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Committee/Board Chair Online Orientation

Module 1: The Nuts and Bolts of Committees

Why does ASHA have committees?

Committees are an important part of the organizational structure [PDF] and the work force of associations. Associations are built on a system of committee actions linking the association with the attitudes and "real world" of its members. Committees are the bridge between members and leadership, between things to do and tasks completed, between what we can do and what we have accomplished.

What are the benefits of committee work?

Committees represent, involve, and serve members as well as provide a training ground for future leaders. Committees allow members with varied interests to be involved in the work of the Association. The work that is completed by ASHA committees helps grow and strengthen the association, the professions, and the committee members themselves. Through committee service, ASHA members report that they grow personally and professionally; gain a sense of professional community; and enhance their collaboration, problem solving and communication skills.

How does ASHA establish committees and boards?

ASHA's Board of Directors (BOD) may establish a volunteer group to carry out some business of the Association. Definitions for the various volunteer groups that the BOD may establish (e.g., standing committees, boards, councils; ad hoc committees and working groups; task forces) can be found on p. 5 of the Committee Toolkit [PDF]. Each committee, board and council reports to a BOD member who serves as the Board Liaison and is assigned a National Office staff liaison.

Who appoints committee members?

Members are appointed by the Committee on Committees (CoC). The CoC publishes a "Call for Volunteers" in mid-January on the ASHA Web site and in The ASHA Leader.

Committee chairs may not appoint members on their own initiative. Chairs are asked to provide the Board Liaison with any recommendations they may have for new members. The Board Liaison will then make his/her recommendations to the CoC. Invitations are extended and appointments are made only following approval by the CoC. Additional information on the committee appointment process can be found on p. 5, 14 and 15 of the Committee Toolkit [PDF]. A timeline for the committee appointment process can be obtained from your staff liaison or ex officio.

How is the scope of the committee's work defined?

The committee charge outlines the committee's scope of activities and cannot be changed. The committee chair is responsible for keeping the work of the committee focused on the charge and aligned with the strategic plan.

See pages 4-6 of the Committee Toolkit [PDF] for more information on Committee and Board Operations.

Module 2: Fiduciary Responsibilities

What is meant by "fiduciary responsibilities?"

A quick check of the term "fiduciary responsibilities" on the Internet revealed three pages of definitions! But, a common thread running through all of the definitions is that fiduciaries "have discretionary authority over another's money, property, or other assets, and a legal duty to act in a manner that benefits the other person, or organization."

Of particular importance are the fiduciary duties of care, loyalty, and fidelity to purpose.

What is the duty of care?

The duty of care focuses on the level of diligence exercised by a committee member in carrying out his or her duties. It states that a board [committee] member shall discharge his [or her] duties as a board [committee] member, (1) in good faith, (2) with the care an ordinary prudent person in like position would exercise under similar circumstances, and (3) in a manner he [or she] reasonably believes to be in the best interest of the Association.

How can I satisfy the duty of care?

You can help to satisfy the Duty of Care by promoting open debate, recording dissent, and creating a record of decision-making processes.

What is the duty of loyalty?

The duty of loyalty states that committee members are obligated to act in the association's best interests and not to use their authority to advance personal interests, or the interests of related third parties. These self-interests could be financial, or related to enhancing prestige and professional reputation of oneself or one's employer. The phrases "conflict of interest" and "self-dealing" describe potential breaches of the Duty of Loyalty.

How can I satisfy the duty of loyalty?

You can satisfy the duty of loyalty by being aware of potential conflicts between one's personal interests and those of the Association; requiring committee members to disclose any possible conflict of interest; and asking committee members to refrain from participating in discussion and/or vote if a conflict of interest could influence their judgement.

What is the duty of fidelity to purpose?

The duty of fidelity to purpose states that the Board of a nonprofit association must follow the association's purposes and goals as set out in the association's articles, bylaws, purpose, and mission statements. An association's articles of incorporation equal a legal contract between a state and the association. An association's bylaws equal a contract between the members and the association. This duty is particularly important when an association obtains public funding based on representations of its goals and purposes.

How can I satisfy the duty of fidelity to purpose?

You can comply with the duty of fidelity to purpose by reviewing the stated purpose of the association and examining whether proposed actions [i.e., committee charge] are consistent with the association's purposes.

For more information on Fiduciary Responsibilities, please refer to Legal Responsibilities of Members of Boards of Nonprofit Associations [PDF].

Module 3: The Committee Team

Who are the members of the committee team?

The committee team consists of the board liaison, chair, committee members, and ex officio.

What is the role of the board liaison?

The board liaison directs the work of the committee via the Chair. The board liaison helps clarify the charge to the chair, and may request minutes, attend meetings, and react to work in progress. When appropriate, the board liaison posts summaries of committee activity to the Headlines e-mail list.

What is the role of a chair?

The chair serves as both the leader of the committee and as the skillful facilitator of discussion. The chair facilitates the work of the committee, provides oversight, and ensures that the goals and objectives of the committee are met. The chair fulfills this role by accepting and supporting the committee's charge, setting appropriate expectations around members' contributions and responsibilities, planning (with staff) and participating in all committee meetings, delegating and monitoring work assignments, maintaining records and relevant information on committee work, and moving members toward participation and decision making.

What is the role of the committee member?

Committee members are expected to be active by fully participating in committee meetings, completing assignments delegated by the chair, and working toward the fulfillment of the group's objectives.

What is the role of the National Office ex officio member?

The ex officio member serves as a full, participating member of the committee, although they do not vote. The ex officio serves as a resource on existing ASHA policies, products, procedures, and programmatic history and ensures coordination of work with the overall governance structure and other National Office units.

See Section p. 9–11 of the Committee Toolkit [PDF] for more information on the roles and responsibilities of committee team members.

Module 4: Committee Budget

Does the committee have a budget?

Yes. Activities of ASHA committees are budgeted under a separate category in the Association's annual budget referred to as the Officer-Committee-Board or O-C-B budget. Committees spend funds only for the level of activities that was approved. In addition, committees may not spend funds on activities for which the funds were not originally intended.

Is funding available for committee meetings at the ASHA Convention?

There is no reimbursement of travel expenses associated with the ASHA Convention for any ASHA members, including members of the Board of Directors (BOD). This policy applies to day(s) before, during, and after convention travel and for attendance at ASHA committee meetings.

What is the budget cycle for the OCB budget?

Budgeting for O-C-B expenses begins in the early spring when the chair provides the board liaison with budget estimates (OCB-1) for the next calendar year. During the summer, the board liaison and the Vice President for Finance review the budget estimate and revise if necessary. In the fall, the Board of Directors establishes and approves the O-C-B budget as part of the Association's overall budgeting process. In December, letters are mailed to each committee chair communicating the approved budget for their committee.

How is travel for a face-to-face committee meeting approved?

Eight weeks before the tentative meeting dates, the staff ex officio submits, on behalf of the chair, an Authorization to Travel form (OCB-2) to the board liaison for review. If approved, the board liaison forwards the form to National Office budget staff for recordkeeping. In addition, the ex officio completes internal travel forms and forwards them to Convention and Meetings staff. Only after receiving communication from Convention and Meetings staff are committee members authorized to make their travel arrangements.

How does a committee member get reimbursed?

To receive reimbursement for travel-related expenses, complete a travel and expense voucher and return it with all original receipts to the National Office ex-officio within 30 days.

See page 17-18, Finance of the Committee Toolkit [PDF] for more information on managing committee budgets.

Module 5: The Effective Chair

Below are tips that will facilitate your success in leading, communicating, and facilitating the work of your committee.


  • Model the behavior expected of members.
  • Stimulate discussion and let committee members hash out ideas.
  • Prevent one-sided discussions.
  • Create a positive environment. Make serving fun by bringing treats to meetings, thanking people, and sending farewell letters to departing members.
  • Make serving on your committee a learning experience, not only on how an effective chair performs, but also on how the Association operates.


  • Communicate with the outgoing chair and the board liaison to obtain background information on the prior work of the committee.
  • Initiate communication with committee members by sending an introduction of yourself, the committee's charge, a committee roster, and a summary of ongoing work (if there is any) to all members.
  • Be in contact with committee members on an ongoing basis in between conference calls and/or meeting(s).
  • Share with the board liaison the names of committee members who exhibit excellent leadership and collaboration skills so that they might be considered for future leadership positions in the Association.
  • Address dysfunctional behavior and identify members who are not fulfilling their obligations and if necessary, ask the board liaison to have them removed.
  • Inform the board liaison of any committee resignations and ask for reappointments.
  • Seek collaboration with other committees who might be impacted by your committee's activity.
  • Pass on your files to your successor.


  • Plan the work of the committee in accordance with the Strategic Pathway to Excellence and more directly along your committee's specific charge.
  • Don't waste people's time. Have an agenda at committee meetings and ask for agenda items ahead of time.
  • Encourage the expression and constructive discussion of diverse viewpoints.
  • Delegate work with a timeline for completion. Don't do everything yourself, but accept that as the committee chair, you will do yeoman's share of the work.
  • Work with your National Office ex officio to ensure that the work of the committee is being carried out and that you are equipped with the tools you need to do the work of your committee.
  • Understand the role of the ex officio.

Module 6: Tips for a Great Committee Meeting [1]

Good chairs lead productive and fun meetings! The following techniques can help you bring out the best in your group.

  1. Set the expectation that all committee members are to attend the entire meeting
  2. Prepare a meeting agenda that supports the committee's charge
  3. Start the meeting on time-even if that means starting without some committee members
  4. Ask committee members to establish and adhere to group norms for the meeting, including but not limited to:
    • Starting and ending the meeting on time
    • Participating actively
    • Having fun
    • Keeping comments within the scope of the committee
    • Being respectful of others' ideas and approaches
    • Stating something positive before you criticize
    • Being mindful of your time "in the spotlight"
  1. Invite ideas from all committee members before expressing your own ideas
  2. Call on the more junior members early to bring fresh ideas to the table
  3. Deal with disruptive or distracting behavior (e.g., sidebar conversations)
  4. Summarize what has been said periodically (every 3-4 speakers) and what decisions need to be made
  5. Monitor participation to ensure that all committee members have an opportunity to contribute
  6. Incorporate breaks and social activities to pace the committee's work and to promote teambuilding
  7. Seek consensus, not unanimous decisions

[1] Schlegel, J.F. (January, 2006). Let's Meet. Associations Now. Retrieved July 24, 2008 from the American Society of Association Executives Web site

Module 7: ASHA's Strategic Pathway to Excellence

In 2008, ASHA implemented " ASHA's Strategic Pathway to Excellence." As part of the Pathway, ASHA developed a new Vision, Mission, and Core Value statements, identified four "Pillars of Excellence" that focus ASHA's strategy, and sixteen Strategic Objectives that indicated what ASHA needed to do to be successful in providing value for its members.

For each of the Strategic Objectives, ASHA identified Performance Measures and Targets that were used to track results in achieving the Strategic Objectives. Strategic Initiatives were developed as the priority projects that needed to be implemented to ensure that the Strategic Objective outcome was achieved.

If ASHA's Pathway is going to be successful, it is important that the work of all Association entities (e.g. committees, boards, councils, special interest groups, and National Office clusters and teams) be aligned with ASHA's Strategic Pathway. The work of these entities, including your committee/board, should support one or more of the thirteen Strategic Objectives included in ASHA's Pathway.

As an example, work of committees and boards that are developing position statements, guidelines, or other products could align with the following:

"Enhance Effectiveness Across Professions and Settings"

Members are more effective in their professional lives and able to collaborate across professions utilizing skills, knowledge and tools they"ve acquired from ASHA.

Another example would be work of committees and boards that are developing ways to disseminate information to members about Committee products could be aligned with the Strategic Objective to:

"Improve External Communication"

Efficient, timely, and quality communications that better inform members, staff, consumers, and stakeholders.

As the committee/board develops its work plan, its work should be aligned with ASHA's Strategic Pathway to Excellence. To ensure that the work of the committee/board is aligned with ASHA's Pathway, the following actions should be taken:

  • Identify which one or more of the thirteen Strategic Objectives the committee's/board's work supports
  • Develop the Committee's/Board's Strategic Objective and Outcome related to its work
  • Identify a Performance Measure and Target that will indicate if the Strategic Objective is achieved
  • Develop the Strategic Initiatives to be implemented to achieve the Committee's/Board's Strategic Objective.

Module 8: Multicultural Infusion

What does the word "multicultural" mean?

It refers to the cultural spectrum that includes, but is not limited to age, religion, gender, gender identification, sexual orientation, language, race, ethnicity, national origin, physical/mental ability, learning style, and socioeconomic status.

What role does multicultural infusion play in the work of my committee?

Multicultural infusion will ensure that the work of your committee serves multiple client populations—regardless of linguistic or cultural background—and extends the breadth of your programs, products, or services.

Why should multicultural issues be considered in the development or revision of practice policy documents?

It is critical to systematically and routinely evaluate the impact of cultural variables on service delivery and integrate multicultural considerations into every step of the document development/revision plan. Infusion begins with the formation of the committee or working group and extends throughout the drafting, peer review, and finalizing of the document.

Any practical tips on how I can get started?

Sure...Read below!

  • Make a conscious effort to infuse multiculturalism throughout the entire process.
  • Be as inclusive as possible in considering the cultural and linguistic variables that may impact the committee's work or projects.
  • Use a broad approach to information/data collection across the continuum of the levels of available evidence to guide multicultural consideration.
  • Familiarize your group with the Knowledge and Skills Needed by SLPs and Audiologists to Provide Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services.
  • Seek assistance from ASHA's Multicultural Issues Board (MIB), Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) staff, Multicultural Constituency Groups, and/or other related organizations.

For more information, see Multicultural Affairs and Resources.

Module 9: Cardinal Document Approval Process

What is a cardinal document?

ASHA’s cardinal documents are the Code of Ethics, the Scope of Practice in Audiology, Scope of Practice in Speech-Language Pathology, Speech Language Pathology Assistant Scope of Practice and position statements. These documents are written for and by ASHA members and approved by our governance to promulgate best practices and standards in the professions of audiology and speech-language pathology.

How is a cardinal document approved?

Once a draft of the cardinal document has been developed, it undergoes professional editing and peer review, which is usually an online process. Following the peer review process, a resolution is prepared for submission to the Board of Directors requesting that the cardinal document be approved (see page 10, Resolutions, in the Committee Toolkit [PDF]).

What is the peer review process for cardinal documents?

Cardinal documents undergo both select peer review and widespread peer review.

During select peer review, the document is sent to a targeted set of individuals with subject matter expertise. In widespread peer review, the availability of the draft document is announced to ASHA membership, which is invited to participate in the review and commenting process. These two peer review processes may be conducted concurrently or sequentially.

What is the role of the Advisory Councils in the peer review process for cardinal documents?

One of the responsibilities of members of the Advisory Councils is to participate in the widespread peer review of all ASHA cardinal documents pertaining to their profession. In addition if a committee you chair is charged with developing a cardinal document, you are required to submit the document to the Audiology and/or Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Council(s) for peer review.

What happens to a cardinal document once it is approved?

Once a cardinal document is approved, an ASHA editor and Web team staff member will format and post the final document on ASHA’s website. The Board Liaison and ex officio can assist in creating a plan disseminating information about the new version of the cardinal document (e.g., submit an article for The ASHA Leader, give a committee presentation at the ASHA convention, conduct a continuing education ASHA program, present information about the document at a state conference).

What is the timeframe for approval?

ASHA’s editorial staff should be notified two months prior to the anticipated peer review date. Please allow two weeks for editing. Depending on the size and number of documents being developed, the select and widespread peer review process can take anywhere from two to six weeks.

Module 10: Resolutions

When is it appropriate to submit a resolution?

Resolutions proposed must be compatible with the Association's purposes as stated in the Association's Bylaws and, as appropriate, any applicable Strategic Objectives/Strategic Initiatives in ASHA's Strategic Pathway to Excellence. The development of a resolution is appropriate only when the proposed actions are possible and practical within the Association's current structure or policy. Please review the document, Principles for the Preparation of Resolutions, for additional information.

Who can submit a resolution for consideration by the Board of Directors?

Most resolutions originate with an Association committee/board/council, special interest group, National Office staff or other ad hoc committees or working groups but, resolutions may also be submitted by individual members of the Association.

Do resolutions undergo a review prior to being considered by the Board?

Yes. Resolutions are submitted to an internal review team comprised of representatives from editorial services, budget, information services, planning, and the appropriate chief staff officer. After adjustments resulting from the internal review process, the resolution is submitted to the BOD for consideration. Please refer to the Committee Toolkit [PDF] (p. 16) for additional information on the resolutions process.

How often does the BOD review resolutions?

The Board reviews resolutions throughout the year so actions can be taken in a timely manner and typically acts on resolutions electronically. Refer to the Resolutions Process on ASHA’s website for detailed information for the consideration of a resolution once it is received by the Board.

What is the timeline from development to consideration of a resolution?

The timeframe is approximately two to three weeks. The internal review process takes approximately seven days. Once the resolution is submitted to the Board, they are given approximately five to seven days to discuss the resolution and then three days to vote on it.

Where can I find the resolution form?

An online resolution form and sample are available on the ASHA Web site.

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