A History of Giving

The United States Synchronized Swimming Foundation (USSSF) has supported the growth of synchronized swimming from its inception through today and will continue to do so far into the future.

The USSSF was born from the profits from the 1984 Olympic Games. The US Olympic Committee’s (USOC) then-president, Bob Kane, then-CEO, Col. F. Don Miller, and then-treasurer, William E. Simon, negotiated with Peter Ueberroth, president of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee (LAOOC), and agreed to a three-way split of the Games’ anticipated profits between the city of Los Angeles, the USOC and the National Governing Bodies (NGBs) of each sport. It was decided that each NGB would receive an equal share, which ended up being $1.1 million.

In anticipation of receiving the funds from the LAOOC, USA Synchro’s president, Judith McGowan, insisted that a foundation be established to protect the funds. The Board of Governors voted to establish the United States Synchronized Swimming Foundation. The legal documents were drawn up, and the Foundation was established on November 13, 1984. Originally, when a president of USA Synchro completed her/his term, she/he became president of the Foundation for the next four years. This continued until 1998 when then-President Nancy Wightman had the by-laws changed so that the USSSF trustees elect the president, and the outgoing president of USA Synchro no longer automatically assumed the Foundation presidency.

Realizing that the influx of this sizeable amount of money was likely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the Foundation established conservative fiscal policies. The annual investment income was to be split 50/50, with 50% being available for grants and the other 50% going back into the corpus. That policy was refined in 1998 to consider the returns over a three-year period, and this revised policy continued until 2005. At the request of USA Synchro’s then-CEO, Terry Harper, the granting procedure was changed: On June 30th the size of the corpus was to be reviewed and 5.0% of the Foundation’s assets would be available for grants, of which 60% would automatically go to USA Synchro. The remaining 40% would be available to others for grants, and USA Synchro could also apply for additional funds. In 2016, after some years of lower returns, the policy was changed again to set the grant pool at 3.5% of the net assets of the Foundation.

These policies have worked well: The Foundation has given away $2.4 million as of September 2018, $1.3 million more than its initial share from the LAOOC. For the first 18 years, the Foundation managed the money, and the corpus grew primarily from investment income. In 2002, the Foundation conducted a capital campaign – The Founders’ Society – and raised $335,000, which was added to the corpus. Trustee Paulette Roche subsequently suggested the Foundation hold a social function at the annual convention. A highlight of the annual convention, these dinners continue to this day and have produced modest profits, all of which have been reinvested in the corpus. Today the corpus stands at $2.5 million. A gift to the foundation has indeed been a gift that keeps on giving.

The USSSF Trustees have also made structural and operational changes to shore up the Foundation and ensure its longevity. The USSSF Annual Report is presented at the opening session of USA Synchro’s Annual Meeting, and during the presentation interactive activities with the Board of Governors encouraged donations. This usually raises several thousand dollars, but more importantly these interactive reports raised the profile of and enthusiasm for the Foundation. At the 2017 Meeting, the Foundation proposed changes to its structure that would double the size of the Board of Trustees from nine to 18 members and further focus on fundraising. This change was approved and the USSSF is in the process of implementing this substantive change. The Trustees have also developed a Trustee Manual and Policies & Procedures to guide the operation of the Foundation and ensure it continues to Fund the Future of Synchronized Swimming.

USSSF Presidents

1984 – 1988        Judith S. McGowan
1988 – 1992        Dawn Bean
1992 – 1996        Barbara McNamee
1996 – 1998        Nancy Wightman
1998 – 2010        Gary Knowles
2010 – 2014        Brian Eaton
2014 – present   Karen Rosolowski