Sons of Ben

The Sons of Ben is a 501(c) (3) Pennsylvania based non-profit, membership organization.

The Sons of Ben, founded in January 2007, exists to support and develop the Delaware Valley soccer community. Through active, grassroots support, the Sons of Ben helped establish the momentum leading to the creation of the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer (MLS) and the Philadelphia Independence of the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league. In forging a relationship with Chester City, Delaware County and Pennsylvania State political leaders along with Major League Soccer, the vocal support of the group directly influenced the decision to award Philadelphia with an MLS franchise.

The Sons of Ben have provided a social outlet for soccer supporters to share common interests and be part of a larger community of sports fans in the 4th largest American media market. The organization has grown to include over 5,000 members throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and around the world. The Sons of Ben have also grown to oversee the Delaware Valley Infantry, a US Soccer supporters group based in Philadelphia region, and the Daughters of Betsy, a Philadelphia Independence (WPS) supporters group.
Charitable and philanthropic efforts have been central to the Sons of Ben since its founding, as evidenced by annual initiatives supporting the Bernardine Center in Chester, PA through its Help Kick Hunger campaign and ongoing efforts to support various other organizations close to the Delaware Valley soccer community.

The coming months will start a new chapter in the organizations noteworthy story with many historical events marking the arrival of the Philadelphia Union, Philadelphia Independence and the Sons of Ben into the national spotlight.

SoB Election 2018: Q and A

Sons of Ben Board Elections Q&A

Each year, when we hold elections, we ask the candidates a series of questions designed to allow you to get to know them, their ideas, and plans before making your selection.  Here is their responses

MATT GENDASZEK, candidate for President

1.  Which projects or accomplishments that you initiated do you feel have been more successful, or that you are most proud of?  

Probably the accomplishment I am most proud of was my role in bringing the Sons of Ben Rowdy Ale to life.  It has always been a source of pride seeing the Jolly Franklin proudly displayed on a local beer. (Look for it in cans next season!)

But creating an online store for our Merchandise program has been another source of pride since it is the 1st time in our group that we controlled our own merchandise program.

2. What do you consider "unfinished" or is something you want to continue or build on during another term in office?

Improving our merchandise program is something that is a constant evolution.  I am hoping to improved our supply chain and being to offer more Varity on both the online store and at the Merch tent.

3. What new initiatives or projects do you hope to work on during your next term?

Just to name a few:

Bringing on a few new "corporate partners" to help offset operation expenses.

Full time electric into the lot to improves the tailgate experience.

More entertainment within the tailgate area

And lastly growing the membership base so we can continue our mission.

4. Why do you want to be elected to another term?

I began this position on an interim base in June and I realized that the work is far from over.  I have always loved and believed in this group and I want continue in the position of President in order to finish what I began in June.

Q&A for all Candidates:

1. How do you feel you can best represent the Sons of Ben as part of the Board of Elders?

I believe that my past roles both as Member at Large, Tailgates and then Branding and Merchandise chair give me the background necessary to represent both the Board AND the group as a whole.

2. What goals do you have for your position and how do you hope to achieve them?

I have a long list of goals for our group and this forum might not be the best way for me to communicate those goals but the most important goal I have is to help grow the Sons of Ben so we can be more effective in our mission.  

3. If you were elected, what key initial steps or activities would you perform to get started?

If I am elected to the office of President I would meet with all of the current and new board members to review what resources they need to make their goals a reality.  I would also want to meet with our core volunteers and our capos to see what they need to make our game day experience the best it can possibly be. These would be my initial steps and from there we would develop an off season plan to improve the Sons of Ben experience.

4. What do you feel the goals and objectives of the Sons of Ben should be as a group?

My vision of what the Sons of Ben are is very simple.  Our mission is a three-pronged mission:

• To support the Philadelphia Union soccer team. (The team on the field)  

• To grow the game of Soccer in the Philadelphia Area

• To help the Citizens of Chester

5. What do you believe is the current perception of the Sons of Ben as a whole, and how would you use your role to impact that?

It has been my recent experience that people with limited knowledge of the group think that the Sons of Ben is an exclusive and closed off group and if you weren’t a part of us from the start you are not welcome.  I hope to change that perception. If you have a passion for this team, a passion for the sport and are willing to help both the Sons of Ben and chip in and help the City of Chester you are a welcome addition to the Sons of Ben.

6. What do you consider the greatest challenges to the Sons of Ben as the group moves forward?

Moving into our 12th year… yes 12th year we have many challenges that lie ahead.

How do we grow and evolve our membership while keeping our traditions alive?

How we keep the game day experience up to the level that we have grown accustomed to despite what the result might be on the field.

And the greatest challenge ahead of us is what does the evolution of the Sons of Ben and supporter culture look like in this new MLS.

RYAN HARGROVE, candidate for Secretary

Questions for New Candidates to the Board:

1. What do you consider your strengths to be, and what additional skills and talents will you bring to your role?

The role of Secretary is unique within the SoB Board of Elders since it also encompasses the social media aspect of the club.  I believe responsibilities of both roles play into my strengths.

As a team lead in many software development projects, I’ve been exposed to all sorts of ways a team can be assisted and improved.  I see the Board in very much the same way. The Secretary helps everyone else in their role, as well as improves our ability to work together internally and with the membership through better record keeping and information sharing.

As the frontman for an Irish band, I relied on my outgoing personality to create an engaging experience for fans and continued that relationship into our social media presence.  I was able to speak with local venues about potential gigs, coordinate scheduling, and then push that information out for people to follow.

One thing that stays consistent in any role is my desire to improve.  I always commit myself to the job at hand and enjoy exploring new ways of working that may help everyone benefit.   

2. What makes now your time to join the SoB Board of Elders?

Being in the River End for a few years, I’ve been better able to get to know the club and its members.  This season I have been volunteering at tailgates and special events so it seemed like the appropriate time to step up when I heard there was more I could do.  The open position looks like the perfect way that I could help the club using my fairly odd and unique skillset.

3. How will you implement experience you discussed in your biography into your role?

Talking with people over the past year has shown me that there seems to be problems with communication both within the club and to the outside world.  One of the first things I would do is implement a system to better receive, track, and respond to things we’re doing as a club as well as issues that have arisen.  Creating a transparent means of communication keeps us honest and responsive.

As a software developer, I spend more time around computers than the average person, so I would leverage this in being responsive on our social media accounts.  Giving members and non-members a consistent line of communication to the board will help us be more accessible.

Aside from these, I have been using online platforms since it was just dialing into someone else’s computer, one at a time.  My exposure to trolling for decades has given me a pretty decent ability to handle, say, situations where NY/DC fans decide to come at us.  Our social media accounts should always exhibit our values as a club, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t show our passion and support.

Questions for All Candidates
1. How do you feel you can best represent the Sons of Ben as a part of the Board of Elders?

I have enjoyed my time as a member of the Sons of Ben, and love to connect with others about my experience and to encourage them to check us out.  Having recently become more involved with the club, I believe that this will give me the ability to help others step up and get more involved.
2. What goals do you have for your position and how do you hope to achieve them? 

One goal is to help alleviate some of the stress and issues the other board members experience in dealing with their projects.  Having jumped into a lot of ongoing projects with varying sizes of teams, I believe I can apply my knowledge of business process and software solutions to propose ways we can improve things.  Removing the mundane can also foster more collaboration and help create a more cohesive club.

I would also like to help foster a more transparent relationship between the Board and the membership, by making sure that information is communicated through club social media channels and the website.  A big step would be to implement more consistent updates to the website, and as a web developer, I believe I can assist with this. Giving everyone a central location to find the information they need will help get people more involved.

3. If you were elected, what key initial steps or activities would you perform to get started? 

Since the board operates in the off-season, I would first approach the other board members to hear their issues and concerns.  This would let me see where I can step up and help. Collecting this information can give us a good sense of the work we have ahead of us.

Next, I would work on a release plan for the information we have so far, even if it doesn’t have exact dates and times, to get things on the radar early. This would include upcoming tailgates, philanthropy events, tifo painting, etc. Getting these events onto social media and the website early would show people what they can expect from us in the coming year.  

I would also implement a plan to get the word out early for any events in need of volunteers sooner than later, along with regular reminders to help improve attendance.  Engaging the membership regularly, I would help encourage more people to get involved and answer questions they may have.

4. What do feel the goals and objectives of the Sons of Ben should be as a group?

The club has always been a place where diehard fans can come together and do fun things in support of the Philadelphia soccer community and our neighbors in the city of Chester.  Focusing our efforts on continuing successful past events, while also bringing in new blood and new ideas, will help create an enjoyable experience for everyone.

Now that we have two New York clubs and a DC club featuring Wayne Rooney, I think it’s more important than ever to bring in as many people as we can to counter their supporters.  Showing non-members who we are and what they can do when they get involved should be the underlying theme to all of our activities.


5. What do you believe is the current perception of the Sons of Ben as a whole, and how would you use your role to impact that?

I believe that the Union live in the shadow of much larger Philadelphia franchises, but we still have louder voices than their supporters groups.  That has also given us a reputation of being less approachable from other supporters. I have even heard from non-SoB that they believe membership requires a lot of additional work.  I would use my position to do more outreach into the Union and Philly Sports communities and help them see what we’re all about.  

6. What do you consider the greatest challenges to the Sons of Ben as the group moves forward?

The greatest challenge for the Sons of Ben is also a challenge that the Union has to fight.  How do you maintain a club when times are bad? This season has been a whirlwind that has gone off the rails towards the end and lead to a lot of excitement, but it’s Philly, and at the end of the day we don’t expect that to last forever.  I think it is important for us to build a strong sense of community within the club so that events become something we look forward to regardless of the team’s performance.

ERICK JUSINHO, candidate for Secretary
Questions for New Candidates to the Board:

1. What do you consider your strengths to be, and what additional skills and talents will you bring to your role?

My strengths lie in my work ethic and my creativity. I would like to use my talents aquired over the years of producing commercial video, film and general media production to create regular content for social media pages. I will also use my soccer and analtics knoledge to periodically create conent that aligns with the club and sport.

I will also use my talents and knowledge in the marketing and advertising fields to increase brand awareness and genererate a stronger social media presence which will hopefully, in turn, generate membership.

2. What makes now your time to join the SoB Board of Elders?

I have been a member since 2011 and have always wanted to be a part of the organization, however, seeing the supporters group struggle with membership and attendance over the years (along with the product on the field declining as well) I feel that now is a good time for passionate and motivated individuals to step up and carry on the legacy of those who made this organization happen.

3. How will you implement experience you discussed in your biography into your role?

As secratary and social media director, the first order of buisness is to clean up all pages and update any and all images that require them. I would then use these channels to produce regular content and media that are both Supporters Group related as well as club related. This includes but is not limited to, signings, stats, signing rumors, memes, engaging content, polls, original created videos, possible future podcasts or audio etc etc. Engaging content that brings people's eyeballs back time and time again is key to creating a culture and creating a community that will eventually translate to higher membership and more participation.

Questions for All Candidates:
1. How do you feel you can best represent the Sons of Ben as a part of the Board of Elders?
I am a passionate and loud supporter so that energy will be the backbone of everything I do for this organization. I would like my representation to reflect my passion for the club, for the group, and passion for creating community.

2. What goals do you have for your position and how do you hope to achieve them?
Ultimately my goal is to increase membership and social media engagement. This will be achieved by creating engaging, entertaining, educational and regular content and building an online following.

3. If you were elected, what key initial steps or activities would you perform to get started?

As secratary and social media director, the first order of buisness is to clean up all pages and update any and all images that require them. I would then use these channels to produce regular content and media that are both Supporters Group related as well as club related.

4. What do feel the goals and objectives of the Sons of Ben should be as a group?
To progress soccer supporter culture in our region and use that to build stronger local communities. This would allow the organization to bring communities together regardless of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, financial or social class.

5. What do you believe is the current perception of the Sons of Ben as a whole, and how would you use your role to impact that?

I am not sure how the general perception is unfortunately. However, I have heard many negative comments and implications that things in the SoB have not been great over the last few years. This to me is irrelivant, because at the end of the day, if you make the effort to show your passion fearlessly, and allow everyone and anyone who wants to share the same pasion stand along with you, then any supports group will thrive. Yes, the product on the field matters, but if as an organization we make the effort to be inclusive and not so "Clique-y" and engage with our local communities (especially through social media), I'm confident that we will be a strong, loud, rowdy (and happy) community.

6. What do you consider the greatest challenges to the Sons of Ben as the group moves forward?
I believe membership and physical engagement is one of the biggest challenges. I would love to see us be as big and loud as the Portlands and SKCs and Seattles of the world, maybe even Dortmunds, but it begins with a strong communications foundation.


KIRSTEN MORRIS, candidate for Secretary


Questions for New Candidates to the Board:

 

  1. What do you consider your strengths to be, and what additional skills and talents will you bring to your role?

    1. I am a passionate person and I love connecting with people to help keep people informed and up to date on events.

 

  1. What makes now your time to join the SoB Board of Elders?

    1. I have wanted to join for a while now, but never pulled the trigger. I saw the notice for joining the Board of Elders and said why not now!?

 

  1. How will you implement experience you discussed in your biography into your role?

    1. As I have said in my bio, I love taking pictures of just about everything and I have an eye for cool shots. I am very diligent in my work and respond quickly to emails.



Questions for All Candidates:


1. How do you feel you can best represent the Sons of Ben as a part of the Board of Elders?

a. As I have stated, I am a passionate person and I want to be able to bring that out in everyone.

2. What goals do you have for your position and how do you hope to achieve them?

a. I hope to get more people involved and informed of the events the SoB do throughout the year. Get them more engaged by hosting online parties, friendly voting competitions, letting them be heard as well to help us as whole.

3. If you were elected, what key initial steps or activities would you perform to get started?

a. I would help get the SoB members involved more, with keeping them up to date with events.

 

4. What do you feel the goals and objectives of the Sons of Ben should be as a group?

a. By supporting our Boys in Blue no matter what! By helping the community come together to make our community a safer better place for the kids to enjoy soccer.

5. What do you believe is the current perception of the Sons of Ben as a whole, and how would you use your role to impact that?

a. I believe we are currently trying to bring everyone together as a group with our tailgates, road trips and the charity work we do throughout the year. It seems people are not as engaged as they once were, and I hope to be able to bring the spark back to the people.

 

6. What do you consider the greatest challenges to the Sons of Ben as the group moves forward?

a. People tend to give up when our Union is losing. Yes, it’s upsetting, but we need to keep cheering and standing with them until the very end. We cannot win them all unfortunately.

INDIA McGHEE, candidate for Membership

Questions for New Candidates to the Board:

1. What do you consider your strengths to be, and what additional skills and talents will you bring to your role?

I’m a passionate supporter of the Union and a true nerd for organizing, planning, and detail-oriented work. I find it easy to talk to people and really enjoy coming up with creative strategies to solve all sorts of problems. I believe that this combination of creativity, passion, and a detail-oriented mindset is a great balance for the membership director position.

2. What makes now your time to join the SoB Board of Elders?

Over the course of the last few seasons, I’ve been looking for a way to directly contribute to our success as an organization. I started with a partial season ticket, fell in love with the River End, got full season tickets, and then joined the SOB. From there, I’ve helped out with or attended nearly every home game tailgate this season, marched with the SoB and front office at Philly Pride, and gone to our philanthropic events. The more involved I’ve become, the more I want to contribute. I feel that the position of membership director fits my strengths well and that maintaining an expanding an active membership base will allow the SOB to thrive, so I am excited for the opportunity!

3. How will you implement experience you discussed in your biography into your role 

In my day job, I advocate daily for the interests of my clients and am thrilled to bring that same advocacy and dedication to the SoB. My ability to enthusiastically communicate our ideas, goals, and passion for the team will help me attract new members and partners to the SoB. While new members are key to growing our organization, keeping existing members happy and in the loop is just as important, if not more so, to our survival as an organization. I will ensure that our members are heard, their ideas expressed to the board, and that any issues are quickly and efficiently solved, be it a lost membership card or details about an upcoming event.


Questions for All Candidates:


1. How do you feel you can best represent the Sons of Ben as a part of the Board of Elders?

My ability to communicate well and my ability to be serious, committed, and get things done. I think the SoB represents the best parts of being a Union fan - we’re fun, we’re passionate, we give back to the community! Unfortunately, I think some people find us to be rather mysterious or have no idea how to get more involved with the club. I can be a conduit between the membership and the board to drive involvement and commitment to the Union and the SoB.


2. What goals do you have for your position and how do you hope to achieve them?

To me, the success of the SoB rises and falls on our membership. It’s important that our existing membership is well-served, and it’s also important that we seek out and recruit new members. First, it’s vital that I am easy to reach, so I will make it a priority to be available at games and events, as well as via email and social media.

 

My goals are to make sure that our members feel heard, that their concerns are resolved, and that their ideas are communicated to the board and put into action. To achieve these goals, I will ensure that all membership kits and cards are delivered promptly at or before the beginning of the season. In the event of a delivery issue, I will work to keep communication open with any effected member and will work with the members and our vendors to quickly troubleshoot the issue and deliver their kit as soon as possible.

 

Additionally, I will enact an aggressive campaign for new members to help grow our organization and support the Union as loudly and proudly as possible. I will ensure that during the season, our membership table in the plaza is consistently staffed so that Union fans who may not know how to get involved can ask questions and sign up on game days. I will also ensure that signage advertising our group and how interested future SOBs can join is present at all tailgates and events.

 

Finally, I want to continue the Board’s excellent job of representing our interests to the front office, including respecting our members and our rules in the River End.

 

3. If you were elected, what key initial steps or activities would you perform to get started?

 

Again, the SoB are nothing without their members, and I think that it’s important to make sure that we continue the Board’s existing initiatives to drive membership and develop partnerships so that our value to the front office is clear and unquestionable.  I want to start next season off right by soliciting feedback regarding any ongoing concerns members may have, ensure that membership kits are organized and delivered on-time, and capitalize on the “down time” between seasons to organize an aggressive membership drive to start next season on the right foot.

 

4. What do feel the goals and objectives of the Sons of Ben should be as a group?

As a group, our goals are to support the Union as loudly and proudly as we can. As we grow as a group, our passionate support helps keep the Union in Philadelphia/Chester and attract more fans to the team, even if they don’t sit with us in the River End.


5. What do you believe is the current perception of the Sons of Ben as a whole, and how would you use your role to impact that?

 

I think that anyone who attends a Union game knows that we’re loud and proud and pretty awesome, but I’m not sure that people know that we’re also a vibrant, fun group of people building a community that they can be a part of. I want prospective SoB to know that we’re here for the Union, and that the SoB are a home for everyone - we’re welcoming, we’re not judgmental, and no one will be quizzing you about away game stats from 2011 while you’re trying to get a beer. Basically, as membership director, I would create opportunities for fans who want to know more to learn more and join our community by letting them know that our community is one of the best parts about being a Union fan.

 

6. What do you consider the greatest challenges to the Sons of Ben as the group moves forward?

 

Although we’re coming off of a comparatively successful season, I think the challenge remains to keep this momentum moving forward into next season by developing and maintaining a membership that is robust, excited, and involved. Further, we need to continue the Board’s efforts to make sure that the front office recognizes our importance to the Union experience and supports us accordingly with resources and respect, which includes assistance from security and stuff to enforce our rules in the River End.


MOLLIE SUITCH, candidate for Membership


Questions for New Candidates to the Board:

 

1. What do you consider your strengths to be, and what additional skills and talents will you bring to your role?

 

I am extremely organized and customer service oriented. This role is one that requires a great deal of organization when managing our membership lists and membership package distribution. I will use my skills to maintain updated and accurate records and create a smooth distribution process. Also, because I manage social media accounts both for the Sons of Ben and in my professional career I am used to answering questions that come to the social pages. Customer service is a big part of this position and I want to make sure everyone is satisfied and has received all of their membership package.

 2. How will you implement experience you discussed in your biography into your role?

 

Because I’ve been a board member for three years as the Secretary, I already have the knowledge of the board processes and roles. I am also familiar with the applications used to manage membership sales and the vendors we work with to make the merchandise for our membership packages. This familiarity will help me to hit the ground running lead to a very short adjustment period.

 3.) Why do you want to be elected to another term in Office?

I love working with the Sons of Ben, I have met so many great people with this organization. Although at many times it feels like a thankless job, it is still very rewarding.  Also whether or not I am on the board I will still be involved with the Sons of Ben as long as my counterpart is the Tifo director, so you might as well give me a job to do!

 

Questions for All Candidates:


1. How do you feel you can best represent the Sons of Ben as a part of the Board of Elders?

I represent them by showing up to every game and cheer on our boys in blue. Regardless if we win or lose I will still be there!
2. What goals do you have for your position and how do you hope to achieve them?

My goal is to make every member happy (in regards to membership). That may seem like a little unrealistic but I want to make sure every member gets their membership package in a timely manner and is happy with the contents.  Things might not always go smoothly but I plan on doing everything in my means to make this happen.

3. If you were elected, what key initial steps or activities would you perform to get started?

I would like to put together a quality and cost efficient membership package. I would start by getting samples and quotes from multiple vendors. I would also like to poll the members and see what were their favorite items from previous years and what can they do without.  I also want to start planning a membership package packing party very early in the season. No more last minute shipping, everyone should have their kit before the start of the season.  

4. What do feel the goals and objectives of the Sons of Ben should be as a group?

In rain or shine, win or lose, we should all be standing up, singing our hearts out and supporting the Philadelphia Union.

5. What do you believe is the current perception of the Sons of Ben as a whole, and how would you use your role to impact that?

We are withering away. And it's not wrong, our numbers the last few years have been depleting.  My goal is to grow our membership and supporters. Many of our “members” aren't supporters, meaning they pay for their membership but don’t show up to the games or don’t sit in the river end. I want to encourage more passionate members to join the sons of ben and come out to the games, sing, support the Union.

6. What do you consider the greatest challenges to the Sons of Ben as the group moves forward?

Growing our group. It's not going to be an easy challenge and I will do everything I can as membership director but this is also a task that lies on our members. I think we can do better as a group to bring new members to the River End. We should all be striving to create the SoB atmosphere we know and love. The River End is like a virus, once you go a few times you can't stop, you fall in love with supporting and the game. We just need our members to reach out and invite new people to the River End (as long as they don’t wear red).



MARISSA EDWARDS, candidate for At Large

Questions for New Candidates to the Board:

1. What do you consider your strengths to be, and what additional skills and talents will you bring to your role?

My main strengths and skills that I will be bringing to the role if elected will be my ability to multi-task, think on my feet, and communicate efficiently and effectively.

My daily job as a litigation attorney—and before that, as a bartender and waitress—requires me to constantly juggle and re-prioritize demands and deadlines (whether of courts, clients, or customers).  These positions are also, at their core, about effective customer service. As such, its not just a matter of making sure the job gets done, but rather that the people for whom I’m working feel as though their needs and concerns are being heard and addressed along the way.

I believe that this experience and skill set make me uniquely qualified for the ever-changing Member At Large position.

2. What makes now your time to join the SoB Board of Elders?

From casual fan, to season ticket holder, to involved member of the SoB, each season I spend with the Union and the SoB, I become more and more involved with the club.  So far this season, I’ve had the privilege of either attending or volunteering at nearly every SoB tailgate and event, including manning the merch. tent and marching with the SoB at Philly Pride.  I’ve truly enjoyed my time at all of these events and would love the opportunity to assist with and improve future events, so that we can continue to give members (current and prospective) more opportunities to get involved with the club.

3. How will you implement experience you discussed in your biography into your role?

I believe that being the Member At Large position requires you to be able to shift your focus as the demands of the club change.  Unlike other positions, the responsibilities of the Member At Large are not stagnant. As a result, to be successful in the position, you have to be able to consistently re-prioritize the needs of the club (and your fellow board members) and adjust your behavior accordingly.  

For the last 15 years, from waitress to attorney, I’ve worked in positions that require this of me on a daily basis.  Whether this means being available on short notice to staff an event or stepping in to respond to a member’s concerns, I’m well equipped to quickly jump in where needed, assess the situation, and effectively deliver results.

Questions for All Candidates:

1. How do you feel you can best represent the Sons of Ben as a part of the Board of Elders?

I believe that there are two, equally important, ways that a member represents the SoB on the Board.  The first is by a member’s contributions to the Board and the second is by a member’s contribution to the SoB community—both current and potential.  I believe my time management skills and ability to effectively balance competing needs and deadlines will allow me to assist the Board with completing tasks and addressing issues in a timely and efficient matter.  I also believe that a board should represent the community it serves. As such, I will strive to be an approachable, available, and present board member. This way, whether in person, at a match or event, or through email or social media, members of the community will be able (and feel welcome to) community their ideas, concerns, or issues to the Board.

2. What goals do you have for your position and how do you hope to achieve them?

Dovetailing off the above, my goal as Member At Large is two-fold.  First, I will always be willing to jump in as necessary to assist my fellow board members—regardless of how big or small the task.  I bring no ego to this position. The second is to use the flexibility of the position to spend time reaching out to the SoB community at large to address any concerns they may have and to seek suggestions on how to improve the club for current and future members and bringing the same back to the board for implementation.

3. If you were elected, what key initial steps or activities would you perform to get started?

First, as Member At Large, my first step would be to make sure that I create a dedicated channel of communication between myself and my fellow board members.  A basic function of my position will be to jump in and assist with a wide variety of tasks as needed, and I cannot adequately do so without efficient and effective communication of those needs.

4. What do feel the goals and objectives of the Sons of Ben should be as a group?

First and foremost, our goal should be to support the Union.  Whether that means making sure our Capos have everything they need to cheer on the Boys in Blue come match day, or providing extra reach to the Union’s philanthropic arm, this should always be the SoB’s priority.

5. What do you believe is the current perception of the Sons of Ben as a whole, and how would you use your role to impact that?

So much of what makes the SoB great is its enthusiasm and passion for this sport and this team.  However, this can also make the SoB look intimidating from the outside in, especially to newer fans.  While this passion will always be a driving force behind the club, I think it is also important for the growth of the SoB (and the union) to maintain a “big tent” mentality by making sure that prospective members know that all are welcome in our club—regardless of who you are or how much you know about the team or the sport.  I will strive to use the flexibility of my position to work not only with the board on this issue, but also with the Union front office, to figure out new ways for the SoB to integrate with Union events and the Union fanbase as a whole

6. What do you consider the greatest challenges to the Sons of Ben as the group moves forward?

As noted above, I believe one of the SoB’s biggest challenges will be continuing to be the Union’s most ardent supporters, while also making clear that all fans of the club (regardless of intensity) are welcome so long as you support the Boys in Blue.  

JON LIGHT, candidate for At Large

Questions for New Candidates to the Board:

1. What do you consider your strengths to be, and what additional skills and talents will you bring to your role?

Strengths: I am passionate and vocal about this club and this supporters group. I am also relentless in my pursuit to better the things I am passionate about by any means necessary. I am always willing and eager to help whenever and wherever I am needed. Finally, I have had chances through past experiences ,both in college and outside of college, in delegation and leadership.

In terms of additional skills, I think a major responsibility for the Member at Large is the ability to network and I am happy to do that anytime anywhere. The ability to multi task is detrimental to this role as well and I am comfortable doing that.

2. What makes now your time to join the SoB Board of Elders?

I will make no secret of my multiple attempts at a board position with the SoB. The reality is there is not a better time than now to hopefully shape the future of our untapped potential. The last 3 years have been pivotal for the Sons of Ben’s growth. As a member for 10 years it's hard not to acknowledge the areas that can be improved, however it is easy to point out the strides we've made as well. An opportunity to serve on the board would grant me the chance to continue to make strides.

3. How will you implement experience you discussed in your biography into your role?

I plan on implementing my past experiences in leadership, organization, and delegation to accomplish any task in my path. This role is a jack of all trades if you will and so I feel you should have to be as versatile as possible. My experiences at Millersville University as well as my post grad work in Marketing has allowed me to build the skills mentioned above.

Questions for All Candidates:

1. How do you feel you can best represent the Sons of Ben as a part of the Board of Elders?

The best way anybody could ever represent the Sons of Ben is by accepting passion and creating a fun atmosphere. Too often it's easy to get lost in the problems we have with the club, or management, or owners and forget that at one point this passion was slightly displaced. We didn’t have a team in this city to call our own. I haven’t been a season ticket holder since day 1 (I became one in 2015) but I remember my first union game against Dallas at the Linc...and I remember watching the Sons of Ben have an enormous amount of fun. So in short, the best way myself and others could represent the SoB is by having as much fun as possible, helping out as much as possible, and being as passionate as possible.

2. What goals do you have for your position and how do you hope to achieve them?

Aside from being a key support player in necessary operations. One of my main goals for this position is to help develop the current tailgate set up and the current events we host. We have a big, beautiful, under utilized tailgate lot now. We can change that and I have ideas how. I think it would be interesting to have live music, corn hole/Flip Cup/video game tournaments,7 v 7 soccer tournaments on the training field, home day raffles, different merch tents/vendors, different alcohol selections. I want tailgates to be something that draws the public. That serves as a billboard on the way to the stadium that says “Welcome to Talen Energy Stadium...We Are The Sons Of Ben...Come In, Have A Beer, And Get Ready To Sing”.

The plan to achieve them will be completely dependent on the reality of some of these. I know some are more realistic than others. I happen to know several bands in and out of the area all of which perform different music. I am sure some of our other Sons of Ben members know some as well. I think accomplishing even half of the events listed would be a very big step in drawing more people to tailgates earlier.

3. If you were elected, what key initial steps or activities would you perform to get started?

Primarily, I would address all of the members of the board and find out what their most tedious task is. I want to get my hands in there in some capacity to lighten their load and make it so that they can focus on tasks that might serve the board as a whole better.

4. What do feel the goals and objectives of the Sons of Ben should be as a group?

The Sons of Ben ,first and foremost, should support the Union. After that it is our exemplify the fan base in a positive way, to help the communities that surround us, and to grow interest in the game and the team throughout the city.

5. What do you believe is the current perception of the Sons of Ben as a whole, and how would you use your role to impact that?

Not that I intend to mirror my statements from last year, I think the Sons of Ben has done a lot to change their perception in this last year. The tailgate lot is a fantastic start. The variation in Tifo and game day props has been extremely refreshing, we have started in some capacity to build a somewhat winning culture and people are very slowly starting to fill the stadium again. I think the perception hasn't changed enough to say we are stronger than ever though. I think its split 50/50. 50% understand our role, appreciates it, and contributes what they can when they can. The other 50% aren't interested in our brand whether they are at the game for the first time, they dont like what we stand for, or they just want cheap seats. Perception takes time to change and is a thin line. I can only hope that by helping people remain on task and that attempting to aid in developing our tailgate events so we can hopefully show those that don’t like what we stand for or have left our group for whatever reason that we are in fact a special organization capable of doing special things with our platform.

6. What do you consider the greatest challenges to the Sons of Ben as the group moves forward?

The Sons of Ben’s greatest challenge is getting as many people in the River End on board with our goal and more involved in our events. Too often I have seen the same 10-20 people doing the same 10-20 things in terms of set up. There are many of us, we are a family, and we all love this team to death. We should be helping each other to build this supporters group to be the best in MLS. The fault is on both sides as well and I will be the first to acknowledge that. The Sons of Ben as a whole needs to be better at communicating the help needed and where in a timely manner, but that can be done all day if people chose to ignore those messages it is out of the SoB hands. Much like anything in this world I have always felt that the Sons of Ben as a whole is very much a “You Get Out What You Put In”. If we all collectively started to put more into this beautifully chaotic and wonderfully dysfunctional family of ours there is no telling what we can do.

ROB MIGLIACCO, candidate for At Large

Questions for New Candidates to the Board:

  1. What do you consider your strengths to be, and what additional skills and talents will you bring to your role?

I'm a people person, I love to get to know others and make new friends and help them out. This organization needs someone to be the voice of the general membership and if elected I want to listen to all of our members if they would like to speak with me at events or games and bring their concerns, comment and questions directly to the board. When the time arises for me to be a leader, I can switch gears and become that leader with no problem. I'm also very creative and ready to bring my ideas to this already great organization.

2. What makes now your time to join the SoB Board of Elders?

I am ready for a new challenge to help better serve my fellow Sons Of Ben and elevate our already great organization to the next level. I have already served as a volunteer for tifo and capo for the past four years and one year on the Game Day Committee. With this experience I am ready to bring some of my ideas and skills to the board.

 3. How will you implement experience you discussed in your biography into your role?

I have been with this organization for the past couple of years and went from a regular member to a major part of the game day crew; with that I know how to listen to the needs of the organization and what we can do to help forward the organization. I also am the chair of Arcadia University's Young Alumni and Student Committee, member of the Alumni Steering Committee as well as the Alumni Leadership Council. At the age of 27 I am able to be a part of these committees and bring my ideas to the table and for them to be implemented.

 

Questions for All Candidates:


1. How do you feel you can best represent the Sons of Ben as a part of the Board of Elders?

I feel that as a member of the Board of Elders I can be more of a public figure than I already am on the Capo stand. I can be an advocate, a voice for the members so that their voices and ideas can be heard and ultimately change the organization. As a Board member I want to help this organization heal, we have been through some rough times recently and I want to see that this organization has a bright future. We are on the verge of an organizational renaissance and with the help of this newly appointed Board we can take the leap and get back to the organization that we once were, A STRONG ONE.

2. What goals do you have for your position and how do you hope to achieve them?

As of right now I just want to help the general membership to be heard. I know some members believe that their comments and concerns aren't being heard, but I want to be the one to listen to them and help their ideas come to light. Ultimately, I want to breathe new life into this board and now is the time for that new life to come to the board. I don't have a gameplan for this position because for this and any position the plan always changes in one way or another. As I start to learn the position and merge with the rest of the board I will formulate a plan and execute it to the best that I can.

3 If you were elected, what key initial steps or activities would you perform to get started?

I think the logical answer is to really sit with the board and get to know each member and what they can bring to the table and figure what is already in progress and build off of it. You can't go into a new position such as Member At Large and take control of the group, you have to build up trust and then implement your plans. I would ultimately like to start up Open Meetings once again so that we can have a formal sit-down with our members, listen to their ideas and concerns and have discussions on how to better the organization as a whole.

 

4 What do feel the goals and objectives of the Sons of Ben should be as a group?
The Sons of Ben is first and foremost here for the club. The Philadelphia Union is ultimately what binds us as a whole and the major objective of our organization is to stand behind and cheer on our Boys in Blue on the field. We are also here to help out our communities with our great events such as Help Kick Hunger, Pints For Pets and Stachebash. These events are not only fun, but a great way to work with and help out the communities that we live in as well as patronize when we visit Chester on game days.

 

  1. What do you believe is the current perception of the Sons of Ben as a whole, and how would you use your role to impact that?

I believe that the Sons of Ben are a stable organization on the outside, but on the inside with are a little shaky. We need to have a rebuilding period to make us the best that we can be. We need to keep moving forward from the bad times and our weaknesses and build on the great times and our strengths and I can help be a part of the catalyst that initiates the changes. My role as a Member At Large isn't the fanciest or the most meaningful, but I get to be a part of different parts of the Board and see the different projects going on and help mold and execute them. I want to be a part of this necessary change as your Member At Large and possibly play a bigger part in the Sons of Ben one day, but I'm ready to take the first steps toward a brighter SOB future if you allow me to do so.

  1. What do you consider the greatest challenges to the Sons of Ben as the group moves forward?

This organization has veered far away from what it was created to be. We were created to support our team and our communities, to come together as a family and ultimately have fun; but in the past few years we have lost that drive to do all of the above. We boo our team, we fight with our brothers and sisters and divide our once great organization; this needs to stop before we move forward and that will be a challenge to do so, a challenge I am will to accept and conquer. Once our stadium was one of the worst stadiums to play in as an opponent, teams hated to walk through that tunnel under a FULL River End and listen to us cheer on our team, but now we have a half-filled River End that sings at the beginning and when we are winning. As supporters that STAND in The River End, we are there to STAND for OUR team for 90+ minutes and sing and chant for OUR team; yes, the team hasn't been the best over the past couple of years, but that shouldn't effect on how we chant and sing. We have gotten soft and next year we should be back at full force with everyone standing, chanting, singing and flags flying everywhere throughout The River End; let show them what it means to be Philly Tough once again.


SoB Election 18: Meet your Candidates

Sons of Ben Board Election Candidate Bios

In order to help you get to know the various candidates that are running for election this fall, we asked each of them to tell you a little about themselves.  Here’s what they had to say!

MARISSA EDWARDS, candidate for At Large



Marissa Edwards is running for the Member At Large position on the Sons of Ben board. Marissa has been a season ticket holder for three years, an SOB member for two, and a regular attendee and volunteer at SOB tailgates and events—including marching with the SOB at Pride.

Between cheering on the Boys in Blue and letting the referees know exactly how she feels, the River End is one of Marissa’s favorite places.  The SOB has also become an unexpected community, welcoming to all so long as you support the Union.

Marissa hopes to now contribute to the SOB community directly by serving as its Member At Large. Whether helping to plan events or assisting with membership kits—Marissa is excited to jump in where needed to ensure that the needs of current members are being met, while also attracting new members and cultivating new partnerships throughout the region.

Marissa has previously served on the board of Drexel’s OUTLaw and co-chairs both her firm’s Diversity Committee and Social Responsibility Committee.  When not working as an attorney, Marissa spends her free time playing board games, hunting for the best Old Fashioned in Philly (recommendations welcome), and hanging out with her dog, Wyatt.

MATT GENDASZEK, candidate for President


Matt joined the Sons of Ben in 2010 when he and his group of friends bought season tickets in section 136 when MLS announced that Philadelphia had been awarded a franchise.  Matt was elected to the Board of Directors and hopes to help keep the Sons of Ben growing and becoming the Standard Bearer of all Supporters Groups.

Matt works in marketing for a local company that provides branding solutions within the Tradeshow industry.  In the past Matt leveraged some of his personal relationships into helping the Sons of Ben.  He first pursued Yards Brewing to see if they would be interested in partnering up with the Sons of Ben.  Then with the help of the current members of the Board brought both the Sons of Ben and Yards together.  The rest is history.  Matt has been both a coach and a volunteer in many non-profits and appreciates and respects the "off-the pitch" work that the Sons of Ben do in the community.





RYAN HARGROVE, candidate for Secretary


Growing up just outside Scranton, PA, Ryan had never had a local sports team to follow, much less a soccer team. When the Union was announced, that hometown team feeling finally found its way.  Having grown up playing, coaching, and even refereeing games in an area just learning about the sport, it was great to see a community of enthusiasts coming out of the woodwork.   

After tailgating next to the Sons of Ben in Lot C for several matches, Ryan eventually wandered over to see what was going on.  Immediately sold on the club, he started attending the tailgate regularly and looked for ways to become more involved.  This season, he has been setting up and breaking down the tailgate as well as occasionally helping with merch. He even once helped convince Kate to take a 20-minute break from the ticketing station.

With a background in computer science from Penn State, Ryan has over 15 years of experience as a software developer for the DoD, the energy industry, and the pharmaceutical industry, focusing primarily on websites and web applications.  Ryan is also a fan of Arsenal, the USWNT, and Scunthorpe United. When not working on nerd stuff, Ryan can often be found sharing a pint with his Irish band and occasionally even playing music.

ERICK JUSINHO, candidate for Secretary

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 Hello SoBs! My name is Erick Jusino and you can typically find me in a capo stand on matchday, and I will be running for Secretary (social media director). I attended my first Union match on May 11th, 2011 against LA Galaxy and I joined that night. Over the years since then, I've searched how to be more involved in growing the supporter base and the Sons of Ben. As Secretary, I'm confident I can assist in achieving this goal.

 

I received my degree in media production and digital filmmaking from the Art Institute of Philadelphia, and I have worked within the Film and Television industry since 2010 as a production assistant. Working on films such as "Limitless" and "Safe" as well the show "The Bachelorette" and "Do No Harm". I also manage my own production company, "WaqeUp Films". During my 9-5 job, I assist in creating content and managing social media for Rush Street Interactive and produced the recent commercials for Playsugarhouse.com. I’m passionate about creating meaningful digital content that educates and promotes building communities. I would like to use my skills and knowledge in these industries to create more visual content, engage with our supporters, create some really fun pieces and collaborate with other artists and creatives with the focus on reaching larger audiences and generate growth in membership. Thank you!

 

INDIA McGHEE, candidate for Membership

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My name is India McGhee, and I’m running for Membership Director for the Sons of Ben!

I’ve been attending Union games regularly since 2015 and have been a member of the Sons of Ben since 2016. The Sons of Ben are the best part of being a Union fan, and I’ve really enjoyed calling the River End home. Attending and helping out at tailgates, going to philanthropic events, and getting to know other SOBs over the last two years has been truly great, and I’m super excited about the opportunity to give back to the Sons of Ben as Membership Director.

In my day job, I work for the City of Philadelphia an as environmental attorney. An important aspect of my job as an attorney is keeping organized, communicating clearly, and responding quickly to any requests. I’m very excited to put these skills to work maintaining and developing the Sons of Ben membership.

I’m also an enthusiastic supporter of Arsenal, Real Madrid, and the USWNT. When taking a break from soccer, I love running, crafting, board games, and drinking a great beer, preferably outside.

ROB MIGLIACCIO, candidate for At Large

Hello everyone, I’m Robert Migliaccio and I am campaigning to be your Member At Large. I have been attending Union games since 2011, joined the SOB family in 2013 and in 2014 I found my home permanently in The River End as a Full Season Ticket Holder. On game day you can usually find me leading chants from the Capo stand near Section 136 and manning the beer trailer in the SOB lot during tailgates.

 

I believe that I could be an excellent Member At Large since I am already a part of different groups in the organization already with Capos and tifo setup. I also like to work on different events and jobs at the same time because it keeps my interest in the overall goal. This position would help me continue what I love doing on game days and that’s leading you all in cheering our boys in blue on as well as helping the organization expand and run more efficiently in the future.

 

I wish all the best of luck to my fellow SOB members who are running and look forward to another great year next year in The River End.

 

KIRSTEN MORRIS, candidate for Secretary

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Hello, my name is Kirsten Morris, I joined the SoB in 2016 and a season ticket holder in 2017. I found out Philly had a soccer team in 2015 ( I know late…) I heard about the SoB and watched the video of how they helped kick off Philly getting a soccer team! I was inspired!

I have a love for photography, gardening, and baking. I love cheering on our Boys in Blue in section 137. I grew up in a small town, Rosenhayn, NJ. I played youth soccer with my dad as my coach, through him is where I found a love for soccer.

I love getting involved with numerous charities runs and I have helped raise over 3K for the MS Society by doing the MuckFest. I currently work for Chelten House Product Inc. as their Production Administrative Associate.

MOLLIE SUITCH, candidate for Membership

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Hi I am Mollie Suitch and many of you already know me as the current Secretary of the Sons of Ben. I have been a fan of the Union since 2010, and was introduced to the Sons of Ben in 2013. I became more involved with the SoBs when I started volunteering with Tifo painting as well as set up and breakdown. I became a season ticket member in 2015 and joined the board in early 2016. You can often find me at tailgates working the merch table or sitting in 137 behind the capo stand. 


I have loved working with the Sons of Ben for the past three seasons. I have met so many great people through this organization. I want to continue to as a board member but have decided to step away from the Secretary position. Instead I want to shift my focus to the Membership Director position. I believe my organizational skills and experience as a board member will help me succeed in this position. I will do everything I can to ensure everyone gets a membership package they are happy with! 


I am still very passionate about the mission of the Sons of Ben and supporting the Union, a passion I wish to continue to bringing to this new board position. 


Jon Light, candidate for At Large

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Hello! My name is Jon Light and I am running for Member at Large. I have been a SoB since 2010,a Season Ticket Holder since 2015, and I am a founding member of the Wu Phang Clan. On any given match day you will find me losing my voice in 139 or the Capo stand in front of 140. In the past I have helped set up tailgates and paint tifo, but my biggest contribution to the SoB’s has been running their website for the last 3 years.

The Sons of Ben has played a pivotal role in my life and were a major reason I got into the Union and soccer in general. Just being given this opportunity to run is an honor and a privilege that I do not take lightly. I believe, if given your vote, that I can continue our current mission and ultimately better it by building on the solid foundation that has been built before me over the last 10 years. I look forward to hearing and addressing your questions and ideas and turning them into a means to help those who need it around us. Thank you! Ad Finem Fidelis. 

SoB U.S. Open Cup Final Information

We are headed to the final! The Sons of Ben are putting a group together to travel to Huston on September 26th for the US Open Cup Final. We are offering a hotel package at $109.00 per person/per night for double occupancy ($218 total) or $80.00 per person/per night for quad occupancy ($320 total). This package includes 1 night accommodations at the Holiday Inn Airport for the night of September 26th. Round trip transport from the airport to the hotel. A hot breakfast buffet. Roundtrip motor coach transportation from the hotel to the stadium and back. *Only the people who purchase this hotel package will be allowed to take the bus to the stadium. A representative will call to confirm reservation request and collect payment. Final payments are due September 5th. This price does not include game tickets, more info to come later! If you have any questions, please email jess.gusler@sonsofben.com.

If you are interested in joining us please fill out the following form: https://sites.google.com/view/2352/home

Additional Information Will Be Posted Here As It Becomes Available. 

Election Results!

The polls have closed and the results are in. The Sons of Ben Leadership are both retaining and ushering in new leaders! 

Congratulations to our winners:

President - Bill Gusler
Tifo - Ryan Bross
Tailgates - Freeman Dordell
Philanthropy - Krystal Kane
Travel/Roadtrips - Jessica Gusler
At Large - Sid MacLeod

We are very grateful to all of the candidates for their willingness to take a step forward and become a leader in our group. We hope that as we continue this new election process that more of you show that same earnestness in becoming more involved and want to take on a greater role. 

The full vote tallies are below. As always, please email VP Tim Sosar at tim.sosar@sonsofben.com with and questions, comments or concern

SoB Elections 2017: Meet Your Candidates

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The Sons of Ben will be holding elections for several positions each year, starting this year.  As we told you previously, we will be electing a President, as well as Directors of Tifo, Tailgates, Roadtrips,  and Philanthropy.  We will also be electing an At Large Board Member, who will help lead in a variety of areas.

Below are personal biographies for each of the candidates.  Coming soon will be more extensive information about the candidates and their goals and objectives in their positions.


President

Bill Gusler

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I am Bill Gusler and the President of the Sons of Ben. I am running for re-election of the President, and hope to lead our group back to the group of supporters who stay faithful to the end. Obviously, this past season hasn’t been the best or easiest for us – on and off the field, with the team missing the playoffs, and losing a good friend and former President in Kenny Hanson, but we continue on, doing what we can.

I can’t control how our team performs, and I can’t control what the FO does, but I can, and will do everything I can to get our supporters club back on track to do what we used to be revered for throughout the MLS – being the best and worst bunch of SoBs we can be.

I want us to sing loud and proud for 90+ throughout the River End, scarves swinging, waves flagging, drinks flowing, smoke blowing, no sitting down, no red, no BPL jerseys, no petty bs…just support for our boys in blue.

I want to take over the bed pan in north jersey, I want to steal home from NYCFC, I want to be the reason RFK finally falls – I want our away trips to be legendary, the type where when you finally get your voice back, you tell your friend “you should’ve been there!”

I want our tifo to rival with those in Cascadia, I want Portland and Seattle to look at us and say damn, that SoB banner was the shit!

I want opposing players to hate and despise us, and our boys in blue to be honored to play in front of us.

I want to set the bar of how a supporter’s club should be in the MLS.

But I need you, every single one of you to step up. We’re all volunteers, and so are you. Without you helping with tifo, or traveling with us to away matches, or you standing and singing the whole match, none of this comes to fruition.

I am running to be re-elected as President of the Sons of Ben, and I will continue to give you everything I have.

Ad Finem Fidelis.


Tifo

Ryan Bross

Ryan Bross became a Season Ticket Holder with his family in 2009 before the start of the Union first season. From their seats in 120, he had not only a great vies of the action on the field but also what was happening in the opposite end of the stadium, in the River End. Ryan joined the Sons of Ben before the end of the 2010 season. In the following seasons Ryan became more and more involved with the SoB, specifically with tifo. Following the 2013 season, Ryan joined the SoB Board as Tifo Director. In these last four years,

 Ryan has made an effort to increase the overall quality and quantity of the tifo. As well as, made improvements to the display of the tifo through the selection of new tifo materials and the instillation of the pole and pulley system along the back of 137. Through these improvements, Ryan has sought to bring better attention to the game day experience generated by the SoB, in person and across social media; using the SoBTifo accounts to showcase tifo and experience and reaching out to volunteers and new members. Ryan strives to help create the best game day atmosphere possible in an effort to further support the players and coaching staff. Outside of the duties of Tifo Director, Ryan has helped out assisting with the SoB charity events. Ryan has chosen to run for another term Tifo Director because he believes there is still more to be done to enhance the game day experience and in the end, if no one else wants to do it, Ryan will stick around to see it through.


Philanthropy

Krystal Kane

Krystal Kane is a candidate for the Director of Philanthropy position with the Sons of Ben. With her community engagement and volunteer experience, Krystal is an ideal candidate for this position.

For her day job, Krystal manages the nationally-ranked pro bono program at one of the top ten law firms in Philadelphia. She is a past Firm-wide Chair of her law firm’s United Way campaign, raising over $500,000. She also ran a professional clothing drive for Career Wardrobe and for the Veterans Multi-Service Center.

Krystal is active in community organizations. She’s a member of the Young Lawyers Division of the Philadelphia Bar Association and the Brehon Law Society. Krystal has won awards for her volunteer work, including the “Outstanding Pro Bono Student” award from Drexel Law and a 2016 award from the Homeless Advocacy Project.

In her spare time, Krystal is also a volunteer for causes that help children. This past September, Krystal ran a very successful school supply drive for children living a Philadelphia homeless shelter. Krystal is an inaugural member of the Young Friends of the Support Center for Child Advocates, and is currently helping to organize their annual Toy Drive.  She is also a past volunteer with Philadelphia Reads.

Krystal has been attending Philadelphia Union matches since 2014, and joined the SoB in 2016. She and her squad call Section 139 home. Krystal is very excited for the opportunity to get more involved with the Sons of Ben, and to use her experience to help the SoB give back!

Krystal is a graduate of Penn State and Drexel Law, and when not supporting the Philadelphia Union, she is an avid fan of Chelsea FC and the USWNT. When not watching soccer, she’s reading The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, playing board games, or enjoying a good beer.

Jon Light

Hello! My name is Jon Light and I am running for Philanthropy Director. I have been a SoB since 2010 and a Season Ticket Holder since 2015. On any given match day you will find me losing my voice in 139 or the Capo stand in front of 140. In the past I have helped set up tailgates and paint tifo, but my biggest contribution to the SoB’s has been running their website for the last 2 years.

I have had experience in the past running philanthropic campaigns. While attending Millersville University, I successfully coordinated a benefit concert for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital raising $1,200. More recently I coordinated a bi-annual campaign to help the homeless of Trenton, Lancaster, and Philadelphia. The campaign consisted of building kits of supplies that would prove beneficial to the homeless. In that campaign I raised over $2,000 and built 200 bags. I am running on a platform that our philanthropic effort is never ending and that we can always be doing more. We are part of the community in Chester/Philadelphia and should be using our collective efforts to better both communities.

The Sons of Ben has played a pivotal role in my life and were a major reason I got into the Union and soccer in general. Just being given this opportunity to run is an honor and a privilege that I do not take lightly. I believe, if given your vote, that I can continue our current philanthropic mission and ultimately better it by building on the solid foundation that has been built before me over the last 10 years. I look forward to hearing and addressing your questions and ideas and turning them into a means to help those who need it around us. Thank you! Ad Finem Fidelis. 


Roadtrips

Jessica Gusler

Hey All! If you don't know me, my name is Jess Gusler and I am running for Travel Director for the 2018 season. 

I've been tagging along with my brother, SOB President, Bill Gusler, for the past 7 years, religiously for the past 5. When not at the stadium, you can find me with my dog, Poppy, digging in my garden, or traveling somewhere!

Funny, it's usually the younger sibling tagging along with the older one's, but after Bill brought me to my first match, I was the one tagging along with him. Since we live in the same house, we would drive to the stadium together. He would always go 3 to 4 hours early, to help setup tifo and I'd be sitting in the lot, bored. So I started to help set up ten and tables for the tailgates. It seemed the more involved he became, so did I.

Once Kelly moved and Bill took over away trips, I became his right hand man, making sure the ticket count was correct. That the hoagies, soda's, ice, etc. were ready to go. Confirming the tifo, drums, and flags were under the bus. Doing the head count before people onto the bus. Rules were announced before we left the lot.

Not only have I helped with away trips, I have a number of volunteer hours under my belt with stache bash, HKH, school supply, coat, and canned good drives. Whether it is reaching out to the community for raffle prizes, helping set-up and break down events, checking people in, posting winning raffle numbers, preparing membership kits, or mailing out the scarf of the month scarves, you'll always find me helping out some way. 

Since we are in the same house, I see how much time and dedication a spot on the board actually takes. I'm ready for morale to change. I can't change all of TRE, but maybe I can make an impact on our away groups. I'm ready for the bus to be loud again! I'm ready to get everyone rowdy like we used to be! I want more than the just the same 6 people chanting on the bus. I want to hear the noise!!! 

So if you're ready for change like I am, vote Jess Gusler for travel director.

AD FINEM FIDELIS

Gerry Hendrix

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What is a soccer mom?

  1. A mom to soccer playing kids

  2. Mom who is a real Philadelphia Union fanatic.  

The answer in our house is B.  

I’m a mom of 3 great kids and I never miss a home game or an opportunity to get to an Away Match….with or without the kids.  I am a familiar face at the matches, a Season Ticket holder since day one and joined the SOB in 2011.   

I have been serving as Travel Director with the SOB for two years and have enjoyed every minute of it.   Getting you to the match in safety is the number one goal of the Travel Director; however I also want you to have a great Away Match experience when possible.  I’ve really enjoyed working with the SOB to get you, our members, to the planes, trains and yes even automobiles – but don’t forget the busses.        

In 2017, as Travel Director I brought hundreds of you to various away matches.  While we have no control over our game day results – I believe our loud and proud fan support at Away Games is the extra push the Union need to take home 3 points.  

I listened to your requests and suggestions to improve the experience at the Away Matches.  From new and interesting away tailgate food, trying local catering and personally scouting for new meeting locations at each away venue.  Crutial to the away atmosphere this location should be a place we can meet in safety while enjoying the Away Supporter atmosphere.  

In 2017 I travelled to every match on the East Coast from Orlando to New England and would like to get to a few more venues next year.  LA, Portland?  Let’s see what the schedule looks like.    

I would be honored to serve with the Sons of Ben for 2 more years as Travel Director and look forward to a 2018 winning season and beyond.


Tailgates

Freeman Dordell

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I have worked in the Food Service industry for over 25 years and have a Culinary degree from Philadelphia Restaurant School.  I have worked in large catering environments, restaurants and as a personal chef to a former Eagle’s Quarterback – Ron Jaworski.  

Combining several passions is how I see the role of Tailgate Director.  

Family, Food and Soccer.  With the Sons of Ben tailgates in 2017 I was excited to add new styles of food to our existing Tailgate menu.  From the Breakfast, Mac & Cheese and Fajita Bars all the way through Octoberfest I hope the SOB members enjoys my 1st year as Tailgate Director.   I am looking to increase participation at the Tailgates in 2018 with our new location and exciting new food offerings.  

Working with my SOB family has been great – especially with the volunteers who keep the Tailgates running.  In 2018 I want to drive more volunteer participation and try exciting new menus to keep people coming back again and again.  


Member At Large

Paul Ethridge

Those that know me would describe me as passionate, loyal, direct, and capable of getting results. I have years of experience managing teams and organizations ranging from small groups of 20 people up to international teams with 300+ members. I will be finishing my masters of business administration (MBA) this summer. I have been a member of the Sons of Ben since 2013, and a capo since 2014. Additionally, I was a member of the gameday membership committee this past season. On game day you’ve likely seen me in 136 or wandering around with a megaphone engaging the river end. 

I am running for the board member at large position because I want to have a greater impact in an organization that I love. I strongly believe that with my skill set and personality I can make large improvements that will influence everyone’s overall experience. One of my goals is to promote the supporter culture in the immediate area of the River End. This can be accomplished by actively encouraging others to become involved and providing additional opportunities for people to help out in ways other than just on game day. Lastly, I’d would love to work with our board and overall membership to designate a larger number of official pub partners to grow not only our supporters group, but the overall love for our team.

Jesse MacBeth

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I’m Jesse Macbeth and I’m running for Member at Large. Growing up I played soccer but always wanted a hometown team to support. When the Union started playing in 2010 I was standing with the Sons of Ben when Sebastien Le Toux scored his first, second, and third goals for the club at the Linc and from that night on I was hooked. I was at every game that season and I made it to a few tailgates over the years, but I haven’t gotten to go to more than a few home games a season since our first year.  

I went to college in Arizona from 2011-2015 and went right off to grad school in Chicago from 2015-2017. I finally moved home this past summer and I am looking to get more involved with the organization now that I’m back home for good.

In high school I was President of Student Council and I organized two student group outings to Union games my senior year. In college I was Treasurer and then President of my fraternity. I’ve held leadership roles in every organization I’ve been a part of, and I want to take what I have learned from my previous leadership experiences and apply it to this organization that I have such an intense passion for.

I am running for this position because I want to get a first-hand look at how our supporters’ club works, while also looking forward to running for more significant positions within the organization in the future. I remember what the Sons of Ben were like in our first season and the passion and buzz around the team was unlike anything I have ever seen in Philadelphia sports. I want to be a bigger part of this brotherhood and leave my mark on the organization that is so important to me.

Sid MacLeod

I am Sid MacLeod, Son of Ben; Father of Ben, Son of Ben. I have been a loyal SOB since 2009,  many of which I defended Sec 133 from the invading hordes who came in a van, and with the last two serving on the Events Management Committee.

Last season I witnessed the Union in person 21 times, where you may have run into me in Section 138, the Beer trailer, or on a bus.  Perhaps even a Bethlehem Steel or Union Academy match.  And not once did I wear a paper bag over my head. Yet.

I’m running for the Board this season because I feel that with my passion for our club, and my experience working closely with what has, and has not been working, I feel that I can bring a fresh perspective to a group of volunteers that has the same goals- Defending the RiverEnd, and supporting our club and community.

Personally, I’m a full time single Soccer Dad, longtime Internet Consultant and Hacker, sometime Writer and Actor, sometime insufferable pain in the ass. We live on the edge of the woods in beautiful Cheltenham, PA, where I share a house with Ben, a dog, two cats, and an overwhelming number of supporter’s scarfs.

Rob Migliaccio

Hello everyone, my name is Robert Migliaccio and I am campaigning to be your Member At Large. I have been attending Union games since 2011, joined the Sons Of Ben family in 2013 and in 2014 I found my home permanently in The River End as a Full Season Ticket Holder.

In 2015 I started volunteering my time with tifo painting, setup and teardown as well as helping with setting up tailgates for away games. In 2016 I became a Capo and continued to be a part of Tifo crew and still a part of each group to this day. Last year brought the creation of the Game Day Committee which I am proud to have served on this year. I love being able to say I’m one of the first members to be through the gates and the last to leave, to be there on the coldest of nights and the hottest of afternoons all to stand with my team and SOB family.

I feel that I could be an excellent Member At Large since I am already a part of different groups in the organization already with tifo and capos as well as the Game Day Committee. I like to work on different events and jobs at the same time because it keeps my interest in the overall goal. This position would help me continue what I love doing on game days and that’s leading you all in cheering our boys in blue on as well as helping the organization expand and run more efficiently.

I wish all the best of luck to my fellow SOB members who are running and look forward to another great year next year in The River End.

Bob Presser

My name is Bob Presser and I’m running for the Member at Large position on the SOB e-board. I’ve been a member since some point during the 10/11 season. It was an instant connection after being forced to leave my dorm for the 1st Redbull away trip. I knew I hated them, and knew that joining the Sons was something I couldn’t turn away from.

I’ve been fairly active from the get-go, participating in tailgates, away trips, and events such as HKH, Pints for Pets, Stache Bash, and Cocktails and Cleats.

I’ve been a member for a long time now. The reason I’m running is that I’ve seen members step up, and step back down. I have the time, the drive and the experience as a Son to help the organization thrive and grow. I’ve seen our group and TRE at its best, and its quietest. I’d like to help the current e-board and oncoming members reinvigorate our supporter’s group and the TRE.

I’m an avid soccer fan, and follower of soccer, ultra, supporter, whatever you call it, culture from all over the world. I’d like to use what I’ve seen around the world to make our organization better, louder, and more intimidating than we’ve ever been.

I was born and raised in Philadelphia. I understand how important and strange Philadelphia sports fandum can be. I want to help the Sons of Ben solidify itself as the top supporters group, in good times, bad times, and those times where things are going too well and the Negadelphian comes out in all of us and we aren’t sure what to think.

 

What You’re Voting For: Sons of Ben Board Elections 2017

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The Sons of Ben are a new system of Board elections this year.  Instead of electing new members when positions become open, we will be having each Board member come up for re-election on a regular basis.  Each year, you will vote on a group of Board members, which may or may not be filling an open Board position.

We are also re-introducing the At Large member to the Board.  This will allow members to serve on the Board and be able to assist in the running of the organization in a variety of ways.  It will also allow them to gain crucial experience in possibly taking on greater responsibilities in a specific area in the future.

Treasurer will not be one of the positions for which we hold elections.  The Board feels that in consideration of the magnitude of the position, by holding internal Board elections for that position, we can more intensely identify, and vet candidates for the position than we might for an open election.

One of important item of note: the positions of President and Vice President will require that nominees be current Board members with at least two years of Board experience.  That may seem patently unfair and exclusionary, but it comes with the idea that an organization such as ours require individuals at the top of the leadership to be experienced in both a leadership role in general, but also prepared to handle the specific needs and concerns of our group in particular, in addition to maintaining the philosophy and purpose of the Sons of Ben. 

Elections will be held in early December.  The Nomination period will be open until 5pm Eastern on Tuesday, October 31st.  Nominees should be prepared to conduct campaigns and be available to participate in required election processes such as nominee Q & A’s and vetting.

Any questions about the open positions, election process or rules for the election should be directed to Tim Sosar at tim.sosar@sonsofben.com


The Open Positions are described below. Interested members should review carefully and understand that, as with any job, additional duties or tasks may apply.  While many of us serve on the Board in a specific role, we all help each other. 

President

The President is the general manager of the Sons of Ben and has, subject to the control of the Board, general supervision, direction and control of the business, activities and officers of the Sons of Ben.  The President has the general powers and duties of management usually vested in the office of president and general manager of a non-profit, and such other powers and duties as may be prescribed by the Board

Specifically to the Sons of Ben, the President will ensure and champion the furtherance of the group’s mission and organizational culture in all of its activities both on and off game days, maintain sound and compliance financial practices and general risk management, serve as primary liaison to the Philadelphia Union, and support the Board members in their responsibilities and efforts in leading the Sons of Ben, both in The River End and the community at large.

Tifo

The Tifo Director will oversee the creation, development, and implementation of SoB Tifo, including, but not limited to, banners, signs, posters, songs and chants and other game day displays. The Tifo Director will serve as the head of the Game Day committee and will be responsible for organization and ongoing direction of the committee. The Director will designate appropriate support in their absence. The Tifo Director may produce Tifo for other groups and organizations outside the SoB and the discretion of the President. 

Travel/Roadtrips

The Travel/Roadtrips Director will arrange and oversee Sons of Ben away match trips and ticketing.  They will work with the opposing Ticket Offices on pricing and related details, and participate in conference calls regarding security details. They will schedule bus trips, arrange pricing, arrange for food, beverage and entertainment and coordinate check in and ticket distribution. 

Tailgates

The Tailgate Director will oversee the planning, preparation and delivery of SoB game day Tailgates, for both Home and Away matches. The Director will operate within their budget to ensure that ample food and beverage options are available for fans of all ages. The Tailgate Director will participate on the Events committee as support but is not required to lead the committee.

Philanthropy

The Philanthropy Director will oversee all philanthropic efforts by the SoB’s both in and out of season, at the stadium or elsewhere in the Philadelphia/Chester area communities. The Director will engage charitable organizations to develop events (primarily: Stache Bash, Pints Fur Pets and Help Kick Hunger), work with the Events committee to organize logistics and carry out the events, and arrange promotion with the Social/Media Director or Secretary. The Director will secure donations for raffles and will report proceeds to the Board.

Member At Large

The Board Member At Large will be a general member of the Board, responsible for supporting designated Board positions and accepting specific responsibilities issued by the President or Vice President. The At Large Member will be on both the Events and Game Day committees and available to assist in matters related to those committees. In the event that an existing designated Board member leaves their position prior to the end of their term, the At Large Member May serve in that role as an interim, but would still maintain At Large status.

 

 

© copyright 2014, Sons of Ben.  Main image by Earl Gardner.