USHWA conducts successful annual meetings, banquet

Orlando, FL — The United States Harness Writers Association held its annual meetings this past Saturday and Sunday at the Rosen Centre in this central Florida city.

The Dan Patch Awards banquet, presented by Caesars Entertainment, provided its usual fitting climax to USHWA’s annual weekend gathering of its directors and membership; the honors accorded Confederate and the other stars of the sport in 2023, human and equine, have already been written up and disseminated in the trade media.

USHWA’s officers for 2024-’25 (from left to right): Jerry Connors, secretary; Barry Lefkowitz, chair of the board; Michael Carter, president; Heather Vitale, first vice-president; Melissa Keith, second vice-president; and Bill MacDonald, treasurer. Roger Huston photo.

Some 26 USHWA directors, including officers, active past presidents/life members, and at-large/chapter directors came together Saturday afternoon to examine and plan a framework for the association’s operations. A committee headed by Hall of Fame museum director Janet Terhune, comprised of Hall executive staff and members of USHWA, came up with a plan to solve the Communicators Hall of Fame’s running out of display space by displaying a good number of the artwork trophies and digitizing the others in an easily-accessible and –sortable kiosk/TV system. The board approved a $20,000 expenditure to keep the memory of these distinguished communicators on proper prominent display.

The directors also voted to place Judy Davis-Wilson and Debbie Little, both former presidents of USHWA, both former members of the year, and both distinguished in their respective sections of harness racing, on the summer ballot for possible election into the Communicators Hall of Fame.

The writers also made updates and refinements into its operating by-laws and rules and regulations, with the large number of suggested modifications often accompanied by spirited discussion and voting.

Some 50 members of the organization, including the directors, attended a Sunday morning meeting focusing on the general membership of the association. The highlights of the major activities occurring during Saturday’s gathering were recounted and were a topic of continued conversation, and reports from both the committees that oversee major areas of USHWA activity and from the officers of the association were delivered. Any questions the membership had on any aspect of USHWA were encouraged and answered.

Michael Carter was elevated from first vice president to president of USHWA in voting for a slate of officers. Heather Vitale rose from second vice president to first vice president, while Melissa Keith joined the officers as second vice president. Outgoing USHWA president Barry Lefkowitz becomes chair of the USHWA board per the association’s by-laws; Bill MacDonald and Jerry Connors were returned as treasurer and secretary, respectively.

In times of sizable contraction elsewhere in harness racing, USHWA lost only four total members over the last year, revealing the dedication of the group and the excellent coverage they provide of the best of racing, while also serving as an outreach/recruitment tool for bringing “fresh blood” to the sport. This core group, along with any recruits, will allow USHWA to carry on hosting its annual acclaimed Dan Patch Awards banquets and continue to knowledgeably vote to recognize the best and brightest in harness racing, both human and equine.

To watch the video of the Dan Patch Awards dinner, click here.

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