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Demarest adds humor to create an eff ective, fun Governing Council

Parliamentary procedure can be intimi-

dating, confusing and boring, but not on Dor- othy Demarest’s watch. Demarest has injected humor at the per-

fect times to help facilitate her role as parlia- mentarian for the past 10 U.S. Figure Skating’s Governing Councils. With masterful knowledge of her craft and

a quick wit, Demarest has helped facilitate Governing Council delegates in their deci- sion-making process for a decade. It’s one of her favorite gigs each year. “Your delegates, the people at U.S. Figure

Skating, are extraordinarily kind and polite,” Demarest said at the conclusion of the fi rst day of Governing Council last month in Colorado Springs. “They really practice decorum during their meetings, and they make it fun. And I hope to a certain extent I make it fun for them.” U.S. Figure Skating feels the same way

about Demarest. “Dorothy helps our delegates understand

parliamentary procedure and their rights in a positive manner, and that’s key to their partic- ipation in the meeting,” U.S. Figure Skating’s Governing Council organizer Kathy Drevs said. “On a personal level, she is easy to work with and appreciative of the staff , and that means a great deal to us.” For the gavel-wielding Demarest, who re-

sides in Naples, Fla., her sense of humor isn’t forced. It’s simply who she is. “I am comfortable injecting humor, where-

as another parliamentarian may not be,” she said. “A lot of times, when there’s an item of business, you can almost feel the oxygen get- ting sucked out of the room. A moment to

laugh puts that oxygen right back.” One of those moments occurred at the

recent meeting in Colorado Springs when de- bate ensued over a technicality concerning “a rule” or “a guideline.” For 20 minutes or so, delegates shared their interpretation over the language and the revisions being off ered. With the oxygen getting sucked out of

the room, two-time U.S. Figure Skating pairs champion John Coughlin arrived at the micro- phone and broke the ice with his observation: “What are you guys talking about?” Everyone in the packed ballroom cheered,

and Demarest ran with Coughlin’s humor, be- ginning a dialogue that had everyone in stitch- es.

After a decade of Governing Council meet-

ings, Demarest has her share of fun memories. “There is a classic joke about my fi rst year

when I saw the words ‘Hickory Hoedown,‘” De- marest said. “I assumed it was a typo, so we’ve joked about that ever since.” “I’m much more familiar now with the

things we refer to and it makes the job much easier for me. But in terms of the procedural expertise, I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years, so hopefully the expertise is reasonably consistent.” Another funny memory was made when

former Athletes Advisory Committee chair Justin Dillon arrived speechless at the micro- phone.

“He was properly recognized and he truly

had no idea what he wanted to say,” Demarest said. “He was turning to his left and to his right, saying ‘What should I do, what should I do?’ “At that time, I said to him, ‘Justin, it’s a

good thing you are so cute because otherwise the chair would have to ask you to be seated until you knew what it was that you wanted to accomplish.’ So I did mention the word cute even though that wasn’t a particularly parlia- mentary term.” Demarest continues to take great pride in

her parliamentary role at the annual U.S. Fig- ure Skating Governing Council business meet- ing and believes much gets accomplished by the delegates. “We facilitate, expedite business and make

decisions,” Demarest said. “We get somewhere. “It’s wonderful that I can be myself and yet

address business and come, I hope, invariably, to the will of the Governing Council members. Even when they disagree, in the end, they have a fair vote and they make a fair determination of what the rules are going to be for fi gure skating.”




4 JUNE/JULY 2013

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