The 11th Annual Section 8 Chicago Independent Supporters Association Annual General Meeting took place Saturday at the Trophy Room in River North, marking (as far as supporters are concerned) the unofficial start of the 2016 Chicago Fire season.
Chicago Fire supporters gathered at the sports bar to thank the members of the 2015 S8C ISA board for all of their hard work and to usher a new set of board members for the 2016 season.
Incumbent S8C ISA chairman Dan Martin brought the AGM to session by offering opening remarks and recapping notable accomplishments of last season, as well as making a farewell address urging all Fire fans to step forward and be active in the Section 8 supporters community.
Stoking The Fire
An exciting and moving address was made by Chicago Fire legend and Ring of Fire member Frank Klopas in which he thanked Fire fans for their constant and unwavering support each season. His speech highlighted his time as technical director of the Fire and a story of his most special moment with the organization, in which he credited the traveling support for pushing the team to a 90th minute 1-0 victory in Columbus where Cristian Nazarit scored the game-winning goal off of an Orr Borouch assist. Klopas described the feeling he had when he and the team first stepped out on the field at Crew Stadium. He went on to say that with the atmosphere at the stadium created by Fire fans, there was no way the team could lose that match. Fire fans gave the team the final push it needed to work together for Klopas' first victory as head coach. Klopas’ address was one that was telling of the character of the Fire legend and the respect and appreciation he has for the Chicago Fire faithful.
On the heels of Klopas’ address to the fans was a brief announcement by Senior Vice President of Ticket Sales, Services, Marketing & Club Operations for the Chicago Fire, Mike Ernst. Ernst announced that the Chicago Fire will once again provide transportation to the Columbus away match, as they did in 2011 and 2012.
The race for the 2016 S8C ISA board was not much of a race at all, with each of the 8 positions having candidates running unopposed. There was a mix of members of the 2015 board returning for the 2016 season, and new faces ready to step up and lead in new roles on the ISA board.
Scott Green is the new ISA chairman and his priorities for 2016 is to dedicate time to Section 8 Chicago’s nonprofit status. He says there’s a lot of work to be done to maintain nonprofit status, and shoring that up will be a main concern.
Green also spoke about protecting Section 8 Chicago’s intellectual property. Green clarified that there are a lot of things people in our community worked very hard to create, and he wants to ensure that these things are protected and stay with Section 8 Chicago. Green has spent much of his professional career working in local government, and his experience will help tackle some of the more complex and legal concerns the Section faces.
Although this is Una Sheridan’s first time on the S8C ISA board, she is not totally a new face. Sheridan ran for S8C ISA vice chair last year, but was defeated by Frank Cardenas. This year, with the opportunity to take the same position, Sheridan will focus much of her attention as vice chair working to empower supporters to become actively involved in the community through the various outlets and movements within Section 8. She also served on the Bylaws Committee in 2015 and plans on continuing her work there to ensure that S8C is creating and maintaining best practices in the way things are accomplished.
Dan Giroux will be taking over the position of marketing, and his focus will be on growing the influence of the Chicago Fire and Section 8 Chicago by reaching new fans and creating a larger fan base and supporter community within and around Chicago. Giroux plans to connect marketing with the numerous movements within the Section 8 community, namely the largely successful two-pole initiative, and the cf97 Sticker Project.
Cristian Castro (not the famous singer) will be stepping in as events coordinator in place of departing Jake Peters. Castro will continue to promote watch parties for away trips as well as work with a new bus company that will allow Section 8 Chicago to bring Fire supporters to more away matches. Castro will be working directly with the Chicago Fire front office on the upcoming trip to Columbus that the Chicago Fire will provide transportation for.
Nicole Hack returns as director of communications. Her goals for 2016 are to continue promoting the efforts of the numerous supporters and their movements, such as tifo creation, watch parties, scholarship and fundraising efforts, and other community happenings. Hack will also be working to maintain Section 8 Chicago’s Flikr page and organize an archive of fan and game day photos. Streamlining the release of information through the various social media outlets and S8C forums will continue to be an area of focus for Hack as she continues her hard work as director of communications in 2016.
Rudy Gomez returns for another year of director of operations. As director of operations, Gomez will continue to focus on game day tifo, including the work on this year’s home opener display. The Chicago Fire’s new partnership with Valspar has helped spark enthusiasm in making tifo, and Gomez wants to harness that enthusiasm in encouraging supporters to lend a hand in building these large visual displays throughout the season.
Returning as director of merchandise for the 2016 season is Maud Squires. Squires' work as merchandise director in 2016 has helped create increased revenue from 2015 to 2016 through the scarf subscription program and online merchandise website. A concern that has risen is the ability to sell Section 8 Chicago merchandise in the parking lot of Toyota Park. Last season the village of Bridgeview notified Section 8 Chicago that it was not allowed to sell merchandise in the lot without a vendor’s license. Squires clarified that Section 8 must be prepared for the potential inability to sell merchandise in the north lot, for which she has already put numerous alternatives into place.
Stepping down from director of finance after three years in the position is Merrie Bunt. Replacing her will be Ryan Movahed. Although Movahed was unable to attend the AGM, he was awarded the position as absentee candidate. Ryan has experience as an auditor and has been working in finance for the majority of his professional career.
Amendment to the Section 8 Chicago Independent Supporters Association Bylaws
Also on the ballot for this year’s S8C ISA AGM was an amendment to the bylaws regarding absentee ballots. The motion to change the bylaw was in regards to the vice chairperson’s role in the collection and tallying of absentee ballots. In the case where the vice chairperson is running in a contested position and a conflict of interest is present, another member of the board will handle the collection and counting of absentee ballots. This change stems from the work done by the Bylaws Committee investigating a similar situation that arose at the 2014 AGM. This amendment passed with a two-thirds majority vote.
The theme of this year’s AGM is a familiar one. Step up. Each of the new board members at one point asked for help in making their position as productive and successful as possible. There is plenty of opportunity for supporters to step up and lend a hand within the community. My advice to anyone reading is this: Find something you’re passionate about. Ask questions. Introduce yourself to a board member and ask how you can help. We have incredible people in this community to dedicate half of their lives to representing the fans and working to make your experience as a Chicago Fire supporter the best it can be. Help those people and become a leader in your community.