Policy Advisory Committee - ACA

Policy & Stewardship

Policy Advisory Committee

Shaping Our Paddling Future Together

The ACA convened a Policy Advisory Committee in the early winter of 2023, to help address shape perspectives on key regulatory policy issues related to mandatory education, life jacket wear, and how paddler’s pay into the system (different government fee structures for collecting revenues from paddlers).

Policy Advisory Committee Members include:

  • Pam Dillon
  • Virgil Chambers
  • Hunter Branstetter
  • Robin Pope
  • Risa Shimoda
  • Andrea White
  • Robert Kaufman
  • Elizabeth Underwood
  • Brett Mayer (Policy Director)

In late 2022, the ACA Board of Directors passed significant by-law changes that positively impact our ability to do grassroots policy work. We created a Regional Activities Council to organize the volunteer efforts of our membership by regions and states. This important structural change helps legitimize the voice of the recreational paddling community in the American Canoe Association through the creation of a board seat, and most importantly, breathes new life into older programs like our State Directors, which often serve as our local experts for local and state level policy issues that affect the paddling community.

This was a huge moment for the ACA. Members, staff, and our board worked together on these changes for several years. It also served as a catalyst to implement a new focus for our policy efforts. In early 2023, the ACA convened a Policy Advisory Committee, consisting of individuals that work with organizations such as the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, River Management Society, and other groups vital to shaping the policy landscape for the paddling community.

In a watershed moment, the Policy Advisory Committee, worked with our Policy Director to set a clear vision for our main policy focus as the ACA moves forward.

Our policy work focuses on three core regulatory issues related to paddlesports. These include:

  1. Mandatory Education
  2. Life Jacket Wear Laws
  3. How the Paddling Community Financially Supports Safety, Rescue, and Access


Laws related to paddlesports are different in every state. The Policy Advisory Committee is working toward the creation of policy position statements, and a review of our past policy positions, in these three areas that describe what is important to the paddling community, so we are well prepared to advocate for policies that positively impact paddling communities across the country. Furthermore, we are focused on strengthening key partnerships like the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, so we are not only well-informed about possible new legislation in these three areas, but we are more proactively promoting the policy positions of the paddling community with boating law administrators and state officials.