The New Year is upon us. I, for one, can’t wait to take the lessons of this past year and apply them to the upcoming year. Before we get started, though, let’s first remind ourselves of why we’re here. The Council Policies and Procedures Manual (P&P) clearly defines four purposes:
1. Elect Directors
2. Form the Officer Nominating Committee
3. Provide a training ground for future ASHI leaders
4. Act as a two-way conduit of information between the board, chapters and membership
If I start with number 3 and apply it to myself, well... I have been schooled on how ASHI works, or in some cases, doesn’t work, or at least not very well. Education is expensive and sometimes painful, but I’m a good student.
If I then apply those lessons to numbers 1 and 2, the learning opportunities are poignant. I promised last January to modernize the Council. The need for modernization became apparent with the recent nominating and election processes. Bring your ideas to the meeting at 8:00 a.m. on January 21 in Orlando. This promises to be an interesting discussion.
With number 4, I need your help. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. My favorite comment in the Council P&P is the following, from Article 5:
5.4 Comment: Desired Representative Behavior
Each Council member is encouraged to speak the desires of his/her respective membership, and not promote his or her own agenda.
While this is not a policy and, therefore, not enforceable, it is specifically written into our governing document for a reason—a reason that I take seriously. I believe this is the most important thing we are called on to do—keep the membership informed and represent the ideas of the grass roots to the Board.
Frankly, I don’t think we do it well enough. This is on me. I have failed to get my message to the members through the Representatives. More importantly, though, I have failed to hear what the grass roots are telling me.
The ASHI Council of Representatives (CoR) is a representative system. The chapters are made up of members who send Representatives to the Council, but the Council meets only once a year. Group Leaders meet monthly and often discuss important matters. These discussions, however, often don’t make their way all the way through the Representatives by way of the chapters to the ASHI membership. This will be a significant topic of discussion on January 21.
I promised last January to vitalize the CoR. The arithmetic is easy: I’m one year into a two-year term; I have one year left. I intend to take the lessons of the first year and apply them to the second. I’m aware of many of the issues and am working with the Group Leaders, the Board of Directors and ASHI staff members on solutions.
I’m sure some of you are aware of issues that you would like to see addressed. Please pass these ideas up the communications chain. Members, tell your Representatives. Representatives, tell your Group Leaders. Group Leaders, I look forward to some informed dialogue as we hit the ground running with our modernized nominating process.
Finally, let me remind all of us that the New Year brings with it the first step in our election process. So often we think that the election season begins with nominations of the Directors and Officers. We know intellectually that this is not accurate. A quick look at the calendar tells us that we seat the Nominating Committees before we begin to accept Officer and Director nominations, but it goes back further than that. The ASHI nominating and election process begins with the chapters sending Representatives to the Council. These are the members who become eligible to run for Director positions. These are the members who sit on the nominating committees.
So, my message to chapter leaders is this: Please give some real thought to your role in the selection of ASHI leaders. Who you send and how seriously they take their responsibilities makes a difference. It makes a difference in who sits on the nominating committees. It makes a difference in who runs for Director positions. It makes a difference in how smoothly the Council functions. Most importantly, though, it makes a difference in how effectively we perform our most important representative function: CoR communications.
I look forward,enthusiastically to a New Year full of new challenges and opportunities. We have work to do. Let’s get after it.