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2017 Election and Candidate Information

Welcome to the online information center for the 2017 Suri Network Board of Trustees Election! Here you will find information on each of the candidates running for election, as well as an outline of the electronic voting process.  More information on how and when to vote will also be emailed directly to each member by Simply Voting, the organization managing our election process.


This year we have seven candidates running for a total of four openings on the Suri Network Board of Trustees, which will be increasing in number from five to seven seats.  Jill McElderry-Maxwell, Sue King, and Kristie Smoker will be returning to the Board; Deb Christner and Michael Alpert's terms are ending, but both have volunteered to run again.  All board members elected in 2017 will be serving three year terms.


The electronic vote will open June 15, and all votes must be cast no later than July 10.  Results will be tabulated and announced first at the Suri Symposium and then by email in early August.  Look for an email with voting directions soon!

Candidate Questions/Position Requirements

Candidates were asked to answer the following questions in their candidacy statement:

  1. What do you bring to the Suri Network Board that would enhance and strengthen the Suri Network’s support of Suri breeders?
  2. What do you think the Suri Network should look like in five years and how will you help it get there?
  3. The Suri Network’s major goal areas include communications, education, marketing, Suri Genetic Advancement (SHIP), funding, product development, membership, and a youth program.  Please select one or more of these areas that you are especially equipped to contribute to and explain how you propose to address it.
The expected duties of a potential Board of Trustees member can be found here: Trustee Position Description001.pdf

Deb Christner, Akuna Matada Suri Alpacas


My husband, Doug and I have been raising Suri Alpacas in the North Fork Valley of Western Colorado; for 13 years, we are the proud owners of Akuna Matada Suri Alpacas.  


The 4 years I have served as the chair of the Suri Network Product Development Committee, our committee was responsible for creating the P2P Educational DVD, the Suri strut Fashion show and numerous educational and promotional events and publications.  


Last year I was elected to fulfill a one year term on The Suri Network Board. I am currently Treasurer, liaison to the S.H.I.P. committee and on the Mark/Branding Committee.  I’ve been very involved in the Breed Standard revision, which was overwhelmingly adopted by the membership.  I have also learned the Suri Network website and data base program.


In my statement, last year, I stated the five-year goals I would like for the Suri Network.  The following are these goals along with some steps that I have taken in the last year towards the accomplishment of these goals.  The first goal is for the Suri Network to be the backbone for the highest quality Suri alpacas and fleece in the world, the leaders in the industry!  I believe the way to achieve this goal is by using all the tools of a true livestock model, this means Histograms, Skin Biopsies, S.H.I.P., EPD’s and culling.   Working as the board liaison to the S.H.I.P. program, I have worked with the rest of the team to update the evaluation forms and the S.H.I.P. process.  My goal for the next three years is to learn the website and serve as a backup for entering and updating information.


I would like for the Suri Network and all its members to have a strong International presence, this would be achieved by broadening our advertisement to other countries, hosting an International Suri Symposium and setting up an International Suri Network membership.  I have been working with the Australian Alpaca Association on articles for the next Purely Suri Magazine.  My goal for the next three years is to further this relationship and create relationships with other countries.


In the past year, I initiated and am currently working with others in the Alpaca industry to create a Suri Mark and Brand along with a marketing program to accompany the Suri Brand.  Stay tuned Symposium will have a general session on the Suri Mark and Brand.


Finally, I would like to see our youth working with the best quality Suri alpacas instead of the lesser quality animals and be able to make money from these alpacas.  With the backing and support of The Suri Network and the Alpaca show system we would create a series of shows where the youth participants learn and demonstrate their knowledge of all things Alpaca, this would then culminate in an auction of the alpacas they have produced.  It will have to be a multiple year program because, as we know, Alpacas take time.  This would be an area that I would like to spend more time developing in the next three years.


I have greatly enjoyed working this year with the current board and those who volunteer a lot of time to be a part of the PDC, S.H.I.P. and Mark/Branding and would love to continue for the next three years serving on The Suri Network Board.

Diane Dickerson, Rockin' D Enterprises


I worked in the corporate world for many many years and then moved into the not-for profit world which I’m still working in.  I have my degree in accounting and have held various management positions.  My outside passion was horses which I rode and showed in Reining and Boxing Cow Work.   I served on the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Association Board for a term of 3 years so I know what is involved serving as a board member.  


Seven years ago my husband Bobby and I wanted to start raising livestock  as a business so we looked at alpacas.  We chose suri alpacas because they are more rare and their fleece was absolutely stunning.  We’ve gone from 4 animals to 25 and counting with the crias on the ground and those still due.  I guess you could say my passion is now alpacas.  It has been a great journey and we have so many alpaca friends who have helped us along the way.  We continue to learn and improve our herd with the knowledge we’ve obtained from educational seminars, SHIP Program, helping with fleece shows and other breeders.  The best part of raising alpacas is sitting on the back deck in the evening watching over the pastures, it’s our stress relief.  Our goal is to retire from the working world and let the alpacas help support us.  I love to share our ideas and what we’ve learned with others.

  1. The Suri Network board should be comprised of a mixture of small, medium and large breeders.  Although all breeders have some of the same challenges, I would bring the prospective of a small breeder to the mix.
  2. Over the next five years Suri Network  should continue its focus on maintaining and growing membership.   That will require expanding and improving existing programs and creating new programs that are value added.   
  3. I’ve gone through the SHIP program and it was a wonderful experience and would like to see more farms participate.  I would like to help come up with ideas that would encourage participation.   Since I’ve already talked about membership growth that is another area I would help.  Suri Network already provides several valued programs but we need to evaluate what might be missing that would bring in new, younger breeders.


Jennifer Hack, Triple H Ranch


 I established Triple H Ranch – located in Sedalia, Colorado – four years ago.  As the owner and operator, I decided to breed solely Suri Alpaca. After forty years in the horse industry, I saw and still see great potential in Alpaca ranching and specifically in Suri Alpaca.  My breeding program focuses on both fiber production as well as show animals.  My extensive background in not only horses but several other types of livestock has given me a wonderful advantage in establishing my Ranch and my foundation herd.  I understand the importance of conformation, health and nutrition as well as the significance of thoughtful and informed breeding decisions.   


I believe that my education and livestock leadership activities and experience will benefit the Suri Network membership.  As a college graduate with a degree in education, I am uniquely qualified to communicate effectively with many different age groups, experiences and personalities.  When my children were younger, I was the Chief Instructor and District Commissioner for the local pony club - a part of the national United States Pony Club (USPC) organization.  This organization is solely dedicated to teaching children and young adults all aspects of horsemanship, from stable management to under saddle.  All three of my children have grown up with livestock.  As a result, I have experience in the 4H at both the regional and state level.  I am also very well versed with the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) where my children competed on the national level with animals that they bred and raised through the ARBA’s youth division.


For the past thirteen years, I have served on the Board of Directors for the United States Equine Rescue League, Inc. (USERL) - a non-profit equine rescue - holding the position of Executive Director for the past eleven years.  I have held several positions within the organization over the years including Regional Director, Investigations Director and Marketing Director. In my role as Executive Director, I have been responsible for the day-to-day operations of the organization including organizing and teaching a nationally recognized Equine Cruelty Investigation course for law enforcement, assisting in the creation of USERL’s rehabilitation protocol for malnourished equine, and creation of all of USERL’s marketing materials.


I have been an Advertising Coordinator for PurlySuri for the past three years.  I am responsible for soliciting ads for the production of the magazine.  For the past two years I have served on the board of my AOA affiliate, the Alpaca Breeders of the Rockies (ABR) and serve as the Marketing Director for that organization.  I am responsible for all marketing materials, including print advertising, for ABR and it’s shows.  I have created a unified look through rack cards, flyers, pop up displays and banners. 


As a board member, I feel I would bring the experience of several different types of livestock to what is still a growing industry.  I am passionate at what I do and a very strategic yet creative thinker.  My marketing experience over the past 12 years with USERL, ABR and my own business I believe will be of benefit to Suri Network.  I can assist in the development of a unified marketing presence in which the materials of Suri Network will have the same look and feel across the board, allowing for greater ease of recognizabilityas well as a high end, professional look.


The Suri Network is, in my opinion, the leader in Alpaca organizations in the United States.  Within five years, I see the Suri Network leading the industry in support and promotion of alpaca ranching and of Suri alpaca specifically.   I am also interested in leading the upward momentum relative to education and professionalism that the Suri Network already possesses to attract new Suri breeders as well as support the established membership.


The area that I feel especially equipped to contribute to the Suri Network as a board member is marketing.  My experience with USERL as well as ABR as the Marketing Director, as well as what I do for my own ranch and Alpaca-related partnerships, has given me a great deal of experience in creating logos, advertisements and marketing materials.  

Lucy Lee Fowler, LunaSea Alpaca Farm


I have been an active Suri alpaca breeder for 4 years. We actually started with alpacas 5 ½ years ago but had no idea what direction we were going until we started attending alpaca shows. I fell in love with Suris.  Once we acquired a nice looking brown Jr. herd sire for our girls and continued with his show career our decision to breed Suris was confirmed. Midas won everything we entered him in and I must tell you that it was so much fun we just had to continue to try to do more! I have learned so much since those very early days on our farm. Mostly I learned what not to do. 


I really enjoy mentoring very new alpaca breeders. I feel that I can help them avoid some of those harder lessons we learned when we started. There is so much to learn about so many aspects of alpaca breeding and I try to absorb as much information as I can as I travel and meet so many wonderful, more experienced breeders. I have made some terrific friends along our short journey and learned quiet a lot from them. 


I feel that I bring an open mind to the Suri Network. I haven’t been a Suri breeder long enough to be set in my ways. I am always willing to learn more and share what I have picked up along the way.  I’ve never liked the mindset of, “that’s the way we’ve always done it”; no matter what “it” is. There is always more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak. I feel that every breeder has something to contribute. The new breeders can learn from those with more experience and the long time breeders can also learn new ideas from those just starting out. I think every organization should be open to new thoughts and ideas now matter where they come from. 


I have always been impressed with the direction the Suri Network has been moving. This organization has been at the forefront of development for ever increasing ways to improve our herds as well as market our products. I see no reason why this won’t continue in the future. There are so many questions to answer for the new breeders out there looking to make the alpaca lifestyle their choice for themselves and their families. I would like the Suri Network to be the “go to” source of information for any alpaca breeder with a question. I would also like to see the Suri Network find a way to reach out to the youth out there looking for livestock choices; 4H and FFA groups would be a start. I would like to also see us get involved with the local county and state fairs where the kids can show their alpacas more than I see now. Attending the AOA certified shows is cost prohibitive for most of the youth out there and I believe that the local county and state fair type shows are where we are going to find the future of our industry. I think the Suri Network should do whatever it can to further promote Suri alpacas.

Alan Cousill, Pucara International


Along with my wife Jude Anderson we have farmed alpacas since 1991, at first in Australia. In 2001 we began our alpaca experience in the US working with Mike Safley creating a progeny improvement program called the Studmaster Program at Northwest Alpacas in Hillsboro Oregon. This allowed our clients throughout the Ideal Alpaca Community to communally track progeny improvement along sire lines. My proudest moment was working to help Mike create the first EPD program in the US, which is now owned by AOA. We began raising suris in 1995 and currently run 150 suris on our US farm. 


Prior to alpacas I was a builder and designer of custom homes. An accomplishment being named National Builder of The Year.


I sat on the Australian Alpaca Association's National Committee for three years. I also chaired both the National Show and Sale committee and National Seminar. As well I sat on the National marketing, show, and import screening committees. I am a past President of the CABA AOBA affiliate, and have spoken at many seminars and conferences throughout Australia, the US, the UK and Canada on a wide range of alpaca related topics.


We have been full time alpaca breeders since 1997. Our latest, most exciting development is forming Alpaca Embryo Technologies LLC, assisting alpaca breeders world wide in harvesting alpaca embryos.


I would be drawing on 26 years of alpaca experience to not only help SN and its members increase their presence in the US but just as importantly, globally. The lessons learnt, the skills acquired and the networks established will all be a positive benefit for the Suri Network.


The Suri Network should be a breed society with a larger membership that has a more widespread influence in the domestic and global markets. Its focus should be to develop the US suri breed to satisfy commercial textile requirements for the manufacture of high margin couture and end product. The US suri especially needs to develop a brand. I think my experience in all things alpaca over the last 26 years can help this. Especially the friendships I have forged and the networks we are involved in can be an enormous resource of the Suri Network.


I would hope that SN would allow me to start a campaign drive to solicit new membership. I would also hope that if elected I would be able to work as an ambassador for the SN on the global suri market raising the awareness of SN and its members. And lastly, I would like to spearhead a  marketing campaign to build the SN and the US suri brand. Foot note! To do as much of this as possible without dipping into the SN coffers.


Whilst I write this candidate proposal I realize I probably have experience and skills that could help in all these areas. However, if the Suri Network does not increase its membership and funding it will not be able to achieve what I hope it could look like in five years. I am not a marketing expert!  In the 25 years of alpaca experience, I have acquired the promotional and communication tools I think to help grow the organization. The aim being to grow the membership, establish the SN entity as a progressive organization that is centered on improving the US suri breed across the domestic herds and its recognition globally.

Nancy Lindemood, 2 Point Alpaca Farm


I am the owner of 2 Point Farm, LLC in Dry Ridge, KY.  I got my start in the alpaca business about four years with two alpacas and now manage a herd of 20 Suri alpacas, 2 Maremma sheepdogs, a few beehives, 2 house dachshunds and 3 cats.  

I retired from Procter & Gamble several years ago with 28 years of experience in financial analysis, logistics and leading large organizations.    


My formal education is in accounting, but I always gravitated toward non-typical operational assignments.  Toward the end of my career I managed P&G’s coupon services and also served as board President of an industry group focused on addressing coupon fraud.  I was also involved with trade associations working on improving coupon processes for both manufacturers and retailers.   I am a long time animal shelter volunteer and amateur dog trainer who enjoys clicker training.  I am currently the Treasurer of our local beekeepers club and this year was elected Secretary of the Kentucky Alpaca Association.    


After I retired from the corporate world, the plan was to have livestock.  I wanted something different and a way to utilize the property in the best, most sustainable manner.   After visiting several local farms, I found my passion and love in the world of Suri alpacas.    


My experience in corporate finance, management, operations and working on industry wide issues with other, sometimes competing companies, could not be more different than what I do now, but strangely enough prepared me to take on this unique livestock venture.   I am a planner, organizer and analyst by nature.   I like data and I like to understand how things work.   As a one person alpaca ranching operation I am involved with every aspect of the business, from manual labor on the farm, to breeding, showing, fiber arts, selling and everything else that needs to be done.   I am continually looking to improve my knowledge and skills, grow the business and find better, more efficient and back saving ways to improve quality and get things done.  All of this experience is directly applicable to the mission of the Suri Network.


What I love about the SN is that it’s an organization that gets things done and it is the leading example of a value added organization providing real value to its members.  I would like to see SN be the organization that all Suri owners believe they NEED to join.   To achieve this, SN should continue to advance the reputation and branding of the Suri Breed within the industry, while also providing small and large farm members with tools, resources and education in the areas of Fiber Quality improvement, Product Development and Marketing.    I believe the combination of my business experience and small farm perspective will give me the ability to support the network in a variety of ways whether it’s planning and strategy, leading and developing projects or analysis.


I am avid consumer of alpaca education and I believe education should be ongoing.  I have found great value in the SN educational topics.  I would like to renew that focus specifically to bring high quality, cost effective webinar based education, on a variety of topics, appealing to new owners, experienced owners, and to small, medium and large farms.    


Michael Alpert, Awesome Acres 'Pacas and Pyrs


I am Michael Alpert and I am a candidate for re-election to the Suri Network Board.  My wife, Sherry, and I have operated Awesome Acres ‘Pacas & Pyrs since 1999, and currently have a herd of 64 Suris in Oklahoma City, OK.  I grew up north of Boston and graduated University of Massachusetts in 1969 (B.A. – PreDental) and University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in 1973.  I ran a private practice in Salem, MA from 1975 – 1980, which I sold in 1980 and became commissioned in the U.S. Public Health Service as a Dental Officer.  I provided dental services to the Eskimo and Athabascan Indian Population of Bethel, Alaska from 1980-1984, and then relocated to Oklahoma.  In 1989 I was recruited for Information Technology and provided services until my retirement in March of 2011.  I am now a full-time alpaca rancher.  


I am a founding member of Alpacas of Oklahoma, Inc., an AOA Affiliate, and currently serve on the Board. I am also a member of TxOLAN, MOPACA, and the Suri Network.  We are heavily involved with the A-OK Alpaca Blastoff, our affiliate show that takes place in November, and I have served as show announcer for a variety of alpaca shows including the Blastoff, the Futurity, and AOA Nationals.  We are a Made In Oklahoma (MIO) business for Suri Alpaca Yarn and Roving.

I currently serve as a Director on the Suri Network Board of Directors.


I have a unique combination of skills that I feel would benefit the Suri Network.  My background as a health care provider gives me a highly scientific view and approach to alpaca health and improving herd genetics.  My background in Information Technology has provided me with very good communication skills utilizing current technology and social media.  The fact that I actually survived working for the Federal Government for 30 ½ years attests to my ability to negotiate a complex and sometimes frustrating infrastructure with tact and diplomacy. 


I would like to see the Suri Network as a viable outlet for the collection and sale of Suri fleece.  The majority of farms are “small” to the extent that they are not producing 500+ lbs of fleece yearly, and are challenged selling their product to the industry.  We have seen how we can successfully breed excellent Suris in North America, and it’s time to put our attention to the “annual harvest” and what to do with it besides storing it in the attic.  Suri Network, as the largest affiliate of Suri breeders in North America, should be providing a cash outlet for pooled fleece sales.  I would propose a study be done to see who would be willing to participate, approximately how many pounds, annually, a member would be willing to commit to contributing, and what the potential outlets are for a long-term commitment.


I would also like to see an all-Suri halter show, sort of a Suri-Nationals, and just for Suri Network members.  I think this could be an exciting opportunity to increase Suri awareness, increase Suri Network Membership, and of course to see the best of the best of the best.  I have extensive experience organizing, operating, and superintending alpaca shows, and can put this experience to use in this endeavor.


I have a strong interest in the development of a point system for alpaca shows, similar to dog shows, for the awarding of levels of achievement at shows. Points would be awarded based on the placement, size of class, and other quantifiable factors to be determined.  Specific levels of achievement would be recognized by the awarding of AOA Titles, which can be incorporated into the alpaca’s Registered Name (Champion, Grand Champion, etc.).


My experience and skill set makes me best equipped to contribute in the area of communications.  I have extensive experience in all forms of communications, written and spoken, and the technologies that back these up.  I would like to see an increase in the frequency of the Suri Network Newsletter, and frequent updates to the Suri Network website.  This ties in directly to Purely Suri, as an important mode of communications, and as a publication I would like to be involved with directly, from both design and content aspects.  I support the Suri Network Rallies that take place at many of the shows.  This is a great mode of communicating with the membership and potential members, and as a show announcer, I have no problem communicating verbally with groups.


Thanks very much for the opportunity to continue serving on the Suri Network Board.


  


  Suri Network
P.O. Box 1984
Estes Park, Colorado   80517
Phone: (970) 586-5876
Fax: (970) 591-0007

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