During our listening sessions with delegates, members and leaders over the past 5 months about the proposed change in our governance structure, specifically to transition the House of Delegates to an at-large advisory group, four key themes emerged: 1. member voice; 2. timing; 3. task force process; and 4. board accountability. I focused on member voice in my September 2021 message, so let’s address the other three themes this month.
As many of you know, we planned to have the House of Delegates vote on the proposed change on Sept. 28, 2021. However, based on feedback and questions received during our listening sessions, the vote will now occur in early 2022, with the specific date and details to come.
This decision reflects the Board of Directors’ goal to make sure all delegates are prepared to make an informed decision about the proposed change and understand how the change would impact our business operations and structure.
It also provides additional time to adjust the proposal based on the member feedback we are receiving, particularly as it relates to chapter and community representation in the advisory group. “The outcome of the listening tour is to encourage dialogue,” says At-Large Director Thom Kramer, P.E., CSP. “We want to continue to have these open conversations so we can inform our approach and make adjustments.”
Task Force Process
Other questions have focused on the process that the Governance Task Force used in arriving at the proposal presented to the Board of Directors. In addition to examining governance trends, industry data and output from quantitative interviews conducted with a representative sample of ASSP members, the task force engaged in robust debate and brainstorming sessions.
“We explored various ideas of what could change,” says Monique Parker, CSP, a task force member. “For example, one option among others was to leave the House of Delegates as is. Another option was do away with it altogether. We were able to look at all the factors, all the facts that were provided and come to the proposal presented to the Board of Directors.”
Throughout the process, group members openly shared varying opinions reflecting their diverse experiences and thought processes. This enabled them to critically review the various models considered, Parker says.
Some members have also expressed concerns about board accountability and the need for strong checks and balances. Both are critical to our credibility and success, which is why we have several systems in place to ensure that ASSP operates in an ethical and legal manner. These include our annual election and committee appointment process, and establishment of consistent term limits; compliance with nonprofit law and accepted accounting practices; and an annual independent financial audit. We also now have a formal business plan process through which we vet new projects to ensure alignment with our strategic plan and resources. All of these measures demonstrate the Board of Directors’ commitment to transparency in governing ASSP.
The Board of Directors and Governance Task Force members have appreciated engaging with you to discuss this proposal. In the coming months, we will continue to engage with members in various ways. For example, we will survey delegates to confirm our findings to date and assess additional needs; draft a potential model for the makeup of the advisory group, as well as proposed updates to ASSP’s bylaws and operating guidelines; and develop a model of how year-round engagement might occur.
“We believe the proposed changes will help streamline the way ASSP functions as an organization,” says At-Large Director Maribeth Anderson, M.P.A., CSP. “We will be nimble, more efficient and more collaborative, and we will be able to collectively focus on moving ASSP forward.”
Please continue to review the information available on our governance web page at www.assp.org/governance, talk with your chapter leaders and send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.