American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

CEO Update

October 9, 2012

This is another in a series of occasional ASHA CEO Updates. These messages are intended to provide ASHA members with a more in-depth view of various ASHA programs and National Office units, key member services and initiatives, and names and roles of ASHA staff. Information about staff changes and ASHA National Office recognitions/awards is also included.

Many thanks to those of you who have provided feedback regarding previous Updates or suggestions for future Updates.

ASHA Political Action Committee (ASHA-PAC)

Decisions made by members of Congress have a far-reaching impact on speech-language pathologists and audiologists and the clients we serve. In the last few years, we've seen numerous attempts by regulators and legislators to decrease reimbursements and curtail the scope of our services. We have also seen the enactment of laws that create an increase in paperwork resulting in less time with clients (or more hours worked on our part).

How can ASHA make sure our views are heard by members of Congress? One important way is through member support of the Association's Political Action Committee. A political action committee (PAC) is an organization that represents a specific cause or interest and raises funds to support the political campaigns of key legislators.

As ASHA's nonpartisan, voluntary, political action committee, ASHA-PAC is our voice on Capitol Hill, and the more members of Congress we can support financially, the more likely we are to get our views heard. If every ASHA member made a voluntary PAC donation of just $5, ASHA-PAC would be ranked as one of the largest health care/education political action committees in Washington, DC. This would allow ASHA to have a more prominent seat at the table when major legislation, such as Medicare and Medicaid reform and reauthorization of ESEA and IDEA, are being discussed. In an era of cost containment and budget cuts, it's important that ASHA have the ability to support legislators who will work to ensure that speech-language pathology and audiology services are not on the menu of services that are cut or eliminated from federal programs.

ASHA-PAC supports candidates who understand and support legislation and regulation that will benefit our professions and those we serve. We understand that ASHA members hold divergent views on a variety social issues, but ASHA-PAC is focused on those professional issues reflected in ASHA's Public Policy Agenda. Of course, any time politics are discussed, there are people on all sides of an issue who will argue passionately and question the actions and agenda of others. I thought it might be helpful if I answered some of the questions I hear most often.

How is ASHA-PAC funded?

Federal law prohibits the use of ASHA membership dues to support political candidates. Therefore, the PAC is funded through voluntary individual contributions from ASHA members only. Those contributions are collected through a number of fundraising campaigns, including the annual ASHA dues renewal process.

Why should I give to ASHA-PAC?

There is strength in numbers. One person can contribute up to $2,400 to a political candidate per election. A PAC, representing a number of individuals, can contribute up to $5,000 per candidate per election. ASHA-PAC represents ASHA members coming together.

Why is money needed to get our views heard?

Like it or not, our political system requires that members of Congress raise substantial amounts of money in order to run for office. They raise those funds from a variety of sources, and one of those sources is donations of PACs. Of course, our donation does not influence the way a member will vote on a piece of legislation, but it is part of the relationship-building process we use so that members of Congress will be willing to listen to our point of view and better understand how our issues impact their constituents.

Who receives contributions from ASHA-PAC?

ASHA-PAC contributes to Congressional candidates who support the work of audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists. The PAC supports incumbents and those running in open-seat Congressional races.

How does ASHA-PAC decide which candidates to support?

Each year, the ASHA-PAC Board of Directors approves Operational Guidelines that direct overall PAC spending to candidates for Congress. ASHA's Federal Advocacy team then identifies specific candidates who have supported ASHA's public policy agenda and are in a position to further specific policy initiatives. Finally, the PAC Board approves the final list of recommended candidates. All candidates must meet the standards set forth in ASHA-PAC's Candidate Contribution Criteria and generally serve on key committees or leadership teams within the House of Representatives or Senate. ASHA-PAC also welcomes member input regarding specific candidates worthy of PAC support.

Will ASHA-PAC endorse one of the presidential candidates?

No. ASHA is a nonpartisan organization and, therefore, does not endorse any of the presidential candidates. Our Political Action Committee works to support candidates to the U.S. Congress who currently serve on committees with jurisdiction over health care and education issues, hold positions of leadership in the House of Representatives or Senate, and/or have previously supported issues identified in ASHA's public policy agenda. ASHA-PAC contributions are split evenly among Democrat and Republican Congressional candidates.

Why does ASHA need ASHA-PAC?

Federal law prohibits ASHA from directly contributing to federal candidate campaigns. ASHA may not use membership dues or other ASHA revenue to help support quality candidates. ASHA-PAC is our only opportunity to help elect lawmakers to Congress who will make fair and reasonable policies related to our professional issues.

ASHA-PAC accepts contributions from ASHA members only. Contributions to ASHA-PAC are not deductible for federal tax purposes. If you would like more information about ASHA-PAC, you can visit the ASHA website or contact Ingrida Lusis, director of federal and political advocacy, at ilusis@asha.org.

National Office Staff Updates

The following individuals are new to the ASHA staff since July 2012:

  • Phyllis Bonelli, SLP practices resource manager
  • Bruce Herzig, production editor
  • Jason Katoski, member service representative, Accounts Receivable
  • Morgan Merron, account manager, Membership & Sales
  • Kevin McNamara, manager, Programs
  • Greg Parent, customer service and communications specialist, Certification
  • Natalie Wilson, manager, HES for Academic Affairs and Research Education
  • The following individuals have left ASHA to pursue other opportunities:
  • Ronneisha Brown, member service representative, Accounts Receivable
  • Laura Cannon, research assistant
  • Amy Hasselkus, associate director, Health Care Services
  • Hannah Wesolowski, director, Political & Grassroots Advocacy

Recent ASHA and ASHA National Office Awards

The Alliance for Workplace Excellence presented ASHA with a new award for 2011 in recognition of the organization's commitment to a diverse and inclusive workplace. Awards were provided in six categories: Supplier Diversity, Employee Recruitment and Retention, Corporate Philanthropy, CEO Engagement, Employee Communication, and Products and Services provided to customers. ASHA was recognized for our leading practices in the Products and Services provided to members. We were recognized along with Marriott, SRA International, Booz Allen Hamilton, and JBS International.

For the 2nd consecutive year, ASHA was named one of the healthiest employers in the Washington, DC, area by the Washington Business Journal (WBJ). ASHA was awarded 4th place (out of 10) among employers with 250 to 499 employees in recognition of its programs and efforts to improve the health and wellness of its staff. Because of its commitment to employee health, ASHA was profiled, along with other winners, in the Washington Business Journal.

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