipient; Atlanta Yacht Club’s Most Outstanding Sailor recipient and Goodwill Ambassador recipient
- 27 years working for Accenture (previously Andersen Consulting), the world’s largest consulting firm as measured by revenues and a Fortune Global 500 company
- Current role as Social Learning Strategic Advisor in the Growth & Strategy organization where I am responsible for connecting our 370,000 employees to Accenture’s intellectual property, knowledge, experts and communities to enable quality client sales and delivery
- Developed and now manage Accenture’s internal knowledge strategy and data architecture for offerings, assets, expertise and mobile enterprise solutions
- Active supporter of Georgia State University, establishing a professorship in honor of her father in the J. Mack Robinson College of Business in the Center for Risk Management and Insurance. Continues to support the College of Business with Women’s initiatives and strategic planning efforts.
I look forward to applying the strong strategic, networking and communication skills I have developed to the sailing community that has given me so much. I have a passion to reinvigorate participation in sailing at the grass roots, bringing in new sailors and just as importantly, reaching out those less active to rejoin the fun! I am excited to give back, starting a journey that will grow the sailing community and benefit sailing and its participants at all levels.