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Meet Victoria Brumfield, the Trailblazing New CEO of USA Triathlon

From local race director to USAT's first-ever female CEO, Victoria Brumfield has worked at every level of triathlon. We talked with the trailblazer about what's ahead for the organization and the sport.

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USA Triathlon has a new leader – and it’s a familiar face. Victoria Brumfield, who has served as USA Triathlon’s interim CEO since early September, was named the organization’s first female CEO in its 40-plus-year history.

Prior to her appointment as interim CEO Brumfield served as USA Triathlon’s Chief of Staff and Chief Business Development Officer, where she built a reputation as an innovative and results-driven leader for the sport and organization. Her vision and leadership led the development and implementation of USA Triathlon’s most recent strategic plan, Elevate 2028. that sets the path for the organization through the LA 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Brumfield has worked in the endurance sports industry for nearly 20 years across a number of roles that gave her both a broad understanding of the business of the sport and the opportunity to grow and inspire triathlon communities, working as a founding member of Virgin Sport, a branch of sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, plus roles as Event Director for the New York City Triathlon, IRONMAN US Championship, 2003 ITU World Cup in New York City, 2005 ITU Age Group World Championships in Hawaii, and 2004 USA Olympic trials for Triathlon, among others.

We sat down with USAT’s new leader to talk about the job, the work ahead, and what it means to be the first woman at the helm.

Triathlete: Congratulations on being named USAT CEO! You’ve been with this organization for a long time, and you’ve been serving in the CEO role on an interim basis since the departure of Rocky Harris. What was it about this experience that really cemented for you that yes, you wanted this position?

Victoria Brumfield: When Rocky first announced he was going to be leaving USA Triathlon for an opportunity at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, I knew I was ready to step into the interim role. While I felt confident I was also the right person to lead the organization forward long-term, leading the organization as Interim CEO while going through the global search process pushed me to think deeply about why I wanted to be the next leader. Why I thought I was the right person to lead this organization at this time, what the future would look like under my leadership, and, most importantly, what I would be like as a leader to our staff and the broader multisport community and sport.

The past three-plus months challenged me in a multitude of ways and pushed me beyond any pre-conceived limits. In that sense, it was very much like training and competing in a triathlon – discovering new parts of yourself, connecting with the world and people around you in a new way, and ultimately coming out a better version of your previous self. In triathlon we often compare the ups-and-downs of life to our sport, and I not only recently lived that, but I loved every moment of it.

You’re the first female CEO in USAT history – what meaning does this have for you, and what meaning should this have for the sport?

Women have long been at the forefront of the business of triathlon, from Diana Bertsch, the IRONMAN World Championships Race Director, to the pioneers of USA Triathlon back when it was called Tri-Fed like Sal Edwards, Valerie Silk, and Lyn Brooks. However, women are still underrepresented in our sport both in participation and leadership roles. When I first joined USA Triathlon, I was the first female executive. I used that opportunity to elevate more female leaders in our organization at every level, including our leadership team. I don’t take it lightly being the first female CEO in our organization’s history – I aim to continue to use my platform to encourage and inspire young women and current female professionals and empower them to pursue and achieve their professional goals. But I also look forward to the day when being a female CEO isn’t a headline but rather the norm.

Who are your role models or examples for the kind of leader you’d like to be?

I have been incredibly fortunate to have worked for inspiring leaders who demonstrate the attributes I admire most in leaders: vision, ambition, and a passion for bringing the joy of endurance sports and entertainment to the masses. My role models are my former bosses John Korff, Mary Wittenberg, Kimo Seymour and Rocky Harris. I’m also inspired by the entrepreneurs in endurance sports who organize their personal and professional lives around creating events that make the sport possible. Working in triathlon is tough — 2 a.m. wake-up calls on Saturday mornings are the norm. I admire every race director and their teams who sacrifice sleep and their weekends just to see the joy on people’s faces as medals are draped over their necks at finish lines across the country.

Triathlon has evolved a lot over the years, and you’ve been working in the business side of this sport since 2001. How does the sport’s past inform you as you guide it into the future?

When I was first introduced to triathlon in 2001 at the first ever NYC Triathlon, the sport was just starting to explode. The first triathlon competition at the Olympic Games had just taken place in Sydney, and over the next decade, the sport thrived. There were big urban races in every major market. Pro athletes could make a living off sponsorships and prize money in short course races. The ecosystem of races, coaches and clubs was vibrant for both business owners and athletes. I believe we can tap into the scrappy, up-start mentality from the past and also help our sport get back to what really drove so much of that aforementioned growth – a collaborative spirit and a-rising-tide-raises-all-ships mindset.

At the end of the day, all of us are in this together and when one of us prospers we all reap the benefits. As we look toward the future, and to keep the boat analogies going, we have the wind at our backs right now. We are rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic, which showed us how resilient this community and sport is, and like all things, when something is taken from you it helps you realize how much you valued it. We can look back on these past few years and lean on that experience and know together we can get through whatever comes our way.

You’ve got a lot of work ahead of you! What’s number-one on your to-do list as CEO?

USA Triathlon has always existed with the sole purpose of supporting, growing and elevating the sport of triathlon and multisport in the United States. My top priority is to align all our energy and resources around growth, service and value to our constituents and members.

What kind of changes can triathletes expect to see in the organization with you at the helm? What can we expect to stay the same?

We will continue to support race directors, coaches, clubs, officials and athletes – that is our number one priority. We exist to serve the sport and we will never waver from that. We will also continue to be transparent and proactive in our communication, and solicit feedback from the multisport community and make changes and adjustments when warranted and appropriate.

Expect to see an increased emphasis on junior draft-legal racing and our high performance development pipeline. We are six short years out from LA 2028 and the time is now to ensure the United States is successful on our home soil. Rocky was at the forefront of professionalizing our elite paratriathlon program and making it equal to our elite triathlon program. This included everything from prize money and annual stipends to nomenclature and promotions/coverage. We will continue what he started and integrate our elite paratriathlon and elite triathlon programs even more, including joint training and shared training services. These athletes are so incredible and we look forward to both groups pushing each other to get better every day.

When you think about the future of triathlon, what are you most excited about?

The continued evolution of the different disciplines and distances. We are limited only by our imagination. The super sprint triathlon time trial event and the age group mixed relay events we hosted earlier this year in Irving, Texas, at the USA Triathlon Multisport National Championships Festival were some of the most fun anyone has had in our sport, and I can’t wait to see more of that energy and enthusiasm.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the future of our sport – our young and up-and-coming athletes. This ranges from the young kids competing in local Splash and Dash events to our juniors on the draft-legal circuit to NCAA women’s student-athletes and collegiate club athletes, and our younger elite athletes making waves at Americas Triathlon and World Triathlon races. They are young and fast and driven and they will be fun to watch for years to come. We are seeing investment in the sport around the world from organizations like IRONMAN, CLASH, Super League and PTO,  and from members of our community who are investing in their own races and business and individuals giving philanthropically at high levels. This influx of interest and support is vital as we continue to grow the sport. And of course, Paris 2024 is just a short 18 months or so away and LA 2028 is only six years from now. How can you not get excited about racing on the world’s biggest and brightest stage?