The Annual General Meeting (AGM) over the weekend marked the end of an era for Paddle Australia (PA), with Andrea McQuitty stepping down from the PA Board after 11 years of service, seven of those leading the organisation as President and Chair.

Andrea joined the Board in 2012, and was immediately immersed into sport administration, working hard to re-integrate the High Performance Program back into Australian Canoeing, after it was managed directly by the Australian Institute of Sport due to financial challenges.

During her tenure, Andrea also oversaw the transition from Australian Canoeing Incorporated to Australian Canoeing Limited, followed by another change to how the organisation is known today as Paddle Australia.

In 2016, Andrea stepped into the role of President, an honour and position that she has continued to take in her stride for the past seven years.

Andrea’s leadership, care and passion for paddling has been evident throughout her time as Paddle Australia President, a contribution that Paddle Australia CEO Phil Jones says will be greatly missed.

“What stands out for me, and many others, is Andrea’s heartfelt and genuine passion for paddling and for people. For some in positions such as hers, it can be about recognition or self-aggrandisement, but clearly not so for Andrea. 

“Everything I have ever seen her do or heard her say reflects her absolute commitment to continuous improvement for those within the paddling community. She just wants to see paddling flourish.

“Andrea leaves the organisation in a much better place than when she joined the Board 12 years ago. 

“Whilst we have our moments and we can do much better, under Andrea’s leadership we have demonstrated to ourselves and others that we are stronger and more successful together. We are a more mature and efficient organisation. We are financially secure. We are recognised as leaders in the Australian sports system. 

“As we focus on our strategic priorities for the next four years, and particularly the opportunities offered by the decade-long runway to the 2032 Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Games, we can reflect on the legacy that Andrea leaves after over a decade of loyal and committed service to our organisation, and over a much longer time to the sport of paddling. 

“We are in a great position to build our future. Thank you, Andrea, for your enormous contribution,” he said.

Andrea’s service was recognised at the Paddle Australia Awards Night, where she was awarded Life Membership, an honour that she says she doesn’t take lightly.

“It’s a huge honour to be acknowledged as a life member and to join the other life members at Paddle Australia,” she said.

“I’ve been involved in paddling since I was fourteen, so I really have spent a lifetime putting time into paddling in all sorts of ways, so this award is very exciting and very surprising.

“Over the time I’ve taken on a variety of roles, whether it be coaching or being on the board of this organisation. Everything that I’ve done has all been based on the beautiful upbringing I had growing up in the natural environment and around people who look after each other on and off the water.

“That introduction to paddling has guided everything I’ve done and I hope that I’ve been able to pass some of that along to this paddle community. 

“I’m sad to be finishing but I’m planning to paddle a lot more and I know I’m leaving the sport in incredibly good hands with Andrew, Phil and the board we have at the moment, so thank you.”

When reflecting on her time as President, Andrea said she’s really proud of the culture that has been created.

“I think one of the highlights for me is how the organisation really does work as a united paddling community,” she said.

“There’s a lot of care and a lot of collaboration and a very united approach to the ways we do business now and that’s really pleasing to see and to know that it will continue under really good leadership going forward.

“Another real highlight is to see the improvement in our high performance program, particularly in the culture of our program and the fact we’re producing athletes who are not just the best in the world as paddlers, but they’re also fantastic people.”

Read more about Andrea’s paddling legacy in Phil Jones’ CEO report in the 2022/23 Annual Report HERE.