Having graduated from George Mason University (Go Patriots!) with a BA in Speech Communications, naturally I was destined for a career under people’s houses and “hugging” their toilets. Go figure. How I ended up in this profession is a story for another day, but my educational background has given me a valuable perspective. Without going into details about Marshall McLuhan’s “hot” versus “cool” media or the political economy theory of communications, I will say that there is a not-so complicated concept for making one’s thoughts known that few of you take advantage of…the ASHI Council of Representatives. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.
A Brief History of the Council
Once upon a time, ASHI was made up of a handful of chapters, and each chapter sent a representative to the ASHI Board of Directors. As ASHI grew, so did the board, and before anyone realized it, there were 50 or so Directors. As you can imagine, this group was just too big to be effective, and the number of Directors was certainly out of line with boards of similar membership size.
As a result, the governance of ASHI was altered to create the Council of Representatives (CoR). The Council’s mission was to provide input from each chapter into the governance of ASHI so the number of the Directors could be reduced and elected at-large from within the membership. According to the ASHI Bylaws, the Council was created “to provide members with a vehicle to participate in the governance of the Society and to communicate with its leadership.” Today, the Council consists of a Speaker, an Alternate Speaker, 10 Group Leaders and 69 Chapter Representatives, for a total of 81 members. Most importantly, the Council is the primary preparer of ASHI’s future leaders. Although the Council has experienced some bumps in the road over the years, it has stood the test of time and remains a powerful tool for the membership.
How the Council works
The CoR operates as a “bottom-up” communications link. Representatives in the CoR attend your chapter’s meeting and events to hear your concerns and ideas and bring those to the Council. The Council also operates as a “top-down” communications link by providing a way for the ASHI staff and the Board of Directors to convey information directly to your chapters.
For example, Tony from the Great State of Iowa (a completely made-up, fictitious ASHI member characterization bearing no resemblance to any person, living or dread…um dead) has this really great idea. He contacts his chapter’s representative to the CoR and tells the rep his idea. The rep says, “Great idea, Fictitious Tony! I’m going to share this with my Group Leader!” Pay attention now, it’s starting to get interesting…
CoR Group Leaders meet monthly with the Speaker and the Alternate Speaker to discuss news from ASHI, ideas, proposed actions and communications from their Chapter Representatives. In this case, the Group Leaders decide that Fictitious Tony’s idea of having an ASHI-wide “Hot Dog Thursday” is a fun, but impractical, idea. They decide, however, that hot dogs are a great American food and, since we are part of the American Society of Home Inspectors, it might be appropriate to see if we could offer hot dogs at the Leadership Training Conference in October. So, the Speaker reaches out to the Chapter Relations Committee. Now, this has been a completely ridiculous (but delicious) scenario that serves to describe the way you can get your ideas to the CoR and shows that the CoR will consider every communication it receives and will act on ideas whenever it can.
Positions in the CoR
The Speaker: The position of Speaker is a two-year term and is an ex-officio (non-voting) member of the Board of Directors. During Board meetings, the Speaker can bring up ideas from the Council and chapters, as well as report back to the Council about the workings of the ASHI Board. The Speaker is required to attend the quarterly Board meetings, to set the agenda for the Council for the upcoming year, and to write and submit the budget requests for the Council. The Speaker also holds the monthly meetings for the Group Leaders, prepares the meeting agendas, selects the Director and Officer Nominating Committee chairs, prepares quarterly reports to the Board and oversees any other projects that come before the Council.
The Alternate Speaker: The Alternate Speaker is responsible for all of the Speaker’s duties that he or she is unable to perform and special assignments as assigned by the Speaker. The position of Alternate Speaker is a two-year term.
The Group Leaders: Each year at the annual meeting, Group Leaders are selected by the members of the CoR according to their geographical groups. They are charged with maintaining contact with their Council Reps and with being the conduit between the Rep and the Speaker. They also are responsible for all duties of the Council Reps. There are 10 Group Leaders, one for each of the following groups: Pacific, Midwest, New York/New Jersey/Delaware, Mountain, Gulf, New England, North Central, South Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic and South Midwest.
The Council Representatives: Council Representatives are selected by your Chapter President or by a vote of your chapter’s membership. The position carries a two-year term. The Council Representative is responsible for reporting news from ASHI as well as news from the CoR at chapter meetings, and for reporting the ideas and information they receive from their chapter members to the CoR Group Leaders. They are responsible for attending the annual CoR meeting at IW and are encouraged to attend the Leadership Training Conference. They are responsible for voting for new Directors. The number of Council Reps that each chapter may have is determined by the number of voting members in the chapter. For example, if a chapter has 10 to 35 voting members, that chapter has one Rep in the CoR. If a chapter has 36 to 70 members, the chapter has two Reps in the CoR. For each additional 35 voting members in a chapter, the chapter has an additional Rep for the CoR, up to a maximum of five Reps per chapter. Finally, Council Representatives help select the recipient of the John Cox Award, which is an honor presented annually to an ASHI member who has made exemplary contributions to his or her chapter.
What you should expect from
Your chapter’s Rep is of great
importance to you and your
chapter’s leadership. When you have a gripe or an idea, let your Rep know it! In the middle of the Reporter,
you will find a list of all of the
current Council Representatives.
USE IT! When you contact your
Chapter’s Rep, you should expect a timely reply and that your message will make it to the Group Leaders. Don’t be bashful; we work for YOU!
What the CoR expects from you
The ASHI Council of Representatives expects to hear all of your ideas and concerns. We expect you to hold us accountable for conveying your ideas and concerns to the appropriate people within ASHI. We expect you to tell us your thoughts—by phone, via e-mail or by using the CCG Forum Board on the ASHI website. We expect you to use the list of your Council Reps. Click here to view the Representative Directory. We expect you to contact the appropriate Group Leader or the Speaker if you do not get a timely response from your Rep. Finally, we expect you to find ASHI membership increasingly beneficial as a result of you using the Council of Representatives.
ASHI Council of Representatives Speakers and Group Leaders
St. Louis, MO
New York/New Jersey
732 271 1887
Michael J. Von Gunten