The U.S. Equestrian Federation hosted a press conference today, Jan. 13, at its annual meeting addressing the sudden departure of chief executive officer Chris Welton. The USEF announced Welton’s departure yesterday, effective immediately, and named U.S. Hunter Jumper Association President Bill Moroney to the position on an interim basis. Welton took over the position June 1, 2014.
“After some recent discussions we’d had, it was pretty clear he was not really a good fit for us,” said USEF President Chrystine Tauber. “We determined in fact that it made more sense to [have the transition] now, before the annual meeting, so we can all get through this meeting, and we can move forward.”
“The timing was important in the Board’s mind—making the transition coming into this convention, so people see me changing roles,” added Moroney. “There are a lot of stakeholders, and it’s important they see me moving into this interim role. We can keep moving forward positively this way.”
Moroney announced in a letter to USHJA members yesterday that he’s taking a leave of absence from his position at that organization.
“Fortunately, being in my last year of USHJA presidency we’ve already begun transitioning duties,” he said. “This is a little bit of a life-changing situation because I was assuming at end of 2016 that I’d ride off into sunset. I haven’t had enough time to contemplate [if I’d want to stay on in this position], but I’m a firm believer in the USEF and its affiliates. I feel there are times you have to adjust your life and step up and take the reins, and if somebody asks you to do something you can’t be afraid to step up and do it. But everyone wants to see how it goes and feel our way through it.”
A recently appointed governance committee will address how the organization moves forward with regards to its next CEO.
“As we go forward, Bill is eminently qualified for this position and has extensive experience on the sports side and on the governance side, and he has great leadership skills,” Tauber said. “I think we’re in really good hands right now, during this interim period, and we’ll see if Bill feels it’s a good fit.”
Murray Kessler, who chaired the USEF CEO Search Committee for Welton, said the organization hasn’t yet determined which criteria they’ll consider most important for a future CEO. “None of those discussions have taken place yet,” said Kessler. “Bill is very experienced and provides continuity, and that’s what we need now, and we’ll work through it.”