General Dance Discussion > Daphna Locker Resigns from USA Dance Governing Council

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by Bailamosdance, May 22, 2017.

  1. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    Dear USA Dance Members;

    It is with a heavy heart that I must submit my resignation today from the positions of National Secretary of USA Dance and President of the Greater NY Chapter of USA Dance. As many of you know, I will be the fourth elected official to resign from the Governing Council of USA Dance this month. Some of you may have also read Glenn Weiss’s response to the resignations of the three (Ann, Jim & Irina,) who preceded me in which he wrote that he understood their decisions “because volunteer work is time consuming, difficult and sometimes, does not seem rewarding.” Perhaps this narrow perception of what volunteering entails is the reason that Glenn has never before held a volunteer position in USA Dance, because I have always found that the benefits of volunteering far outweigh any of the challenges. However, none of these things is the reason than any of us resigned, nor is it the reason I am resigning now.

    Unlike Glenn, I have been volunteering for USA Dance for twenty-four years, almost as long as I have been a member. During these twenty-four years, while holding down a full-time job, I was the Greater NY Chapter's President for three two-year terms, and after a break of ten years, returned to that position and am once again in my third two-year term. I have either run or helped to run the Manhattan Amateur Classic for almost twenty years. I was a DanceSport Delegate for Region 5, which became District 7 when the geographic classifications changed, and I was a member-at-large on the board of the Denver Chapter of USA Dance for five years. In that role, I helped found the Rocky Mountain Amateur Classic, the first all¬¬-amateur competition in Colorado, which is now an annual event. I was the National Secretary for two terms some years ago, and when they had a vacancy last August and needed a replacement, I stepped in and volunteered; I was then elected for the position last November.

    I’ve been a volunteer this long because I’ve always been dedicated to making USA Dance the best organization possible for all of its members, to supporting my fellow athletes as well as the social dancers, and to creating events which make the dance experience fun and competitive at the lowest cost possible. I have done it while serving in whatever position was most needed, even if it was not the one with the best title or the most power, and have served with many different Presidents at the helm of USA Dance, some of whom I have enjoyed working with and others of whom I have been less fond. Along the way, I have made many wonderful friends, and I am very proud to have been a part of so many important projects that USA Dance has taken on over the years.

    So I’m not resigning now because of a fear of hard work, or lack of reward. Nor am I resigning because of a difference in philosophy from Glenn about what the priorities of the organization should be. I am resigning because the Governing Council is no longer a governing council, which represents the will of the members; it is a rubber stamp for whatever policies the President chooses to pursue.

    In 2008, the Governing Council had a very different composition. At that time, there were twenty voting GC members, of whom only three were directors appointed by the President; all the others were nationally elected by either the membership as a whole, or a subgroup of members whose interests that GC delegate represented. For example, there were six Regional VPs elected by members from that region. So, even had the President and his or her appointees voted jointly on a regular basis, they only controlled 20% of the GC votes.

    In the current GC, there are nineteen voting positions, eight of whom are Directors chosen and appointed by the President, and one of whom is a newly created VP for a Professional Dance Council, though the composition of this council has not yet been decided. This VP will eventually be an elected position, but until the next election, it is an appointed one. This means that in a fully staffed GC, Glenn and his appointees comprise ten of nineteen voting members: 53% of the GC. As it so happens, there are two Director positions vacant at the moment – to which Glenn can appoint someone at any time he wishes, subject to GC approval which is a given – but even had no elected officials resigned, and Glenn chose to never fill those spots, they would still control just under 50% of the votes.

    Since the election last October, the President and his appointees on the GC have voted unanimously on every occasion, save one. This is quite a coincidence given the diversity of interests that the appointed Directors supposedly represent. Those of us who are elected do not vote unanimously. Unlike the appointed Directors, we are committed to representing the members who voted us into office, and as there is great diversity in our membership, it’s natural that we don’t vote as a unified block; a DanceSport delegate may have a different opinion on an agenda item than a VP of Social Dance, for example. But since Glenn and his appointees vote as a bloc, they essentially have the power to push through any agenda item they wish when a simply majority vote is all that is needed.

    There are some things which our bylaws require be determined by more than a mere majority of GC votes, but since the GC can also vote to change the bylaws of USA Dance without membership approval – something which was not the case in 2008 – this protection is rapidly being eroded as well. Glenn called for an urgent email vote this week to change the bylaws to require only a 66% vote to remove a sitting GC member rather than 75%, and the change was passed. Since bylaws changes take effect immediately and all GC actions are public record, this is not confidential information; it has simply not yet been posted on the website. Since there appears to be no reason for this urgent email vote other than to change the bylaws without a discussion, which would be documented in the minutes of the next GC meeting, I can only assume this was done with the intent of using this power as quickly as possible.

    Even if my departure from the GC were not inevitable regardless of whether or not I resign, USA Dance is not just a volunteer organization – it is a non-profit corporation. The GC is simply another name for the Board of the corporation. By law, all Board members of corporations have three obligations by law: duty of care, duty of loyalty, and duty of obedience. In simple terms, we are obligated to make decisions in the best interest of the organization itself, to ensure that the organization uses its funds wisely; that its activities advance its mission, and that it acts in accordance with ethical practices. Not only can I no longer fulfill those legal duties because my vote has been nullified due to the ongoing and unethical use of a unified vote by the President and his appointees, I am ethically bound to resign rather than continue to materially support the Board’s actions by devoting time and energy as the Secretary.

    My resignation does not mean I will now sit back and do nothing. Multiple members who are concerned about what is happening have approached me, and I plan to send out another letter shortly outlining the next steps, which I believe are crucial to reversing the current direction of USA Dance. If we stand together – athletes, professionals, and social dance members – we can once again make USA Dance a truly membership-run non-profit organization that is devoted to the ideals that originally guided USABDA and USA Dance.

    Yours truly,

    Daphna Locker,
    Ex-National Secretary of USA Dance
    Ex-President of NY Chapter
    Ex-DanceSport Official
    Ex-Registrar NCDC
    Ex-DanceSport Delegate Region 5 (District 7)
     
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  2. Loki

    Loki Well-Known Member

    I'm very curious to see the proposed next steps.
     
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  3. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    I appreciate the service of the volunteers. Aside from the changes in the make up of the GC such that the President and appointees can more likely prevail on voting measures, I have read the whole letter and see very little in terms of the "direction" of USA Dance. Until now it seems the direction was trending downward.

    In such situations it can sometimes be worthwhile to shake things up and bring in new people (who hopefully are qualified to do the work). I still have a "wait and see" attitude, as I have seen firsthand the results of some of Glenn Weiss' work, and I have reason to believe he may do something worthwhile with USA Dance. Worth noting that he was elected to the most important position by the members of USA Dance.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
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  4. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    He ran unopposed and got around 700 votes. There are almost 12,000 members. It was hardly an 'election'.
     
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  5. raindance

    raindance Well-Known Member

    Regardless of what else is happening, it is not his fault he was unopposed. I agree that an unopposed election result is less meaningful in some ways, but it still stands as the result.

    I hope that something good somehow comes out of what appears to be a great big mess.
     
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  6. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Perhaps you should have run, Bob.
     
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  7. s2k

    s2k Well-Known Member

    She was the secretary, correct?

    Why have there not been any meeting minutes posted since March?

    Since I'm an outsider, and all I have to go on is these resignation letters, it'd be nice to see what's happening in the meeting minutes to be able to get a sense of what's happening.

    What GW needs to do, and he needs to do it ASAP, is develop some sort of speech in which there are no generalities and straight up, "This is what we are doing." And then we members could see what the issues are that's causing disagreement and could decide for ourselves where we stand. Right?

    Do EC/GC members sign a gag order when they get voted in? Do they have to publicly stay silent? Why not speak out and speak up and remain on the board, be that squeaky wheel?

    I don't understand tapping out - the three of them (Ann, Jim, and Daphna) could not have banded together and been the voice of dissent? Wouldn't they have more power to dissent that way? At least there would be a record of that dissension, right?

    Because if they don't like what GW is doing, by tapping out they're giving him even more power. He now gets to appoint who he wishes to their positions. So if it was bad before, by their logic, it ought to get worse, right?

    Right?

    All I know is my local chapter is dying. My social dancing USAD friends have no idea what's happening with these people and have told me it's starting to feel like politics in D.C. - we don't know who these people are, what they do, or why we should care. Only the competitive couples are paying any attention.

    And that attitude - and the silence from the GC - makes me sad.
     
    Joe likes this.
  8. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    From Irina Feingold:

    "The problem with the late posting of the meeting notes is that they have to be approved by GC before they posted... that is one part of the hold up. Then they still will have no details except the votes, as new GC Director of Admin decided no discussions will be posted in the minutes, just the topic of the meeting and the votes, that is it. They even did not want to say who voted how, we had to insist on doing that - and it was ordered not to happen. So there are no records of any discussions."

    "that is why we say there is no transparency - all is kept "confidential", it helps to do whaever they want to do. That is why after we vote, in the next meeting they twist around what was voted for: for example, we voted to allow appointed directors do not have 12 month membership, then when Glenn had a chance to appoint Giacomo we were told no we voted for all including VP, and the Glenn team supported that, and 5 people cannot possibly get it wrong lol"
     
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  9. Partner Dancer

    Partner Dancer Well-Known Member

    I'd suspect USA Dance chapters are dying out in general. Just look at some photos of events they hold, and the crowd is thin and average age over 60. Few younger people can afford the time and money to stay with Ballroom dancing. Most newbies stay with it for at most 3 years, when realities of life set in.

    It's just the normal churn of society. Nightclub dancing went out of fashion a decade+ ago. Large-scale (social) Ballroom dancing has been hanging by the teeth, counting on the retirees to hold things together. There was a time when USABDA dances were the largest in many regions, but now they look like small studio social dances. USA Dance events require a lot of work and sacrifices on the part of free volunteers, and all this politics will do is alienate them.

    The chain franchise studios (and those that operate thus) still do well because they have a good formula for recruiting newbies, providing them a social community.

    There's probably little the leadership can do to turn things around. It seems the current new focus is to make USA Dance even more competition-oriented. That may work for a while, but the bottom line is the Ballroom system costs too much $$$ and time. In Ballroom, 4 years is newcomer. In WCS/Salsa/etc., 4 years is advanced.
     
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  10. Loki

    Loki Well-Known Member

    Grim, but I don't think I could argue that strongly against your points @PD.

    @s2, truthfully, why should social dancers care? They pay their $12-$15 a year and a few more for monthly socials and that's it. As long as the socials exist, there's little incentive to get worked up about the national leadership.

    I only joined Chicago USAD as an entry point to comps. Studio socials are much more convenient to attend IME.
     
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  11. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    The previous leadership at USA Dance fought with the NDCA, and it didn't go very well. The number of comps and size of the comps declined as best as I can see. Any stats on the trend in overall membership at USAD? Something tells me it is stagnant at best.

    On a side note, I don't like the way USAD can sound like "you sad". I don't think this was a clever name. And the website is still not mobile friendly. Not good.

    It makes sense that new leadership is needed, and there has been enough damage done that it may take some time to rebuild in a new way. Glenn is a smart guy, and it may very well be that he has a plan that will be successful. He also has a lot of friends, so we may see some of them helping him. Of course, it is disconcerting to see some of the "old guard" leaving, and this could have an impact on the speed at which USA Dance is able to grow.
     
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  12. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    An update on the USA Dance trajectory... In a message on May 25, 2017 from Glenn Weiss, he said the membership declined from 22,000 to 11,000 over the last 10 years.
     
  13. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    It does seem to me that USA Dance has bifurcated. There's the chapters, most of which just host monthly social dances and group classes. Few of the people who attend them compete, and they don't pay any attention to anything outside of their chapter. Then there's the competitors, for whom the actions of the national organization matters a lot. Most of them don't social dance and they seldom have any contact with a chapter, other than for registration purposes. Maybe it's time for those two things to become separate organizations.
     
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  14. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    Agree cornutt. Dues in the competitor arm will be huge I bet
     
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  15. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    As I understand there may be more attention to sending coaches to chapters. I don't know enough to say for sure at this point though.
     
  16. Loki

    Loki Well-Known Member

    Cornutt summed it up perfectly IMO and from what I've seen here. Pin that!
     
  17. Loki

    Loki Well-Known Member

    Realistically, how many socialites are going to put out $100 or so for 50 minutes of coaching? I wouldn't have before I started down the comp road.

    OTOH, if they are reasonably priced and/or offer groups, there could be a market there.
     
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  18. snapdancer

    snapdancer Well-Known Member

    I agree, social dancers wouldn't be interested in coaching. I myself am not interested, and I'm more serious than the average social dancer taking a private lesson weekly.

    There is no USA Dance chapter in my area. There are several studios who offer open socials, and the management of these studios have an amicable relationship with the other studios. I can pick and choose which studio parties I attend. How would a USA Dance chapter make it better for me?

    Also have traveled on business to the Dayton OH area. There is no USA Dance chapter there. But there are several community organizations which take turns putting on weekly dances. And there's another that offers dance lessons during the week. How would affiliating with USA Dance make it better for them?
     
  19. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    The older social VP (around during the membership slide until this year) said (and I quote) that actually asking what if any benefits there are to join a USA Dance Chapter was "an example of stinkin' thinkin'" (!)

    The former officer said "the benefit of joining is to the person joining".

    I think it is clear why nobody under 60 can relate to USA Dance, save some of the competitive dancers who join to participate in the comps that USA Dance presents... who talks to adults like that? Word salad much? And still the only answer seemed to be getting a quarterly magazine and a possible lower entry fee to the monthly social a chapter presents.

    When asked where the dues money went, after telling us where about 10% of it went (benefits for the chapters of insurance and music licensing for their events) the question was asked where the other $450,000+ went - to the former president. When she replied it went to Chapter conferences for travel and hotel, it was pointed out that these have not occurred since 2014. We still await an answer.
     
  20. Loki

    Loki Well-Known Member

    Ah well, that's a key. Most studios here IME are cooperative and cordial but there are a couple of dillweed owners who are quite territorial.
     

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