|ATSA Chapters: Amplifying ATSA’s Footprint in the World|
|Robin Goldman, MA, Licensed Psychologist|
Tyffani Monford Dent, PsyD, Licensed Psychologist
Lawrence Ellerby, PhD, C. Psych.
ATSA Organization and Development Committee Chairs
maximize our organization’s impact. Regional forums bring people together to
enhance and strengthen individual and community capacities to respond to abuse
prevention, treatment and management.
Chapters do this through professional development, dissemination of
research, student engagement, professional networking, public education and the
promotion of evidence-based practice and policy on the local and regional
Several ATSA chapters
hold annual conferences, which provide a wonderful opportunity to network and
collaborate with local colleagues. Some chapters have held very successful
conferences which continue to grow in size and impact. In the Spring 2016 issue of the Forum,
results of the ATSA Research Column survey revealed topics that readers of the
Forum wanted to hear more about. Recommended
topics included assessing risk in various sub-groups; treatment for special
populations; the effectiveness of alternative treatment approaches for sex
offenders; and evidence-based supervision.
ATSA chapter conferences highlight many of these topics and provide an
opportunity to bring in internationally recognized speakers. At the same time,
chapter conferences showcase local expertise and provide an opportunity for a
focus on local concerns, programs, policies and initiatives.
In addition to the great
learning and networking opportunities provided by ATSA chapter conferences,
ATSA has partnered with the chapters to invite new members by applying for ATSA
membership at reduced cost. A traveling
exhibit packet can be requested by an ATSA chapter for use at their conference
and new applicants receive a waiver of the $35 application fee. Several chapters have taken advantage of this
opportunity to grow the number of ATSA members in their region and thereby
expand the number of chapter members/potential chapter members as well.
has 26 active chapters and its relationship with those chapters is a model
called Separate but Affiliated Corporations.
As such, each chapter operates pursuant to an affiliation agreement with
chapter must establish itself as a non-profit corporation and create a
separate, locally elected board of directors that is legally responsible for
the activities of the corporation that it governs. This entails establishing chapter
by-laws and following requirements of the affiliation agreement. Serving on an ATSA chapter Board of Directors
provides a great opportunity to help shape the field on a local level, while
learning the ropes of governing a non-profit organization.
a non-profit requires a level of commitment that must be sustained over
time. Chapters that have a large
membership often find this easier than those with a small membership, given the
time and effort required to establish and sustain a non-profit organization and
respond to the needs and interests of its members. Some states and regions have opted to join
forces to expand their member numbers and their reach. Some chapters have extended chapter
membership to ATSA members from adjoining states that do not have an ATSA
chapter. There has even been an interest
in the development of ATSA chapters internationally. The Netherlands was the
first to establish an ATSA chapter outside of the United States. The persistent efforts of a small number of
ATSA members to establish this chapter were challenged by the requirement that
10 ATSA members must sign on to form a chapter.
ATSA members from the Netherlands joined forces with members from
Belgium and now operate an active and growing chapter.
ATSA members have been
creative in finding ways to create the opportunity to develop ATSA chapters,
including a number of states working together to create regional chapters. The
Mid-Atlantic Region of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (MARATSA)
is an example of a successful chapter that includes multiples states and
regions. MARATSA’s territory includes the states of Delaware, Maryland and
Pennsylvania as well as the District of Columbia. Separated into four areas (Area 1: Delaware
and Maryland’s Eastern Shores, Area 2: Remaining area of Maryland and the District
of Columbia, Area 3: Central Pennsylvania and East, Area 4: Central
Pennsylvania and West). Each area has a
representative on the MARATSA Board of Directors.
The multi-state concept
began when none of the individual states could drum up sufficient commitment or
the required number of ATSA members to begin their own chapter. MARATSA was formally chartered in the spring
of 2010, incorporating in the state of Delaware, after several years of
networking between professionals within each of the now established areas. This
was not without some bumps in the road. Hurdles
faced in forming MARATSA included the large geographical area and the challenge
of finding representation in all four areas; motivation and faith that it could
be accomplished and would be worth the effort; and the reality that states have
different laws for non-profit incorporation.
In spite of the challenges, persistence and determination prevailed and
at present, MARATSA has a governing board of directors that includes a
president, president-elect, past president, secretary, treasurer and
representatives from the four regions.
It operates committees focused on membership, education, public policy,
the annual conference and the newsletter. In addition to regular meetings of the Board
of Directors, each of the four areas is responsible for a minimum of four
meetings per year within their respective area.
The area meetings offer a “mini-training” and an opportunity to
collaborate with others in the field. Each
year the MARATSA annual conference is rotated to a different area. In the Spring of 2016, MARATSA’s conference hosted
nearly 200 attendees.
The MARATSA chapter
reports that they have a positive vibe and look forward to continued
growth. They have a newly reorganized
membership committee and are keeping up with the latest technology by updating their
website to make it more user friendly. You
can learn more about MARATSA at www.maratsa.org. According to Mark Flock, MARATSA
President-Elect, “In summary, in forming a regional chapter you need a group of
dedicated persons that have a common goal and work together to achieve it.
Utilize the resources of ATSA in developing the organizations bylaws, taking
the risk of starting off with a conference to build some funding to keep the
organization going, and always look for new people to get involved so you can
hand off what you started so others in the field can continue to benefit.”
Many other ATSA Chapters
are doing exciting and impactful things that make a profound difference in the
field of sexual abuse prevention. If you live in a state or region that does
not have an ATSA chapter and are interested in learning more about how to establish
a chapter, visit the ATSA website and look for the ATSA Chapter Formation
Guidelines in the Members Only section.
The ATSA Board of Directors Organization and Development Committee
Co-Chair, Robin Goldman, and Sarah Gorter, ATSA Office Assistant and Membership
Coordinator, are available to provide information and guidance to the chapters
and to ATSA members interested in exploring chapter formation.
international organizations and their chapters forge partnerships because they
have much to gain from working together.
We are committed to continuing to strengthen and expand the important
partnerships between ATSA and its chapters and to support the development of
new chapters as we work together to prevent sexual abuse! We invite you to
mobilize your community!