During the June 2020 US Squash Board of Directors meeting, the board elected Soo Venkatesan as its 47th Chairman of the Board. Her three-year term commenced July 1st, and she succeeds Marshall (“Mark”) Pagon, who retired from the board as only the fourth chairman to serve more than three years. Also elected to one-year terms as Vice Chairs of the Board were Linda Robinson and Albert (“Sandy”) Tierney. Tierney will continue to serve in the role of Chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee.
Pagon served on the US Squash Board for nine years, and departs having advanced arguably US Squash’s two most ambitious initiatives ever – the Club Locker platform’s international launch, and the Arlen Specter US Squash Center which developed from a conceptual consideration to a nearly-completed reality during his tenure. Pagon also leaves behind an expanded Board and committee structure, and US Squash membership at an all-time peak of 17,000.
Venkatesan joined the board in 2015, and steps into the Chair role after serving as Board Vice Chair and Executive Committee member since 2018. Additionally, she has served on the Institutional Advancement, Nominating and Governance, and Junior Squash Advisory Committees, and two strategic task forces, including a Joint Task Force with College Squash in early 2016 to evaluate its governance. This work ultimately culminated in February 2017 with the coach-led and separate women’s and men’s associations dissolving and re-forming as a single College Squash Association (CSA) with a majority independent Board, and the recruitment of CSA’s first Executive Director a year later. More recently, starting in 2019, Venkatesan led the US Squash Access Task Force, a joint board and management team working group focused on long-term planning to broaden participation of the sport across the country for all ages, playing abilities and diverse socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds.
“Soo has proven herself as an experienced and inclusive leader since joining the board,” said Kevin Klipstein, US Squash President and CEO. “We are fortunate to have her in this new role, and her ability to bring varied voices from our community together to help us drive progress towards the core of our mission – increasing access to squash – is more important now than ever.”
Venkatesan brings a combination of business and nonprofit experience in the finance, investment and philanthropic sectors. She has advised a portfolio of nonprofits in the areas of board governance, organizational capacity, scaling impact, and fundraising as a consultant, board member, and senior grantmaker at the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. In these latter roles, she led investments in regional and statewide initiatives focused on educational equity, youth development, and diversifying the STEM pipeline. A graduate of the University of Virginia and Harvard Business School, Venkatesan started her career at J.P. Morgan as a mergers and acquisitions analyst and later as Vice President of the venture capital division. She currently leads the Governance Committee at two non-profit organizations with annual budgets ranging from under $3 million to over $60 million.
Venkatesan resides in San Francisco and is the second woman to serve as Chairman of the Board of US Squash. “The global health crisis has set unprecedented societal challenges, and sobering complexities for national sports governing bodies,” said Venkatesan. “I am honored to steward US Squash through these extraordinary times with the partnership of Board Vice Chairs, Linda Robinson and Sandy Tierney, and other remarkable leaders on our board and management team, and I thank Mark Pagon for his extraordinary leadership of US Squash over the past four years. Through the pandemic, our priority is to lead the organization to a place of financial and organizational strength, and to deepen our community impact. I am inspired and aligned in both vision and values with CEO Kevin Klipstein as we work together to promote access and an inclusive, connected community as a cornerstone to growing our sport.”