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ASHA Enacts New Governance Policies

Lexington, Kentucky - At its regularly scheduled meeting of the directors of the American Saddlebred Horse Association (ASHA), held Monday, July 6, in Lexington, Kentucky, the board formally adopted several new policies, continuing its commitment to increasingly open governance and inclusion begun in 2005.

For the last five years, the Association’s annual convention in February has featured committee meetings which are open to all members.  In particular, the Finance Committee’s meeting which begins the convention each year has been open, and attended by the Association’s independent auditor; financial statements of the Association and the American Saddlebred Registry (ASR) are discussed in detail.  Further, the schedule each year has included an open members’ forum, as well as the formal Annual Meeting of members, where the volunteer leadership, staff, legal counsel, and auditor are all available for questioning, and the independent audits are made available to Association members upon request. 

The Association’s magazine, American Saddlebred, which is mailed to all senior members, has historically featured an annual report in its March/April issue, which has been formalized and expanded in recent years.  Its web site, , in its Governance tabs and elsewhere, provides a window into the Association’s governance, through video streaming of the annual meeting, special events, and publication of the organic documents of the Association and Registry, as well as minutes of directors’ meetings once approved.

This month, with the Internal Revenue Service having released a new and lengthy tax return for all charitable and non-profit organizations to file each year (Form 990, available to the public upon request from any such organization once filed), the Association’s directors adopted a policy of reviewing the annual return line-by-line before filing.  The Registry’s board did the same.  In addition, each of the two boards adopted formal, written policies on Document Retention, Employee Protection, and elaborated upon their previously enacted Conflict of Interest policies, consistent with questions in the new Form 990.

The directors also formally considered a series of letters received over the last several months from a group of Association members demanding financial, personnel, and other documents.  The boards voted to disclose to the general membership of the Association all such correspondence including its responses on the member-secure area of its Internet web site

, here.  Further correspondence with this group of members will be posted in this area as well, along with materials (such as general ledger detail) produced for those members inquiring about financial data and other documents.  Certain documents not available on the web site, relating to personnel or private matters, will be subject to inspection at the Association’s offices only on written request.  Information furnished to ASHA on a confidential basis, and other records legally privileged or determined upon advice of legal counsel to be inappropriate for disclosure, will not be released.

The Association’s directors also approved new bylaws relating to Litigation and Inspection of Records.  In addition, the Association’s staff suggested and the directors approved a new policy enabling any member, upon providing appropriate notice to ASHA, to visit the offices on the third Tuesday of each month beginning at 10 a.m. on August 18, to inspect financial documents of the Association.  This policy will be in place from August until the Association’s annual convention in February 2010, so that all members will be permitted to review material they’re interested in, as well as documents produced for other inquiring members.  Senior members are also invited to attend a document production scheduled for Wednesday, July 29, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Association’s offices in the Kentucky Horse Park, per correspondence released today.  Any member wishing to attend must provide ASHA written notice by the close of business on Wednesday, July 22.

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