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AKC BOARD ELECTIONS

Pursuant to Article VIII of the Bylaws of The American Kennel Club the Nominating Committee has nominated the following Delegates as candidates for such vacancies on the Board of Directors as are to be filled at the next annual meeting of the Club on March 8, 2011.  There are three vacancies for the Class of 2015:

Pursuant to Article VIII of the Bylaws of The American Kennel Club, the following Delegates have been endorsed in writing by the required number of Delegates as a candidate for vacancies on the Board of Directors for Class of 2015 to be filled at the next annual meeting of the Club on March 8, 2011:

Each candidate was allowed three minutes to address the Delegate body.   In alphabetical order are:

1 - Robert A. Amen, representing the Port Chester Obedience Training Club:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First I want to thank the Nominating Committee for selecting me as one of their nominees for the Class of 2015. The question many of you have, I know, is Who is this guy? The Nominating Committee I think considered my 40 plus years in the business world, 30 years in dogs, and also saw a new face with no agenda.

I started in the Business News Department of the New York Times, followed by work as a Wall Street consultant; moved on to become an elected officer for three major Fortune 500 companies as corporate vice president responsible for all external and internal communications. In 1980 I formed Amen & Associates, advising corporations like AT&T and Campbell Soup on their financial and corporate public relations. In the late eighties I was elected to the Board of the National Investor Relations Institute, a not for profit organization with over 3,500 members, and was elected its Chairman 1988 ‘89.

My firm was acquired in 1992 by Ketchum, one of the nation’s five largest public relations consultancies, and in 1994 I was elected partner and president Ketchum Global Corporate Practice, responsible for “Reputation Management.” Will this experience help the Board? That’s for you to decide.

What will the AKC face for the next few years? Registrations have declined, entries have dropped since 2007, financial performance as slipped. The economic outlook is still pretty grim. There are some five unemployed persons for every available job, 7 million homes are in foreclosure, oil is expected to reach a hundred dollars a barrel by 2012. Household budgets will continue to be squeezed.

What can the AKC do in this environment? Here is one idea I that mentioned earlier, the family of four, a favorite audience; let me suggest we talk about the family of two, the 50 plus couple whose kids have left home, who have an income stream and may be looking for a hobby as they think about retirement. They represent over 21 percent of our population of 75 million people. That’s how I began the focus on dogs. I’ve worked for some 30 years with purebred dogs; Australian Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, a Scotty and an Afghan Hound. Although my focus has been on obedience in the companion events, I’ve shown in conformation and lure coursing as well, and training in agility and tracking.

My primary interest in obedience led me to training, exhibiting and judging. I’ve won the OTCH title on four dogs, and become an obedience judge along the way. I qualified for the AKC’s National Obedience Invitational for the past seven years.

In addition to serving on the Board of the United States Australian Shepherd Association, a member breed club, I also wrote the obedience column for its magazine. In 2007 my column was a finalist in the Dog Writers Association of America annual writing competition. I’m on the Editorial Board, and a columnist for "Front and Finish" magazine. I’ve also appeared on NBC TV’s Today Show and CBS TV’s Morning News with one of my obedience dogs.

You can get more details on my background on a new website I just launched recently at www.RobertAmen.com designed specifically for the Delegate body. Thank you. (Applause)

2 - Dr. Carmen L. Battaglia, representing the German Shepherd Dog Club of America:

My 40 years in dogs started when my grandfather gave me a puppy.

My professional life and my business career began as an assistant Dean at Emory University. From there I became the Regional Administrator for the US Department of Education, then, the president of a consulting firm and finally the owner of three proprietary schools.

During those years I was involved in many research projects while owning and breeding German Shepherd Dogs. Since 2001, I have bred 7 champions, written 4 books and 50 articles. Last year, my study on the First of Year of Development was published in the Journal of Vet. Behavioral Science. This year, my research on Bloat and Risk Analysis will be published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

During the past 15 years my assignments with AKC have also varied. I chaired the Committee for the Future which resulted in our highly-valued DNA program. One of my proudest achievements was my 10 years as president of AKC’s Companion Animal Recovery Program which enrolled over 3 million animals.

Over the years I have given more than 50 seminars to all- breed and specialty clubs. It is no secret that we must address declining dog and litter registrations. After 19 years of decline some see this as a gloom and doom problem. I see it is an opportunity—to refresh our brand with new goals and better objectives. At the end of the day it is leadership and education that become the indispensable ingredients that will make the difference.

Those of us who grew up with AKC see AKC as a revered brand. But over the years we seem to have lost touch with the average American. We can bring them back by changing the way we do business. We have something unique to offer. The value of owning a purebred dog and the benefits of AKC. We do a good job preaching to the church, the delegate body and the fancy but we need to find better ways to reach the public. We need new and creative themes that focus on our events, our clubs and our research. They continue to be the lifeblood of our organization and the key to our future. A good start would be to upgrade our educational programs with a focus on the benefits of owning a purebred dog.

There are empty Bill Boards all across America and advertisers looking for customers. Their rates are low and the opportunity awaits us. Because of the increased threat of government-imposed breeding limits and breed-specific legislation we must also change our approach. We can not continue play defense by waiting until the wolf is at the door. This allows the animal rights to launch campaign after campaign. They are well funded and they come well prepared. The days of just playing defense are over. I suggest we try the no huddle offense that exposes the animal rights agenda and puts them on the defense. Our ideas must resonate with the socially conscious younger generation and strip credibility from PETA and HSUS. Our plan must be clear in order to win the sympathy and support of our public officials.

By placing more emphasis on the values of AKC, canine research and purebred dogs we can turn the corner. I'm out of time, Gina tells me, so I'll just wrap it up by saying I ask for your support as I try to help move AKC forward during the next four years. Thank you.  (Applause)

3 - Karen J. Burgess, representing the Greater Clark County Kennel Club:

Good morning. In preparing this speech I thought seriously about what to say and how to say it. I researched some of my favorite speakers and came across a quote of Colin Powell that defines me and my passion for the sport of purebred dogs: “Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.” Good leadership takes responsibility for the welfare, the organization, and offers sensible, thoughtful direction that may often not please everyone. In order to strengthen the organization it’s imperative that we all work together toward a common goal: The future success of The American Kennel Club and the sport we love. The combined efforts of the united Board of Directors, Delegate body and staff have depth and experience to initiate commitment needed to realize our mission.

We are AKC’s greatest resource. We must utilize our expertise to promote our goals, and educate the public and lawmakers. We have the responsibility to inform the public that, not only will their right to own a dog disappear, but the health and welfare of all dogs will suffer.

The very future of our sport is in danger. We are here to preserve what has meant so much to all of us for so many years, and to continue into the future we must focus on new programs to enhance and protect our interests. We need to be creative in continuing to develop programs that keep our sport vital.

The American Kennel Club is a unique organization. My background in business and financial administration will be of great value, as well as being proficient in managing a wide variety of events, from small specialties to nationals and large all breed clusters, has given me a great deal of experience in our sport. I have been a Delegate for 12 years and have served twice on the Nominating Committee, and currently serve on the Parent Club and Group Realignment Committees. I have the passion to pitch in to take a bold stand on issues that will ensure the future of purebred dogs. I would appreciate your vote. Thank you. (Applause)

4 - Steven D. Gladstone, representing Reno Kennel Club:

Good morning. Marieann and I got our first Cardigan Corgi in 1974, and by the time I graduated law school in 1979 we were hooked. Even then, in the Penn Law School yearbook I said, “if in the future you want to contact me, find me through the Secretary of The American Kennel Club”.

I remember sitting in the nosebleed section at the Garden, overlooking an empty arena in the afternoon, watching Lawrence set up the group rings for the night, studying income tax law so I could understand how it applied to the AKC.

Today that AKC that I love is in trouble. Our world has changed. "Purebred dogs" does not mean AKC purebred dogs anymore. Today the public will take any kind of puppy from any registry or none at all. They see no reason to send us their registration dollars because they perceive very little value in that purchase. We're in trouble to survive. Our funds are diminishing, registrations plummet, our events decline, and we're being attacked from the outside from all sides.

We are 126 years old, but that does not guarantee that we'll survive. We need to adapt to our new marketplace and our new reality, and we need to do it now. There is not a weekend goes by that a judge or an exhibitor or a handler doesn't come up to me and ask if the AKC is going to survive. Will we be here in another five or ten years? I tell them I’m trying to assure that we are.

We are at war, - usually with our co owners, We need fresh, aggressive approaches to be able to quickly respond, not 126 year old bureaucracy that turns like the ocean liner in the middle of the ocean.

Our greatest asset is in our people. Throughout the country we have thousands of AKC clubs and people. We need to engage them.

Purebreds are being attacked and the puppies are harder and harder to sell. Our breeds decline. We have more and more endangered breeds. Puppies are hard to sell in order to sustain an affordable level for participation at our shows.

Kitty Steidel brought me a proposal quite a few years ago. It was brilliant, now maybe it's timely: AKC should engage its breeders, its local clubs, its specialty clubs in every town, in every city, to form cooperatives. The local breeders, specialty clubs, all breed clubs and all others should create a local cooperative store from which to meet the public and sell their AKC branded puppies. We have better puppies than the pet stores. We should compete for the sale of Americans' canine pets. Such a local cooperative can sell to whoever it chooses, or not sell, just like now.

I see, Carmen, I, too, have run out of time. I would simply tell you, I appreciate the confidence of the Nominating Committee; I would appreciate your confidence as well. Thank you. (Applause)

5 - Kenneth A. Marden, representing the German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America:

When the sport of purebred dogs is faced with a faltering economy, constant harassment by well funded maniacs of this world and the big decline in the major funding for The American Kennel Club that used to fund 96 percent of our activities -- all of these things together are happening, and you can see why your Board is right now scrambling to stay ahead of the changes. And they’re changes that are happening right now.

I’ll give you an example: A couple years ago, when I was the president of AKC -- well, okay, 22 years ago -- one of my accomplishments was, I convinced the Board to initiate and start establishing performance events. I hired a vice president and I said at that time, What I want you to do is to get hold of all the information on herding, agility, lure coursing, all of those events, and we’re going to make them AKC events, so people can have more fun with their dogs.

Now, why do I bring this up? I mean, most of you know that that’s the case. The reason that I bring it up now is that we have dramatic changes in our sport. In 1995 we had 1,800,000 entries in events; 84 percent were conformation, 16 percent were performance and companion events. Last year we had 2,600,000 entries in events; 47 percent were companion and performance events. By next year I know what it will be; it will be 50/50.

We’ve got to change how we approach things. We need a Board and a Delegate body who is going to make these changes, who isn’t afraid to make them, without trampling on some of the traditions of course that we’ve had for the past 126 years. The next four years are going to be absolutely critical. And with that I say, "Sit Stay," and I’m through. Thank you. (Applause)

6 - John L. Ronald, representing the Samoyed Club of America:

AKC faces big challenges. There have been a steady decline in registrations, entries and core business revenues. The Board and Staff have instituted measures which will help. But, mostly they are aimed at AKC’s current customers: you and me. However, our numbers are shrinking.

AKC’s healthy future will need a long-term plan to reverse this trend so that we can expand our customer base and grow. Of course, AKC’s Board and staff want to achieve this goal. However, it took a long time to arrive at this point, and it will take time to rejuvenate AKC. I believe I can contribute to strengthening AKC.

For those of you who don’t know me well, I’m a businessman, Delegate and, most of all, a dog person who wants AKC to flourish and succeed. I spent my career as a bank executive in finance and investments, and led a staff in managing more than $25 billion in client assets. I’ve also served on a number of nonprofit boards.

I’ve been an active Delegate for 23 years. My motion created the Delegate Committees. I served as Editor of Perspectives and helped it grow. I serve on the All-Breeds Committee and have served on a number of other committees including the Coordinating Committee. I’ve been a judge 23 years. For the last 6, I’ve served on the Board and been Treasurer of the American Dog Show Judges Association. I’ve seen the sport internationally through judging.

More importantly, I’m a committed Dog Person. I am the 4th generation of my family to be involved in purebred dogs. I’ve had great success as an owner handler of Samoyeds and Tibetan Terriers. I still show my own dogs occasionally. Kathy and I bred a litter this year. We’ve been competing for Grand Championship titles on our dogs. We are proud AKC Breeders of Merit. We’ve done herding, obedience and therapy work with our dogs.

I’ve worked against anti-dog legislation on a local level. I know the current state of the sport, AKC and its customers. The customers regularly give me input. I can bring this perspective to AKC’s Board in a collegial and consultative approach.

However, if elected, my first duty will be to listen and learn so that I can contribute responsibly where appropriate.

You and I represent AKC’s past and present. But, as we gather here today, we are responsible for ensuring AKC’s strong future. We have a responsibility to the next generation of fanciers who deserve the same strong AKC we’ve been privileged to enjoy.

Most of all, we have a responsibility to our DOGS and those of the future to ensure that they will enjoy the same quality of life and freedoms that our dogs have enjoyed all these years.

For this to happen, we need a strong, vibrant AKC. In order for me to contribute as I envision, I need your support and I ask for your vote. Thank you. (Applause)

7 - Daniel J. Smyth, representing Burlington County Kennel Club:

The first dog show I ever saw was on a 7-inch TV screen in the early 1950’s. After attending the AKC / Eukanuba Invitational in person this weekend, I have the honor today of addressing the organization that made it all possible.

My name is Dan Smyth and I am honored to run for the Board of Directors of the organization that is the Champion of the Dogs. . I am a Delegate and have been a Delegate for 18 years. I have never missed a meeting. I don’t intend to change that mindset that I am a Delegate regardless of the outcome of this election.

I realize that there are a complex set of fiduciary responsibilities for Board members to embrace, but, as an attorney for 35 years, I have learned to remember what duties fall on my shoulders and when. I take all responsibility seriously.

My positions as a Delegate have been many and my experiences have been varied. Parent club Delegate for 6 years; all breed club Delegate for 12. I became a DAAC committee member in 1997, and have been chair since 2001. I am proud of this committee as it has been able to increase Delegate empowerment and has assisted this Delegate body to take its place as one of the three equal branches that run this organization’s governance.

 I have served on the Coordinating Committee for 9 years and recently Chair for three years. During that time we made great advancement in staff/Delegate relations and were able to move the Legislative caucus to a time when all Delegates could attend. In 1998, I became a member of the Northeast Trial Board, and have served as its Chair since 2003.

I have been a member of the Perspectives Editorial Board for thirteen years and was Chair for the last three years.

I am a group judge also. Just like you, I am a responsible breeder! I show my own dogs; I whelp my own litters; and I get my hands dirty. I chair a cluster, and represent an all breed club that offers most major performance events.

I bring all of this experience to the table. I have a strong respect for the power of the Delegate Body, and a desire to see the AKC take back its position as the only quality registry brand in the United States. We face the very serious problem of the rapid disappearance of purchasers who don’t understand why they should register their dogs with the AKC.

The answer to our economic challenges is not to surcharge the registered owners and member clubs. It lies in convincing America that we are truly the Dogs champions, and they need to join us.

We need to change our corporate philosophy. We need to show the fancy what we do with their registration monies to protect the well being of all dogs including the dogs in the Sara McGlaughlin ads.

Hard questions need to be asked, and hard decisions have to be made. We need visibility in the actions of the Board; visibility in the actions of the staff, and the continued involvement of the Delegate Body in the teamwork between all three branches. I want to be part of that team. I want to be able to ask the hard questions, I want to be able to vote on the hard decisions, and I want to proudly represent you, the Delegate Body, with a seat on the Board of Directors. (Applause)

 
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