To the members of USA Gymnastics and the gymnastics community:
Since the announcement was made on November 7, I have been eagerly awaiting today, my first day as the president and chief executive officer of USA Gymnastics. I am both honored and excited to have the opportunity to lead such a great organization and look forward to collaborating with our athletes, coaches, parents, gym owners, administrators and partners to build a culture of empowerment throughout USA Gymnastics.
As a life-long fan of gymnastics, I am a passionate advocate for the organization. As a mom, there is nothing more important to me than the safety and welfare of our athletes and promoting an environment where everyone has a voice.
I have been asked what building a culture of empowerment means to me. A culture of empowerment means ensuring that our athletes are encouraged to speak up on difficult issues, such as abuse or misconduct; our members and parents are supported; our staff and partners are highly engaged; and our board and constituents are aligned. Being empowered allows all of us to focus on learning and thriving in a sport we all love so much.
Fostering a culture of empowerment should also be the cornerstone of any great organization. I have been a part of building empowered organizations throughout my entire professional career. As a businesswoman, I bring more than 25 years of building collaborative and empowered teams. My leadership experience of working with a global corporation, starting my own company and, most recently, working with a leader in the collegiate sports industry, has provided me with the skills necessary for building dynamic, empowered and successful teams. I am confident that these skills will help lead our organization as we journey together.
As an organization, we have made strides in our safe sport efforts and will continue with relentless focus on ensuring athlete safety. Some of the steps already taken include adopting the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy; and adding two child advocates, our Safe Sport Director Toby Stark and Safe Sport Legal Counsel Mark Busby, to our staff. The USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy is a comprehensive document that outlines the expectations and requirements of our members, which include requiring mandatory reporting; educating and building awareness and prevention; defining six types of misconduct; setting standards to prohibit grooming behavior and prevent inappropriate interaction; and establishing greater accountability.
As we continue our commitment to athlete safety, we have additional initiatives that are already being implemented and effective immediately.
- Creating a dedicated, toll-free number – 1-833-844-SAFE – to report abuse. The dedicated phone line and the safe sport email address (email@example.com) simplify the process for reporting.
- Building an Athlete Task Force. The voices of our athletes, especially regarding prevention, are important, and I want to provide a format that encourages sharing of ideas and perspectives as we build an empowered culture.
- Listening Forums. Meeting with and listening to our gymnastics community, partners and constituents are critically important to our efforts. Joined by our safe sport and senior staff members, I will be on the road visiting our member clubs, not only to share our strategic plan and vision, but also, more importantly, to listen, educate and support our athletes, club owners, parents and members to build an empowered organization together.
I am looking forward to meeting and working with the members of the Board of Directors. The board is meeting next week, and the agenda includes voting on changes to our bylaws to further address recommendations in the report by Deborah Daniels and to strengthen our safe sport commitment.
To become the safest sport at every level of the organization, we need your help by supporting and following our policies and requirements, and promoting a positive environment that encourages athletes, parents and coaches to be vigilant and to speak up. We are committed to focusing every single day on athlete safety and creating a culture of empowerment where individuals excel in every part of the organization. I look forward to meeting many of you and traveling this great journey together.