Jacobi Retires as CEO of USACK


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From winning the C2 gold medal at the 1992 Olympics to serving as CEO of USA Canoe/Kayak, Joe Jacobi has been a constant supporter of slalom in the U.S. Now he’s stepping down from his post at USACK to stroke into different waters, while still supporting the slalom cause…

Jacobi recently announced that he will be stepping away as Chief Executive Officer later this year. A search is under way for a new leader to carry forward the progress and momentum of the organization.

“I gave deep consideration in making this decision and remain firmly committed to a strong and healthy USA Canoe/Kayak anchored in Oklahoma City,” says Jacobi. “But there are important calls to both my personal life and professional endeavors about which I am excited to pursue, including projects and initiatives that directly and indirectly support USA Canoe/Kayak’s mission. The goal is not to leave, but to create space in order to contribute more to national and international paddlesports objectives.”

“Joe and I have worked closely together over the last three years and he was always positive, earnest, professional and most importantly had USA Canoe/Kayak’s interest first and foremost,” says Bob Lally, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “This transition comes at a time when USA Canoe/Kayak has a coordinated and seasoned staff, a strong, and diverse board of directors, and our enterprise is exceptionally well positioned strategically. I have full faith the candidate we select will be well qualified, have a demonstrated track record of success and will lead USA Canoe/Kayak to continued growth and development.”

Jacobi, a 1992 Olympic Gold Medalist in Canoe Slalom, took the helm of USA Canoe Kayak in 2009 facing challenges of a stagnant sport, diminishing USOC investment and low visibility at its Charlotte, North Carolina headquarters. Since then, Jacobi oversaw the move to the current headquarters in Oklahoma City, a more vibrant city and one that nobody would have expected to be a center for paddlesports. But Oklahoma City’s community chemistry made for a perfect match in developing the vitality of high performance paddlesports.

Jacobi worked with USA Canoe/Kayak’s Board to streamline the leadership and governance structure of the organization.

“Having worked with Joe closely in Oklahoma City for the past five years, we not only built a strong and valued friendship, but I witnessed his professionalism and engaging spirit that propels the sport forward on a daily basis with every speech, discussion, presentation, and tour,” says Mike Knopp, Executive Director of the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation and USA Canoe/Kayak Board member. “Joe’s Olympic gold medal success story is but one defining component to his legacy in the sport – his assertive and inspirational leadership of this National Governing Body during a critical and transitional time will be known as his greatest contribution to USA Canoe/Kayak and to the next generation of athletes entering the sport.”

Unlike most other National Governing Bodies, USA Canoe/Kayak is a family of many diverse Olympic, Paralympic and World Sport disciplines that over the past five years worked together to host a number of world class international events including the 2013 Freestyle World Championships at western North Carolina’s Nantahala Outdoor Center and September’s World Slalom Championships in McHenry, Md.

“This is a job that Joe has done three times now, twice as the interim director when the organization was in need of leadership, and then as a full-time director over the last few years,” says Scott Shipley, a member of USA Canoe/Kayak’s Board of Directors and a three-time Olympian. “He has always been there.”

Adds Rick Adams, Chief of Sport and Operations and NGB relations, United States Olympic Committee: “Joe’s passion for sport is unmatched, and we know he’ll continue doing great things for the Olympic Movement in the years to come.”


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