Profession: Attorney (Retired)
Dog Sport Involvement: Casual exhibitor, former Vice President and General Counsel for the American Kennel Club.
Hometown: East Jesus, North Carolina.
Astrological Sign: Sagittarius.
1. Do you have any dog show superstitions?
My only dog show “superstition” had to do with the AKC National Championship, or what, when I worked there, we called “Eukanuba.” And it was that whatever sense of dread and impending doom that I started to feel in advance of Eukanuba accurately foretold how awful it was going to be. And, in fact, it was always exponentially worse.
2. TV-show guilty pleasure?
3. If you were president of AKC for one day, what would you do?
My “day” would take place in Raleigh because, as much as I love New York, and think it’s meaningful for AKC to have a presence there, people need to understand that the heart of AKC beats in Raleigh. That is where the real work — the actual work that AKC still does in fulfillment of its mission — takes place.
I would cut the president’s salary by half, and agree not to take a bonus. I would throw out the current executive compensation scheme, the current pay scale, the way positions are described and graded and valued, the organizational chart, and start over. I would begin the process of hearing from the employees about how they believe AKC moves forward to focus more on advancement of the mission, but, also, what the employees need to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently, how they could be made to feel more valued and appreciated.
I would start conversations about change with constituents: breeders about how AKC can work with them to raise the profile of purpose-bred dogs and accurately tell the breeds’ and the breeders’ stories to the public; competitors about how AKC can work with them to raise the profile of AKC’s traditional sports and engage the public in them; clubs about how AKC can better support them, including bolstering them financially. I would start the process to jettison and dissolve the AKC’s for-profit, affiliated limited liability corporations, and pledge to keep AKC out of for-profit, unrelated business endeavors going forward.
I would stop the cannibalizing of the charitable work being done by AKC Reunite and AKC Canine Health Foundation. I would commit to more transparency about AKC’s finances, restore the publication of the AKC’s annual report, publish its tax returns, and, more importantly, commence a candid discussion about AKC’s future revenues — are we making money just to make money and to support the behemoth that AKC has evolved into, to generate large profits that will justify executive bonuses, or are we generating and using revenue to further the mission? I would commit to implementing SafeSport for the entire sport, including instituting a reporting and investigative process for complaints, to ensure the safety of our young people.
That’s just a start, and there’s so much more to tackle in the afternoon and evening: public and government relations, judges’ approval and discipline, juniors, compliance, the website, the National Championship, the necessity and appropriateness of all the crap we sell, how we change the culture of the place into one that lives up to its full potential …
4. Most valued material possession?
Family photos. And I wish I had more. Pro tip: You can never take too many pictures of family and friends.
5. What is something no one would guess about you?
I cry way too easily and, most frustratingly, when I am angry.
6. Who would you compare yourself to?
My dad, although I can only hope to be as visionary, to have such good instincts about people, and to be as cool as he was. And I will never be able to smack a golf ball like he could.
7. What are you “famous” for?
My pies. I even had a friend write a song about my tomato pie.
8. What web site do you visit most often?
9. What was more memorable, your most satisfying win or disappointing defeat? And what was it?
This question reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, from Barbara Brown Taylor, in Learning to Walk in the Dark: “I have learned things in the dark that I could have never learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.”
Suffice it to say, I have found myself in the dark plenty of times, but I have always come out on the other side changed and stronger.
10. What do you wish someone would ask you?
“Would you come back for Day Two?”