USJA Presidents Letter

Dear USJA Members,

As promised in my April letter to members, I want to provide an update on progress made, and share some important information from the Board of Directors.

First, I want to congratulate Shoshinkan Martial Arts, the host of the Kosen Judo Tournament – USJA’s first sanctioned tournament since the start of the pandemic. Held in Las Vegas on May 1 in Shoshikan’s new, and much larger dojo, it was attended by about 130 competitors.

Also on May 1, 2021, USJA also held a Flash Membership Sale, as part of our efforts to rebuild our membership, which took a big hit during the pandemic. Welcome new USJA Members!

Shoshinkan dojo has already set a date for next Kosen Judo Tournament. Mark your calendars for March 22, 2022!

Next, and in response to the ideas and concerns of our membership, your Board of Directors has been working overtime with executive session meetings over the last two weeks to address key vacancies on the Board and some of the challenges we face in filling those vacancies.

The biggest challenge a nonprofit Board faces is finding candidates with skill sets that support the organization’s strategies and goals. For USJA this challenge has been compounded by a global pandemic and resulting lockdowns and closures that reduced our membership by more than 50% in 2020.

Why does this matter? Because by USJA bylaws, a Board candidate would have to be a member of USJA for no less than five consecutive years prior to election or appointment and that means more than 50% of our potential, well-qualified prospective Board candidates would be ineligible.

To address this issue, Board members have met over a proposed “Pandemic Clause” amendment to Article VII(C)(ii) of our bylaws that eliminates this obstacle, and any future declared global pandemic or other force majeure. Specifically, it provides that this requirement will not be in effect until the declared pandemic has been declared overand pertains to temporary Board appointments only.

This amendment was taken up by the Board earlier last week and was passed unanimously by a quorum of Board members. (See Amendment as proposed and passed in the Executive Session meeting minutes that will be posted on our website.)

The Board is also in agreement that we are better represented with a fuller Board to include more discussion on important issues at this time. This does not interfere with our upcoming elections but does help us resolve open issues with more representation so that we can continue to work for you. I emphasize that these appointments are temporaryand expire on the day the newly elected Board members take office later this year in October and it has been agreed that none of the interim Directors will be eligible for election on this year’s ballot. This solution is a means of spreading the work involved, adding experience and expertise during this pandemic crisis for the best of our Organization.

We are also working with counsel for clarifications on election procedure and with our Office to securely provide online voting for our Members. Please look for the Board approved announcement that will be coming out soon from our Election Committee.

On a Member news note, the Board gives condolences to the family and friends of one of Louis Balestrieri’s students (George Cabrera, Jr.) of Montgomery Judo Academy who recently passed. In support of Montgomery Judo Academy’s symbolic Shodan that was presented to George in his final days; the Board approved sending a posthumous Honorary Shodan certificate to Louis in George’s name from the USJA.

Thank you to all Lifetime Members and all renewed and new Members. Your support keeps Judo strong. Please keep your ideas and questions coming. As I said, my goal is to ensure our organization works hard for you and for the great art and sport of judo. Greatness awaits!

With humble resolve,
Celita Schutz
3x USA Judo Olympian
USJA President

Upcoming USJA Events:

  • The Greatest Camp on Earth 2021 hosted by the Carolinas American Judo Association, June 24-26, 2021 in Matthews, NC.
  • USJA/USJF Nationals on September 4-5, 2021 (tentative date) in Cape Coral, Florida
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