During the last four years the ATSA Executive Board has focused both on increasing the transparency of its decision-making procedures and on enhancing membership participation in and feedback about critical issues. From the beginning of both of our tenures on the Board, we have strongly supported these goals and worked hard to achieve them. When Ray was first elected Eastern Region Representative, he established the first regional list-serve, which allowed eastern members to weigh in on the important topics that the Board was considering. He reported to the members the important topics that the Board would be considering, shared his voting proclivities, and requested feedback from the members, often receiving extensive guidance that helped to inform his opinions. After Board teleconferences and meetings he reported what had transpired and how he had voted and why. When David succeeded him as Eastern Region Representative, he continued this tradition. Many of the best ideas that we have proposed to the Board have come from the members whom we have served
The issue of Board transparency has been an important and contentious issue. It is clear that there has been a perception by some members that the ATSA Board is a closed “old-boy” network, insensitive to member concerns. The reasons for this perception are not completely clear. One can only speculate on a number of possible reasons, including the misperception that election to the Board is limited to a select few, the unfortunate controversies around standards development, dissatisfaction with particular Board decisions, occasional ATSA-list email conflicts, and misunderstandings that can occur all too easily when the Board and members alike are not paying close attention to each other.
To remedy this perception of exclusivity and opacity, the Board has undertaken a number of initiatives aimed at remedying the situation. Examples in recent years have included the rapid posting of Board minutes to the website to enhance member communication, setting up websites for member comments on the standards revision, establishing regional and state presidents’ listservs, encouraging regional representatives to reach out more to the members they represent and to solicit their opinions, expanding our newsletter, the Forum, to four issues a year, creating a Standards Process Examination Committee to ensure the transparency of standards and guidelines revision process, and adding countless items to Board meeting agendas that have been recommended by members.
We are happy to announce that at the October Board meeting in Albuquerque two important new items were added to this list. First, the Board not only recognized the right of members to attend and observe Executive Board meetings, except during special circumstances when the Board is required to go into executive session (e.g., to discuss sensitive topics such as ethics violations and personnel issues), but it also voted to set aside the first half hour of every face-to-face Board meeting for member comments and questions. Our bylaws have never explicitly required that Board meetings be closed, and the openness of meetings is consistent with the procedures of most other non-profit organizations. Second, the Board considered the recommendation that it should count and publish in its minutes the individual votes of all members. None the non-profit organizations that we contacted (including the American Psychological Association (APA), the American Psychological Society (APS), and others) either record or report what each executive board member votes on every issue. In fact, they most frequently report only that the issue passed or failed. Such counting is cumbersome and time-consuming, especially when many non-controversial issues are voted on. In APA individual board members have the power, however, to call for a vote in which every vote is recorded and reported. This seemed to us a reasonable compromise that allowed the publication of individual votes on critical or controversial issues, but did not burdened the Secretary or Executive Director with time-consuming individual tallies and the cumbersome reporting of all voting results. Consequently, the Board voted to adopt this procedure, noting also that individual voting is not confidential. Members can access how individual members voted on a particular issue of concern simply by contacting their regional representatives. Members concerned about a particular upcoming issue should request that their regional representative call for a counted vote on this issue. For such issues, the vote of each board member will be reported in the minutes.
The issue of membership participation is, of course, a two-way street. Both of us have been concerned about the failure of members to volunteer for positions of responsibility in ATSA. In recent Board elections several positions have had only a single, unopposed candidate. This has been a trend over the past several elections and it concerns the Board. Although we have been fortunate that competent professionals have been willing to step up to the plate and go to bat for ATSA, only a small portion of the membership has been volunteering their skills and time. We welcome greater participation and membership involvement. There is much work to be done. We hope that the recent efforts of the Board convince you that ATSA is neither “old boy” nor exclusionary, but is rather a hard-working, optimistic organization, searching for ways to improve. We urge you to get involved in whatever way you can. There are multiple ways to participate in ATSA, ranging from contacting your regional representative, to submitting to the Forum, to running for the Board. The email addresses of all Board members are available at the website. Your input and feedback are always welcomed, and your involvement is encouraged. [Back to Top]