2021 SAAA Board of Directors
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Cathy Ballard
Sean Smith
Vice President
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Erin Burr
Audrey Clark

Cathy Ballard joined the Highland Games community in 2013, assisting in coordinating several events in recent years and previously serving on the board, she has always insisted she “is just an official hugger”. She runs the Political Science and International Relations division of the University of Southern California and hopes that her administrative skills will serve the SAAA well as the first female president, and looks forward to working with the board and athletes to grow an strengthen the organization.

Sean joined the SAAA board in 2019. A Master's and A class competitor, Sean placed 2nd and 5th at the Master's World Championships, 2016 and 2017 respectively. In his spare time, while not obsessing about throwing, Sean owns a consulting firm and is an Associate Business instructor at Mira Costa College in San Diego, CA.

Erin joined the SAAA as Treasurer in 2016. She has been competing in Highland Games since 2015 and is a Certified Judge. She wears a variety of hats in the SAAA and is grateful for her fellow board members that contribute their time and effort for the love of the game!

After a year of actively researching and attending Highland games in the Southern California area, Audrey attended her first games as an athlete in February 2019.  She competed a total of 8 times her first year, traveling as far as Alaska.  Audrey is excited to be more involved in the Highland Games community with her new role as Secretary of SAAA.

She’s been around planes her entire life and has worked in General Aviation for over 15 years. She has two daughters that are both turning 16 this year, Caitlin and Muffin (yes, a cat). 

Jesse Lee   Member at Large
Seat 1
Matthew Perlowski  Member at Large
Seat 2
Jim Morrison Member at Large
Seat 3
Nelson Buss
Member at Large
Seat 4
Joe Miller
Member at Large
Seat 5

Jesse joined the SAAA board in 2019.  He's been an active athlete since 2015 and currently throws in the Men's B class.  He is the current Athletic Director for the Seaside Highland Games in Ventura, CA.  Jesse wears many hats in his life but the one he's most proud of is being the stay at home father for his five children.  When he's not chasing kids or throwing heavy objects, he can be found outside running or hiking, soaking up the SoCal sun.

After being a patron of the games for decades, he was persuaded to become an athlete in 2016. Since then, he has achieved #1 rank in Class C for California in 2019. Recently promoted to Class B, he looks forward to competing in various games across the state. By weekday, he is a Senior Silicone Research Chemist for NuSil Technology LLC in Carpinteria. By weekend, he heads The Seaside Highland Throwers (a Highland Games practice group) based out of Ventura County. When Matthew is not competing on the field, you can still find him at the games as a certified SAAA judge and promoter of the Highland Games.

Jim has been a Highland Games athlete since 2011, and was elected to the SAAA Board in 2013, currently serving in his fourth term. He is a Master's athlete, Certified Judge, Championship Events Coordinator, past Athletic Director for the Tucson Games (2014-15), and AD for the Vista (San Diego) Highland Games (2017-19).

In 2012, Jim founded the non-profit organization, www.clanbacon.com with the purpose of promoting Scottish culture through Highland Games heavy athletics.  Clan Bacon founded the Lightweight Women's North American Championship in 2016 and has sanctioned and judged the competition for the past 5 years.

Jim has been a construction project manager for the past 20+ years.

Nelson Buss started competing in Highland Games in 2016, after signing up in the 40+ Master Class with no prior experience beyond having watched a bit the previous year while drinking at a festival. It was so much fun that he just keeps going back. He works as a Realtor in Ventura/LA County, is a Thousand Oaks Planning Commissioner, and runs the beer garden for the Conejo Valley's largest annual fundraiser, the Thousand Oaks Rotary Chili Cook Off.
His wife Amy, an Army veteran, works as a high school teacher in the Glendale Unified School District. Together, they have two daughters, Tristan (7) and Dylan (5); he is also the stepfather to CJ, a Marine veteran and aspiring musician, and Autumn, who attends college at CSUCI.   

Joe Miller first joined the SAAA back in 2002. He is a Master's competitor now and took 3rd at the Master's World Championship and 5th in Pleasanton at the US Championships 40+ Master's in 2019.  When not lifting or throwing heavy things he enjoys spending time and sharing crazy adventures with the wifey, lifting with his son and, rockabilly, old cars and old music.  As far as a day job, Joe is an asphalt plant operator and has been doing that for over 20 years.

Message from the President

A new year, a new decade, and a new face. I am not sure whether I am more excited or humbled to be the new and first female president of the SAAA, but I know that I come to this position with some big shoes to fill and with a team of board members who are the most spectacular people we could ask for.

My goal is to continue to strengthen our organization, from the inside out, by implementing policies, opportunities, and fundraising that continue to elevate our standing in the Highland Games competitive community. The board and I seek to pursue solid corporate sponsorship opportunities that will allow us to provide better equipment and amenities to our athletes competing at our events. We seek to set higher standards for our athletes and competitions as we continue to grow, and to support our athletes on and off the field.

Additionally, we are not just a group of exceptional world class athletes, but a family. I have rarely seen the level of support and encouragement demonstrated on our fields during competitions. I personally have received a tremendous amount of love and support from this community during a difficult time. Whether it’s helping someone set a PR or beat cancer, this is a strong and loving family, and for that reason I would love to see this site used to promote what the family is doing.

Thank you for the vote of confidence in my ability to lead, thank you to those who have worked so hard to get us where we are, thank you to the board members who serve our community, and thank you to the amazing people, every one of us, who make this a great organization. I look forward to seeing most, if not all, of you at the Queen Mary games in February, Costa Mesa games in May, Vista games in June, and Ventura games in October.




The Scottish American Athletic Association is a professional sanctioning body that provides rules, regulations, standards, and implements for hosting both men’s and women’s Amateur and Professional Scottish Highland Games athletic competitions.  The SAAA is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization that works with local and national festivals to help promote and standardize the athletic aspect of Scottish culture, and celebrate its rich tradition.

Cathy Ballard
SAAA National President (2020)