Q&A with Candidates 2021 – 1 of 2

Question 1: Why do you want to be a member of the NAFA Board of Directors?

Alex Le: The primary reason to serve on a Board of Director is to meaningfully contribute to serving an organization.  That’s a pretty typical answer.

I am a leader.  I’ve managed large scale silicon valley projects, large budgets, led diverse teams and spent countless hours in meetings and conference calls to deal with emergencies and put out situational fires.  It’s in my DNA, and its been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional life.

BUT I also believe NAFA may be in need of a strong go getter within the Board.  We want to continue to ensure that we challenge the current flyball players but also effectively reach the new ones that are joining the sport.  Getting these folks to engage and participate requires us to build trust through our transparency while being able to allow NAFA to adapt and move into a more diverse and connected flyball community.

Cultural organizational changes are challenging and scary…. And I want to help NAFA embrace new perspectives and views.  I come with solutions and can bring action oriented common sense to help move NAFA through my skills in technology, communication transparency, partnerships, and building engagement with our flyball players.

Jayne McQuillen: I have always believed you should give back to the organizations that you enjoy participating in if you want them to continue to be there for you to enjoy.  Having worked with various volunteer run organizations, I am well aware that there is a need for hard working, thoughtful people to keep moving the organization forward. 

Emma Mak: I am running for my second term as a board member because I enjoy giving back to NAFA flyball; the sport has brought me so many positive things in my life: great friends, great dogs, and a sense of community. I like working on a team with the other board members and ED, all of whom also have a great passion for flyball and for helping people. I feel my strengths which include working out the details of how something can be implemented, being determined to get things done in a timely manner, and having leadership skills add value to the board.

Lynda Mantler: As a current member of the board, I want to continue to support and contribute to the sport I am so passionate about. I have received so much from the awesome experiences I have had during my time in flyball and have made lifelong friends. I want to be involved and give back to the sport.  I Iike to know what is going on and I find work on the NAFA board very interesting and challenging. The board needs many points of view and I am not afraid to speak up at meetings and state my opinions.  It’s important to have views from all the various regions.  I enjoy being part of a team that I can contribute to. 

Question 2: What is the one thing you would like to see changed, added or removed and why?

Lynda Mantler: An overhaul of the entire measuring process has been top of mind. This is being actioned now by a special measuring committee and will be resolved in the coming months, so I will choose another topic. 

An idea for when racing resumes…introduce sanctioned pairs and singles racing on a trial basis.   Tournaments will likely be smaller when we can begin racing again.  This would enable the host club to offer another class of racing to help with entry fees and add revenue for NAFA as well. 

Some advantages of trying this out: 

  • Fewer people in the ring at a time
  • Set aside a specific time frame for when these races are run, ie. lunch time and after the teams racing has finished.  That would allow some competitors to come into the venue only when they are racing.
  • After the long period when we haven’t been racing, there will be dogs that can complete the course but are not ready to race on a team.  It would give them exposure in a tournament environment.
  • It would give competitors the opportunity to have their dog’s time recorded on the EJS
  • Suited for competitors whose club can’t field a team but have members that still want to come out and race
  • This could work for clubs that can field a team but don’t have enough for multiple teams.  The dogs not on a team could race in singles and pairs. 
  • Dogs would run fewer heats than dogs on a team, so it would work for dogs that need to work up to full time racing again

Monitor the success of the new offering and invite feedback.

Emma Mak:  I want to see improvements to the measuring system implemented. I’m currently co-chair of the Special Measuring Committee and we’re presenting a plan for a fully realized mandatory measuring system to the board by the end of this year. The plan will realize three goals:

  1. Making measuring easier for competitors, Judges and RDs.
  2. Making sure measuring is consistent across regions.
  3. Ensuring for checks and balances in the overall process.

Measuring has long been a point of frustration for NAFA’s competitors, and implementing a plan that meets these three goals needs to happen so NAFA can move forward and put this divisive issue behind us.

Jayne McQuillen: I would like to see improvements in NAFA’s technology.  At the bare minimum, a modernized website that is more user friendly.  I think it especially needs more appeal to people who are trying to find out about the sport.  Along with that, I would like to see a move to more electronic record keeping for tournaments.  I know Alex Le has some great ideas on that front that are already being implemented at tournaments in his area.  

Alex Le: Ohhh, tought one.  I do see, from the past few years, that there is a changing population participating in flyball.  With this comes advances in the way we play the sport and as the sport grows,  we get these incredible faster times and each year, a new crop of participants join the fun.

For us to move NAFA into the next stage, we need to be able to embrace collaborative problem solving.  The organization needs to be able to adjust to the changing environment and let go of the zero sum game, where someone has to lose in order for you to win.  Where collaborative problem solving occurs, innovation follows.

If we work together to solve problems and take on insights and perspectives from our members, we grow together to represent everyone involved.  As an example, I recently proposed that we review our website and as COVID events unfolded, offered a plan to help NAFA move into a more responsive communication standard and transparency, in addition to improving our web site and infrastructure.  I don’t come with complaints; I always come prepared with solutions and partnership with large organizaitons who are willing to help us solve problems and improve the way NAFA responds to members and provide needed transparency.

Question 3: How would you deal with a situation in which you have a strong opinion on a topic/issue brought up for a Board of Directors vote and the majority of the Board disagrees with you?

Alex Le: I believe this question should be stated as how would the current Board of Directors feel if the majority of the people from NAFA disagrees with the Board.  

Disagreements and differing perspectives are the hallmark of democracy and our growth as an organization.  I am not asking to be a Board member to further my own interests; I am running to be a NAFA board member, as I’ve alluded to in my answers, to represent the folks on the ground who play flyball with NAFA and who spend countless hours trainning and travelling and participating in dog sports to spend time with their dogs and their friends.  

Being in a leadership position means you have to be able to practice critical listening skills and be able to translate that into a prespective that will allow the organization to grow as changes are inevitable and change can be good.  In my professional life and personal life, I am keen on hearing all perspectives and am very good at understanding all sides of an issue.  If there is a disagreement, I plan on being connected enough to the NAFA players and participants to give them a voice at the table.  

If the there is a strong disagreement from the Board on an issue at hand, I plan on being able to articulate the different perspective and represent the diversity that exists from the NAFA participants.  I want to make sure that even if the issue vote is not the decision for the majority of the Board, the different views and diversity of the minority perspective and the members’ views are not under valued or that the voices are not being heard.  To me, the NAFA Board needs to represent all of NAFA participants; we need to be more effective at ensuring that we elevate different voices, integarte these contrasting insights and that we always welcome conversations, even if they are difficult ones to have. 

Jayne McQuillen: I fully recognize that my thoughts are not the only thoughts on any topic, being a board member means you have to be willing to compromise, adjust thinking and work to move forward any decision.  Board members can all have their own opinions, but that doesn’t mean your way is the only way.  You can set aside your opinion to work toward group goals.

Emma Mak: The Board of Directors is made up of nine people from various clubs, regions, and backgrounds, who want to do what is best for NAFA. I’m not someone to hold back my opinion for what I think is best for the organization, but if the majority of the board disagrees and wants to go a different way – I will support the final decision. When discussing a topic/issue, it’s good to have respectful disagreement among board members, as considering different view points, and looking at an issue from all sides are key to coming to the best decision for the organization. Once the decision is made, it’s important to move past any disagreement and work as a cohesive team to communicate and implement the results of that decision.

Lynda Mantler: This is bound to happen when there are differing opinions as there needs to be on any board. I have experienced this and what I did was express my opinion and the reasons for it to ensure that what I believed was understood.    When the vote went in a direction I did not agree with, I respected that my view was not that of the majority.   It did not stand in the way of me earnestly working towards the outcome for the project that had been decided on.  I contributed within the guidelines provided and focused on the positive aspects of the project. In the end, I felt a sense of accomplishment for doing this.