Board of Directors Meeting Report: June 13–15, 2014

ASHA's Board of Directors (BOD) met at the National Office on June 13, 14, and 15. Following are highlights of the Board's discussions.

President's Opening Remarks

President Elizabeth McCrea convened the meeting at 9:00 a.m., Friday, June 13, and began by congratulating the five new Board members elected the week before last: President Elect Jaynee Handelsman, Vice President for Speech-Language Pathology Practice Sandra Laing Gillam, Vice President for Government Relations and Public Policy Joan A. Mele-McCarthy, Vice President for Standards and Ethics in Audiology Joseph J. Montano, and Vice President for Finance Judy Rudebusch. The new Board members, along with the incoming NSSLHA National Advisor and the new Chair of the Audiology Advisory Council (to be elected in July), will participate in the Board retreat in October and begin their 3-year terms of office on January 1, 2015.

CEO Update

In addition to providing the written summary with the pre-meeting materials, CEO Arlene Pietranton updated the Board about a number of items:

  • Participation in Adult NOMS more than doubled (from 4,600 to 10,500) in the 10 months since the new version (NOMS 2.0) was launched last summer. In addition, there are more than 3,000 SLPs in the training or registration process. In the 10-month period following the launch, the number of patient episodes reported was more than triple the number from the corresponding 10-month period the previous year. Conversely, the occurrence of technical "help desk" calls related to system outages or other technical problems has decreased by more than three-quarters.
  • This year's BHSM campaign went beyond the customary use of products, postings, and new consumer education materials by actively leveraging two awareness campaigns under way in 2014: the Identify the Signs campaign and the International Communications Project 2014. Though a complete report of results will not be available until the middle of June, as of the end of May, results from BHSM activities include:
    • More than 200 downloads of the BHSM digital press release on major media sites reached an audience of 18 million people,
    • 400 news stories were generated about BHSM,
    • Dozens of blog postings from parenting bloggers about BHSM/Identify the Signs resulting from a digital push to key influencers,
    • A 21% increase in web traffic to the BHSM member resource page over May 2013.
  • Current results show that more than 36 million people were exposed to ASHA's messages during May. In addition, ASHA's Identify the Signs campaign has garnered a number of awards, including a Silver Award in the Integrated Mixed-Media Campaign category from Association & Media Publishing, a Communicator Award of Excellence from the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts, a Bronze Anvil Award of Commendation for the ITS video public service announcements (PSAs) from the Public Relations Society of America, and a top 20 award from TV Access for the campaign video PSAs.
  • ASHA continues to actively track and benchmark staff turnover. ASHA National Office staff turnover continues to run well below that of the DC Metro area.

Financial Report

Vice President for Finance Carolyn Higdon reported on ASHA's 2014 financial performance. As of April 30, 2014, net revenue showed a small decrease over 2013, primarily due to the timing of certain expenses and revenue so far this year. Expenses are tracking as budgeted. ASHA is forecasting positive revenue over expenses in 2014. Carolyn continued the practice of providing financial education presentations for the Board. At this meeting, the revenue and expense drivers of the Association were discussed.

The Board also reviewed ASHA's long-term investment performance. Carolyn reported steady growth in ASHA's investments as a result of strong market performance and the overall performance by ASHA's investment advisors. The long-term investment portfolio has shown a steady increase from December 2009. As of April 30, 2014, ASHA's long-term investments were valued at $40.4 million.

State Association Outreach Initiative/Coalition for Patients' Rights

Director of State Advocacy Janet Deppe provided the Board with an update regarding ASHA's state association outreach initiative and reported on the status of the Coalition for Patients' Rights (CPR) activities.

The state association outreach initiative was approved by the Board in 2007 and included a number of components, such as meeting with state association leaders, attending state meetings to provide information to members, and helping to develop strategies, plans, and implementation strategies; supporting the use of the ASHA website for grassroots letter and e-mail campaigns to state legislators and regulators; developing testimony, talking points, legislative language, and letters of support or opposition; providing grants to states for personnel issues, reimbursement issues, and student advocacy; and increasing participation of BOD members in state association meetings. Janet reported very positive feedback from state associations' leadership. In 2014, her team tracked 1,386 bills, including 601 new bills, and 347 regulations, including 142 new regulations, related to speech-language pathologists and audiologists. Of those, 43 pieces of legislation passed and 80 regulations were adopted.

Janet also reported on status of the Coalition for Patient's Rights (CPR), which was formed in 2006 to counter the American Medical Association's (AMA) efforts to restrict access to services provided by certain health care providers. The CPR consists of more than 35 organizations representing various health care professionals. Having support within the CPR community has helped ASHA's state and federal team combat efforts to pass restrictive bills. Since 2009, despite a massive campaign by the AMA, few of these bills have passed and even fewer are being promoted. Most recently, the Public Health Services Act (part of the Affordable Care Act) focuses on preserving and promoting patient access to care and choice. This law was intended to prevent health plans from discriminating against entire classes of licensed, qualified health care professionals on the basis of their licensure or certification. Going forward, CPR intends to promote greater engagement among members of each organization, continue to provide a unified response to attempts to restrict access and scope of practice, and have a greater presence in social media.

Advisory Council Meeting Reports

Chair of the Audiology Advisory Council Wayne Foster and Chair of the Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Council Perry Flynn led a discussion with the Board regarding what additional input and insights are needed from the Advisory Council members. The Board was provided with both the written summary of the March Advisory Council meeting and a report that included the additional comments that were gathered after the meeting concluded. Perry and Wayne also shared the survey feedback from the meeting and the Board discussed ways to continue to improve both the meeting and the methods of receiving ongoing feedback from AC members.

Committee on Committees Appointments

The Board convened in its role as the Committee on Committees and discussed appointments to a variety of committees and boards for terms to begin on January 1, 2015. The appointment process begins in January with the call for volunteers and continues throughout the year, ultimately resulting in recommendations that are sent to the Committee on Committees and thoroughly discussed, then voted on in June.

Electronic Engagement

With the increasing importance of using the online collaboration site to conduct Board business between face-to-face meetings, President McCrea led the Board in a review and discussion of BOD members' expectations and responsibilities when conducting business via the BOD collaboration site.

Update on the 2014 Comprehensive List of Ad Hoc Committee Recommendations

In 2012 and 2013, the Board of Directors passed a series of resolutions to form ad hoc committees on a variety of topics and asked those committees to bring back their recommendations to the Board for further review and discussion. At the January 2014 Board meeting, a number of recommendations were reviewed and accepted by the Board. However, because it was clear that it was not practical for all of the recommendations to proceed simultaneously, the Board asked ASHA staff to develop a plan to further define and prioritize the next steps required to implement the recommendations. Those next steps have been incorporated by senior staff into a comprehensive plan document that was posted to the Board's collaboration site for review by the full Board. At the March meeting, the Board discussed additional questions they had about the plan; it was agreed that the Board will be regularly updated by staff and that the plan will be reviewed periodically at subsequent Board meetings. At today's meeting, CEO Arlene Pietranton highlighted the updates that have been made to the comprehensive plan since March.

Update on NSSLHA/ASHA Integration

In 2011, ASHA and the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) agreed to an integration plan designed to maintain NSSLHA's autonomy and enhance ASHA and NSSLHA's ability to better engage all students. As part of that process, ASHA has assumed fiduciary responsibility for NSSLHA, while NSSLHA remains a separate organization with its own board and student-led executive council. At today's meeting, NSSLHA National Advisor Carlin Hageman and CSO for Operations Chuck Cochran discussed the resolution that was before the Board regarding the creation of a NSSLHA Board of Directors. After discussion, that resolution was passed by the Board.

Feedback About Resources to Enhance BOD Communication

Two new communications tools were piloted in 2014 to help the BOD communicate to members: a special ASHA calendar for BOD members to distribute at state association meetings and a monthly summary of broadcast e-mails sent to members. At today's meeting, CSO for Communications Marty Rome asked the Board for feedback on these resources. The Board agreed that both were useful communications tools and recommended we continue to produce them.

Discussion of Recommendations From the Ad Hoc Committee on Leadership Cultivation

In 2008, the Ad Hoc Committee on Nominations and Elections Practices was charged with conducting a review and evaluation of ASHA's current nominations and elections practices. Due to the economic downturn that occurred soon after their report had been submitted, their recommendations were temporarily tabled. In 2013, the BOD created the Ad Hoc Committee on Leadership Cultivation to revisit that topic and provide recommendations on leadership development. The report of that committee, which was chaired by former ASHA President Tommie Robinson, who also participated in today's discussion, includes a number of recommendations designed to generate a diverse base of ASHA members for future appointed or elected positions.

One of the key recommendations is for the Board to establish a Leadership Cultivation and Nominations Board to oversee formal and informal leadership development efforts, cultivate future Board leaders, develop a slate of candidates, conduct elections, and continually monitor and improve ASHA's leadership cultivation, nominations, and elections processes. The Board discussed this and all of the recommendations put forward by the ad hoc committee. Individual recommendations that received Board support will be included in the 2014 comprehensive list of ad hoc committee recommendations.

Trends and Issues From ASHA Committees and Boards

Immediate Past President Patty Prelock and Vice President for Science and Research Howard Goldstein reported on the Implementation Science Summit, planned and conducted by the ASHFoundation in March. Researchers, research clinical partners, mentored doctoral students, and others attended the conference to reinvigorate their research career with new ideas, perspectives, and skills. The participants had an opportunity to learn about implementation science from a conceptual and methodological vantage point; interact with an elite group of speakers within and outside communication sciences—including medicine, public health, education, psychology, epidemiology, and social work; and problem-solve and collaborate on challenging issues of design, measurement, fidelity, and sustainability. Participants were very appreciative of the summit. Conversations among ASHA and ASHFoundation board members have focused on activities within both organizations to advance science, seeking to improve implementation of evidence-based practices.

President Elect Judy Page and CEO Arlene Pietranton updated the Board about the recent ASHFoundation Board meeting. Arlene reviewed the overall relationship and financial support ASHA provides for the Foundation, and Judy shared information about the importance of communicating the critical role the Foundation plays in our field.

Generative Discussion: Building and Leveraging Partnerships With Allied Organizations and Other Stakeholder Groups

Starting in 2012, the BOD has designated time at each meeting to engage in generative discussions on specific topics. A generative discussion is a method of interaction that enables the Board to look at a topic from a broad perspective. Its purpose is to help the Board work on a complex topic in a way that facilitates a focus on the specific part of that topic that the Association may be able to impact. At this meeting, the BOD received executive summaries and oral presentations about four topics impacting the professions:

  • SLPAs,
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFS),
  • Value-Added Services in Schools,
  • Audiology.

The BOD divided into four groups and engaged in generative discussions. For each topic, the groups were asked what stakeholders ASHA should partner with and how ASHA might build or leverage partnerships to influence the Association's brand within the broader education and health care communities. Discussions addressed regulatory and practice challenges and consideration of work moving forward.

Proposed Revisions to Vice President Budget Overview Form and ASHA Travel Policy

Due to numerous changes in airline industry pricing, ASHA's Conventions and Meetings team has proposed a number of changes to ASHA's travel policy. These changes will impact both volunteers and ASHA staff who travel on ASHA-related business. At today's meeting, the Board reviewed the proposed changes to the travel policy. This policy will also be reviewed with the Financial Planning Board and then come back to the Board for final approval. The Board also reviewed a clarifying statement added to the policy regarding BOD discretionary travel funds. This policy encourages Board members to travel to select meetings and conferences at which the Board member's attendance is expected to result in a strategic benefit to the professions of audiology and/or speech-language pathology and/or to ASHA.

BOD Operating Procedures

Members of ASHA's Board of Directors are required to review and sign a Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy every year. This document describes areas that Board members need to be aware of that may present a conflict of interest and the actions they should take if such a situation arises. It also describes the way ASHA's confidential information should be treated by Board members. It was recommended that some clarifying language be added to this document. The Board discussed changes to the language and agreed that the recommendation should be developed into a motion to be voted on by the Board.

Joint Audiology Meeting Update

On March 5, 2014, leaders from the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) gathered for a joint meeting with the purpose of surveying audiology's professional landscape, recognizing areas of alignment, and identifying potential collaborative initiatives to better serve audiology and those we serve. At that meeting, several key issues emerged, including reimbursement for audiology services (Medicare and private insurance), educational issues, disruptive innovation, and public awareness of hearing health care and audiologic services. Leaders and staff from the three organizations left with a renewed commitment to work together on issues of mutual interest and to develop meaningful resources for our collective members and those we serve. At today's meeting, President Elizabeth McCrea, Vice President for Audiology Practice Donna Smiley, and Vice President for Academic Affairs in Audiology Barbara Cone updated the Board about discussions that have been taking place since the March meeting. The organizations are currently working on communications for members regarding "incident to billing" and are discussing legislative topics to be included in the next meeting, which is scheduled for August.

Strategic Pathway

ASHA's strategic plan (the Strategic Pathway to Excellence) is updated every 3 years. ASHA's current plan was approved by the Board in 2011 and will end in 2014. At today's meeting, Vice President for Planning Edie Hapner and Chief Staff Officer for Multicultural Affairs Vicki Deal-Williams reviewed the top four priorities agreed to by the Board and discussed the next steps for finalizing the 2015–2017 Pathway, including ways to inform members and volunteer leaders about the Association's strategic priorities. The Board will be reviewing the proposed objectives and related performance measures in August.

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