2022 SAAA Board of Directors
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Cathy Ballard
President

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.

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Sean Smith
Vice President

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.

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Audrey Clark
Treasurer

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.

In her second year as an SAAA board member and her new role as Treasurer, she looks forward to being a part of bringing games to the Southern California area. She has two daughters that are both turning 17 this year, Caitlin and Muffin (yes, a cat).

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Amelia Ferroni
Secretary

Amelia has been attending Highland Games since she was a child, and has travelled to Ohio, California, and Scotland, with the intent of observing tradition and passion for the competition. Growing up, her family would throw ‘Harvest’ parties at their homestead which would see crowds of up to 300 people attend, and Amelia has taken her experience with this coordination to throw home Highland games three years in a row during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Amelia is a Script Supervisor in the film industry in Los Angeles, CA. She and her husband, Sal (an award winning bagpiper) used their passion for filmmaking to shoot and edit documentaries for their home Highland games. She has competed in the Women's Lightweight Class at Costa Mesa, Monterey, and the Seaside Games.

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Jon O'Neil
   
Member at Large

Seat 1

Jon started competing in the Highland games in 2008 after an illustrious college track and field career, earning Division 1 All-American honors and competing at many NCAA and National Championships as well as at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Trials. As a Highland games competitor he quickly moved up the ranks of the “A” class and won the Amateur Championships at Pleasanton before moving up to the professional class where he competed from 2012 to 2019 and won the IHGF World Team Championship with teammate Dan McKim in 2012 and finished 7th at the IHGF World Championships in 2013. In 2019 he moved to the Masters class and finished 2nd at the Masters World Championships in 2019 and 3rd in 2021. Jon lives in Foothill Ranch, CA with his wife, Katie, his son, Bradley (8) and his daughter, Kiley (6). They have 2 cats and a pet fish. Jon has worked in the legal field for over 20 years.

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Matthew Perlowski  Member at Large
Seat 2

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 Morrison Member at Large
Seat 3

Jim has been a Highland Games athlete since 2011, and was elected to the SAAA Board in 2013, currently serving in his fifth term. He is a Master's athlete, Certified Judge, Championship Events Coordinator, past Athletic Director for the Tucson Games (2014-15), and 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 6 years.

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

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Nelson Buss
Member at Large
Seat 4

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.   

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Carrie Johnson
Member at Large
Seat 5

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.

Cathy

01/02/2020

OUR MISSION

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)