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America’s Boating Club® Board Members Step Up

America’s Largest Nonprofit Boating Organization Swears in 2018 National Bridge at National Meeting

../../Downloads/ABC%20LOGO%20V%20RGB.jpgUnited States Power Squadrons® – America’s Boating Club®, the country’s largest nonprofit boating organization, announced today a biennial change in leadership, with the swearing in of the 2018 National Bridge. New officers sworn in at the annual National Meeting in Orlando, Florida include: Chief Commander Gary Cheney, National Executive Officer Mary Paige Abbott, National Educational Officer Craig Fraser, National Administrative Officer Ben Coons, National Secretary Howard Yoas and National Treasurer Wm Lee Popham.

“With past Chief Commander Louie Ojeda finishing his term and the executive team taking a step up, our new Bridge is rich with experience and full of passion,” said Gary Cheney, chief commander, United States Power Squadrons. “After the recent announcement of our current rebranding effort to America’s Boating Club, this passion will be called upon to drive our membership in new and thrilling directions. We are very excited about the initiatives we have planned for the near future and look forward to the impact our new leadership will have.”

Offering classes For Boaters, By BoatersSM in boat handling, navigation and related subjects, United States Power Squadrons – America’s Boating Club serves as a virtual “yacht club” with boating and social activities for all types of recreational boaters. With over 27,000 members organized into 356 squadrons across the country, America’s Boating Club is comprised of families who contribute to their communities by promoting safe boating through education.


In February of 2017, the United States Power Squadrons announced its America’s Boating Club co-brand to its squadrons, following an almost yearlong re-naming exercise. To learn more about United States Power Squadrons – America’s Boating Club, visit


2018 National Bridge

../../Downloads/Gary%20Cheney%20LR%20PRG.jpgChief Commander Gary Cheney joined Ashtabula Power Squadron (Ohio) in 1986. He is currently a member of Erie Power Squadron and resides in Atlantic Beach, NC where he is an associate member of Fort Macon Sail and Power Squadron and Raleigh Sail and Power Squadron. He has held several offices at all levels of America’s Boating Club, including squadron commander, district commander, member of the national Navigation Course Committee, and rear commander on the Budget Committee. The past six years he has served on the National Bridge as treasurer, administrative officer and executive officer. In his 31 years of membership he has served in a flag office for 19 years, rear commander for six years and staff commander for three years.


National Executive Officer, Vice Commander Mary Paige Abbott first joined the National Bridge in 2016. Abbott previously held the positions of rear commander for the National Marketing Committee and the National Membership Committee. She has also served as an aide to former Chief Commander Baldridge. A member of the Sanibel-Captiva Sail & Power Squadron since 2000, Abbott first served as the assistant squadron education officer. She co-founded the Sanibel School safe boating education class in which all sixth-graders participate. Abbott moved from squadron administrative officer in 2004 to executive officer then to commander in 2006. She currently teaches Partners in Command and Cruise Planning. Abbott became commander of District 22 in 2010 after serving as executive and administrative officer, respectively. She and her husband, Steve, boated to nearly all eighteen District 22 squadron Changes of Watch via AusSea, their 52-foot Maritimo motoryacht.


National Educational Officer, Vice Commander Craig Fraser of Norton, Ohio has been a member of Akron Sail & Power Squadron in District 7 since 2005. Fraser served on the Akron Sail & Power Squadron Bridge starting in 2007 as administrative officer, 2008 as executive officer and squadron commander in 2009. Soon after, he served on the District 7 Bridge, starting in 2011 as administrative officer, 2012 as executive officer and district commander in 2013. At the national level, Fraser has served on the Inland and Coastal Navigation Committee, Publishing Committee and as rear commander of the Basic Public Education Committee in 2015. Fraser was also aide to former Chief Commanders Alter and Baldridge as district conference coordinator compiling information on the Spring and Fall District Conferences. Craig and Liana Mihalca, joined for the exceptional education which the America’s Boating Club offers. Starting with Seamanship in 2006, they took 4 years to complete all the advanced and elective grades becoming senior navigators in 2010. As an instructor, Fraser enjoys teaching the Junior Navigation and Navigation courses.


National Administrative Officer, Vice Commander Ben Coons and his wife Marie are residents of Prior Lake, Minnesota. Coons has served District 10 as administrative officer, executive officer and district commander. At the national level, he has served on the Squadron Development Committee, the National Nomination Committee, the National Meetings Committee and the National Finance Committee. Ben and Marie boat on Lake Michigan after 22 years boating on the Mississippi River out of Red Wing, Minnesota. Their current boat is a 42-foot Ocean Alexander named Oh! My Marie. Ben served in the US Navy as an air crewman on an anti-submarine aircraft, which included being involved in 85 carrier missions. His professional life has been in the radio communications arena, working for Motorola, and starting his own family owned business in 1988, which he passed on to his son in late 2013. Ben currently serves as education officer for his squadron and previously served as commander for two years at Hiawatha Valley Sail and Power Squadron which he helped establish as one of the first provisional squadrons chartered in 2000. Coons was also the first commander and charter member of Chippewa Valley Sail and Power Squadron in Eau Claire, Wisconsin (Squadron is retired). Coons and his wife have attended more than 40 National Meetings and each have 22 consecutive Merit Marks.


National Secretary, Vice Commander Howard Yoas joined the United States Power Squadrons in 1968, after experiencing rough waters in his 16-foot open boat and realizing the need for more education for all boaters. He has been a member of the Austin Power Squadron since 1970 where he served as commander and later advanced to District 21 commander. Yoas’ most recent teaching assignment is the On the Water Training Course. At the national level, he served for three years on the Cooperative Charting Committee and later was asked to help with registration on the National Meetings Committee. He advanced to chairman and is still active on that committee. Yoas served on the Committee on Nominations as rear commander in 2011. Howard and his wife, Mary, have a house on Lake Travis where they enjoy spending time with family and friends, and boating and jet skiing; and a house in Dallas where their time is spent keeping up with their grandchildren’s activities. They enjoy traveling around the U.S. and abroad, working on America’s Boating Club projects, and tending goats and longhorn cattle at their ranch.


National Treasurer, Vice Commander Wm Lee Popham, and his wife Eva live in South Miami, Florida and are members of the Miami Sail and Power Squadron in District 8. Popham joined the Everglades Power Squadron in 2002, where he served as commander in 2003. Popham began serving on the District 8 Bridge in 2004, and was elected district commander in 2006. Everglades Sail & Power Squadron merged with two other Miami-area Squadrons in 2008, retaining the 1939 charter of the Miami Sail & Power Squadron. Popham’s squadron and district activities have included his service as an instructor in the Public Boating, Seamanship, Piloting, Advance Piloting, Cruise Planning, Squadron Officer Training Seminar (OTS), and Marine Electronics courses. Popham has qualified as an inland certifier in the Boat Operator Certification (BOC) courses for on-the-water training. He has also qualified as a certified instructor, a vessel examiner, a port captain and as a member of the Cooperative Charting Honor Roll – having once ranked as high as Number 10 in the nation in cooperative charting credits. Popham also serves as a member of the national instructional and course director staff for several Sea Scouts and Boy Scouts adult and youth courses – for both on the water courses and in classrooms. He serves on the instructor staff of the SeaBadge Adult Leadership Conference (a three-day regional program); as a course director of the Sea Scout Experience Advanced Leadership (SEAL) Training – a 9-day-at-sea youth leadership training program; and, as the co-author and course director of the SeaBadge Underway Course – a four-day- at-sea regional adult leader training program course that concentrates on boat handling, emergency preparedness, and coastal navigation skills. At the national level, Popham has served on the Membership, Boating Activities, Squadron Activities and Finance committees. He became the first United States Power Squadron National Sea Scout Liaison, and he shepherded the adoption of the United States Power Squadron P/C/C Raymond A. Finley, Jr., SN Sea Scout Service Award – which promotes active participation in the United States Power Squadron-Sea Scout partnership. He has been elected by the governing board to the National Finance Committee in each of the past eight years and now serves as chairman. He also currently serves as the Miami Sail & Power Squadron’s Squadron Educational Officer (SEO) and a member of the District 8 Audit and Nominating Committees. Popham was a recipient of the United States Power Squadron National Lifesaving Award in 2008.



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