USA Surfing, the official International Surfing Association-recognized national federation for the sport of surfing, named new members to its board of directors and announced a newly-elected board chair, executive director and an organizational structure designed to encourage greater collaboration, responsiveness, and accountability. See list with bios below.
“We are heading into 2024 full of steam, talent and dedication to advancing surfing - the best sport and lifestyle,” said board chair Rob Pendergist. “Our leadership and organizational structure are designed to invite more people to be part of shaping surfing’s competitive future. The stars are aligning in surfing in a very exciting way. It’s like seeing a startup company.”
Pendergist said he was especially stoked the board unanimously elected Becky Fleischauer Jewell to be USA Surfing’s executive director. “Becky has a strong track record working with some of the most successful nonprofits in the nation, and has been working for us on and off over the last several years behind the scenes, including leading USA Surfing’s media and communications for surfing’s 2021 Olympic debut. She is a quiet force with strong relationships, diplomacy and knowledge of surfing from both an insider and outsider perspective.” (See Get to Know USA Surfing Board Chair Rob Pendergist - https://medium.com/@usasurfteam/getting-to-know-usa-surfing-board-chair-rob-pendergist-f1802e776388)
“I’ve known Becky for a few years now working together at USA Surfing,” said head coach Ryan Simmons. “Having her as the new Executive Director is a huge step forward for USA Surfing. She is intelligent, savvy and well liked among the surf community. Having her in this role will lead to the implementation of new and exciting avenues for us. As head coach I’m feeling a sense of renewal and reinvigoration to guide the surfers under Becky’s leadership.”
“I am honored to take on this opportunity at a key time in surfing's development -- the progression in youth surfing is incredible," said Fleischauer Jewell. " But at the same, the surf industry is going through some massive shifts, shedding mainstay sponsorships. USA Surfing will navigate through these uncertain times, and be a constant source of support to all our athletes, with positive competitive experiences, world class coaching and the eternal stoke. I thank the new board for this exciting opportunity.” (See Get to Know USA Surfing executive director Becky Fleischauer Jewell - https://medium.com/@usasurfteam/getting-to-know-usa-surfing-executive-director-becky-fleischauer-jewell-211e41ecb754)
After a move away from the beach to Colorado, interim CEO Andrea Swayne is shifting to a competition coordinator position, where she will continue to manage USA Surfing’s elite bicoastal Prime Series and Lowers Championship events. Fleischauer Jewell and the board expressed gratitude for Swayne’s co-founding and developing an organization that has helped field and forge so many great talents, friendships and memories. The reorganization will allow her to have a greater focus on the Prime Series.
Board chair Pendergist welcomed five new members to the Board of Directors – Kayla Durden, Christine Benedetto, Laura Bren, Dana Cummings, and Karin Kendrick. “This board is teeming with talent, ideas and dedication to creating more opportunities and growth in surfing. We are developing working groups on several key areas related to USA Surfing’s growth and impact, including athlete performance and competition development, membership and partnerships, and media and marketing,” said Pendergist.
USA SURFING BOARD OF DIRECTORS
*USA Surfing board chair Rob Pendergist, Manasquan, NJ
Rob is an East Coast financial adviser, business owner, avid outdoorsman, and surf fan and former elite decathlete and coach. He is also a leading fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, and helped attract and steward USA Surfing’s recent $1 million Jersey Mike’s sponsorship.
*Laura Bren, Ocean City, MD
Laura is the principal of Deeley Insurance Group, an independent agency established in 1929. Deeley offers personal and business insurance to clients in 14 states, specializing in Community Associations, Transportation, and Coastal Property. Born and raised in Ocean City, Maryland, Laura, her husband and two boys are an avid surf family that splits their time between Ocean City, and Dominical, Costa Rica. Laura has been supporting USA Surfing with strategic planning, board development, and financial best practices.
Charlie Setzler, Laguna Beach, Calif.
Charlie Setzler has over 25 years in various executive and leadership roles in action sports and medical device technology; specializing in brand management, sales, retail and operations. He has worked with iconic action sport brands including O’Neill, Rusty, Quiksilver, among many others. In addition, Charlie served in a leadership role for DJO Global, the global leader in medical braces and supports. He also owned Landmark Surf Co, a specialty surf boutique in Laguna Beach from 2014 to 2020. He is currently the Vice President of Business Development for Liquid Graphics, the premier screen printer in the country, working with top brands in the industry as well as some of the biggest music artists.
*Kayla Durden, Jacksonville, Fla.
Kayla is the Tours and Competition coordinator for the World Surf League. She oversees athlete communication across all six WSL tours, and manages all WSL Rising Tides mentorship program events. In 2020, she was one of seven American women selected to represent the surfing community in the ABC television competition reality show, “The Ultimate Surfer.” As a former professional surfer, she also currently serves as a virtual health and surf fitness coach for clients across the nation.
*Christine Benedetto, Palm City, Fla.
Christine has extensive experience in the world of surfing, including running successful surfing camps for over 10 years. As an educator, she possesses an-depth understanding of child development and the importance of sports in shaping well-rounded individuals. Growing up with a father who played Major League Baseball, Christine gained a keen understanding of the needs and aspirations of high-level athletes. Her daughter Zoe is a USA Surfing junior team stand out alumni, who continues to find success on the World Surf League’s Qualifying and Challenger Series.
*Karin Kendrick, San Clemente, Calif.
Karin is a sports marketing professional and has worked for several major surf brands, specializing in promoting women surfers and products. She represented Team USA at the 2002 International Surfing Association (ISA) World Surfing Games in Durban, South Africa. She and her husband Josh have two multi-sport kids, who fully embrace the outdoor life.
Athlete Representative, Christiaan “Otter” Bailey, Lake Oswego, Oregon
Born in Santa Cruz, adaptive surfing athlete representative Christiaan Bailey grew up in France and was a professional free surfer and surf safari guide in West Africa for a number of years. After a skateboard injury in 2006 rendered him dependent on a wheelchair for mobility, he has been traveling the world on humanitarian missions fitting children with wheelchairs, and promoting the growth of adaptive surfing. He serves on the ISA Adaptive Surfing Advisory Board. He is a two-time USA national champion (2009,2017), a three-time ISA silver medalist, and the only adaptive surfer on record to surf Mavericks and Pipeline.
Athlete Representative, Kaleigh Gilchrist, Newport, Calif.
Kaleigh is a professional surfer and three-time Olympic water polo Gold Medalist. Having competed at such a high level in both surfing and Olympic water polo, Kaleigh helped USA Surfing prepare surfing’s first Olympic team to make its 2021 debut in Japan. As a world-class athlete, she continues to push the standard of excellence and share her insights and inspiration with USA Surfing’s junior surfers.
*Athlete Representative, Dana Cummings, Pismo Beach, Calif.
Dana is the President and founder of the Association of Amputee Surfers (DBA AmpSurf and the Para Surf League) – a nonprofit designed to share rehabilitation through the healing power of adaptive surfing and to support Para Surfing around the globe. After serving six years in the Marines, including service in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Dana lost his lower left leg in a car accident. Four months later, Dana learned to surf, and then founded the AmpSurf Learn to Surf program in early 2003. Dana is a certified adaptive surf instructor/presenter and developed the instructor training program used by AmpSurf, the International Surfing Association (ISA), and SurfAbilityUK to teach adaptive surf coaches worldwide. Dana is a team rider and member of the USA Para Surf team and has been representing the USA Surfing in global competitions since 2019. Dana is also a five-time west coast champion on the WSA circuit, ranked 7th on the ISA world circuit and 1st on the PSL global circuit. Dana has been recognized many times for his efforts, he was recently recognized by the History Channel and Variety magazine as part of their Salute to Service this last year for his efforts to provide healing and growth through adaptive surfing. Dana is also a youth sports coach and a proud father of five children.
Becky Fleischauer Jewell, executive director, Oceanside, Calif.
A former journalist turned communications strategist and C-suite advisor, Becky is devoted to helping clients navigate the nonprofit, sports and advocacy world and communicate clearly. Her creative ideas are reflected in branding, advertising, op-eds, marketing and social media campaigns. Executives and leaders from diverse companies and organizations such as HBO, Avon, Deloitte, Bloomberg Philanthropy’s Center for Government Excellence, the Gates Foundation’s education initiatives, NeighborWorks America, and USA Surfing have turned to Becky for strategic advice. Her most rewarding jobs were leading the media and communications for surfing’s Olympic debut and Carissa Moore’s historic Gold Medal, and with her husband Tony and sons Jackson and Cooper, starting a New Jersey city’s first Parks and Rec surf camp. She and her family currently live in Oceanside – an official USA Surfing training ground.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.