> US SAILING Media > Sailor of the Week > 2010 > Sailor of the Week - September, 2010 > Charlie Leighton
Sailor of the Week: Sept. 23-29, 2010
Charlie Leighton had a plan for US SAILING when he became the executive director of the National Governing Body over five years ago. Before retiring, Charlie wanted to make sure US SAILING had the wind at its back going into the future. Last week, Charlie decided it was time to retire.
During Charlie’s successful six-year stint as the executive director of US SAILING, he significantly improved its foundation by achieving and sustaining financial stability. He has also recruited and developed a competent management staff. Charlie has been instrumental in maintaining the organization’s mission to provide leadership, integrity and advancement for the sport of sailing.
The former Commodore of the New York Yacht Club, Leighton, 75, was Chairman and CEO of the CML Group Inc., a NYSE listed company; Chairman of the NYSE Listed Company Advisory Board; a Director at MetLife; President of the Harvard Business School Alumni Council and currently a Trustee of the Lahey Clinic. He graduated from Bowdoin College in 1957, and started the school’s first sailing team. He later graduated from the Harvard Business School. Leighton remains an active sailor and still races his 42-foot Hinckley, Whitecap.
Moving forward, Leighton plans on continuing to chair the Medalist fundraising program for the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics in a volunteer role.
Please read what a few of Charlie’s closest friends and colleagues had to say about their experiences with him:
Gary Jobson – US SAILING President
“Charlie Leighton has had a brilliant career on and off the water. His service has been invaluable and our sport is better as a direct result of his efforts. We will deeply miss his leadership and passion.”
Dave Rosekrans - Former US SAILING President
"Charlie Leighton has achieved the objectives he set out for US SAILING to move to a new level. He can retire with pride and our thanks. Charlie has achieved this through his positive attitude and brilliant coaching when working with staff and volunteers, and through his own personal effort. The Olympic program is well managed and well funded. The US SAILING budget is balanced. Charlie leaves a solid base for US SAILING to continue to serve our sport. It has been a pleasure to work with him."
Leslie Keller – US SAILING Treasurer
“Charlie never thought of himself or tried to put himself in the spotlight. When we had our board meeting retreat in Houston earlier this year, Gary asked each one of us to share something with the rest of the group. Charlie instead shared something he overheard Betsy Alison say to one of the athletes she was coaching. The way he presented his story about Betsy showed how much he cares about other people and how he always turns the spotlight off himself and onto those around him.”
Dean Brenner - Chairman of the Olympic Sailing Committee
“Charlie has been a transformational leader within our organization. He’s helped us rethink the way the organization serves its members, and how the organization fits into the sport. And on a personal level, he’s been a friend, advisor and mentor to so many members of our staff, our Board, our volunteer ranks and our athletes. We wish him well and hope he doesn’t go very far away. Charlie, you are welcome always to come visit the athletes and staff of the US Olympic and Paralympic Sailing program. Sail fast!”
Betsy Alison - US SAILING Team AlphaGraphics Paralympic Coach
"It is a tremendous thing to be recognized as a leader, who has earned the respect and affection of those whom you guide, in a quest to do what is best for a common goal. It is even better to be appreciated for the ability to relinquish control, and allow those who have followed to move forward with your vision (or to win sailboat races)... Kudos to you, Charlie, for being the leader that all of us would like to be. Your vision and guidance have taken US SAILING to amazing places. I will always appreciate being in a position to "tell you where to go" on Whitecap, and having you follow directions (very well, I might add) to take us across the line in winning order!"
David K. Elwell Jr. - Commodore of the New York Yacht Club
“Charlie Leighton was a guiding force at the New York Yacht Club, which he served as commodore from 1993 to 1994, and was similarly, a guiding force at US SAILING, during his six years there. Both organizations have benefitted from his leadership, as has the sport of sailing.”
Rives Potts – Charlie’s crew on Whitecap
“After sailing with Charlie for over 16 years, I can say that he is one of the best sailors that you will find anywhere. His organization and leadership skills are second to none, and you will not have a better time on and off the water than with Charlie. His always positive can-do attitude is contagious. Charlie and Roxanne make everyone feel important and are champions in every sense of the word. It was a true honor and a privilege to sail with them."
Dayton Carr – Former student of Charlie’s at Harvard Business School
“Having met Charlie in the fall of 1964 at the Harvard Business School, where he was an assistant to Professor Frank Tucker, I can attest to his intelligence, creative thinking and analytic mind. Through years of sailing against him and with him, I can attest to his energy, enthusiastic leadership, goodwill and ability to succeed.”
Jack Gierhart - US SAILING Acting Executive Director
"Charlie has been an incredible mentor and leader to all of us in the office. He is a wonderful person to work for; he provides great guidance and encouragement, while challenging you to achieve things beyond your comfort zone. He has created a great team at US SAILING, and is a role model for how to work with others to create a win-win situation. Over the past six years, he achieved all that he set out to do, and more. While his retirement certainly leaves a void and he will be dearly missed, he has left US SAILING in a great position to grow and lead the sport of sailing into the future. I know all of us feel extremely lucky to have worked with him. Thank you Charlie, and fair winds on the next leg of your voyage."
Thank you Charlie for your leadership over the years and congratulations on a fantastic career... Cheers!
- The Staff of US SAILING