2012 KCBS Board of Directors Election
Candidate: Jeff Stith
1. Please describe the skills you possess (which you believe are stronger than the other candidates) which would make you an asset as a board member, in dealing with the challenges facing KCBS, and give an example of how those skills would serve the KCBS Board of Directors and its membership.My experiences:
- For the past seven and a half years, I have served on the Parks and Recreation Board of Directors in my hometown of Pleasant Hill, Missouri. I have served as secretary, vice-president and as president.
- Founded and served as president of an historical preservation non-profit organization to protect and preserve artifacts and buildings of historic significance in Pattonsburg, Missouri.
- In my career, I have over 20 years of combined experience in management, marketing, Web design and human resources which would be beneficial in promoting and leading the KCBS through this very important time of growth and development.
- Ability to motivate people
- Tenacity to see projects through to successful completion
- Ability to work as part of a team to accomplish missions and goals
- Outstanding organizational skills
- As KCBS grows and moves into the future, we must keep up with the needs of our membership by constantly seeking out new ideas to promote barbeque and the organization itself. Successful completion and implementation of projects can only happen when leadership works together with a common goal. I see myself as a leader who can motivate others when things "bog down" and encourage committees and the board remain focused. My organizational skills will enable me to make the best use of my time when serving our members. These skills will be especially important as I work with my assigned committee, which I see as the level where the real work is accomplished.
2. If you are a Cook, Judge, Rep or Backyard Cook, please identify the major KCBS issues concerning, one of areas in which you are involved. Describe the major issue, your strategies to correct or improve the issue, and what you see as the biggest challenge to the success of your plan.A large majority of my "KCBS time" is spent as a competition cook. My wife and I competed in 27 contests in 2010 and another 13 in 2011. I see two major issues for KCBS cooks. One involves the set of rules and the other involves new, untrained organizers. To address the rules issue, I will first say that in 2010, I served on the KCBS rules committee and we spent a considerable amount of time going over the current set of rules with a fine tooth comb. While it was a fantastic effort compared to past years, I know there's still much room for improvement. Some rules are still not clear, some just don't make sense and others are simply unenforceable which puts those willing to bend them at a competitive advantage. In addition to the rules we all know, there is the rep advisory manual that I have now seen. It is in excess of 30 pages of clarifications, rulings and so forth that have been handed down by the board. And most cooks are not aware of many of them. This document needs to be re-evaluated and incorporated where possible into the general set of contest rules we now have. The second area of concern as a cook is the education of new organizers. As a new organizer, KCBS requires you to observe at another established contest and you're able to go forward with your own first year event. Too often, we, as cooks, see the unhappy ending to this policy - contests that don't measure up to what the KCBS standard is or at least what they should be. At the very least, you get an event that is not cooker friendly and there's no one to greet you upon arrival, carry off your trash or bring you ice or water. Awards are sometimes only to the top three in each category and often, prize payout doesn't quite make sense when you look at what each team had to pay to enter. Worse case, you get contests that just don't know the barbecue culture and frustrate teams and in extreme situations, some don't even meet the advertised payouts. With the knowledge, great people and a lot of very good organizers across the country, there's no reason KCBS cannot have a more formal training session in place that all new organizers must go through before running their own. We need classroom or online instruction, a mentor program and a requirement that new organizers roll up their sleeves and get down in the trenches with their mentor organizer, not just showing up on contest day to watch or help out. Ninety percent of the work is done before a team even shows up. Make it a long term mentoring and let the new organizer see what it really takes to have a successful contest. I believe the biggest obstacle to all of these ideas is nothing more than dissenting voices. We need to continue to work as a team to improve KCBS.
3. Identify your major short term goal and the major long term goal, if elected to the Board of KCBS and your plan to implement change or improvement in order to carry out each of these goals.Short-Term Goals - Establish a sanctioning committee made up of KCBS members from each region of the country that will be able to look at each sanctioning request and determine if it should be approved or denied based upon team density in the area, the number of other contests in the region the same date and where those contests are located. Also, look into contests put on by other sanctioning bodies that are close by to determine if those events might also take teams away from the requested sanctioning. This committee then makes a recommendation to the Board for approval or not. The Board then can quickly give final approval or denial and the entire process is accomplished by regional representation on the committee who have better insight into team density and geography.
An additional short term goal is to follow through with what's been started and ensure that our reps and teams get the new scoring software that's been promised now. We need to guarantee follow through with this project once and for all.
Finally, as a short term goal, we need to give the KCBS rules a big overhaul and crop out the unnecessary and unenforceable and implement elements of the rep advisory manual to clarify the more concise set of rules. We should accomplish this by enlisting committee members from various sections of the country, differing amounts of experience and include cooks who excel in various categories. This is a huge task that should be started immediately.
Long-Term Goals - Establish regional representation on the board through committee assignments. We need to select committee members for all KCBS committees from various regions equally and work to change the by-laws to where the committees are chaired by a member of the committee elected by said committees and the board member is simply a liaison and advisor to the committee. The committee chairs will then make reports to the board each month and "no report" is no longer acceptable. In addition, the committee member names would be required to be made public and listed on the KCBS Web site, same as directors are now.
A second long term goal is continued work to provide more consistent judging. Comment cards have, as currently used, proven largely pointless. It is always going to be subjective scoring but establishing a continuing education program for CBJs will help. Too many "generations" of CBJs are learning things in different ways. It hurts consistency and we need to require refresher classes. Most judges are doing a great job but I believe KCBS can do a better job in working towards better consistency and better use of comment cards.
4. If elected please explain "your level of commitment, time and energy" for committee projects and monthly reports, board meetings and attendance, as well as representing KCBS to the public and being responsive to our members.As always, whenever I decide to become involved in anything, I believe in full commitment. As the saying goes, anything worth doing is worth doing right. My promise is to be available to membership, to listen to their concerns and to represent their concerns at meetings of the Board of Directors. That will not change. I will attend meetings of the board regularly and in person. My record in this area is impeccable: in my nearly eight years of service on the local Parks and Recreation Board of Directors, I have missed only three meetings when I had to be out of town. I have always been the kind of person who is willing to help others and I truly enjoy helping new teams. I have spent hours on the phone, via emails and at contests answering questions and trying to help others succeed. I hope to bring the same kind of caring to the Board.
5. Please describe your previous participation in KCBS activities and years of experience.I have been cooking barbeque and learning all types of outdoor cooking since I was a child. I joined KCBS and began cooking competitively in 2005 when I formed Big Creek BBQ with my wife. We usually cook 10 to 15 contests per year, although 2010 saw us enter 27 contests as we made a run in the points chase. In 2006 I became a CBJ and I judge one or two events per year. I'm currently working on my fifth year as organizer of the highly successful "Smokin' on Big Creek" BBQ Contest in Pleasant Hill, Missouri. For two years, I worked on the committee for The Fountains Blaze-Off and Senior Q in Independence, Missouri as part of Senior Q Month in October. In 2009, I ran for a seat on the KCBS Board, only to fall 51 votes short in the January, 2010 election. In 2010, I was selected to be a part of the KCBS rules committee. I have also donated my time to Kookers Kare, attended KCBS rules meetings, banquets and organizer round tables. This year, I have also assisted in forming Operation BBQ Relief, Inc. and started working part-time with WiredBBQ.com. I have also realized my responsibility as a KCBS member and voted in every election since joining the organization.
6. Please explain why you want to be a member of the KCBS Board.I believe the saying "You can be part of the problem or you can be part of the solution." This is a very important time in the history of the KCBS and while we've seen a lot of improvement over the last two years, there many important issues yet to be resolved. As a member of the Board of Directors, I will have the opportunity to be a part of the solutions. Talking is cheap - by volunteering my time to listen to members and truly represent them on the Board, I will have the opportunity to walk the walk and make a difference. I want to do whatever I can do to make KCBS the best barbecue organization in the world! For further information, please visit my Web site at www.ChangeKCBS.com and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/JeffKCBS.