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An ASSP Governance Update

James R. Thornton, CSP, CIH, FASSP, FAIHA, 2023-24 ASSP President and ASSP Foundation Chair
Nov 01, 2023

Jim ThorntonProfessional membership societies like ASSP promote networking, knowledge sharing and continuous learning. To deliver these benefits effectively, we must constantly adapt and grow to meet your ever-evolving needs. Doing so requires that we have the right governance structures in place.

In February 2020, the Board of Directors reaffirmed its commitment to addressing governance on an active, ongoing basis to better respond to market trends and fulfill member needs. Since then, we have shared regular governance updates and taken additional steps to give all members the opportunity to effectively share their voice and help inform our decision-making.

For example, in 2022, with your support, we transitioned from an outdated House of Delegates model to a contemporary Advisory Group model. As a standing committee of the Board of Directors, this group is responsible for monitoring trends that impact workplace safety and our profession and recommending courses of action.

Members of the Advisory Group also provided valuable input on our 2023-28 strategic plan. This group plays a key role in continuing to engage members in our work to achieve our strategic goals. Those objectives are to provide member community, position ASSP as a trusted source, promote OSH as a rewarding career, and create resources to help our members and their employers continuously improve workplace safety.

In addition, over the past 18 months, we conducted thorough reviews of two of our five councils—Council on Academic Affairs and Research (COAAR) and Council on Professional Affairs (COPA). Our goal in doing so was to ensure that their work aligned with our long-term strategic and business goals. We met with affected volunteer leaders and carefully considered the impact of these councils on our future outcomes.

Based on our evaluations, we determined that while the concept and rationale for creating these councils were relevant at their inception, neither COAAR nor COPA were strategically or tactically aligned with our current governance structure. This necessitated the difficult decision to dissolve both councils and three committees (Education Standards, Research and Risk Management). We also designated two important COPA committees—Governmental Affairs and Technical and Professional Recognition—as standing committees reporting to the Board of Directors.

As a result of these reviews, we also established a process for communicating strategic priorities each year to our councils and committees to ensure alignment and provide guidance to help them establish annual work plans. We will continue to explore how we can best use our program and services review process to evaluate the councils and committees and correct our course when needed to ensure continued value delivery.

Additionally, we recently completed the 3-year process of transitioning the ASSP board to serve as the governing body of the ASSP Foundation. This shift was recommended by legal counsel and will ensure strategic alignment with our charitable arm and enable focus on core foundation functions.

Our active focus on good governance reflects four key tenets of our approach to sustaining a thriving organization:

    1. Focus on strategic direction and purpose. Governance structures establish a clear direction that guides all Society activities, including continuing education, advocacy and member engagement.

    2. Create accountability and provide transparency. Governance mechanisms help us foster trust by establishing policies and procedures to make sure we place members at the center of our decision-making processes.

    3. Adapt more readily to change. Decision-making agility is more critical than ever. Our governance must enable us to navigate change effectively and respond quickly to challenges and opportunities.

    4. Allocate resources effectively. Effective governance ensures that resources, including financial assets and human capital, are allocated efficiently and equitably as we seek to deliver the best member value.

By strengthening and adapting our governance, we are creating a more responsive, accountable and member-centric organization. As we continue to evolve and fine-tune our governance, our aim remains clear: To better serve our valued members. We will continue to seek new ways to engage, educate, advocate for and support our members and the OSH profession while remaining adaptable, transparent and accountable.

Your voice will always be a crucial component in shaping our future. We look forward to your continued support and collaboration as we strive to make ASSP a trusted source and your professional home for years to come.


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