There’s a lot going on in 2016: the Summer Olympics; Presidential elections in the United States; and it’s the Year of the Monkey (Chinese Zodiac). Our televisions and internets are flooded with coverage of these events–the first two anyways–and within USA Swimming another development is unfolding: deciding who the next treasurer of the organization will be.
Bob Vincent of Woodbridge, VA, Eastern Zone Official’s Chair, has thrown his hat in the ring for treasurer. Mr. Vincent was kind enough to give SwimSwam some of his time and answer some questions we had about his personal qualifications for the role, and what he thinks makes a good treasurer. Below is some of our conversation. It is important to remember that Treasurer of USA Swimming is a volunteer role. Though highly important, the Treasurer will not be paid for their contributions to the organization.
SS: Mr. Vincent, what do you view as the most important roles of the treasurer?
BV: “The role of the treasurer has a couple important functions. One is that you have to manage two committees: the Audit Committee, which controls the firm that audits all of [USA Swimming’s] financials and makes sure that we are in compliance with the requirements that need to be met, and the Investment Committee, which controls all of USA Swimming’s investments. The treasurer is responsible for supervising and coordinating all of the financial management of USA Swimming. [The] job is to work hand-in-hand with Jim Harvey, [USA Swimming’s] CFO, and assist in any way that he needs.”
Vincent currently volunteers on USA Swimming’s Investment Committee, and has attended Executive Board meetings to gain a deeper understanding of how USA Swimming functions. Gaining insight into how the Executive Board handles the budget and what the Board of Directors expects the budget to tell them were two of the most important things Vincent learned by attending Executive Board meetings, even though he is not a member.
SS: Do you think the roles of treasurer would be vastly different from your work on the investment committee, or is there a bit of overlap?
BV: “Well it would be different because, as opposed to being on just one committee, you’re really dealing with all of the fiduciary requirements of the organization.”
SS: You mentioned overseeing a bit of the audit processes—what are some of the audits that you would go through as treasurer of USA Swimming? What other organizations are checking in with USA Swimming, and what are they looking for in their audits?
BV: “[A third-party] auditing firm is selected by the Audit Committee, and the Chair of the Audit Committee is Kelley Otto. [Otto] and the Audit Committee review the possible firms to bring in to conduct the audit, [and then] oversee the audit process. [After] the audit is conducted, the Audit Committee reviews it and [provides it] to the Board of Directors.” Since USA Swimming, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) Tax-exempt organization, its audits and financial information are posted on its website and available for review by its membership.
SS: What personal qualities do you think will make you a good treasurer?
BV: ““I’ve had 14 years [experience] as a CFO, and nearly 25 years as a business-owner, and [many of] my experiences with USA Swimming [have been] on the officiating side. [As an official I have learned that] you have to put the athletes first–all the athletes. You learn as an official that, when it comes to making decisions for athletes, you don’t always know the right answer. The people who do know what’s [best] for the athletes most of the time are the coaches. So I think I bring a good business perspective [and] solid business-making [experience], and I’m a very effective communicator.”
SS: Do you see any roles in the organization that in your role as treasurer you would like to improve?
BV: ““[USA Swimming has] 3 primary objectives: building the base, promoting the sport, and achieving sustained success. I think my role would be more in building the base, and providing information to build stronger LSC’s and stronger clubs. I’ve been the president of a parent-owned club here in the D.C. area, and I’ve also worked with one of the largest teams the country, Nation’s Capitol Swimming, so I’ve seen many different perspectives.”
Vincent is a Champion’s Club member of the USA Swimming Foundation, which he would continue to develop and expand were he to become treasurer. The Foundation works at the club level to teach children water safety, and also at the elite level to aid USA Swimming’s top athletes. The Make a Splash initiative is an example of the USA Swimming Foundation at work promoting water safety. Saving lives is the most important thing the USA Swimming Foundation can do, in Vincent’s opinion. If those children who learn how to swim through the Foundation go on to become champions, even better. Spreading the word about what the Foundation has to offer and making more children water-safe would be a major priority for Vincent.
Vincent is also an advocate of the LEAP Program, which provides clubs and LSC’s with the tools and information necessary to achieve the goals of the swimmers and coaches they represent. The LSC, a term that most swimmers and parents who participate in USA Swimming are familiar with, is more than just a coalition of geographically-proximate clubs that align to hold large competitions. The purpose of the LSC is to help clubs succeed as businesses and more importantly as conduits for athletic success.
“I believe the LEAP Program is responsible for the health and welfare of a lot of our clubs. Because that system is [in place] it provides great business tools. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. What we have to do is do a better job of communicating those tools, so that all the clubs and LSC’s have access to that information. I think that’s been a huge success for USA Swimming.”
SS: If you were the treasurer, do you foresee any chance to improve dialogue with coaches and athletes to make sure their needs are being met so that they can achieve their goals?
BV: ““Absolutely. I really believe that the requirement to have athletes involved in all of our committees and organizations in USA Swimming is a wonderful thing because it provides athletes with a voice. Everything we do effects those athletes, so they need to play a role, and we need to listen to what their needs are in that process.”
In Vincent’s opinion, a successful club puts its athletes and their goals first–from basic water safety skills and development, to putting swimmers on the Olympic Team–a successful club is one that has a foundation that empowers its swimmers to achieve their goals.
SS: Do you think USA Swimming currently has appropriate athlete representation, or would you seek to somehow expand it?
BV: “I think that the structure is there, but I’m not sure it is always used to the extent that it should be at the LSC level. I know that we have a very aggressive group of athletes in Potomac Valley Swimming that have formed an athlete committee, and have put an athlete on every committee. The structure is there, we just have to give them the support they need so they can fulfill those rolls.”
Though not a swimmer himself, both of Vincent’s daughters swam at Division I programs on scholarship. What motivates Vincent to pursue the role of Treasurer is the opportunity to give back to the sport and the swimming community. He is grateful for what his daughters have learned from the sport and hopes to bring it to more people, so that others may also learn from and grow thanks to swimming. Bob Vincent’s biography from USA Swimming can be found here.
The new treasurer will be elected next month at USA Swimming’s Annual Convention, taking place in Atlanta, Georgia. Stu Hixon, USA Swimming’s current treasurer, has served the term-limit allotted for the role, and will not be eligible for the upcoming election. Nominees can be made by receipt of a nomination form up until September 9th if the form is sent by mail, or until 12 noon on Thursday, September 22nd, if the form is hand-delivered at the convention. Nominees must be non-athlete members of USA Swimming and must have completed a background check and undergone the Athlete Protection Online Training Course before September 19th, 2016.