Special Interest Division to Special Interest Groups Restructuring
BDC, Steering Committees, and Staff
Why is the Special Interest Division Program being restructured?
The Special Interest program is being restructured to meet several pressing needs of ASHA members and the Association.
To begin with, the Special Interest Divisions have been a very popular and successful program benefiting both the ASHA members who have become Division affiliates and the Association as a whole. However, several challenges have arisen with the Divisions' success.
First, the original design of the Divisions program had permitted Divisions to carry over monies collected by ASHA for Division affiliation from year to year, the only association program able to do so. At the same time, the Divisions were not being charged back by ASHA for many of the services provided for their programming, creating a false sense of money accrual. This situation led to the following area of tension:
- Volunteer leaders incorrectly assumed that Division monies belonged to the individual Division and not to ASHA.
- Expanded programs were being identified and established without having the staffing resources to support the initiatives.
Second, the Special Interest Divisions, currently numbering 18, have grown exponentially in membership and programming plans without a similar increase in the number of dedicated National Office staff able to facilitate that development. This has created frustration on both sides of the working relationship represented by the Divisions' volunteer leadership and National Office personnel.
Third, as the Divisions have grown in number and affiliations, there has been a gradual and sometimes subtle distancing from alignment with the Association's strategic plan. At times, Divisions have proceeded along a trajectory of "mini-association" development rather than being fully integrated into the workings of the Association.
Fourth, and finally, for the Association to respond effectively and efficiently to the current and future needs of its membership, accessibility to the information generated by the Special Interest Divisions program should be more accessable.
To meet all of these identified challenges, a substantive restructuring plan is planned.
What role would staff play?
The intent of the Special Interest Divisions Program restructuring is to create Special Interest Groups (SIGs) that are more fully integrated into National Office operations. This is in contrast to the current model whereby a small staff is specifically designated to handle the bulk of Division operations, with other staff assisting, as needed. In the current model, staff time and resources are not fully accounted for in Division planning or budgeting.
While the specifics of how staff roles may change under this restructuring have not been determined (a transition team will be identified to make these decisions), there are some general assumptions that can be made based on the proposed model. These include the following:
- The ex officios, currently a part of a distinct Special Interest Divisions program team, would most likely instead be integrated into the appropriate practices units (e.g., the audiology ex-officio could become part of the Audiology Professional Practices team). Staff in these units may be asked to take on the role of ex officio for appropriate SIGs as well. This would allow for a more seamless interaction between the SIGs and staff.
- As the role of the SIGs becomes more advisory to the Association, ASHA committees and boards, as well as staff, would solicit input from the SIGs in many areas, including committee appointments, professional development offerings, Convention programming, grants and awards, and Web and The ASHA Leader content. For example, if the Association is sponsoring a continuing education event in the area of child language, the SIG in Child Language would be tapped to provide subject matter expertise.
- Since the restructuring would result in a more simplified budgeting as well as accounts payable and receivable process, staff involved in the financial aspects of the SIGs would be able to manage SIG budgets more easily.
- Production of SIG publications (i.e., Perspectives) would most likely increase and require additional staff support.
As mentioned above, a transition plan would be developed with more specifics on how the new SIG program would be implemented in the National Office.
How soon will changes take place?
The Executive Director would identify a transition team to develop an implementation plan. It is expected that the new structure would become effective in 2012. However, full implementation is expected to occur incrementally.
Why change the name to Special Interest Group?
When considering the restructuring of the Special Interest Divisions program, the Task Force discussed renaming the program at the same time. The Task Force thought the term division conveyed differences and separation, which is not the intent of the Special Interest program. Instead, the Task Force wanted to convey a sense of community, participation, and inclusion. After some debate, the decision was made to keep it simple and change the name to Special Interest Group, or SIG for short.
How are the steering committees affected?
In the current model, each Special Interest Division elects a five-member Steering Committee from its membership. A Coordinator and Associate Coordinator are chosen by and from the Steering Committee. The Board of Division Coordinators (BDC) is made up of Coordinators of all of the Divisions. The BDC is represented on two ASHA Boards/Councils (SPEB, CCSR).
In the new model, Divisions would be called SIGs, the Steering Committees would be called SIG Coordinating Committees, and the BDC would be called the Board of SIG Coordinators (BSIGC). SIGs coordinating committees would range between four or five members, with three to four elected members and one appointed (editor).
- identifying and providing expertise to committees and boards,
- suggesting and providing content for ASHA programming and continuing education activities,
- identifying content experts for ASHA-sponsored conferences and other educational programming,
- fostering future leaders of the Association, and
- providing input to policy and advocacy matters.
The SIG budget would be an integral part of the ASHA budget. Despite the budget, name, and changes in panel size, the function of the Coordinating Committees and the BSIGC would not change. That is, they would be responsible for ensuring publication of Perspectives, organizing affiliate meetings, and proposing other member benefits.
What are the requirements for being a SIG?
SIGs would continue to meet many of the requirements that have been required in the past of Special Interest Divisions. These would include
- publishing between one and four issues annually of Perspectives, with each issue capped at 22,000 words;
- offering their affiliates the opportunity to earn CEUs through self-study of Perspectives, with a $5 processing fee being charged to affiliates for exam by an outside contractor;
- continuing to offer their affiliates the opportunity to subscribe to an affiliates-only e-mail list and to an affiliates-only forum area on the ASHA Web site;
- continuing to submit one short course and one invited seminar annually at the ASHA Convention; and
- continuing to hold a general meeting annually, at the ASHA Convention or at another venue where affiliates gather.
The Coordinating Committees would hold a face-to-face meeting annually at the National Office to facilitate collaboration with appropriate ASHA board and staff members, and would develop a working plan that would be aligned and cascaded with the Association's overall strategy.
What are the responsibilities of the SIGs' Coordinating Committees?
The SIGs' Coordinating Committees (CCs) would bear some similarities to the Steering Committees that guided the programming of the individual Special Interest Divisions. There are also some differences because of changes to the structure and function of the SIGs.
To begin with, the SIGs' CCs would represent the affiliates of their individual group; serving on a SIG CC would be reserved for ASHA members who have selected membership in that SIG. The primary purpose of a SIG CC would be to plan and coordinate the activities of the SIG.
A CC would be budgeted to have one face-to-face meeting per year at the National Office or other real-time meeting (e.g., via Web) to facilitate coordination with appropriate ASHA units to provide advice and person power for integrated initiatives (e.g., Schools Conference, development of CE materials). Communication among SIG CC members would be facilitated by conference calls and e-mail communication.
One major difference between how a SIG CC would function and current operation of the Steering Committee of a Division is in the area of budgeting. The SIG CCs would be expected to propose activities in conjunction with other ASHA programs and units, consistent with the Association's Strategic Objectives, which would be of interest to their members, but instead of relying on their separate budgets for funding, they would have to make their budgeting requests through the same channels as other ASHA committees and boards. Each SIG would submit a budget that reflects revenues and expenses anticipated for the following year as they relate to the following activities for which the SIG CCs would be responsible, and for any additional revenues and expenses that may be part of another initiative that has been approved through the strategic plan.
A summary of SIGs activities is as follows:
- Publication of CE-bearing Perspectives:
Minimum = One issue per year.
Maximum = Four issues per year. Maintain current production schedule of between one and four issues per year and 26 pages per issue. Publication is limited to four 22,000-word issues per year. SIGs wishing to expand their publication (up to the maximum of four issues per year) will need to plan at least one and one-half years in advance to ensure adequate resources are available.
- Additional CE-bearing activity:
Minimum = Submission of a Short Course for the annual ASHA Convention and one additional invited seminar (note that there will be no revenue sharing).
Maximum = The above plus submission of a proposal to the Scientific Publication and Education Board (SPEB) for any additional activities that will be considered for development depending on SPEB and BOD priorities and personnel availability (e.g., development of a Webinar, Pre-Convention Workshop, Leadership conference).
- Sponsor electronic forms of communication for Division affiliates and the larger ASHA community:
Minimum = SIG must offer membership to affiliates on a group-only e-mail list and/or other social networking capabilities through the Association. The SIG Coordinating Committee for the group should disseminate relevant SIG information through these media and other media as appropriate in accordance with standard operating procedures.
Maximum = Sponsor one Web event (non-CE-bearing) per year.
Each SIG is responsible for submission of an updated budget submitted each spring by the deadline specified by standard operating procedures, similar to the budget process of committees and boards.
- SIG-specific strategic plan:
Each SIG is responsible for developing a working plan in collaboration with other boards and staff as appropriate to ensure the group and the Association (ASHA) are working in synchrony. Only the activities approved via the BSIGC can be included in the working plan. Annual reports must include updates of progress toward activities enumerated in the working plan.
- Face-to-face or other real-time interactive meetings of SIG CCs:
Minimum = One face-to-face at the National Office or other real-time interactive meeting per year to facilitate collaboration with appropriate ASHA boards and staff. Face-to-face meetings require a 2-day agenda and a staff person (i.e., ex officio) must be in attendance. Meetings (e.g., conference call, Web-based) should be scheduled per SIG CCs and staff in order to accomplish the work of the SIG. (Per Association policy, expenses associated with meetings held in conjunction with ASHA's Annual Convention are the responsibility of the individual.)
Maximum = Individual SIG CC members would need to finance any additional meetings planned; the expense would need to be included in the budget.
- Maintain a SIG CC
Minimum = Each SIG will have four-member SIG CC, including a coordinator and an associate coordinator. Three members are elected and one is appointed. The appointed member is the content editor.
Maximum = The CC could comprise five members: four elected and one appointed (i.e., content editor).
- Affiliates' meeting
Minimum = One affiliates' meeting should be scheduled each year at the ASHA Convention or other conference where it is likely that many affiliates will be in attendance; if scheduled outside the ASHA Convention, the ex officio or other National Office staff member must be in attendance per operating procedures. A Web-based affiliates meeting can also be scheduled if Association support and infrastructure are available (i.e., capacity, format, technology may vary).
Maximum = Additional meetings would require BOD approval.
- Demonstration of alignment of activities with the ASHA strategic plan:
The BSIGC serves as the conduit between the SIGs and the Board of Directors. Each SIG is responsible for identifying issues that need to be considered by the Association in its strategic plan and conveying those issues to the BSIGC. The BSIGC then conveys the issues to the BOD or other appropriate Association board or committee. Once the Association determines its activities, the BSIGC conveys information to the SIGs. The SIGs are responsible for those activities. The SIGs cannot develop additional activities that are not specified in the Association's strategic plan. The annual report provides evidence that the SIG has served as a resource, where appropriate, to fulfill the objectives specified in the group's strategic plan and, by doing so, with the Association's strategic plan. Said another way, there is evidence provided that activities of the group are not developed in parallel with the Association but instead as part of the Association.
- Submission of an annual report of the SIG's activities
The coordinator of each group, in consultation with the group's Coordinating Committee, is responsible for submitting a complete report (as per approved format) of the group's activities for the prior year to the group's ex officio. The due date for submission is December 31. If the previous year's review yielded recommendations for change, evidence of how the change has been incorporated will be included in the report.
How are SIG Coordinating Committees selected?
Steering Committees (renamed SIG Coordinating Committees) and the Board of Division Coordinators (renamed Board of SIG Coordinators [BSIGC]) would constitute the governing body of the SIGs. SIG Coordinating Committees would have three to four elected individuals instead of five. They would also have jone appointed individuals (i.e., the Perspectives content editor), whereas the Steering Committees had none.
Can new SIGs be established?
Yes. One of the BSIGC's first order of business is to develop a proposal for adding, modifying, and dissolving SIGs. Criteria must be developed to determine the financial feasibility of adding each new SIG. Criteria might include the number of members who would be interested or whether it addresses a new area of practice.
How would the SIGs get their money to operate?
Under the draft proposal to restructure the Divisions, each SIG Coordinating Committee is responsible for submitting an updated budget each spring by the deadline specified by standard operating procedures, similar to the budget process of committees and boards.
Annually, each SIG coordinator would be asked to submit a budget to the BOD that reflects activities planned for the following year. This process is the same for all ASHA committees and boards. Activities must fall within the minima and maxima criteria for SIGs and/or are official activities that support the ASHA strategic plan:
The Association would provide each SIG with operating funds needed by the SIG to conduct its approved activities:
- Publication of Perspectives
- Conduct of additional CE activity
- Sponsorship of electronic forms of communication
- Face-to-face or other real-time interactive meetings of SIG Coordinating Committees
- Conduct of an affiliates' meeting
The SIGs would not carry over net assets. Any ending net assets would be absorbed into the Association's operating budget.
What happens to each Division's accumulated net assets?
Net assets that remain when the transition to the new model takes place would be transferred into ASHA's net assets.
Since the Special Interest Divisions program was established, the Association has provided in-kind support. Had all ASHA support over time (including the printing of newsletters) been charged back to the Divisions, there would have been no accumulated net assets. Currently, the Association is providing over $333K annually to support the program.
Under the new structure, all ASHA members would continue to join SIGs for $35/each. Fees collected from members joining SIGs would be transferred into the operating budget, as membership dues are. (The Division budgets are currently reviewed by the Facilitating Team and presented to the Financial Planning Board and the Board of Directors for approval. The new process would probably not be different.) This money would be used to offset the cost of running the new program. Although SIGs would not have their own money, each SIG would develop an annual budget, similar to how current ASHA boards and committees operate, reflecting costs of activities that are consistent with minima and maxima criteria and any additional activities that have been approved through the ASHA strategic plan.
Why is ASHA not allowing us to spend our money?
The enabling resolution/plan that established the Divisions Program back in the early 1990s allowed the Divisions to "carry forward" from one fiscal year to the next revenues over expenses. That is very unusual by GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) standards and affects ASHA's "bottom line"—sometimes to ASHA's advantage and other times to ASHA's disadvantage.
Because the Special Interest Divisions exist within ASHA's organizational/corporate structure (i.e., are not separate legal entities), technically/legally the money accrued in the Divisions net assets does not belong to the Divisions. Further, the monies that were perceived as accrued were actually being considered as credited to the Divisions by the Association and had been used to pay down annual in-kind Division expenses.
Because ASHA is the entity that is legally and fiscally accountable for the operations and actions of the Divisions Program (just as with any other program, committee, or board of the Association), the Divisions are subject to ASHA's operating policies and procedures and are expected to operate within their approved budgets. The budgets are part of the annual ASHA operating budget—which is proposed by the Financial Planning Board and approved by the Board of Directors. Accountability for managing the approved operating budget resides with the staff ex officio/budget manager for each of those entities.
Committees, boards, and Special Interest Divisions are expected to operate within their approved budget—which is part of the annual ASHA operating budget that is approved by the Board of Directors. If a committee/board/Division wishes to spend money within its budget for a purpose other than that for which it was allocated/approved, the practice is that they make that request of the Vice President for Finance and of the Executive Director (depending on the nature and magnitude of the request, the Vice President for Finance and the Executive Director may take the request to the full Board).
Aren't the Divisions already infused within ASHA?
Although the Divisions are part of ASHA, their activities and programs are noticeably not integrated into those of the Association. Consequently, the collected efforts aimed at common goals like addressing members' concerns and needs, promoting the professions, and so on of the Association and the Divisions are at times fragmented or duplicated.
The SIGs would, for example,
- recommend members with special interest and knowledge in their respective topic areas to serve on relevant ASHA-sponsored committees and boards,
- suggest subject-matter experts to serve as presenters and reviewers for ASHA educational programs,
- suggest members to facilitate other relevant Association activities, based on member interest and expertise.
The SIGs would become a primary source for subject-matter expertise for policy and program development and an integral component of ASHA's programs. The result is a stronger Association that effectively and efficiently involves its members in achieving their individual and collective goals.
The intent of the Special Interest Division program restructuring is to more fully integrate the SIGs into ASHA. As the Divisions have grown in number and size, there has been a gradual and sometimes subtle distancing from alignment with the Association's strategic plan. At times, Divisions have proceeded along a trajectory of "mini-association" development rather than being fully integrated into the workings of the Association.
Under the new plan, rather than each Division having its own strategic plan that may or may not be aligned with ASHA's, each SIG's working plan would be aligned with the Association's strategic plan. SIGs would be involved in the activities, initiatives, and programs of the Association. This would foster a more collaborative relationship between the Association's programs and activities and the SIGs.
Further, under the current structure, the Special Interest Divisions are not consistently invited to provide input to the activities of the Association. Therefore, they develop separate resources, programs, and activities that address their respective affiliates' needs.
To capitalize on the expertise offered by the SIGs, ASHA would rely on the SIGs as a primary resource for
- identifying and providing expertise to committees and boards,
- suggesting and providing content for ASHA programming and continuing education activities,
- helping to identify content experts for ASHA-sponsored conferences and other educational programming,
- fostering future leaders of the Association,
- providing input on policy and advocacy matters.
How much would it cost to join?
Eligibility to join a SIG will remain a benefit of ASHA membership. The cost for an ASHA member will remain at $35/SIG. NSSLHA members and full time doctoral students who are ASHA members may join for $10/SIG.
Would this affect ASHA dues?
Financial modeling illustrates that the cost to provide one SIG membership per ASHA member ranges between $42.54 and $60.41. The BOD with the input from the Financial Planning Board and staff shall identify how the Association will fund the SIG Program. There are a number of options and combination of options that can be considered, including increasing revenues and reducing expenses. A dues increase would need to be considered only if other funding resources could not be obtained to continue and enhance this value-added ASHA membership benefit.
Would SIGs be able to sponsor ASHA events?
No. It is recommended that conference sponsorship continue, but without any financial transactions. That is, SIGs will continue to play an active role in supporting the planning of conferences and workshops relevant to their focus area. They will continue to promote these events to their affiliates, who will be eligible to attend and earn any CEUs offered. However, SIGs will no longer have budget lines generated through affiliate dues, and will no longer be in a position to provide sponsorship dollars to the budget for these events., However, an early, early bird registration discount will be offered to all affiliates attending these events.
Would SIGs be able to continue the Divisions' sponsorship of ASHA- and Division-sponsored conferences, Short Courses, and PreConvention Workshops?
It is recommended that SIGs continue to sponsor Convention Short Courses and other sessions, but without sharing expense or revenue that has been associated with this activity. However, affiliates will continue to receive a discount on select Short Courses.
It is recommended that conference sponsorship continue, but without any financial transactions. That is, SIGs will continue to play an active role in supporting the planning of conferences and workshops relevant to their focus area. They will continue to promote these events to their affiliates, who will be eligible to attend and earn any CEUs offered. However, SIGs will no longer have budget lines generated through affiliate dues, and will no longer be in a position to provide sponsorship dollars to the budget for these events. However, an early, early bird registration discount will be offered to all affiliates attending these events.
Similarly, the Special Interest Divisions have coordinated the planning of a Short Course at the Annual Convention. Expenses related to the Short Course have been incurred by the sponsoring Division. Affiliates of the sponsoring Division have received a registration discount to attend the Short Course. Any revenues accrued from the Short Course have been shared by the Association and the sponsoring Division.
Finally, for the two Divisions that have a history of sponsoring conferences and the three to five Divisions that have sponsored Pre-Convention Workshops, the conduct of these conferences/workshops will be under the purview of the Scientific and Professional Education Board and the ASHA Professional Development unit, and must be vetted through the prescribed procedures.
Would SIGs be able to continue to make contributions to the ASHFoundation?
Because the Association makes an annual contribution to the ASHFoundation, SIGs will no longer make individual contributions. However, should financial circumstances allow and there is a need to provide additional funding as it relates to the SIG program or an individual SIG, a request can be made to the BOD for its consideration.
What happens to Perspectives?
A major change in access to Perspectives is that all issues of Perspectives from every SIG would be available online to every affiliate—as an affiliate benefit.
Perspectives would remain the primary means by which a SIG meets its continuing education requirement, and each SIG would be required to publish at least one issue of Perspectives per year (consistent with current requirements). Presently, the Special Interest Divisions publish differing numbers of issues, from one to four, and under restructuring would be able to maintain that level of publication. Four issues per year would be the maximum number of issues, given staff constraints. Under consideration would be modifications such as additional editorial staff and use of a peer review management system such as ScholarOne Manuscripts to increase efficiency at the National Office and reduce the workload for the Perspectives editors.
Who would be able to take the self-study exams?
As a SIG benefit, affiliates would be able to take CE self-study exams for a $5 processing fee. Others who are not affiliates of the SIG may take advantage of another SIG self-study but would pay a fee commensurate with the CEU cost of scholarly journals.
All members would have access to content of all Perspectives.
Can I earn ASHA CEUs for all the Perspectives volumes?
Yes. As a SIG benefit, affiliates would be able to take CE self-study exams for a $5 processing fee. Others who are not affiliates of the SIG may take advantage of another SIG self-study but would pay a fee commensurate with the CEU cost of scholarly journals.
Would SIGs be able to conduct conferences (e.g., Pre-Convention Workshops, annual conferences) as Divisions 4 and 12 have done up until this year?
SIGs would no longer be able to offer conferences or Pre-Convention Workshops as they have done in the past. Previously, funding for those events came from a Special Interest Division's net assets, which SIGs would no longer accrue.
However, there are three methods by which SIGs would be able to participate in conference programming for ASHA:
- First, SIGs would be able to propose ASHA Convention short courses and seminars as in the past, but without revenue sharing.
- Second, as the SIGs are incorporated into the ASHA structure, they would be a primary resource for information on program content for events that ASHA may sponsor.
- Finally, through the annual budgeting process, a SIG may propose a Pre-Convention Workshop or a conference to the Scientific and Professional Education Board (SPEB) for approval. The SPEB would review all proposals submitted and, in conjunction with ASHA Professional Development and Conventions and Meetings staff, would determine a schedule of offerings. Conferences would be facilitated by ASHA with the support of the SIGs.
How do the SIGs differ from the Special Interest Divisions?
SIGs would have the same goals of fostering professional community and dissemination of information as the Special Interest Divisions. The main difference is SIGs would become an integral part of the ASHA rather than "semi-autonomous" components of the organization. This means that SIGs would serve as subject-matter SIG Coordinating Committees that would recommend activities and programs to be carried out by the Association as outlined by its strategic plan, if the Board of Directors (BOD) approves and allocates funds. Perspectives publications, a core benefit to affiliates, would continue without the need for BOD approval. However, special programs, recognitions, ASHF supplements, and meetings would require prior approval and allocation of funds by the BOD. Although this may sound like a disadvantage at first glance, there are potential benefits for all SIGs. ASHA staff would be available to execute the programs that are of interest to larger SIGs. Larger Divisions often have been unable to pursue their goals due to the small number of staff that are allocated to supporting the groups. Smaller SIGs would have the opportunity to recommend programs and obtain funding for programs that they have been unable to pursue due to budgetary constraints.
What are the benefits to me?
As a benefit of ASHA membership, all ASHA members are eligible to join one or more SIGs for $35/SIG. Affiliate benefits include expertise and networking opportunities, access to all Perspectives, reduced cost for CE self study activities through Perspectives, and opportunities for leadership development. Affiliates would be able to take CE self-study activities at the affiliate rate.
How much would it cost me?
Consistent with current fees, an ASHA member may affiliate with SIGs at the rate of $35/SIG. NSSLHA members and ASHA members who are full time doctoral students will be able to join for $10/division.