Peter Burchard, former President of USA Fencing, was removed from his leadership role just one year into his 4 year term at the October 16 , 2021 Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors via an unscheduled vote at the tail end of the meeting.
Earlier this year, USA Fencing enacted changes to its leadership and governance structure that saw the removal of the membership-elected President role, transitioning it instead into a Chair of the Board role that is elected by the Board at large instead of the general membership. Burchard was transitioned from President to Chair of the Board as a part of this process, retaining the equivalent role. Just 6 weeks after this transition, the Board used this same new governance structure to oust Burchard from the Chair role. He retains a seat on the Board.
Burchard was replaced by David Arias, who made an official statement on the matter on USA Fencing, which can be found here. Arias, who was Treasurer up until his appointment, was replaced as Treasurer by Sam Cheris, who was also appointed Vice President earlier in the Annual Meeting.
The Annual Meeting did not include this vote on the official minutes, making this a surprise vote to most of the membership-at-large. Particularly to those who voted Burchard into leadership, who now have their candidate removed from power by administrative action instead of popular vote.
During the meeting, most Board members articulated their reasoning for miniating the vote and for the reason why they voted to remove Burchard. During these statements, a number of accusations were made. Some were very vague, while others were more specific but unsubstantiated. Some of the allegations were troubling, but ultimately, no public information or proof to back up the allegations was made available about any of the claims made by these members of the Board. This article will be amended if any hard evidence is put into public record by USA Fencing.
Only one Board member – Abdel Salem – chose to vote against Burchard’s removal as Chair of the Board. Like Burchard, Salem was also a petition candidate who won office by popular vote.
Across the internet, reactions to this Board action seem to be universally negative. Comments on the USA Fencing Facebook post announcing the change were sharply negative, and as of the publication date, at least one person involved in USA Fencing committees and resource groups has reportedly resigned their positions due to this action.