Election Season is Here – National Board Nomination Statements

Election Season is Here – National Board Nomination Statements

Audi Club North America’s National Board of Directors election begins Monday, November 15th and will be open through Wednesday, December 15th. You will receive an email on the 15th with a web link to your election ballot.

Also, in governance news, Audi Club is updating its operating bylaws for the first time in over a decade! These bylaws have been drafted and revised by the Board of Directors, Policy and Procedures Committee, and reviewed by outside legal counsel, and we are asking all members to review the same and/or vote to confirm their revision.

Additionally, we are moving! With it now being a virtual office, the Club is no longer situated in Minnesota and/or Wisconsin. So we need to move our incorporation to a state that is friendly and useful to non-profit operation, and the Board has decided on Delaware. Under our bylaws, the membership must vote for both of these changes. A vote “YES” for these changes will help prepare the Club for the future and ensure its best practices and ongoing operation.

Each year, three of the nine National Board of Director positions are up for election. Directors serve a 3-year term and are eligible to run for a second 3-year term.

We’re excited to have seven incredibly diverse candidates running for the 2022 – 2024 open board positions. Take some time to review each of their statements ahead of elections opening day. In alphabetical order:

Ryan Compton – Current National President, Potomac-Chesapeake Chapter [Incumbent]

As a longtime member of the Potomac-Chesapeake Chapter and HPDE Event Master and Driving Instructor, Ryan is deeply invested in Audi Club that brings together Audi enthusiasts of all types. Since joining the Board of Directors, Ryan has collaborated with National and Chapter leaders, and the ACNA staff, to innovate new strategies for the future of the club, in an effort to expand membership, stabilize finances, and modernize old systems, all while bringing more value to the membership. With an experienced and revitalized staff, proactive board, and revitalized committees, he seeks to build on the transformation of his first term so that by the end of his second and final term, the organization is set for the future, on a growth path and delivering more value for its membership. Further, he will continue to emphasize the importance of volunteerism for Audi Club: As there are only three paid staff for the entire organization, the future and health of the organization depends on the willingness of others to step up and be part of the solution to each problem. Audi Club belongs to its members and relies on them to survive and thrive.

Between the discussion in this document and his columns in quattro magazine, Ryan’s vision for Audi Club is clear:  a sustainable organization that innovates to create growth and value to its membership, and is supported by a robust board, committee, and chapter group of volunteer leaders. Looking at the simple goals he set out personally for the board at the beginning 2021, Ryan makes that clear:  Robust and operating committees, appropriate and balanced transparency (including preparing the organization for a long-coming audit), rightsizing membership levels and prices (while expanding member value accordingly), and completing the rollout of the club’s new CRM system, which should result in efficiencies for the staff, better reporting for chapters, and the potential for more consistent funding of the organization. If we reach these goals, Ryan is prepared to keep moving the ball forward into his second term, continuing to build the membership and engage Audi enthusiasts of all types and backgrounds, creating new benefits for members, and creating lasting sponsorship programs to ensure Audi Club’s continuing viability.

Byron de Jesus – Glacier Lakes Chapter

I am an owner of an I.T. Consulting company for 23 years and have been performing IT consulting for 36 years.

I have been a member of Audi Club for over 20 years attending and assisting with club events ranging from High Performance Driving Education, adult and teen driving clinics, social gatherings, and fun drives. Giving back to the club and its member is why I have been instructing since 2003. It is incredibly rewarding to be working with students and watching their skills progress whether it’s throughout the event or over the years. All of this has only strengthened my passion for the club in Motorsport and camaraderie. The cars bring us together but the people are why we come back.

I have been a board member for Glacier Lakes chapter for the past six years, while serving as President for the last four. I have had the opportunity to engage with our Chief Driving Instructor to build a unified instructor development platform. Working with sponsors, vendors, track management and events participants has been enlightening, challenging, and rewarding. The best part of Audi Club is its members and the community we have in the founding chapter Glacier Lakes, and I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to be an integral part of keeping that dream alive.

I am passionate about strengthening the club’s resolve and support for its mission statement for driver education whether it’s on the street or on a racetrack. Driver education leads to safer and better drivers, which we need today more than ever. I want to help ensure club clinics are meaningful to today’s drivers, the current street climate, and our advanced car capabilities. Additionally, my experience in IT can also help club make best use of its resources to cost effectively manage its operations and growth.

Christopher May – Carolinas Chapter

Prior to joining Audi Club two years ago, I was part of a local unaffiliated group called, “Triangle Audi Group” (TAG). This group was started by a few enthusiasts in Raleigh, NC who recognized the need for a local Audi community. At that time, our Audi Club chapter was not actively organizing regular events in our area, so we took it upon ourselves to create our own. I was part of TAG’s leadership group for over a year and supported its membership growth through event planning and participation (including wrench-days at my home and mountain drives), social media marketing, and other grassroots recruitment strategies. After joining Audi Club’s Carolinas as an area-lead for Raleigh, I supported collaboration between TAG and Audi Club to create authentic events and joint experiences for our local Audi enthusiasts. Many of TAGs members have since joined Audi Club, and we continue to build upon our collaborative relationship. I believe there are similar opportunities out there for unaffiliated Audi Clubs if we can provide a mutually beneficial avenue for bringing them into the fold.

For the past year, I have served as an Audi Club Carolinas Board Director as Vice President during a time of organizational transition and unprecedented growth. With continued year over year membership growth, our board was faced with re-evaluating its governance and how it allocated resources to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse membership. As Interim-VP, I lead the charge to rewrite our chapter’s bylaws such that they represent our chapter’s membership, while promoting inclusivity and equity within all policies and procedures. The culmination of this process recently ended in August 2021 with the successful completion of our chapter’s first full board election.

As a car club leader, I believe it’s important to be the example you want others to emulate. It means prioritizing what’s best for everyone above your own personal interests. Having served in leadership for TAG and now for Audi Club Carolinas, I’ve strived to lead by example and espouse the values of a service mindset. It has proven successful in aligning diverse groups of Audi owners around a common goal.

I remain grateful for the opportunity to work with such amazing volunteers within our Club’s Carolinas chapter. If given the opportunity to serve on our National board, I would dedicate the same effort and service as I have throughout my entire career and volunteer experiences. I am fortunate to have developed a unique skillset in fundraising and non-profit management and I would be honored to leverage these talents to support our organization at this level.

Aaron Plante – Lone Star Chapter

Self-proclaimed Audiot and motorsport enthusiast, Aaron has been an active member of both the Lone Star and National clubs. Having served as a founding officer on the Lone Star Board, as well as a prior term as Vice President of Audi Club’s national organization, Aaron is well equipped to navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for Audi Club (e.g., merging non-affiliates, changing club member demographics, growth). His professional experience serving as General Manager of a vertical market software company brings a keen eye towards leveraging metrics to forecast and remediate risk. Finally, his love and dedication for the four rings, and activity as quattro magazine contributor and columnist will ensure the clubs roots and love for all things Audi are never forgotten.

Aaron endeavors to work with the current board members to continue their efforts towards club growth, diversity, and inclusion, and expanding value as well as bring a sense of member-first culture to the national leadership. Aaron is keen to seek opportunities to put the club member at the center of what we do to ensure not only the tactical value of membership (discounts, etc.) but also continuously improve our community, providing opportunities for experience, fostered at the national level, and engaged at the chapter level. To do that, many chapters need the support of a strong, member-first driven national board. In an age where traditional car club culture is threatened by social media, ride sharing, and automobile autonomy; the club must evolve from its track rat roots to provide an inclusive community for all fans of the four rings.

Ryan Ponto – Western Canada Chapter

Over the years Ryan has spent endless amounts of time involved in the Audi world locally, meeting many new friends, going on drives, and helping fellow enthusiasts whenever he can (such as hours in the garage helping install lowering springs). Eventually he learned about the Audi Club and was encouraged to join/help with the Western Canada Chapter and hopped in as Vice President. In 2017, the member base was roughly 45 people across all Western Canada. Now in 2022, Ryan’s second year as President and the chapter has grown to over 200 members, with an amazing team behind him in numerous cities helping to curate events, drives and social gatherings.

Ryan is a firm believer that in order to have a successful chapter, and on the larger scale of the national board, is the people you surround yourself with (stating his entire Western Canada team has been essential to their recent and impressive growth). The other major key is to have fun – from informal weekday events like Audis and Ice Cream, to car shows or more recently full day drives, whatever it is, keep it enjoyable, relaxed and just have fun with it. The more enjoyable the group is, the more fun everyone has, the more people will want to be a part of it.

With his positive attitude, amazing people surrounding him both locally and across North America as part of the club, Ryan feels that he would be an excellent asset to the National Board and truly hopes he gets the chance to be a bigger part of what makes the Audi Club so amazing.

Sam Thomas – Tennessee Chapter

I believe I bring a unique, and necessary, perspective to the table. Our situation in Tennessee is not unlike other areas of the country where, for whatever reasons, membership and activity fell flat at some point. For TN, it was a long dead period between 2013 and 2020. Purchasing my Audi in April of 2020 and joining the ACNA Facebook page opened my eyes to this amazing community of support. I was blown away! Within minutes I found the nearest ACNA event to me – a Tail of the Dragon run with the Carolinas chapter. Andrew Stanley and I were probably the easiest membership sell this club has ever seen. We signed up and hit the road that very weekend, learned all about ACNA by talking with the amazing Carolinas folks, and a plan was born.

Approaching this with an inside-out method, we’ve managed to bump our membership numbers significantly in just 8-10 months. Holding joint events with the Facebook clubs, emphasizing the ACNA partnership at our local car shows, and good old-fashioned word of mouth have done wonders for us. We’re still young and have much to learn. But Audi Club Tennessee is back, and it’s all thanks to our incredible members.

I want to serve the greater ACNA community, and if elected I would work with our chapters to establish deeper roots in their communities. Work with the unaffiliated groups, educate people on the reasons why ACNA is so great, and establish trust. Assign regional directors, give members a voice, have so many events that people can’t decide which ones to attend. We are a testament that these guidelines can bring a chapter to new heights. I feel strongly that we can apply these on a national scale and make our community even stronger.

Gordon Varney – Current National Board Member, Eastern Canada [Incumbent]

As a board, we talk about serving the membership, with little visible traction. We need to accelerate our relevance to members. Lack of awareness that the club exists is the norm, across enthusiast groups, geographic communities, and includes both dealers and shops. We must get our name out there.

We need leaders at all levels across the club: good ones – people who take pride in getting things done. What can we do to find, keep, and reward those people? Attracting, retaining, and providing value to sponsors is key financially. The advancements we’ve seen in 2021 are great – how can we accelerate that even more? Running a chapter is tough – those who have been there (or are there) get what I am saying. Let’s ensure the “franchisees” get the support, direction, and coaching they need.

Within the Eastern Chapter I’ve been the Membership, Sponsorship, and Communications Director, a stint as VP, and President off and on for a couple years. I am the Regional Director for Canada. I have ongoing conversations with Audi Canada and have visited some 20 Audi dealerships and talked to another 20. I’ve enjoyed coaching and helping a handful of the smaller club chapters. On the Audi Club Board of Directors, I’ve been on the Membership, Sponsorship, Nomination, and maybe most importantly, the IT Committee. One year I was on ExCom as the Secretary. I feel I am “just” getting to the point of being able to understand, motivate, and deliver.

Several of you outside Canada I’ve met at events around the country which has resulted in several lasting friendships. I’ve talked to hundreds of people in Ontario, Quebec, and the Canadian Maritimes. I cherish the time I can spend with the leaders and membership in Western Canada – I wish I could do it more often. Thank you all. May I have your support for another term on the Board?

This is your opportunity, as a member of Audi Club North America, to cast your vote for the future of the Club. These seven candidates have stepped forward to lead the Club so let’s show them our support. Members may vote for up to three (3) of the aforementioned nominees.

All Active, Associate, and Family members in good standing as of November 14, 2021 will be sent an email ballot with a link to the voting website. The election, bylaw updates, and incorporation move are being conducted using Survey Hero.

Your completed ballot will be received by our accounting firm, Wegner CPA. All ballots received by 11:59 PM Eastern, December 15, will be tabulated by the accountant and results will be publicized on audiclubna.org and via email announcing the new Directors who will begin in January for the 2022 to 2024 term.