Candidate Video Transcripts
Why are you running for a position on the ASHA Board of Directors, and what would be your top priority if elected?
Note: These transcripts were typed from a recording of the interviews and not copied from an original script.
I am running for ASHA President Elect because this position would allow me to use my interdisciplinary experience as an audiologist, a scientist, and a volunteer leader to address the many challenges arising from our changing educational and health care landscapes. If elected, it would be my mission to promote interprofessional collaboration so that speech language pathology and audiology would not only survive but thrive in an increasingly interdependent clinical environment. Planning for these imminent changes in health care must be our top priority. These changes will have profound and long-lasting consequences on clinical practice in all work settings. They will mandate pervasive changes in how we educate current and future practitioners and will depend on our ability to generate the evidence needed to engage in best clinical practices. Interprofessional education and practice should become the cornerstone of our clinical training programs. We must educate all stakeholders that our services are necessary to enable those we serve to live independently longer and to optimize their quality of life.
I chose to work in this field more than 30 years ago, and it's been very rewarding work during my entire career. Most of my work has been as a direct clinical services provider, but fairly on, I also got involved in our State Association and then, of course, the national association with ASHA. I served on our State License Board and our State Association Board. Here at ASHA, I served on Legislative Council for nine years and as Chair of the Government Relations and Public Policy Board. I served on the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation for nine years, including three years as President. And in all of that work, what I had learned was that our profession has a wealth of resources on the side of our national office staff, our volunteers who come from all kinds of diverse backgrounds—all settings, all different subspecialties. And what I learned, especially as a leader—whether I was a chair of a board or president—what I learned is that there are all kinds of experts out there that, one, I can learn from, and that who have a real dedication and commitment to this field. And as Chair or as Board, my job was to listen to them, to help them use their skills, and promote the ideas that they came up with. Certainly, a group of nine or 10 or 12 have far more wisdom than one. So, certainly, one of my top priorities here at ASHA would be to encourage that continued activity on the part of volunteers, and using this very profession of national staff that we have.
I vividly remember the evening I got a call from an ASHA audiologists asking if I'd be willing to participate in a volunteer activity. At the time, I was surprised that somebody famous knew who I was and wanted my input. In the more than 15 years since that call, I have had the honor of serving on several ASHA boards and committees. Each of those experiences has affected me profoundly, both personally and professionally, and contributed to the leader that I am today. I've also had the opportunity to see the association from the inside, and to get an understanding of how decisions are made and what the issues are that have faced the profession. ASHA needs strong committed leaders, but we also need fully engaged members in order to thrive. I feel like my life experiences have honed my team building and leadership skills. I've learned how to facilitate open communication, how to encourage team members to think creatively about solutions to problems, and to build trust. My top priority, should I be elected, would be to enhance the member experience by facilitating increased opportunities for members to have meaningful dialogue with leaders about the issues that impact them. I would like to close the communication loop. So that not only are we soliciting input from members, we are letting them know how their input impacts the decisions that are being made.
Vice President for Finance
The most straightforward reason why I'm running for ASHA Vice President for Finance is that I have the skills and experience that match the position. I have over 20 years of experience with administrative responsibility for managing large budgets. I have experience managing budget shortfall, budget growth, budget surplus, but most importantly, I know how to allocate the financial resources to meet the goals of an organization. So that's my top priority if elected—to make sure we spend ASHA money on ASHA priorities. But there's a deeper reason that I'm running for ASHA Vice President. I heard a speech a few years ago about the Hoover Dam outside of Las Vegas. The Hoover Dam is a massive structure that harnesses hydropower to create electricity to light one of the brightest spots on the planet. My granddad was a dinky operator and helped build the Hoover Dam. The dinky is the machine that dumps load after load of concrete, called mud, to build the massive dam to harness the power to create the electricity. And I thought, hmm, harness power—isn’t that what we do when we volunteer for ASHA? We dump ourselves—our time, our talent, our creativity—to create a stronger association to harness power. To create electricity and light the way for others. So my deeper reasoning for running for ASHA Vice President is to be an ASHA dinky operator.
The reason I’m running for VP for Finance actually has three areas. One is to continue the nice work that Carolyn Higdon has been doing as the current VP for Finance with tutorials to the Board, so that they better understand the overall aspect of the financial health of the organization, not just the bottom line. And secondly, because of the fact that this is a position that crosses between speech pathology and audiology. I’d like to promote and continue and expand the work we’ve already begun on trying to help our members understand the impact and, if we could, actually help shape the issues of the health care reform activities that are occurring, that will change the amount we get reimbursed, as well as the way we practice. And then lastly, the idea of looking in a detailed way, in an expanded way, at the educational process for speech pathology and audiology. Not so much at the graduate level, but how do we utilize, or better utilize, the undergraduate programs for promoting clinicians as well as research scientists.
I'm running for vice president for finance because I believe I bring significant experience in finance to this office. This position, I believe, requires knowledge of and experience with our association's resources. ASHA now has a budget of some $52 million and an investment portfolio of $40 million. I believe an association of 173,000 members deserves seasoned leadership that brings a fresh approach to the finances needed to support our association's infrastructure and programmatic goals. My background includes four years' service on the financial planning board—the last two as its chair. I've served in the NCA budget and executive committees, and I've been a program director for some 17 years. My highest priority for this position would be to enhance non-dues revenue in combination with strategic budgeting which would ensure an efficient use of the association's resources. The best way to have a budget with the least amount of dependence on member dues is to have strong non-dues revenue and to watch our spending. And that's important for you, the ASHA member. And for that reason, I ask for your support in this election.
Vice President for Government Relations and Public Policy
There is a saying that we practice according to how we are paid and there's tremendous pressure at the federal level, in congress, Medicare, the advisory committees, and also state legislatures to reduce the cost of health care. This generally means less reimbursement and that will alter how we practice speech pathology as well as audiology. The traditional therapy two or three times a week is going to go away and in some cases already has. Audiology reimbursement has changed and will change more. I've had the privilege of being involved with the health care economic committee and also the AMA coding committees to gain a thorough understanding of what reimbursement is all about, the changes in regulation and policy, and what affect this can have upon practice parameters. My desire in running for this office is to be an advocate, a resource to help the association be proactive rather than reactive as these changes come forward. The handwriting is on the wall. Change will happen in reimbursement and this will change all aspects of the practice in both speech-language pathology and audiology. If we can be prepared for it and understand and modify already, what we can do is to make the changes much less painful and much more expected than what they would be otherwise.
I'm running for Vice President of Government Relations and Public Policy because I was nominated. And when I was nominated, I was flattered. I believe in volunteer work, [and] giving back to our professions. And so when asked if I would consider running for this position, I said, of course. It's an opportunity for me to blend what I love doing—which is my career, my profession—with my enjoyment of politics. And I'm able to use my experience in public policy as a political appointee several years ago in the U.S. Department of Education with this kind of work. So when asked, I accepted and I'm delighted. This would be a perfect position for me. Then in terms of my priority—my priority is definitely being in front of the changing health care laws. And then again, also my priority would be understanding and getting in front of changes in special education law. IDEA is up for reauthorization, and once again, we have to be the authority on issues/medical issues that affect our professions, as well as the education issues.
I feel that I’m in a unique position, given that I have over 25 years of service to both state and national associations. I served as President of my state association, which is FLASHA. I was the coordinator of Special Interest Group 11, which is Administration and Supervision. I currently finished a three-year term on the Governmental Relations and Public Policy Board where I served as Chair the last year, and I’m currently now on ASHA’s Financial Planning Board. Those years of experience really helped me hone in on my leadership skills, my ability to work with people in a team, and come to resolutions. I also see myself as sort of a visionary and a big thinker with working on problems to solve. I would like to see members becoming more involved, particularly in the area of legislation. I think members don’t realize their capacity to make a change at any level, whether it be their school level, their district level, or state or national level. So I would like to empower them to be able to advocate for their profession, whether it be speech-language pathology or audiology.
Vice President for Standards and Ethics in Audiology
Okay, I'm running for this position because I think standards and ethics are very important to a profession. They're the heart of who we are. I think standards and ethics are also important across the diversity of sites where people are working as audiologists—private practices and public hospitals, and just a huge range of sites. So what I would like to do first, if elected, would be to deal with two of the issues that I think are pretty new and also moving fast in our profession, and that's telehealth and audiology assistants. And these two are kind of related. For telehealth, we are able to treat more and more patients out in rural areas where we were unable to serve them before. And so I think with the digital media that are developing rapidly, telehealth is developing rapidly. I think audiologists are using audiology assistants more than they have in the past; partially for the telehealth, but also in their own traditional practices. So I think we need to be aware of where the field is going with these issues and we need to be proactive in identifying potential conflicts of interest before they occur. And I think the Vice President of Standards and Ethics is in a good position to advocate for some of these changes.
Well, first of all, it's important, I think, for audiologists to have a voice in ASHA. And I've really been involved in the field of audiology for many years and I would really like to be able to participate in the governance in ASHA in a positive way. The idea of VP for Standards and Ethics—well, that to me is near and dear to my heart. I sat on the Board of Ethics for several years for ASHA, and I am a clinic director and an academic at Cornell, and I live my day-to-day work experience dealing with standards and ethics. So to me it's really the foundation of our profession. So what I would really like to do is be a voice for audiology within ASHA and ensure that the standards of our profession continue to grow.
I'm running for the position because I believe we should all give back. We should all give back to our communities. And among those communities are our professional communities. Someone in the past helped us, and we need to help those coming up in the future. One of the first things I would do as Vice President for Standards and Ethics in Audiology is to have both students and professionals look at their ethical behavior—at where they stand in terms of their ethics—so that we don't go around following a code of ethics, we understand that when we make decisions there are consequences to those decisions. And we need to live with them.
Vice President of Speech-Language Pathology Practice
Sandra Laing Gillam
I've been a speech pathologist for a long time and I've had the opportunity to work in a number of different settings. I've worked in schools, I've worked in medical settings, and now I'm at a university. And I think ASHA has done a number of things really well, in particular, advocacy for our professions. I would like to be a part of discussions about how we can take our success stories in advocacy from one context to another. So for example, I think we have a lot of good advocacy going on in medical settings and maybe not as good advocacy in educational settings. And speech pathologists and audiologists have such specialized knowledge and so much to contribute to their patients with communication disorders, that I think ASHA could help us be able to communicate what we do and why it's so important across a range of settings. I would love to be a part of that discussion.
As a longtime member of ASHA, I relish the opportunity to give back to the profession that has given me so much. I believe my experience in a variety of settings will really assist me in understanding and supporting and analyzing all the changes that are coming our way. I also believe ASHA has done a great job with supporting our clinicians, and I believe we need to continue to do that. Speech-language pathologists need to continue to evolve in providing contemporary practice that is based on evidence that we see in research. In light of this, my top priority would include enhancing the leadership development opportunities for our clinicians and engaging in mentoring them so that they may continue to serve ASHA and ASHA continues to grow. I also believe that it is vital that ASHA stay one step ahead of all the changes that are coming and embrace them and support them, so that as these changes come along we're ready to move on with them and improve and enhance what we do as speech-language pathologists.
I have worked in a variety of clinical and academic settings and I feel that I have the breadth and depth of experience to guide the profession of speech-language pathology and to address those critical issues of importance to advance the practice of speech pathology. I would look at the pillars of excellence of ASHA, including the scientifically-based professional practice and member experience in order to look at important issues such as case load/work load management, and identify other approaches to address this very important issue. I would also look at the very critical reimbursement rates and see how we could maximize those rates and acknowledge the important work that speech-language pathologists do and the value of that work. And finally, I would look at evidence-based practice and see how that could guide the important work that we do.