Recommendations developed by the Ad Hoc Committee on Governance Review would refresh the association’s nominations and elections process and its governance structure. The ASHA Board of Directors (BOD) is soliciting members’ feedback on these and two other recommendations, as part of its ongoing periodic review and evolution of best practices in association governance.
ASHA has two advisory councils (ACs)—the Audiology Advisory Council and the Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Council—designed to identify, analyze, discuss and prioritize issues of concern for the BOD. Each state and territory has a representative on each council. The ad hoc committee identified several concerns with the current structure.
- ASHA governance already includes a number of groups that provide input on specific issues: 33 standing committees, boards and councils; 30 ad hoc committees since 2013; 19 Special Interest Groups; 22 focus groups and 20 surveys in the past five years. ASHA also has active affiliation with many other associations.
- Not all AC members are affiliated with their respective state associations—some report back, others do not. In addition, ASHA has other state-based positions, such as State Education Advocacy Leaders and State Advocates for Reimbursement.
- In the past eight years, there has not been a complete slate of AC candidates. Several positions are unfilled or have one candidate.
- Active engagement of AC members has been difficult to achieve, with minimal participation in review of policy and budget documents.
- Although AC members have been effective in Capitol Hill advocacy visits, this role is not part of the ACs’ designated responsibilities.
Based on these factors, the ad hoc committee concluded that the BOD has more effective, focused ways to obtain member input. It recommends sunsetting the ACs and using the funds for an advocacy event that would bring members from each state and territory to the national office for interaction with congressional members. That recommendation is now being explored with numerous stakeholder groups.
Under current procedure, the Committee on Nominations and Elections (CNE) selects no more than three candidates for each open position, and the membership votes on the candidates. The ad hoc committee identified several challenges with this process.
- The BOD should reflect the diversity of ASHA members. With a slate of three nominees for each position, there is no guarantee that the people elected will represent that diversity. For example, to ensure an audiologist in the presidential position, it would be necessary for all three president-elect candidates to be audiologists.
- The BOD—which can identify potential candidates with expertise—has no involvement in leadership succession planning. For some CNE members, their appointment is their first ASHA committee position, resulting in minimal knowledge of BOD expectations as they slate candidates.
- It can be challenging to secure three well-qualified candidates for each position. BOD members must be familiar with initiatives and prepared to address them immediately. In addition, some potential nominees hesitate to accept nominations when they don’t know who their opponents are.
- Less than 4% of members vote.
Based on these concerns, the ad hoc committee recommends transitioning to a hybrid BOD election of contested and uncontested positions.:
- The CNE would slate one candidate for president and each of the vice presidents, with opportunity for BOD input.
- AC chairs would be elected by their respective constituencies. If the ACs sunset, those positions would become at-large positions in audiology and speech-language pathology; the CNE would slate candidates for those positions, voted on by the full membership.
- ASHA members would continue to nominate candidates for CNE consideration.
- The slate would be ratified by the membership, with the opportunity to vote on the at-large positions.
As noted earlier, the ad hoc committee report also includes recommendations on leadership cultivation and technological advances that respond to members’ preference for interaction with ASHA.
Please send comments or concerns using ASHA’s InTouch Form.
Gail Richard, PhD, CCC-SLP, 2017 ASHA president, was a member of the ad hoc committee on governance review. firstname.lastname@example.org