Genesis Leader Addresses Rumors, Concerns in Open Letter to Membership

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It’s an era of change for Genesis. Genesis Co-Founder Skip Phillips has resigned from the organization, and two former instructors, David Peterson and William Drakeley, left the firm to launch a rival organization called Watershape University. To address this news β€” and the subsequent concern about the organization's future β€” Genesis Co-Founder Brian Van Bower has issued an open letter to members.

Dear SWD Masters, SWD Registered, GENESIS Associates, Students, Instructors and Sponsors:

As a founder of GENESIS and someone who, like you, has benefited from its educational programs, I feel a need to comment on what's been happening in recent months. For starters, I recognize that the merger of the NSPF and APSP into the new PHTA has raised concerns among many of you. I share many of those concerns, but at this point I'm not ready to walk away.

Here's why:

1) There are over 1,800 people involved in the GENESIS program on one level or another, some who are SWD Masters and others who've just begun their pursuit of knowledge through courses GENESIS has developed through the past 20-plus years. The merger came at a time when there was uncertainty about leadership and how GENESIS' role would be defined β€” and that's still the case, which is why I suggest patience. If the decisions reached put GENESIS at a disadvantage, I will be among the first to advocate for its separation from PHTA or for walking away to form a new organization. That time may come, but it hasn't come yet! 

2) I have heard that there are concerns about the "PHTA University" announcement. I have those same concerns, as it seems to fly in the face of "GENESIS being in a leadership role for education going forward," as was promised during the early days of the merger. I have expressed my feelings to Jim Mock and PHTA's new CEO/President, Sabeena Hickman. I have been told that this packaging may have been premature and may be reconsidered. Regardless, this possibility could be better fought and spoken against by a single entity rather than by splintered groups. 

3) The point above leads to another issue - and a question: Will industry education be better served by dismantling what we, collectively, have built through GENESIS in the past 22 years? In other words, are current concerns so great that shattering GENESIS is the best answer? It's my belief that GENESIS as an institution is worth fighting for, and I would suggest what that means is staying the course, so nobody need bear the burden of being held "responsible" for its demise. I agree that things are muddled right now, but is the best course we have abandoning what we've taken so much care to build? 

4) Most who have moved to new groups or elected to ride two or even three horses at once owe some of their current status and professional success to GENESIS-level education and the family the organization has fostered since it began in 1998. The system, and it's been a good one, is already in place, still in good condition with a great faculty and a full schedule of events - not to mention an enviable array of venues that enable it to carry its mission deeper and deeper into the fabric of the industry. Is this really something we want to abandon before its fate is decided?

5) I've heard rumors that the GENESIS Pavilion is going to be written off with future national pool shows. That is unfounded, as there is a contract between GENESIS and Informa that runs through 2021 β€” plenty of time in which the issues now causing so much concern can be addressed. 

6) I've also heard rumors that GENESIS' IACET accreditation is in jeopardy and, even worse, that it will automatically be bestowed on PHTA programs. That is simply untrue on both counts.

I've been part of GENESIS from the start, so forgive me for defending programs that I never, ever thought would come into question. I, for one, am not ready to give up. GENESIS has been very good for me as a professional, and I know it's been just as good or even better for many of you. In fact, many of you have had career-changing results as a result of time spent with and around GENESIS. I'm not ready to let that level of success slip away, and I'm hoping I can persuade you to speak up on its behalf and join me in defending it against anyone who seeks to undermine or compromise its identity, its ideals or its game-changing approach to education.

I will be at the show in New Orleans, doing my part to keep GENESIS going. I can't do it all myself, and I ask you, as urgently as I can, to get engaged and help see GENESIS through to a bright, promising future. As always, I will be available for discussions and look forward to seeing you there.
 
Sincerely,  
Brian Van Bower

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