Anne Farrell Unceremoniously Dismissed by Rob Dinerman

September 23, 2005 -
In a stunning development even for a USSRA Office presently reeling from several recent reversals, a current operating deficit and a membership downturn, Anne Farrell, the enormously popular Office Manager whose 26 loyal years of outstanding service make her by far the most tenured employee in the history of the Association, was abruptly terminated on September 8th by CEO Kevin Klipstein.

Ms. Farrell, who was caught completely by surprise by the decision, was given only one day's notice to clear out her desk, a decidedly insensitive and inappropriate ending to a career during which she became in many ways the "face" of the Association over the years for thousands of members, who invariably benefited from her cheery greetings and remarkable ability to come up with the information they needed and/or solutions to whatever issue had prompted their phone calls to the office. With the possible exception of Darwin Kingsley, the USSRA's Executive Director from 1975-93, whose "right-hand man" Ms. Farrell effectively became during a period of tremendous growth for squash in the United States, it is difficult to think of anyone who has done more for the Association over a longer period of time in this country than Ms. Farrell has throughout the past quarter-century-plus.

Hired originally in 1979 to work part-time and help launch the inaugural Insilco B and C national championships (the original skill level events), Ms. Farrell gradually but steadily enlarged both her time commitment and her role, to the point where by the early 1980's her responsibilities had expanded to virtually every area in which the office was involved. She described Mr. Kingsley as "the most wonderful person in the world to work for" Both Kingsley and Klipstein's predecessor, Palmer Page, were effusive in their praise for her as well and each expressed deep disappointment at both the fact and manner of her peremptory forced exit, as have a number of other recent USSRA officers. The positive impact she made on the USSRA's expansion continued to grow during Craig Brand's decade as Executive Director succeeding Kingsley and during Page's brief tenure as CEO.

Brand emphasized Ms. Farrell's unique gift for making everyone who called the USSRA, no matter what their standing in the squash community, feel welcome and valued, noting that in fact, "Plenty of people would call the office just to talk to Anne!" Her de facto role as a goodwill ambassador for the Association and the sport itself constituted an intangible that former Executive Directors Kingsley and Brand, as well as several former USSRA Presidents, cited as playing an important role in the Association's ascendancy, both financially and in terms of the USSRA's reputation with its members and with other national squash associations.

Ms. Farrell's primary office colleagues during that extended period have included Joan Early, Jean McFeely and, more recently, Ms. Farrell's younger sister Jeannie, whose three years of service make her currently the longest serving person in the USSRA office in the wake of Anne's curt dismissal. Time after time the experience, wisdom and historical perspective Ms. Farrell brought to a given situation enabled her to assist these Association leaders as the organization moved forwards, and Mr. Kingsley pointedly contrasted the personal touch Ms. Farrell exuded (and its significance in helping the Association thrive and prosper) with the graceless manner of last week's ending.

Typically upbeat and determined to take the high road even in the jolting face of being summarily let go so recently, Ms. Farrell emphasized in a telephone interview last week how honored and thrilled she feels to have had "the privilege" of serving the Association for so many years, how many friends she made in the squash world during that time and how much she enjoyed coming to work every day to meet whatever obligations and challenges arose. Characteristically refusing to express bitterness or criticism, she joked that, now that she has some free time, she might finally start PLAYING the game that she has worked so admirably for so many years to promote, while philosophically noting that "everything happens for a reason," and saying that she now has the opportunity to see more of her five children and 18 grandchildren (her husband, Jim, to whom she was married for 43 years, died of cancer in 2002) in the next few weeks before hopefully starting a new business career later this fall.

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