Stephanie Hightower, the Chairman of USA Track & Field and I saw each other at various events over the winter. On one occasion, Stephanie noted that USATF would reopen the CEO search, find the new CEO and name and place the CEO before the Olympic Trials in July 2012.
This very afternoon, I went to check my email and I saw the release and note from Jill Geer on the naming of Max Siegel as new CEO of USA Track & Field, a post that he will assume on May 1, 2012. They also held a press conference today. To say that USATF did this with precision is an understatement. As Runblogrun was in London covering the London marathon, we will request an interview with Mr. Siegel upon our return.
Here is the blog that Chairman Stephanie Hightower prepared for this moment. We have also posted the official release and we also reprinted a story about the board where Mr. Siegel, then a member (February 2011), makes some thoughtful comments on the sport and positioning USA Track & Field. ,
A Message From The President/Chair
16 months of searching, today I had the honor and pleasure of
introducing Max Siegel as USA Track & Field’s next CEO. With this
announcement, the days of USATF’s “leadership gap” are over. And with it
comes an opportunity for all of us to recalibrate, refocus and fully
devote ourselves to our respective roles in the sport we love.
The board of directors’
decision to hire Max came after an extremely productive retreat held
earlier this month in Denver. Collaborating with members of the USOC’s
own leadership team, we spent 2-plus days honing in on what the role of
the board should be, how we should work together with the CEO, and what
kind of leader, and leadership dynamic, will be most effective for this
The board emerged from
the retreat with a renewed commitment to stay at a high level of
governance, a true sense of excitement over our selection of a visionary
leader to be our CEO, and a unity that we have not seen since the “new”
board was first formed in 2009.
I am never one to dance
around a topic. The last 18 months have been challenging not just for
the organization and the sport, but for the board itself. Our first CEO
search, conducted last year, was long and arduous. In the interim,
without a permanent CEO at the table or in the National Office, many of
us across the spectrum of USATF started taking on new roles and
responsibilities. To be frank, the proper role of the board, our
volunteer leaders and staff got basically thrown out the window as we
all stepped in until we could find our new leader.
At the board retreat, our
focus was to define what success looks like in terms of USATF’s
governance and leadership structure. What that looks like is having the
board and CEO aligned and working together on common goals. It is not
the board and CEO engaged in a power struggle or a political battle for
winning over “hearts and minds.” One of the traits Max possesses that
truly sets him apart as a leader is his ability to overcome differences
and work with people instead of against them; to find the common ground
of united interests. In that regard, our board is taking a page from his
As of today, and as we
move forward, the board and our CEO are aligned in our commitment to
execute this organization’s strategic plan. We share a vision for the
future and a level of trust that I don’t think I have ever seen in my
almost 30 years in this sport. That is not to say we agree on every
single point. Max knows the board’s strengths and weaknesses as well as
anyone, and the same is true of the board and Max. It is our shared
commitment and overall vision – and again, let me say our shared trust –
that will remake our organization’s future.
In short, the “old days”
of board, staff and volunteers sometimes working together on the surface
but often working in conflict, behind the scenes, are over.
Our athletes have set the standard of athletic
excellence on the field of play, and we expect no less of them. Our
board will set the same standard of excellence in terms of how to
operate and govern properly and effectively. We now look to the people
who make our sport “run” across the country every day – volunteers,
officials, coaches and fans – to join us in building a model of
professionalism that will set the standard for all NGBs within the
Together, we are better. We, collectively, are USA Track & Field.
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