2017 Board of Directors Candidate Statements

Posted: October 26, 2016 10:17 AM

Colorado Springs, Colo. (Oct. 26, 2016)—Get to know the candidates for the 2017 USA Ultimate Board of Directors. The voting window will open next week, Oct. 31-Nov. 4, after a Reddit AMA with the candidates on Monday night, Oct. 31. The candidates will be available to answer your questions from 9-11 p.m. ET on the ultimate subreddit: reddit.com/r/ultimate.

There are currently two elected seats available: one At-Large seat and one Elite Athlete seat. 

DeAnna Ball (Columbus, Ohio), Mandy Eckhoff (Quincy, Mass.) and Harvey Edwards (Selinsgrove, Pa.) are standing for the one available At-Large seat. Heather Ann Brauer (Seattle, Wash.) and Jacob Luria (Goldstein) (Burlington, Mass.) are the Elite Athlete candidates. 

When voting opens next week, to cast your vote, visit the voting section of your USA Ultimate account (login required).

Any eligible USA Ultimate member in good standing may vote for the At-Large seat. 

Only eligible elite athletes (as described by USA Ultimate bylaws, Section 5.6-5.9) may vote for the Elite Athlete seat. Elite athletes are defined as being active members of USA Ultimate in good standing who:

  • Within the 10 years preceding the election, represented the United States in a world championship event recognized by WFDF with a competitive selection process that was administered by USA Ultimate or an international championship recognized by WFDF, or

  • Within the last 24 months prior to the election finished in the top half of USA Ultimate's national championship or team selection competition for an international competition recognized by WFDF, or

  • Within the last 24 months prior to the election has been a member of the USA Ultimate National Team.

Continue below to read the candidates' statements and learn more about the people running for the 2017 USA Ultimate Board of Directors

At-Large Candidates


Elite Athlete Candidates



At-Large Candidates 

DeAnna Ball

Headshot DeAnnaBall2014  

Candidate Statement

"My passion for Ultimate is no secret." That is a direct quote from my first USA Ultimate Board Candidate statement, and it holds true even more so now. If you are interested in my resume with our sport and our organization, go here.

It is an important time to ensure that the vision for our organization and our sport involves continued growth, input of its members, education on good governance, support of the athletes, and goals that align with equity and diversity in sport. I have spent my first term on the board listening to many voices and learning about the relationship of our organization with its athletes. The first thing I confirmed is that our community is a passionate one. I embrace that passion. It is a necessary piece in a sports world that is dominated by money and male athletes.

I pay attention. I recognize what our organization has to offer beyond the college and club seasons - from the programming that currently exists within USA Ultimate (GUM, Learn to Play, state-based organizations, and more) to the new relationships that are born as a result of being part of the USOC family (Women’s Sports Foundation, CYO, JCC, etc). I see the efforts that are afoot in the community (Gender Equity Action Group, All-Star Ultimate Tour, Fulcrum Media Group women’s coverage, to name a few). I recognize that passion.

I don’t have all of the answers to the complexities of growing a sport with equity and diversity in the forefront - but I am passionate about working together to find the answers. I do believe that we have a unique opportunity to set a standard of attacking issues of equity and diversity early and often. In the past we haven’t done it the best way, and certainly we have room to grow and develop our strategies. But it’s not too late, and we are still in a position to be a leader among sports in how we address growth and visibility in conjunction with equity and diversity. It’s not easy work, and there will be times of disagreement. It is a journey that will require taking a path and then evaluating when and where we might need to break and head a different direction. When multiple goals are in play, finding balance becomes difficult. Which are the most important goals? How do we prioritize? What are the long-term consequences of our decisions?
I have grown a TON in my first term on the board. The first thing I learned is that time moves fast but progress takes time. I also recognize that there is an individual balance in wanting to do it all but only having the ability to do what one can at any given moment. I want to continue moving our sport in a direction that has equity and diversity in the forefront, while keeping strategic planning and good governance in mind. I believe that can be accomplished. I want to continue to listen to the voices in the community, and I want to be a better voice for our organization. I expect our organization/sport to be a leader in all sports. 
Let me continue the work that positions ultimate as a sports leader in all areas, but importantly in equity and diversity. 
#playlikeagirl #womeninultimate


Mandy Eckhoff

Eckhoff Mandy  

Candidate Statement

I think we are at a tipping point for the organization in terms of growth and development and are facing a number of issues that arise often as an organization evolves and a few that are very specific to the evolution of USAU as a grassroots member based organization.  How can we balance the needs and desires of all our members regardless of age, level of play and gender?  What’s the best method to promote the sport while staying true to the things that make ultimate unique?  How does USAU stay connected to its members while promoting and encouraging the growth and development that is certain to come? 

I would bring a unique viewpoint and set of experiences to the Board as we face these questions and deal with organizational evolution.  I am lawyer who helps provide guidance to organizations facing similar growth and identity issues (albeit in the for-profit corporate world), a past Board member (2008-2013) who spent over two years researching best practices in various sport organizations and drafted the current USAU Bylaws which laid the foundation for recognition by the US Olympic committee and inclusion in the US Olympic family, and a card carrying USAU member for almost 18 years.  I know how to help guide organizations as they evolve, how to listen to concerns that arise from impacted groups, and how to find the balance between the needs of a growing organization and the individual needs of the people who make up that organization.  As a Board member, I would continue to encourage a growth oriented mindset with a focus on developing youth programs, increasing the exposure of ultimate in mainstream media other outlets, and eventually adding ultimate as an Olympic sport. 

I am excited about the prospect of working again with an organization that I am proud to be a part of and help as much as I can to get as many people as possible to watch, play, and get to know this fantastic sport.  I encourage anyone with comments or questions to reach out to me directly.  I’m always happy to discuss the future of ultimate, organizational development, and food (I’m a big foodie – that’s short for I eat a lot).


Harvey Edwards


Candidate Statement

US National Championship Tournaments

Team City Year Venue Placing
Bucknell Mudsharks - 1977 Amherst Third
Bucknell Mudsharks - 1978 Amherst Third
Flying Circus SF Bay Area 1980 Palo Alto  Second 
Flying Circus SF Bay Area 1981  San Jose  Second 
Flying Circus SF Bay Area 1982  Palo Alto  Second 

WFDF World Ultimate Championship Tournaments

Team City Year Venue Placing
Seven Sages - 1991 Toronto Champion
Seven Sages - 1993 Madison Champion
Seven Sages - 1995 Millfield, UK Champion

Ultimate has been a core part of my life for over forty years.  I was fortunate enough to be a member of the sport in its embryonic stages in college. I was the co-founder of the Bucknell University Mudsharks in 1976. One year later we were recognized as one of the prominent national teams on the scene. The Mudsharks began as a coed team and maintained that status during my career with stellar female athletes equally represented on the field of play.

Over the course of my decades playing I had the pleasure of playing competitively on the East and West coasts at a time when those two areas of the country dominated the sport. As a result, I experienced a range of diverse attitudes and approaches to the game. They provided me with numerous perspectives to more fully appreciate the views of other participants at various levels of competition.

Furthermore, three trips to world championship tournaments in two foreign countries broadened my exposure to the reception the sport received from afar. Moreover, the success achieved at those events in winning three consecutive titles contributed to solidifying my performance as a player. As a result, in 2007 I was inducted into the USA Ultimate Hall of Fame.

I am expressing my interest in running for an At-Large position on the Board of Directors of USA Ultimate. This sport has honored me and afforded me an outlet for athleticism, sportsmanship, camaraderie and celebration of the "spirit of the game" that is unmatched in any other endeavor. 

If fortunate enough to be elected to the board, I would bring a unique perspective as an African-American in this sport that is under-represented by minority participants. Serving on the board would permit me to assist with the pressing issues of the changing demographics reflected in our country regarding minorities and women. Joining the board would allow me to pay forward all that Ultimate has given me.  



Elite Athlete Candidates 

Heather Ann Brauer

 HeatherAnnBrauer Headshot2016  

Candidate Statement

I am running for the USA Ultimate Board of Directors because I want to be sure that every single member of our community can have their voice heard. Having collaborated closely with USA Ultimate over the past decade, I have been at the forefront of difficult conversations as the sport has grown and goals have shifted. I want to take an active role in coming together as a community, bringing all parties to the same table, and creating a vision that belongs to all of us. Above all else, I am dedicated to transparency with you. As your board member, I will commit to generating new approaches for the structure of communication from the organization to the membership, bringing forth measures that represent the asks of our community, using my voice to echo all of your voices, and remaining accessible to all members of the community throughout my term. To this end, I will (a) be available via email and phone to talk with you about anything that is impacting you or your community, (b) host live monthly office hours to have open conversations with you, and (c) keep an active blog to involve the community in key discussions that impact our sport. I have developed strong relationships with the USA Ultimate staff that will allow me to encourage authentic communication and a stronger relationship with the membership.

I have played ultimate for the past 12 years, starting as a graduate student at the University of Washington on Element. I competed in both the Mixed division with D'Oh (2008) and BFG (2016) and in the Women's division with Phoenix (2012, 2013) and Seattle Underground (2014). I also played for the 2015 Women's Masters Team USA Beach. I have played in a wide range of thriving leagues in both North Carolina and Seattle. I have experienced and heard firsthand the things that make our community so unique and also the challenges we face as a growing sport.

Ultimate extends far beyond the field for me. Co-founding the Girls’ Ultimate Movement (GUM) in 2014 has been my most powerful experience in the ultimate community to date. In the last year, I served as the GUM Chair where I worked with an impressive volunteer network that has focused on implementing more programming for girls and developing more creative ideas to keep the passion of the movement alive. I have coached elementary through college ultimate on both coasts, including nine years of teams at the Youth Club Championships. From an organizational standpoint, I have served as the Atlantic Coast College Women's Regional Coordinator, Vice President of the Triangle Youth Ultimate League, and as the Regional Youth Director for both the South and West. This past summer, I also had the opportunity to coach in the Middle East and join the Ultimate Peace family.

In addition to my coaching and organizing experience, I also have strong analytical, leadership, and communication skills that are directly applicable to this position as a result of my work experience as a scientist leading a lifecycle management team at a cancer diagnostic company in Seattle. I am passionate about the opportunity to continue contributing to the growth and development of ultimate at all levels, which has been at the forefront of my work over the past decade. I believe my experience as a player, coach, volunteer, and co-founder of GUM provides me a unique perspective that will help drive innovative ideas to guide the organization to be a leader in sport.


Jacob Luria (Goldstein)

JacobLuria Headshot2016  

Candidate Statement

I am seeking support for the position of Elite Athlete Member on the USAU Board of Directors. I hope to support the Elite tier of Ultimate to give back to a division that has given me not only incredible competition opportunities but also some of my best friends. I am a product of the USAU/UPA divisional progression and growth starting with Juniors beginning my playing time through the Amherst Regional Middle School team as many others have. From this beginning have had the opportunity to play at highest level of our sport including National Championships for Juniors, College, Beach, and Club as well as World Championships for Juniors and Club playing on a wide variety of teams – Carleton Ultimate Team (CUT), Florida Combo, Sub Zero, Boston Ironside, and Danny and the Warhawks.

From this playing perspective, I have personally experienced the value of Elite Ultimate exposure and strongly support the continued growth of Elite Ultimate exposure for all three divisions (Mixed, Women’s, Men’s) in an equitable manner. As a board member, I would seek to build upon the exposure of the sport through media and events, increase and codify the professionalism and quality of our top tournaments, and expand upon the pairing of tournaments like the US Open / YCC alignment where possible.

Lastly, I believe I bring significant experience in board management and executive support serving professionally as a consultant for hospitals and health systems – largely to develop and execute long-term strategic plans involving alignment of multiple competitive actors, increasing patient and employee satisfaction, and executing multi-year strategic investments.


Have any questions or comments? We welcome community feedback and discussion made in a respectful manner. Please refrain from profanity or personal attacks, as such public comments negatively reflect on our sport and community.