Answers to Candidate Questions
How do you keep someone like me from leaving TICA and the cat fancy? – Melissa Eichler
TICA can create tangible benefits for people who 1) exhibit a cat at a show 2) join a TICA club 3) become involved in the stewardship of a TICA breed serving on a breed committee 4) putting on a TICA show as an entry clerk, master clerk, show manager or active participant 5) screen for genetic and physical health. This can be done the through creation of title program for people, coupons or rewards for specific action, discount on TICA goods or services and more.
TICA can offer valuable opportunities unavailable anywhere else such as interaction and discussion with the world’s leading feline experts related to physical health, nutrition, genetic innovations, behavior and LEGISLATIVE & REGULATORY assistance on an international scale that is difficult to achieve on an individual basis.
TICA can create a balm for the “burn-out” of show managers, club members and entry clerks (and their families) trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cents though rewards (TICA points that can be accrued or ???) . A standard set of TICA banners and décor that is sent to every club or a box with raffle items from corporate partners with a show license would take a huge weight off and that takes work, planning, support and time to create.
TICA can offer you materials, community and a medium to share your love and appreciation for the cat with like minded people and validate the purposeful breeding of cats as a worthwhile hobby.
2. (a) Do you think the participants of the judging program should be involved in the process of appointing the Judging Administrator? – Carlos Lopez
I think judges should be able to share their thoughts and opinions on the selection of judging administrator, just as other subsets within TICA participate in selection of their governing or administrative leadership.
(b) Do you see the position of the Judging Administrator as a life time appointment or this position needs to be reviewed time by time? – Carlos Lopez
The Judging Administrator and all appointed officials such as the clerking administrator are appointed and continue to serve at the pleasure of the Board of Directors. I would suggest appointed officials serve at the pleasure of the President & CEO as is industry standard among 501(c) organizations in the United States, of which TICA is.
(c) Would you support to delegate the administration of matters pertaining to judges to a Judging Committee comprised by Approved Allbreed Judges elected by the members of the program? – Carlos Lopez
This one is a bit more complex for me and would take greater consideration and understanding for me to stake a firmer position. Certainly, as I understand it, the volume of administrative work will increase as judges, exhibitors and members become more diverse and increase. Committees can share the duties but the make-up of the committee could suffer the challenges faced by other subsets – popularity over productivity and cliques over clarity. As a membership organization with clear judging guidelines a committee comprised of member exhibitors and member judges would seem just as qualified to administer a program. Subjectivity, competitive natures and personalities in a closed off group worry me.
(d) Don't you see our judging panel ready after 40 years to govern itself? – Carlos Lopez
I see our judges as Members of TICA first. It’s important to me Members and judges feel they play for the same team. Creating greater separation from non-judge members, non-judge exhibitors and TICA judges is potentially problematic. If a committee were to serve as Judging Administrators, my inclination lean toward Presidential appointment, approved by the Board of Directors without qualification. It creates a more opportunity to balance both responsibility and authority.
3. What are your thoughts and plans to maintain and increase membership at the exhibitor/breeder level?- Courtney Bell
TICA plays a vital role in validating HHP and pedigreed cats as special individual animals and the hobby of raising them. Creating and utilizing a Breeder Program, creating and utilizing an incentive program that rewards/recognizes people who show up and create TICA where they are. As an organization creating mediums that are welcoming, informative and engaging for those that love cats and want to know and share things about them is of prime importance.
For me the most glaring and remarkable opportunity to increase membership & participation in TICA events (not just shows but opportunities to engage and learn even when no points are awarded) are the thousands of individuals who register litters and cats but never participate. That group is the very first place we should encourage and invest in to become more active. Discounts on registration if you enter a show. Discounts on title confirmation if you are in the clerking program.
The majority of breeders I have spoken with who don’t show or haven’t shown lately, feel like it will not help them to improve their cats (confirmation, temperament, health) by participating. A serious consideration of how we can offer people a service that they value – written standard evaluations, genetic test result translation, application of genetic tests to goals in a breeding program are some genuine ideas.
I recently wrote and provided a membership survey for the Spring 2017 Board of Directors Meeting. The respondents said what they want: health & nutrition, feline genetics and legislative information.
4. Start a committee who might contact new exhibitors as identified by anyone (including the entry clerk as there is often a box to check when entering) to see if they had questions, make sure they had a hotel reservation, extend a dinner invitation and basically just be a friend! Your thoughts please.- Courtney Bell
That’s a great idea. I would encourage you to be the initiator. There are lots of great ideas throughout TICA but few people to create the forms, make the calls, send the emails and show up. For most this is a hobby, a part of a multifaceted life allowing us to bring a variety of skills and talents to the table but often not a lot of time. All too frequently ideas are offered without effort or investment.
Make clear your request and follow it up with the offering of your time, ability and resources to make it happen. If there is challenges go out of your way demonstrate the value of the program and your ability to follow through. I think that would be welcome everywhere.
5. How can we revitalize North America? What can we do to make the cat fancy more attractive to people that live in the US, Canada and Mexico? – Toni Jones
We can utilize the incentives to participate as mentioned in answers 1 & 3. I would also suggest that TICA can work harder to reward clubs putting on shows with the tools to be successful enough to want to do another show. Lots of clubs work really hard to put on a show and when it’s all over and they are tired get no explicit benefit from TICA. The rebates go back to the region. Dr. Elsey’s sponsorships have helped out a great deal as have the ability to have collaborations with other corporate sponsors.
A bigger and more nuanced strategy to validate the exhibition of cats and the gathering of cat lovers would be of great benefit. Alignment with generally positive regard of esteemed dog shows (though that is changing) and creating a public narrative that generates inquisitive smiles not quizzical stares when the words “cat show” are uttered can do that.
It may be worth reframing the cat show concept less around competition and more around understanding, evaluation and improvement with all the tools we have now that didn’t exist before.
Facebook, IG and the internet allow people to see every breed in pictures and video. People can connect to breeders, rescues or fosters without ever leaving home. They could probably even get an uber to pick up a kitten and deliver it. We need to ask ourselves and individuals, clubs and association what can we do that you have to see/experience to believe. LEARN, TOUCH, FEEL are where I start.
6. I have concerns about fairness towards those working on getting into the judging program. My understanding is that one requirement is the achievement of 3 regional awards in top 10 placement for your alter or cat. It's a fair goal but in reality, 10 th best cat in one region may require 3500 points while in another region it would take 9500 points. How do you feel about this inequity and would you support changes? –Jonna Inman
I think it's important that judges understand the challenges and difficulty of producing an excellent example of a breed and keeping that condition through a show season. If one has to hone their choices, not accept every offer and really observe and consider the cat the will show, I see it as a benefit to understanding for the judge.
7. Please answer the following questions: -Vladimir Chubarov
a)how do you see the role of the organization outside the US.
TICA plays an important part in the appreciation and understanding of cats the world over. TICA is the #1 register of HHPs in the world and that means a lot to me, every cat has value and could be a TICA champion HHP. In the role of purposeful breeding of pedigreed cats the dual paradigms of a genetic registry and an OPEN REGISTRY for ALL BREEDS are paramount in setting TICA apart. Science, DNA, RNA, mRNA, expressions and phenotype don’t change with borders. Identifying that no breed is a “bloodline” but a look that can be generated through the selection of a set of genes and expressions is a unifying theme the world over.
b)Want to see Translation of rules and documents into international languages (list of official languages in the UN for example).
If we are going to register cats and create exhibitions in other countries every effort should be made to make as much of TICA available in the native language as possible. Relying on volunteer translations has served TICA well, and the investment of resources into paid translations in areas where TICA hopes to gain revenue through registrations, memberships and show licenses seem entirely rational.
c) The issue of the formation of regional budgets for the promotion of TICA in the regions.
TICA regions have very little expense – websites, awards (which can be sponsored), award programs and member gifts. There are regions in TICA with thousands of dollars and regions with barely any money, while show producing clubs struggle to pay bills and show managers dip into their own accounts. I have worked in the non-profit industry where some institutions build endowments of hundreds of millions while others have the philosophy that give all they have every year and when people no longer donate, they will no longer exist.
8. How do the various candidates plan on reaching out to the younger crowd, who have preconceived notions about the Cat Fancy after having grown up in the "Adopt Don't Shop" age of pet ownership? – Em Whitfield
TICA exists in a state of pluralism, people who love cats for different reasons. The attraction of cat crosses all demographic categories yet that is not reflected in all of TICA’s activities. How can we increase diversity across all demographics including age – focus our efforts on the benefits TICA to a cat lover through exhibition, breeding, care, welfare, rescue, resource and CONNECTION with others. Specific to younger people three means stick out to me 1) Integrate more of the genetic science that set TICA apart from other registries and everyone born after 1970 was familiarized with in school; 2) Increase the amount of first hand information that is of value to all cat lovers in the TICA TREND, TICA website and social platforms; 3) Continue to align and welcome people who love their household pet cat.
9. I'm curious to learn more about TICA's involvement in Meet the Breeds and Expos. What are the desired outcomes of participating in these events?
What does it cost TICA annually to participate?
Most importantly, how does TICA measure the success of participation?
Quite a few candidates are either currently involved in these programs or have been in the past so I'd like to understand if these events have helped grow TICA and how. If they have not, how can we improve to maximize the benefits for the organization? Thank you! – Melissa Alexander
Awesome question and Vickie offered a robust response, I wholly endorse. The theory behind these events is to offer a counterpoint to the paradigms of the animal rights movement. When TICA participates we are: 1) supporting a larger entity (like AKC ) with shared beliefs and interests, 2) Presenting tangible, beautiful, friendly validation that cats bred on purpose are a good choice for the public and should exist 3) Modeling a love for all cats pedigreed and household pet as a positive coexistence not binary choices and 4) Creating the opportunity to drive a narrative and create an illustration that will live on in the hearts and minds of visitors, readers, news directors, content editors and Getty images long after the events are over. Success is measured in the short term by response from visitors, stories in local, national and int. media and increase in awareness of the "Cat Fancy" that can increase spectators at shows all over. In the medium term it is measured by increased recognition and relationships in the pet industry and creating a brand corporations/business see value. In the long term it reinforces the value of pedigreed cats as part of the long cultural history of companion animals by choice not guilt, reduced legislation affecting responsible cat ownership, bolstering the pride the Members of TICA have that their Association is doing everything it can to validate their choice of this hobby and IMPROVING THE LIVES OF ALL CATS AND CAT LOVERS through a greater appreciation and understanding of cats.
10. I would like to hear from all the candidate s what your plan to push forward TDS with a time frame. I have been participating in TICA for 4 years now and there has been no progress. We can't wait another three! – Richard Hoskinson
As someone who has watched my life pass me by while the circle spins during the registration process for a litter, title confirmation of cat or registration of a cat, I recognize there is plenty of room for improvement. However, I used to have mail or fax (with $10 for rush) so it is a VAST improvement over the past. I recognize I am not an expert. I think TICA's Members deserve an investment in expertise starting with analysis and RFPs at what is working at AKC, Horse Registries, Cow Registries and even E-commerce companies. We don't need to rely on "family & friends" and should seek (and demonstrate support for the leader who choses) expertise. In my opinion the long term benefits for Members, goodwill generated and meeting the expectations of i-pad public would be very welcome.
11. One of TICA's greatest assets (in my opinion) is its judges. We have a strong program for developing trainees but not so strong in other areas. Today, you judge x number of shows, write the exam and apply for the next level. The number of shows judged and passing an open-book exam (albeit a comprehensive one) does not necessarily mean you are ready to move to the next level. I'd like to understand how each of the candidates views the judging program and whether they want to see more objective measurements along with additional training put in place. –Amanda Bright
I think the judging program offers the opportunity to develop and practice the evaluation of an individual animal in the context of a written standard. I see interest and engagement in judging program throughout the world. For those exhibiting altered cats and household pets I think the judging program serves its purpose.
For those actively breeding and seeking an expert opinion on the means to reach one’s breeding program goals (breed standard or personal standard) the judging program does not create that nor was it ever intended. There are certainly judges who can assist and some who have genuine expertise. More TICA exhibitors (consumers) and judges need to be informed that judges are giving an opinion on an exhibit before them.
I’m far more interested and think TICA should be as well in providing the resources to inform, educate and share all of the tools a genetic registry has (or can create) to assist people in understanding the cat before them (health, color, pattern, hair length, anatomical integrity and temperament) and the choices they make through gene drive/breeding to improve upon that individual cat.
I am motivated and feel I’ve gotten my entry fee’s worth when I get a fifth in color but the judge notices the spotted legs that it took four generations of breeding to create.
12. This past year, it took the TICA EO 2.5 months to mail me a pedigree via an email submission. I am not the only one who has waited months for a pedigree.
Do candidates think this is acceptable time frame for this work? If not, what will be done to correct this? – Emily Greene
No, it should not take months to receive a pedigree. Offering the option to pay for and print certified pedigrees through TDS is a great remedy that has been discussed and I am fully in favor. For those seeking a laminated traditional certified pedigree those should not take months and I would be happy to follow up. Streamlining the process from request/order to fulfillment has been far too problematic. As someone who uses all of TICA’s registration, confirmation and pedigree services I want to be able to confirm independently as well as compare process times with my friends toward improved delivery times.
13. Please can you all let us have your thoughts on the next realignment process which is coming up and how you feel this imbalance should be addressed?
On another note certified pedigrees are increasingly required and these can take many weeks to arrive in Europe - in this day and age can an electronic version be investigated?- Sarah Louise Walker
As an exhibitor in every TICA region except International and South America (November Bogota!)... TICA, like the love of cats crosses international lines. The nature of breeds and the people who love them push and pull us across borders. Feline welfare and cat cultural ideas may change across seas but SCIENCE does not and it is one of the reason, I love TICA. Dominant and recessive genes don't change with time zone or continent. When the focus is improving breeds, improving understanding of cats and increasing appreciation of feline beauty it matters less on which side of a border one is on. All TICA Members should feel represented and valued. Increasing utilization of services online benefits all members. Offering incentives for participation, if developed would benefit all. I'm on my 3rd passport, have visited catteries on 3 continents and will continue emphasize that associations, breeds and people are better when diversity of locations, background, ethnicity, experiences and passions are valued.
Realignment & representation – It is REALLY important to me that every Member of TICA’s Board of Directors remembers and acts in the best interest of TICA, not the region where they are elected, region where they judge most often, region where their cats win the most, region where their friends live or region where they have never visited. The next realignment process should be fair to the best interests of TICA that may allow both opportunity for devoted member-exhibitors-clubs and growth. No matter where a regional boundary is drawn if the goals are to improve the lives cats through greater understanding and increased appreciation, all cat lovers win.
14) How do each of you feel we can address the challenges being presented at the Chinese shows with regards to entry manipulation? – Richard Scott Hoskinson
I think TICA could invest in 1) rule translations 2) Award plaques and certificates for attending a seminar about the paradigms of TICA (phenotype/look vs genotype/is or carries, what judges can/should know, what exhibitors can/should and the big picture ideas of an open registry, gene drives and selection). To me going in for $$$ first is insulting to people and the breeds we love. I want people to convey that breeds are connected by idea if not genome and being a good participant improving something that began before someone's personal interest and will exist after you've scooped that last box. That idea can improve the welfare of Cats and puts show success in perspective of a longer path of a breed. The idea of grab the booty and run is offputting to areas of the world where cat ownership and breed development stretches further back than almost anywhere else on the planet.
15) A formal structure for the staff, HR department, more team members, management training, recruitment of the right people etc - I genuinely feel as TICA grows thought needs to be put into investing in the team who are keeping it going.
Thoughts please? – Sarah Louise Walker
TICA has a business manager as well as an assistant business manager and a robust staff. Ample amounts are spent to have a competent and professional staff. TICA is a 501(c)4 non-profit in the US, no longer paying federal taxes thanks to work done pro-bono by Vickie Fisher. This saves significant amounts annually. I would like to see TICA encourage and invest in more capacity building among its staff through meeting non-profit industry standards for training and processes for the staff. The staff successfully process between 10,000 to 16,000 individual cat registrations of over 80 breeds, no small task.
10) The business development plan is enjoying great success under Roeann Fulkerson-Chrisope guidance and direction. As candidates for leadership will you continue to work with her to maximize the impact she has brought to the organization? Or do you have different plans and ideas? – Richard Scott Hoskinson
I'd support and follow the lead of the President, that would hopefully appreciate the scope of work and its tangible benefits to the members and staff of TICA. Building corporate relationships can be maximized by an engaged and aware leadership willing to look at and define a bigger picture. In practical terms, directing and investing in staff to fully utilize the talents of the marketing team to establish, build, maintain and increase relationships with business entities. It would be great if the distinction between Marketing and Public Relations were better understood. Having people that can be turned to for support to complete a task or stand in front of a microphone or type an article about the love, the science, the fun, the dreams that can be realized through TICA would make a heck of a difference.
16) I have already a question: if you win and get into/stay in office will you take care of the TICA facebook group? Ulli Illia
A professional facebook page does a great job at representing TICA. Whe elected officials (volunteers) start policing privately owned, although intangible, objects it creates problems. Facebook itself is owned by its shareholders. The management of TICA's online presence should be limited to official pages and accounts only.
17) Leadership development is crucial to our long term success. As candidates for president and vice president, what specific ideas to do have to share with us regarding this topic? – Richard Scott Hoskinson
1. Provide incentive to participate and engage...for joining a club, putting on a show, being on a breed committee, writing articles, attending conferences
2. Provide opportunity in all the above
3. Demonstrate the value of expertise across disciplines of breeding, rescue, husbandry, IT, writing, presenting etc.
4. Being willing to make opportunity for people, to grow.
Specifically, CEUfests are a treasure trove of info for judges but also exhibitors, cat lovers and breeders. Many exhibitors don't know they exist or can attend. I'd love to see more people go from the cat show to the community college, veterinary course, genetic course, animal behavior course, city council, state legislature, pet industry meetings and come back to the cat show to share and even elevate the conversations among cat lovers . The leadership that is informed about cats has huge benefits for our rules, processes and cats produced or registered in TICA.
18) What one thing does TICA get right? – Jesse Rafael Machuca-Vega
TICA gets the pluralism right – people can enjoy their cats at home and interact with TICA through the TICA TREND, people can share their cat with the public at Meet the Breeds, people can exhibit their cat in shows allowing household pets or pedigreed cats, people can breed their cats and learn to do it better through application of genetics. TICA does a great job at recognizing that different people love different cats for different reasons and they are ALL KINDS OF PURRFECT.
19) What's one thing TICA does wrong? What is your plan to address it? - Jesse Rafael Machuca-Vega
TICA doesn’t recognize the Members who invest on behalf of the organization. There are some 7,000 TICA Members and I can’t tell who is a club member, on a breed committee, goes to shows, sponsors awards, works with new exhibitors, makes sure a shelter or rescue is at the show, starts clubs and creates benefits for other Members. I don’t want to create a caste system, I want to be able to say THANK YOU. YOU MAKE TICA TANGIBLE and it makes a difference.
If I am Vice President, I’d like to spend at least 1/5 of my time writing a thank you note to those people to be sure that they know their efforts are appreciated. I’d like to spend significant time creating some system to offer those folks who will never get $1.10 per entry a benefit for what they do.
20) How do the candidates envision balancing their personal lives, jobs and the guidance of TICA? –Courtney Lynn Bell
Very carefully…It is a very tough thing, made more challenging that cat food is not free and litter boxes do not clean themselves. Fortunately there is a bottomless well of passion for cats from which I garner energy and boundless curiosity which keep me interested.
In practical terms, I have a family that has spent the last 25 years helping me negotiate the balance between personal fulfillment and collective benefits. Prioritizing requests, limiting social media engagement and putting my effort into the things that can do the most good are my tools.
I do have a professional career and serve in other positions not related to the cat fancy, which I think is beneficial to TICA. Having familiarity with professional standards and ongoing engagement with an array of professional disciplines gives me context to how I engage with TICA. Being involved in TICA is purposeful decision for me, with all my varied interests and passions. I don’t want to waste my time or energy and I don’t want to waste anyone else’s. I can stay home with my cats but if I chose to go out into the world on behalf of cats, I need to be making a positive difference. #ReclaimingMyTime
21) If you have held prior office as an RD or other position, did you have time to devote to that job in addition to other life responsibilities? Courtney Lynn Bell
Yes. There is some misconception as there are NO JOBS as an RD, President or Vice President those are volunteer positions. When you read the duties and agree to perform them everything else is decision made by the individual. The inferred responsibilities in this era of tweets & posts is sometimes valued over those tasks that provide both revenue and benefit to members or create new members.
22) If you are a newer office holder or one who hasn't held office in TICA before (I think there are candidates in both categories), how do you feel that this lack of prior experience in TICA impacts your candidacy? Courtney Lynn Bell
I think diversity of perspectives brings a lot of opportunity to create successful solutions. My own experiences as a member of TICA’s largest, arguably most active and certainly most diverse breed section since 2000 has allowed me to value the enthusiasm of the new and the expertise of the experienced. I highly value the institutional insight of long term Members, Show Managers, Entry Clerks, Judges and officers. I don’t want diminish anyone’s value to TICA as there are people I call on frequently who show once or twice a year yet have run other international registries, serve on US Presidential Councils and recipients of multimillion dollar grants. It’s important to keep TICA open to the world and the world open to TICA.
23) We have huge DB of members and pet owners with registered cats. How can we put this information to work for us? - Melissa Alexander We already know these people love cats so how can we entice them to show? – Melissa Alexander
I think we utilize that information to offer those cat lovers the means to improve their cat’s lives and their own lives through access to information, goods, services and fun found nowhere else. TICA exists because of registration income and I think it is unlikely and perhaps unwise to think all or most of those people want to or can exhibit their cat at cat show. We should embrace TICA as an organization for cats and cat lovers not just for people who want to show. Showing has some amazing benefits, especially those actively breeding. However there is incredible growth potential in creating services and products of value to people who will never enter a show but want the benefits of a genetic registry to better understand and appreciate their cat at home everyday.