Diversity, Equity and Inclusion


The mission of the US Sailing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee is to promote and support diversity, equity and inclusion within the sailing community in the United States. We recognize diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) as essential to achieving our mission. We are committed to achieving greater DEI throughout the sport and fostering an environment that is welcoming to all sailors.

The DEI Committee will work with the US Sailing Board of Directors and the sailing community of the USA at large to create and support initiatives that will help to promote access to the sport of sailing and increase participation by encouraging local sailing organizations to provide an inviting inclusive environment in which to sail. If you are interested in being involved with the DEI Committee, or if you have general questions or comments, please contact:  DEI@ussailing.org

DEI Internship Opportunity

The focus of this internship is developing a relationship between US Sailing and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Throughout that process you will be researching the necessary resources needed to build a sailing program at a HBCU. In addition, you will have the opportunity to work with the internal staff DEI committee to develop ways on how to make the organization more inclusive. Finally, there is a potential opportunity for this intern to connect with the US Sailing Youth Advisory Board to advise them on their DEI projects.

The prerequisite for this internship is that you must be an Intercollegiate Sailing Association's Inclusivity, Diversity and Equity Taskforce (TIDE) representative.


US Sailing has compiled a number of resources, including books, webinars, podcasts and also identified a number of organizations that are involved with DEI initiatives, both within the sports world and beyond.

DEI Pillars Working Document


Additional Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Resources

Organizational and Individual Profiles

To help us achieve our mission, among other things, we seek to identify individuals and organizations that provide best practices and access to sailing for all. These are organizations that align with the standards set forth by US Sailing and offer safety, fun and learning through programming.

The stories are endless, but they start here!

Organizations (just a few examples...)


Captain Donald Lawson Sets His Sight on Breaking Records
“I don’t come from a sailing family.”

From an athletic family, Donald Lawson was looking to excel in a sport of his own, just as his siblings had. When his mother organized a summer camp trip on the topsail schooner Lady Maryland, 9-year-old Donald’s passion for sailing was kindled, and when the captain told him he could sail around the world, he knew he found his calling. Through middle school and high school he developed his skills through Baltimore’s Living Classroom (https://livingclassrooms.org/programs/shipboard-education/) and by joining the Naval Junior ROTC, and at 17 he began teaching at Baltimore’s Downtown Sailing Center (now a Seibel Sailing partner). “I knew I was breaking ground as I was the only instructor that looked like me,” he remembers. For the next two years he spent the sailing season developing skills as an instructor and sailor, and by applying lessons he had read about on his long commute. 20 years later, Captain Lawson can still quote those articles and books. Read More...


Debora Abrams-Wright is Leading Comrades-in-Arms and More
“Our mission as a DE&I committee is to help connect sailing clubs with all of the underserved groups out there who have yet to see themselves as a part of this.”

As the Chairman of the US Sailing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and as a recent addition to the Board of Directors at Hudson River Community Sailing (HRCS), Sergeant Debora Abrams-Wright has come a long way in a relatively short time.

Abrams-Wright first set sailing from Long Island as an adult in the early 1990’s, “but it was short lived and I didn't learn much,” she admits. A lifelong learner, she picked up sailing again some 20 years later, long after leaving active service, while working at the Veterans Administration as an Employment Specialist assisting veterans like herself. She had also started an organization, Veterans Adaptive Sports NYC, to help vets take advantage of the many free sports programs that were available around New York City (all of which she has participated in). Debora first organized Veterans On Guard, a fencing program, and soon she was honing her fencing skills while competing in local tournaments!

The second program she helped veterans join was sailing with Hudson River Community Sailing’s Soldiers Under Sail, which has given veterans lessons and club memberships since 2014.

“I was one of the only female vets to join the program and only a few of us were persons of color,” she said. Read More...


Quemuel Arroyo Adapting and Thriving
“I'm back to sailing because the staff at HRCS embraced the challenge of getting a paraplegic at the helm of a boat.”

Quemuel Arroyo grew up on an island but, when that island is Manhattan, the nearest yacht club might not be the sort of place you can just wander into.

“I grew up in Hamilton Heights, Manhattan, and though I lived next to the Hudson River, my family, and the rest of my Black and Latino community had no access to experience the water,” explained Arroyo, who goes by “Q.”

However, he did sail on Long Island Sound as a high school freshman through NYC Outward Bound Schools, and he continued to sail occasionally with friends who had connections to boats. While on that first Outward Bound trip he met Robert Burke, who would later become the Executive Director of Hudson River Community Sailing (HRCS), and they stayed in touch.

Following a spinal cord injury, Q was invited to join HRCS, and sailing became a collaborative effort.  Read More...


Diversity Statement

US Sailing has adopted this statement as the cornerstone of its mission.


Diversity is embracing any collective mixture of differences and similarities as we strive to develop more inclusive and high performing environments. Diversity is invaluable because it generates differing points of view, leads to innovation, fosters an understanding and acceptance of individuals from different backgrounds, and recognizes the contributions that a variety of individuals and groups can make.  Diversity encompasses, but is not limited to, race, color, ethnicity, nationality, religion, socioeconomic status, veteran status, education, marital status, language, age, gender, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, mental or physical ability, genetic information, and learning styles.

Equity is the guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all while striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. The principle of equity acknowledges that there are historically under-served and under-represented populations and that fairness regarding these unbalanced conditions is needed to assist equality in the provision of effective opportunities to all groups.

Inclusion is about creating and maintaining an environment in which contributions and strengths are recognized, optimized and valued in a way that generates opportunities for adaptability, problem solving, growth and ultimately increased success.  Inclusion is about creating and maintaining an environment in which people are not excluded or marginalized because of their difference and authentically bringing traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups into processes, activities, and decision/policy making in a way that shares power and ensures equal access to opportunities and resources.


In addition to being the right thing to do, DEI initiatives make good development sense, are critical to achieving the mission of the organization, and are an integral part of the success of US Sailing.  It is our goal to expand the image of sailing to one that invites and supports the involvement of all.

Focus Areas

To implement this statement, preliminary areas of focus for the DEI Committee include, but are not limited to:

  • Increasing awareness within US Sailing of the importance of DEI and encouraging national, regional and local sailing organizations to do the same.
  • Recruiting, retaining and promoting diverse sailors into our sport, within national, regional and local sailing organizations and within US Sailing.
  • Providing mentoring, development, education, and training for all sailors.
  • Increasing the level of diversity within US Sailing at all levels (Board, leadership, staff, committees, volunteers, and interns).
  • Developing strategic partnerships and relationships that will complement our efforts to achieve greater DEI throughout all areas of sailing.
  • Shifting US Sailing resources not aligned with the Mission of DEI towards programs that are.