Board of Directors Update (December 2023)

ASU BOD update

Marsha Turner, ASU President


Board of Directors Changes

I am pleased to announce that Stéphane LeDerf, dojo-cho of Aikido Club of Baou in Nice, France, will join the ASU Board of Directors as a Director-at-Large. His two-year term of service will begin January 1, 2024. A long-time student and follower of Saotome Sensei, Stéphane brings more than 30 years of aikido training and leadership experience to the Board.


The Board also bids a fond farewell to Raso Hultgren, chief instructor of Aikido of Missoula, in Montana, who has served as a Director-at-Large since January 2022. During her board service, she has been instrumental in several key developments, including an update of ASU’s strategic plan, revision of board service terms, creation of the leadership succession plan and in initiating and developing the Nanadan Seminar Program, which ran as a pilot in 2023. Raso’s more than 50-year commitment to Saotome Sensei’s teaching, his heartful connection to O’Sensei and dream of keeping the Founder’s vision of Aikido alive, has ensured that these considerations are and will continue to be front-and-center in the Board’s work and thinking about the future of ASU.


In addition, I am pleased that Eugene Lee, of Aikido Shobukan Dojo in Washington, DC, who has served on the Board as Director-at-Large since 2022, will assume the role of President-elect as of January 1, 2024. Eugene will serve in this capacity for one year, then will automatically become President for two years (2025 and 2026), after which in 2027 he will conclude his tenure on the Board serving that year in the capacity of Immediate past president.


The Board has created this deliberate succession model (President-elect to President to Immediate past president) to secure leadership in the event the position of president becomes vacant prematurely. Anyone who becomes president-elect must first have served on the Board for at least six months, ensuring that the individual to serve as president has experience with Board operations and the organization’s goals and objectives prior to assuming this key leadership role. As president they provide leadership to the Board and to the organization. As immediate past president they provide context and consistency of direction for new Board members and assist the president as necessary.


Please join me in thanking Raso, in welcoming Stéphane, and in congratulating Eugene. 


Busy Year

2023 has been very busy for the ASU Board of Directors (BOD) and for ASU overall. Winter Intensive kicked off the year with a fantastic line-up featuring Saotome Sensei, Takeshi Yamashima Sensei and Raso Hultgren Sensei. We piloted a new seminar series featuring ASU’s most senior instructors, the Nanadan Seminar Program, which consisted of four pairings of ASU’s nanadans: Raso Hultgren and Bill Gleason in Portland, ME; Robin Cooper and Tres Hofmeister in Chicago, IL; George Ledyard and John Messores in Baltimore, MD; and Dan Messisco and Chuck Weber in Missoula, MT. Aiki Shrine seminars drew dozens of weekend aikido warriors to the Shrine Property to spend special time training and connecting with Saotome Sensei and each other.


Thanks to the Many Volunteers

In addition to seminars and other events, ASU’s dedicated volunteers have been active and engaged in a variety of ongoing, as well as special, projects. Several of these groups will give updates at the Town Hall meeting to be held on Thursday, January 4 in conjunction with the 2024 ASU Winter Intensive to be held January 3-7 at the Sirata Resort in St. Petersburg, FL (register now if you haven’t already done so!).


On behalf of the ASU BOD, I offer heartfelt thanks and appreciation to those who served on the numerous ASU committees and task forces, including:


  • Aiki Shrine Coordination
  • Diversity and Inclusivity
  • Dojo Cho Resources
  • Examination Committee
  • Grant Committee
  • Instructional Committee
  • Kagami Biraki Committee
  • Nanadan Seminar Program Committee
  • Newsletter
  • Website
  • Winter Intensive


There are many other individuals and small teams working on projects on behalf of ASU, from archiving Saotome Sensei’s artwork to researching and archiving video footage of Sensei as well as his most senior students. Don Ellingsworth does an incredible job as ASU Office Administrator, Julie Tollen is an amazing Coordinator for the Aiki Shrine, and the ASU Board of Directors benefits greatly from the wisdom of Richard Moore, who serves as ASU legal counsel. And, of course, I would like to thank my fellow Board members Mike Page (Vice President), Lee Crawford (Secretary), Gary Small (Treasurer) and Robin Cooper, Raso Hultgren and Eugene Lee (Directors-at-Large), who work behind the scenes to make sure that ASU has the direction, leadership and resources needed to succeed.


Thank you, everyone, for your dedication to and efforts on behalf of ASU.