USA Canoe/Kayak's Joe Jacobi announced today he will be stepping away as Chief Executive Officer later this year and a search will be under way for a new leader to carry forward the progress and momentum of the organization.
"I gave deep consideration in making this decision and remain firmly committed to a strong and healthy USA Canoe/Kayak anchored in Oklahoma City," said Jacobi. "But there are important calls to both my personal life and professional endeavors about which I am excited to pursue, including projects and initiatives that directly and indirectly support USA Canoe/Kayak's mission. The goal is not to leave, but to create space in order to contribute more to national and international paddlesports objectives.
"Joe and I have worked closely together over the last 3 years and I can honestly say that he was always positive, earnest, professional and most importantly had USA Canoe/Kayak's interest first and foremost," said Bob Lally, Chairman of the Board of Directors. "This announced transition comes at a time when USA Canoe/Kayak has a coordinated and seasoned staff, a strong, and diverse board of directors, and our enterprise is exceptionally well positioned strategically. I have full faith the candidate we select will be well qualified, have a demonstrated track record of success and will lead USA Canoe/Kayak to continued growth and development."
Jacobi, a 1992 Olympic Gold Medalist in Canoe Slalom, took the helm of USA Canoe Kayak in 2009 facing challenges of a stagnant sport, diminishing USOC investment and low visibility at its Charlotte, North Carolina headquarters. Since then, Jacobi oversaw the move to the current headquarters in Oklahoma City, a more vibrant city and one that nobody would have expected to be a center for paddlesports. But Oklahoma City's community chemistry made for a perfect match in developing the vitality of high performance paddlesports.
Jacobi worked diligently with USA Canoe/Kayak's Board to streamline the leadership and governance structure of the organization. And as leader, he and his small, hardworking office and coaching staff generated substantial "do more with less" outputs, never accepting failure as an option.
"Working with minimal resources, our Board and staff came together to create a spirit of 'we can/we will,'" said Jacobi. "Our athletes, coaches, clubs and programs who stepped up and took action, helped us move the needle towards better results, a more diverse organization and alignment with our mission as well as the mission of the United States Olympic Committee."
"Having worked with Joe closely in Oklahoma City for the past five years, we not only built a strong and valued friendship, but I witnessed his professionalism and engaging spirit that propels the sport forward on a daily basis with every speech, discussion, presentation, and tour," said Mike Knopp, Executive Director of the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation and USA Canoe/Kayak Board member. "Joe's Olympic gold medal success story is but one defining component to his legacy in the sport - his assertive and inspirational leadership of this National Governing Body during a critical and transitional time will be known as his greatest contribution to USA Canoe/Kayak and to the next generation of athletes entering the sport."
Unlike most other National Governing Bodies, USA Canoe/Kayak is a family of many diverse Olympic, Paralympic and World Sport disciplines that over the past five years worked together to host a number of world class international events including the phenomenally successful 2013 Freestyle World Championships at western North Carolina's Nantahala Outdoor Center. The event set new international standards of production quality for the sport and returned the spotlight of pride to the United States - one that had been dimmed in previous years.
As the United States prepares to host two International Canoe Federation World Championships next month, this transition of leadership will highlight another opportunity to showcase the talents of our athletes and the world-class vision for our amazing paddlesports venues.
As the organization begins its search for its next Chief Executive Officer, Jacobi has agreed to serve the organization and the Board of Directors in ways that best support the transition.
Headquartered in Oklahoma City, USA Canoe/Kayak is a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Canoe Federation. It governs the Olympic disciplines of Flatwater Sprint, Whitewater Slalom, the Paralympic discipline of Paracanoe and sanctions Freestyle, Marathon, Outrigger, Wildwater, Stand Up Paddle Board, Kayak Polo, Dragon Boat and Canoe Sailing in the United States. For more information about USA Canoe/Kayak, please visit on the web at www.usack.org on Twitter at @usacanoekayak and Like on Facebook at facebook.com/USACanoeKayak