Multiple USBC Resignations...

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Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby Mark Prince on Mon May 12, 2008 3:53 pm

Four USBC Committee members have resigned in the past week or two.

Sarah Allen. Long standing board member
Marcus Boni, USBC coordinator, jack of all trades, lifeblood of the competitions for a few years
Brent Fortune, head of training, again another 'lifeblood' of the competitions
Matt Milletto, past nwrbc host, who will hopefully post his reasons for resigning.

I don't want to spread rumours, or speculate. I'm posting this because I'd like to hear from the SCAA about these resignations, why they occurred, how the SCAA plans to replace the nearly irreplacable Marcus and Brent, and generally some transparency on this issue.

Mark
Last edited by Mark Prince on Tue May 13, 2008 11:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby Matt Milletto on Mon May 12, 2008 6:08 pm

I first want to say what a pleasure it was working with so many great people this year in preparation to, and at the USBC event. I thought it went amazing ... I can only speak for myself, and I don't expect everyone to publicly explain why they have made this personal decision, but hope this discussion leads to a positive effect for the 2009 USBC. I can't express enough how grateful I am to have worked along side the likes of Marcus, Brent, Sarah, Michelle and the rest of the USBC committee.

This past weekend goes down as being one of the highlights of my involvement with the USBC and the SCAA conference in general. The competition went so well, and thank you to all who helped and volunteered. We should all be very proud of the quality of this event.

I have thought a lot in the few short days after the competition about where I plan to put my focus and volunteer hours for the coming year, and, for the time being, have decided to keep my focus and dedication with the SCAA Training Committee, as both committees require a ton of hours at conference, and it was exhausting juggling both.

I do look forward to being involved in some capacity with future regionals, and the upcoming USBC as a judge or volunteer, as the competitions are something I truly am passionate about, and want to continue to see the level of professionalism in the barista community rise.

I agree with Mark that there needs to be good communication and transparency so that another great team can continue to carry the torch.

- Matt
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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby Ellie on Mon May 12, 2008 6:54 pm

For what it is worth, last year when I took over as Chair of the SCAA Training Committee, I had several volunteers decide to step away from the committee for 2007-08. All of these volunteers are people who were very engaged with the SCAA Training Committee, some for 5 years or more, and felt burnt out or just were ready for a new group of volunteers to take the reigns. I didn't take it personally as I feel like we are extremely lucky to have the mobilized volunteer base that we do in SCAA and I'm certainly not going to argue with any volunteer that feels like he or she has given what they can and are ready to focus on their business (or another committee, or whatever). We recruited some new people and built on that for 07-08 and we'll do the same for 08-09- lather, rinse, repeat.

The USBC Committee is a big commitment- a year-round commitment- and all of the individuals mentioned above have been stellar SCAA volunteers and I am truly grateful for their gifts of time, energy, and expertise. Definitely Marcus and Brent are irreplaceable in their planning and training of judges, especially- but in their last act of greatness they have left the USBC in a very good place in terms of organization and a well-trained judges' pool. I have no doubt that Nick and the rest of the USBC committee members will find talented new people to volunteer for USBC committee.
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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby nick on Mon May 12, 2008 7:18 pm

I was looking forward to working with Sarah, Marcus, Brent, and Matt on the USBC Committee, in addition to siting members Ryan, Holly, Spencer, Lani, Andrew, and Scott (as well as the incomparable Michelle Campbell), but as stated, the first four individually decided to step down after Minneapolis.

Thanks Matt for chiming in. As for the other three, I've emailed them, asking what and how they'd like to respond to this question. Volunteer work in the SCAA always involves some significant personal commitment (in addition to professional commitments), and commitment means sacrifice, so I'd never dishonor their contributions by trying to speak for them unless they asked me to. I'll leave it at that for now.

As for "replacing" anyone, you can't replace the irreplaceable, as you mentioned, Marky-Mark. One of the most amazing things about Marcus and Brent's contribution is that it's not just that they served in their roles so well, it's that they've established so much that the organization is forever changed... and every volunteer that follows will be building upon the awesome work that Brent and Marcus laid down, just as they were building on the work of those before. They've done the hard work, and then some.

The USBC is one of the crown-jewels of the SCAA, and I'm honored to be asked to work side-by-side with the USBC Committee members. Look forward to the continued evolution of the USBC regionals and Big Show. USBC is a "standalone" event in March 2009 in Portland, and we may see (maybe) new espresso machine and/or grinder sponsors. Interesting challenges, but we've got some great and talented folks on the USBC Committee, and I'm looking forward to this year.
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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby xristrettox on Mon May 12, 2008 8:21 pm

not to hijack, but does anybody have any comments or input on why all the Europeans stepped down from the WBC committee?
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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby Mark Prince on Mon May 12, 2008 10:36 pm

xristrettox wrote:not to hijack, but does anybody have any comments or input on why all the Europeans stepped down from the WBC committee?


All I can say about this is that it appears to a) have nothing whatsoever to do with Nick's nomination to the board (despite what the rumour mill is saying), and b) nothing to do with the USBC resignations, as far as I can tell.

It's basically because of a dispute of espresso machine cleaners, if you can get that...

Mark
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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby bz on Tue May 13, 2008 5:45 am

wait ... a dispute over espresso machine cleaners?!

:shock:
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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby Rich Westerfield on Tue May 13, 2008 5:51 am

Mark Prince wrote:It's basically because of a dispute of espresso machine cleaners, if you can get that...


Image
The best Cleaner in the business.
Just do what he says.

(sorry, couldn't resist)
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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby Aldo1 on Tue May 13, 2008 7:19 am

Not being completely familiar with the SCAA's committee structure and terms and tenure, may I ask what Tracy Allen's role was and is now? Is the"judges committee" something different?
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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby nick on Tue May 13, 2008 7:55 am

Melanie,

Tracy was Chair of the US Barista Championship Committee. He is now Chair of the SCAA Retailer Committee. Committee chair-ships are up to the SCAA President (Mark Inman).

The "judges committee" is the "Judges Certification Sub-Committee." Those are the folks who train judges, certify/approve them to judge a competition, and often head-judge themselves.

Last year, there was also a Marketing Sub-Committee established, to develop promotion and marketing programs.

The USBC follows the WBC rules and regulations, so the USBCC is generally focused on working with local hosts to put on Regionals, training and certifying judges, and managing the operational work of the USBC. It's a lot of work for these folks, and because the "real stars" are the barista competitors, the Committee volunteers don't always get the recognition that they deserve. I hope that this thread can, in some way, help facilitate some long-overdue acknowledgement from the community.
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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby Klaus on Tue May 13, 2008 8:16 am

Sorry, perhaps Billy's question and this belongs in a separate thread, but I'm just really curious to hear more about this WBC thing. I did hear a rumor that all the European (SCAE appointed) WBC Board members have left. Was it something about a sponsorship thing? I tried to look it up on http://www.scae.com and the WBC site, but there's no news about this as far as I can see.

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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby sarahdelilah on Tue May 13, 2008 9:27 am

What a way to hit the office first thing in the morning...

Mark Prince: My name is spelled Sarah Allen, and I was the last remaining founding member of the USBC. I had served on that committee since the very beginning. Our first meeting was in September of 2003. It broke my heart to leave.

I can only speak for myself. I left the committee because Nick was appointed chair of the committee. I have emailed with Nick and he asked me to be transparent about this, so there it is. I like Nick as a person, but had concerns about his abilities to be a committee chair.

Let's finally get all this shit out in the open, OK?
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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby sarahdelilah on Tue May 13, 2008 9:36 am

Hello,

To Whom It may concern:

My name is Michael Love I am writing you formally to ask the Board of Directors the questions’ posed at the Town Hall meeting because sufficient answers were not provided.
I am copying my statement to suitable coffee related media to ensure transparency.
Once again, refer to our mission Statement and a few of our by-laws.

Part 6. Of our Mission Statement says:
Encouragement of Sound business practices and Ethics

By-Laws
Third: Objects and Purposes
Section (e) Sates and I quote:
TO ENHANCE THE UNIFIED CHARACTER OF OUR INDUSTRY by cooperating with other trade groups and governmental agencies, both foreign and domestic, in the determination and enforcement of rules, trade practices, laws and projects for improving the conditions under which the specialty coffee industry renders services to the public.

Section (f) States and I quote:
AND TO ENGAGE IN ANY OTHER LAWFUL ACTIVITY incidental or conducive to the attainment of the Association objects and purposes

My questions’ to the board and the members of our Association are as follows:

Does the BOD up-hold and govern themselves under the same by-laws and ethical standards to which the membership is held too?

Is the interpretation of the mission statement and by-laws solely up to the BOD or is it a collective interpretation by the BOD and its members? Moreover, if it is unclear what steps are going to be taken so that the BOD and SCAA members can protect oneself?

Does giving Mr. Cho new Chair positions promote sound business practices to the members of the SCAA? When in 3/21/08 Washington post stated “While conceding that he has been irresponsible, Cho chalked up the tax bill to “poor cash flow management”
In reference to section 3, I ask is it unlawful to not pay ones sales tax?

Reported on City Blog 2/27/08 “It was old sales tax stuff we missed” Cho explained. Does that free him from the responsibility & discussion of his actions? If one breaks a law or rule because of ones, own ignorance, does that, free them from retribution with in the SCAA & with its members?

In reference to, Section (e)-enhance the character of our industry and part 6 of the mission (Sound business practices.) - According to the Washington post 3/21/08 article in which they quote the tax office, “Murky Coffee owes $427,000 in sales and franchise taxes. A lien filed against the business shows Cho paid sales tax the government in only three of the 24 months from November 2004 to October 2006. Officials with the tax office said Cho missed payments in 2007 and 2008.” Does engorge sound business practices and enhance the unified character of the industry?


Should the position of governance come from experience and knowledge and understanding that BOD is a position that works for the members?

In light of these issues and there seemly being no guidelines to remove a BOD member or request a BOD member to step down we feel Mr. Chos new chair positions of the USBC and WBC be reconsidered and he should be removed. And no further positions be allocated to him

Thank you for your prompt reply
Mike Love
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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby Kevin Cash on Tue May 13, 2008 9:48 am

nick wrote:
USBC is a "standalone" event in March 2009 in Portland, and we may see (maybe) new espresso machine and/or grinder sponsors.


Why was that decided??? So now I not only have to come up with funds to travel to a regional, now I have to travel to Atlanta for conference and Portland? If the USBC is the crown jewel of SCAA, why not keep it with the biggest SCAA event of the year.



EDIT: Thanks for the good answer below Matt, I wasn't aware that the WBC was at SCAA in Atlanta.
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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby Matt Milletto on Tue May 13, 2008 9:58 am

From my understanding, the WBC will be held in Atlanta, and it was decided to not be in conjunction with the USBC only days before. Anyone remember Boston where Heather won and then had to compete the next day in the WBC?

I think Portland will be a great place for the upcoming USBC, and I reflect on when we hosted the NWRBC as a stand alone event, and managed to rope in 400+ attendees, many of which were people that heard about it thru our marketing efforts.

I understand the added travel being a nuisance for many, but I think stand alone events, if doen right are awesome.

- Matt
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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby Mike Ferguson on Tue May 13, 2008 12:49 pm

Matt Milletto wrote:From my understanding, the WBC will be held in Atlanta, and it was decided to not be in conjunction with the USBC only days before.


There is precedent for this. In 2005, the USBC was held in Seattle a month or so prior to the SCAA conference hosting the WBC. In that instance, it made sense to keep the USBC in Seattle as it was felt a coffee-town would better serve a stand-alone event. Atlanta is a great city but the assumption was it might not support a stand-alone USBC as well as Portland. I think that's a safe bet. The extra travels is a problem but it should only happen like this every four years, unless another region gets thrown into the WBC rotation.

Just a brief historical note on committee resignations. It is not uncommon to have new chair assignments as the board make-up shuffles and a new president comes aboard. And, it is not at all uncommon to have committee members choose that time to resign. In my experience, their reasons for resigning are as numerous as the individuals. Many times it is indeed a matter of personalities, and many times it is simply a personal or business decision. I make no editorial comment on USBC resignations this season. I'm simply pointing out that it is very common and the reasons are multitudinous (a word I use here for the first time in my life).
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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby Aldo1 on Tue May 13, 2008 1:02 pm

Well, was this a resignation by the USBC committee head? Or was he removed?

And personally, and with due respect, I think this is a lousy time for the SCAA to giving Mr.Cho authority, responsibility and visibility. I mean really,wth?
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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby malachi on Tue May 13, 2008 5:06 pm

nick wrote:Committee chair-ships are up to the SCAA President (Mark Inman).
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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby Mark Prince on Tue May 13, 2008 9:44 pm

I may be wrong on this, but I believe the situation is, if you're a board member, defacto you head a committee. That's how the structure works.

It's not up to Mark Inman (or any sitting president) to decide who gets a committee head position and who doesn't - they all do - it's up to Inman to decide which committee each board member will head up.

I had questions about why Marty Curtis wasn't made the head of Tech Standards, and I posed them directly to Mark privately at the show. His answer was very good and settled any concerns I had.

Mark
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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby drew johnson on Tue May 13, 2008 11:08 pm

mp,

and no more concerns?
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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby Mark Prince on Wed May 14, 2008 2:40 am

I'll be brutally honest here with my thoughts.

Mark Inman presented a good case for why he wanted Marty Curtis, "Mr. Tech Standards" on another committee this year. He said that he wanted his board members to be well rounded in coffee standards, not just one isolated field. He was taking lessons from when he was a first time board member and (I believe Paul Katzoff?) that year's president didn't put him in sustainability (a natural fit for Mark I.), but instead as head of another committee. Mark had to learn and adapt, and as such gained a more broader knowledge of the spectrum of coffee.

It was a good, solid argument. And when I spoke to Marty on Monday, Marty was fine with it too by that point.

That said, here's where the brutal honesty comes in... if that's the goal of the President this year- to not necessarily put board directors where their strengths are, but instead, get them more welll rounded in their knowledge and impact on decisions the SCAA makes, then why is Nick the head of USBC, which most would agree is where his strength is? Why not another committee for Nick. That's the only nagging thought I had, especially since the position was, at one point at least, leaning more towards going to Tracy Alan.

Again, this is all personal observation. For me, I felt the Marty situation was well explained, and I'm pretty sure Marty was good with it by Monday as well. Just the USBC situation nags.

Mark
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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby bz on Wed May 14, 2008 7:21 am

gotta say: i'm floored by the lack of reaction here to the issue of what ethical standards association/committee leaders are held to. i've truncated this post, after corresponding with nick, out of sympathy with the wrinkles in his case and because my perspective probably isn't that valuable to anybody here.

however, whatever your personal feelings about nick, this looks TERRIBLE. it's unfathomable to me that someone publicly nailed for not paying taxes would be allowed to serve and chair committees in an industry organization that has struggled with ethical issues, real and perceived, in the recent past. it's mind-blowing. if the scaa were of a prominence to be covered by the media, reporters would be ALL OVER this -- and not in a "gotcha" sense.

none of this is a personal slight or bash of nick, to whom i bear no ill will.

some brief googling will tell you what customers, former employees and the government have to say about the seizure of murky's d.c. shop and the prospects for the remaining shop in arlington.

obviously, i'm not privy to what has happened behind closed doors with the scaa. but on the outside, it looks like things continue to roll along, ho-hum, with nick advancing in very prominent positions. shouldn't these usbc and wbc resignations carry a giant warning?

i believe nick is trying to fix his mistakes. i feel deeply sorry for the personal and professional hell is he is going through. i believe nick should be given second chances at some point. i hope he opens a d.c. shop again. but on some level it doesn't matter what i think, because the perception problem -- stemming from real illegality -- threatens to eclipse it all.
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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby Ellie on Wed May 14, 2008 8:21 am

Mark Prince wrote:... if that's the goal of the President this year- to not necessarily put board directors where their strengths are, but instead, get them more welll rounded in their knowledge and impact on decisions the SCAA makes, then why is Nick the head of USBC, which most would agree is where his strength is? Why not another committee for Nick. That's the only nagging thought I had, especially since the position was, at one point at least, leaning more towards going to Tracy Alan.


Mark, this is a valid question, and I post here to try and provide some more insight, without, of course, speaking directly for Mark which I won't attempt to do.

Committee Chair assignments are up to the current President. He or she has several factors to consider when making these assignments, starting with two major factors which are, 1) the particular skills and suitability of each individual board member, and 2) the specific needs of each committee. There isn't always a 1:1 correspondence between the two so it's his/her job to try and come up with a series of assignments that best fits the needs of the committees as a whole. In order to accomplish this in the best possible way, all kinds of other factors are considered. I don't believe that each President says, for example: "This year the criteria is putting everyone out of their comfort zone or experience area." Rather, this is one consideration along with the exact opposite as in my case with being assigned to the Training Committee, for example.

However, it could be argued (using myself again as an example) that the BGA or the USBC are my "areas of experience" or "comfort zone" and not just Training Committee- so by not assigning me to either of those committees I am excluded from areas of my own personal experience while simultaneously being assigned to the same. Lots of the Board members have years of committee or guild service (and work experience) in several areas and so don't have a single area where they are "most qualified" to serve. Paul Thornton's experience as RGEC Chair and founding RG member, for example, will doubtless be valuable as he chairs Tech Standards this year even though he isn't necessarily someone who has come up through the ranks of Tech Standards. Both Guilds do work closely with the TSC at the very least.

My personal belief here is that any of the Board members should be comfortable chairing any committee- I can say for myself that is definitely the case although without question, some committee work would be more intuitive for me than others. For example, I would be challenged by chairing IRC or Sustainability versus Training. I'd be up for it though, if that is where the Board President felt I could best serve the association.

It is also worth noting that the USBC committee under Tracy Allen's leadership has done amazing things over the past two years. The previous chair before Tracy, if I'm not mistaken, also chaired USBC for two years. The previous Training Committee chair before me was also there for two years. This is not a tradition or an expectation, I'm just trying to illustrate that it happens all the time in committee service.

Finally, although please don't construe this as speaking for Tracy, because again I won't attempt to do that, but it is worth noting that Tracy is also the Board's Secretary/Treasurer. This alone is a ton of work and certainly unarguably very important work. I am amazed at how Tracy has effectively balanced the demands of the year-roundcommitment that is USBC Committee with the demands of being Secretary/Treasurer (which also means serving on the Executive Committee and the Audit Committee automatically)- on top of all of the work he does for his company. I for one do not know that I could have balanced all of those demands and as a fellow Board member I just think that the work of Secretary & Treasurer, Audit Committee, Exec Committee is enough to ask of any volunteer- much less piling the USBC Committee Work (which has arguably the highest workload of any of the committees) on top as well as WBC board last year. Obviously the work that the USBC Committee has done under Tracy speaks for itself (10 regionals for the first time and in my opinion the best barista competition I have ever seen in the 2008 USBC!) so it's certainly not a performance issue- I just think that it is a lot to ask of one volunteer. Again- this is speaking as an individual Board member not as a representative for the Board, Tracy, or Mark.

Respectfully,
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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby Tim Dominick on Wed May 14, 2008 8:43 am

Marty got membership committee, perfect for him as he really has some very good ideas to improve the value of membership and participation of members. Great opportunity to implement some of his long-held beliefs. I look forward to seeing results, improvement is needed.

Paul Thornton is heading up Tech standards. He is very well qualified with almost 30 years in the business and has quite a bit of experience running committees, managing big personalities (key), and heading development teams. I think Marty recognizes that Tech standards is in excellent hands. It is a good idea to bring a fresh perspective to what is essentially the nervous system/brain stem of the SCAA.

As for Nick and USBC, seems like a good fit to me. Every board member gets an assignment, I have to wonder if people would have raised such a stink if he had been given the retailers committee? Hell, would anyone have bothered to "scoop" it on Coffeed if another committee resigned en mass if Nick was named chair? Honestly I am just glad he did not replace Jeff Taylor as Roasters Guild liaison, and I'll add that Nick is more qualified to run USBC than any of the other board members, save Ellie. (She is also by far the best candidate for training, so pulling her off that would have been a bigger travesty)

For the record, has anyone polled the board to see if any of them would have wanted the USBC committee? Perhaps it is not the prized pig of assignments to begin with? I imagine it is time consuming and often thankless work.
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Re: Multiple USBC Resignations...

Postby Aldo1 on Wed May 14, 2008 10:57 am

bz wrote:gotta say: i'm floored by the lack of reaction here to the issue of what ethical standards association/committee leaders are held to. i've truncated this post, after corresponding with nick, out of sympathy with the wrinkles in his case and because my perspective probably isn't that valuable to anybody here.

however, whatever your personal feelings about nick, this looks TERRIBLE. it's unfathomable to me that someone publicly nailed for not paying taxes would be allowed to serve and chair committees in an industry organization that has struggled with ethical issues, real and perceived, in the recent past. it's mind-blowing. if the scaa were of a prominence to be covered by the media, reporters would be ALL OVER this -- and not in a "gotcha" sense.

none of this is a personal slight or bash of nick, to whom i bear no ill will.

some brief googling will tell you what customers, former employees and the government have to say about the seizure of murky's d.c. shop and the prospects for the remaining shop in arlington.

obviously, i'm not privy to what has happened behind closed doors with the scaa. but on the outside, it looks like things continue to roll along, ho-hum, with nick advancing in very prominent positions. shouldn't these usbc and wbc resignations carry a giant warning?

i believe nick is trying to fix his mistakes. i feel deeply sorry for the personal and professional hell is he is going through. i believe nick should be given second chances at some point. i hope he opens a d.c. shop again. but on some level it doesn't matter what i think, because the perception problem -- stemming from real illegality -- threatens to eclipse it all.


Exactly! Of course it is a bad idea from that angle.

Not to mention what it says to the membership and potential membership, given said problems in the not-so distant past.

And sorry, Nick,while I agree with what Ben wrote above,you are party to the decision as well.
Melanie
Managing Owner, Aldo Coffee Co.
Pittsburgh, PA
Aldo1
 
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Location: Pittsburgh, PA
full name: Melanie Westlerfield
company: Aldo Coffee Company
: http://www.aldocoffee.com

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