Michael Aufrichtig, Board Candidate, offers to facilitate communications to resolve issues
Dialogue and town hall meetings are very important 1st steps in engagement between parents and the US Fencing leadership.
We share with you Michael Aufrichtig’s response to Fencing Parents May 6 email. We reproduce the email exchange between Fencing Parents and Michael Aufrichtig below.
Fencing parents’ email to Board candidates
“Parents of fencers, many of whom are now Supporting members of US Fencing are very interested in this current election cycle, and want clarity on who they should support to lead the organization and set policies that are in the best interests of all members, and not just a select few.
Leadership is paramount. In this regard, Fencing Parents is keen to know what, in your opinion, are the 3 greatest priorities that must be addressed at US Fencing, and what specific steps will you take as a Board member to facilitate action that moves these priorities forward.
FP looks forward to sharing your response with our readers. ”
FP Comments on Michael Aufrichtig’s Response
The most important takeaway from his response is his willingness to facilitate an information gathering/exchange of ideas dialog between the people responsible for tournament scheduling (Tournament Committee volunteers) and parents.
As he says: “If elected I would make it a priority to arrange meetings to collect concerns/ideas. I will share these concerns with the board and staff -- changes will happen. They have to happen. As a volunteer board member my interest is the same as any member. Make USA Fencing the best we can be for all members.”
town hall meetings with the Board
At Fencing Parents’ subsequent request, Michael has also indicated a willingness to facilitate regular town hall meetings between the Board and parents to discuss issues. (We asked the same question of Donald Alpersetin and have not yet received a response).
vote for michael aufrichtig
These are very important 1st steps in engagement between parents and the US Fencing leadership.
Fencing Parent’s published an article on Michael Aufrichtig as a Great Fencing Coach in March, 2019, and you can read the article HERE. His success as the Head Coach of Columbia University Fencing and as the volunteer Chairman of the New York Athletic Club Fencing Program speak to his leadership skills and his ability to motivate people to the highest levels of achievement.
We recommend that parents support him in this election, and vote for him. He is listening and prepared to take the 1st step towards resolving the issues.
The other vote should go to Donald Alperstein.
If you did not receive an email with instructions on how to vote, you can request the link to vote electronically by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and providing your name and your US Fencing membership number.
Complete text of Michael Aufrichtig’s Response on Tuesday, May 14
Thanks again for reaching out. I am out of the country now but wanted to write back to you some thoughts. Feel free to share or keep private. Your choice.
I feel my candidate statement addresses your question about priorities. I have 4: https://cdn4.sportngin.com/attachments/document/8512-1861185/MichaelAufrichtig.pdf?_ga=2.40135010.1962069971.1557820437-1437727293.1548094507
Googling my name, Michael Aufrichtig, USA Fencing members will see that fencing is my life and passion and hope can see my qualifications and experience. I was a competitive fencers for 30 years, came from a city that was not a major fencing hub, Shreveport Louisiana, Currently the coach of the #1 College program in the country, Chairman of one of the top Fencing Clubs in the country and I love fundraising for a cause I believe in. I try my best to get the best results from anything I do and I would like to help USA Fencing be better in multiple areas of what I listed in my statement.
We have different constituents in USA Fencing. All are important and the challenge is how to make everyone happy. A challenge that is impossible with 40,000 members all the time, but most of the time, I feel we can do better. We want our members proud of USA Fencing. We want them to feel they get value when attending a NAC. We want our spectators, many of whom are parents, to be excited about going to competitions and not frustrated.
I recently shared this thought with a friend from the West Coast:
Last time I was on the board it was all about infrastructure and implementation! A lot was done. Now I feel we grew even faster than most thought and our challenges have gone from getting things done to how do we get it done right.
Regarding competition scheduling, I do feel there is a lot both sides do not know. Operations does not know all the struggles/expenses from the parent group and the parents do not know everything from operations. I encountered many situations like this at Columbia. The start to change was to get two groups meeting with each other face to face ( Phone calls do not work). An agenda is established with times allotted for each subject to make sure we stay on target and only focus on the most important issues. I feel a meeting would start things on the right track when it comes to transparency and priorities and then by 2020-2021 already see some changes, working together. Another idea is to start a USA Fencing Parents association to voice ideas and suggest solutions? This does not exist now.
What most do not realize is that most of our decisions and work happens from volunteers. It is impressive but at the same time I have been frustrated with the tournament committee sometimes too. We need to have discussions and direct our concerns. Our volunteers are very smart and I know we can come up with better scheduling for start times, team events and age categories. We want to provide the best schedule to give the best experience to all competitors.
We need more discussion, more communication. This has been one of the reasons we function well at Columbia.
If elected I would make it a priority to arrange meetings to collect concerns/ideas. I will share these concerns with the board and staff -- changes will happen. They have to happen. As a volunteer board member my interest is the same as any member. Make USA Fencing the best we can be for all members.”
Fencing Parents’ Response to Michael Aufrichtig’s response
Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts on some of the issues most important to parents. I will certainly share them with FP readers, they should know that you have given the issues serious consideration and that you are committed to help get them resolved. Your track record is very impressive, and that fact has been shared on FP a couple of times. We will support Board candidates who listen and respond to our concerns, which you have.
Parents have felt ignored for a long time, and this is not just a West coast issue. It is a country-wide one, and especially among parents with children who go to NACs or are on USA travel teams.
Face to face dialog is always best, and it has to include Board members and senior US Fencing staff. Some of the issues though operational in nature have their roots in policy decisions taken at the Board level. If the policy does not adapt, the operational issue cannot be solved.
My kids attended the Singapore American School when we lived in Singapore, and the Board of Governors at the time held regular town hall meetings with parents, about twice yearly. They were very well attended, and discussion was open and informal. Nothing was off-limits. That Board was also very responsive to written petitions. My husband and I were among parents who strenuously objected to the math curriculum the school had selected. We wrote the Board a reasoned letter, that led to a long meeting with the Director of Curriculum and their outside consultant who they flew in from the US to talk to us. These meetings eventually led to a change in the curriculum the following year to include greater mathematical rigor.
The SAS Board recognized that educated parents interested in the wellbeing of their children and the school in general can contribute substantially to the school's improvement. No one has a lock on conceptual thinking and ideas. Sadly, at US Fencing, parents have been treated as bystanders with nothing valuable to add, except pay the fees That is US Fencing's and the whole community's loss.
You read my thoughts exactly on a parents association, and I have been thinking about creating such an association that can institutionalize parents' voices way past the FP blog, and take on responsibility for organizing and representing parents within the fencing community. This is a big task, and will need the support of a group of parents willing to forge the way.
Ultimately, though the responsibility for US Fencing's success lies at the Board level. Policies determine how operational decisions are made.”
Perhaps, when you are on the Board, you can propose a town hall style meeting with parents twice yearly, with groups of parents representing the different age groups. The March NAC and the November NAC would be ideal for such town hall meetings.
I will share your thoughts with FP readers tomorrow, and reiterate that they should give you their vote.
Safe travels. And wishing you the best of luck with the election.”
Michael Aufrichtig’s Response
Thank you. Yes town hall would be a great start. A usa fencing Parents association will be a next step. “
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