On December 5, 2021, USA Track and Field (USATF) passed 10 amendments, collectively referred to as the “Diversity Bill,” that were prepared and submitted by Connell Foley associate Michael Rolek, together with his pro bono client The Garden State Track Club (GSTC) and Chuck Schneekloth, president and founder of GSTC. Passage of the Diversity Bill was a multi-year endeavor involving the support of USATF leadership, Olympians, and various long-term USATF members and volunteers.
The purpose of the Diversity Bill is to promote diversity and increase engagement and accessibility to USATF’s local governing bodies. The premise behind the initiative is that if more USATF members with diverse backgrounds become involved with the sport at a local level, then the USATF will become stronger, new ideas will germinate, and the sport will grow.
Rolek and Schneekloth originally submitted the amendments in July 2019. Prior to the Bill’s passage, Rolek was appointed to the 10-person USATF Associations Task Force on Inclusion and Engagement to further investigate issues of diversity/engagement/inclusion at a local level and develop the language in the proposed amendments. In December 2021, the proposed amendments were approved by the USATF Law & Legislation Committee and accepted by the USATF membership, officially making the amendments part of the USATF Bylaws and Operating Regulations.
In passing the Diversity Bill, the following occurred:
- USATF local governing bodies, referred to as Associations, must now actively promote diversity of representation in their boards of directors, officers and committees, considering the makeup of the Association’s specific membership demographics and the population of its geographic area.
- USATF Associations will be required to complete Diversity and Leadership scorecards to determine the makeup of leadership in each Association and to hold Associations accountable to diversity initiatives within the Association and its leadership.
- USATF adopted a definition for the term “Diversity.”
- To ensure greater accessibility, Associations are now required to issue email communications/notices for meetings, elections, etc.
- To ensure greater accessibility, Associations are now permitted to hold virtual meetings and virtual elections.
“We had a great team to ensure the amendments got across the finish line. Although this is just the beginning, it is rewarding and humbling to know we got this initial step done,” said Rolek.