SIG Volunteer Leadership Handbook

SIG/National Office Collaboration Model Process

Conference Call October 7, 2011

*Minor editorial changes 2/1/13

Participants/Collaboration Team

Janet Patterson (chair, BSIGC); Lynne Hewitt (coordinator, SIG 1); Edie Hapner (coordinator, SIG 3); Bobbi Aungst (coordinator, SIG 8); Janet Deppe (director, State Advocacy); Deborah Dixon (director, Schools Services); Anne Oyler (associate director, Audiology Professional Practices); Diane Paul (director, Clinical Issues in SLP); Neela Swanson (information coordinator, Health Care Finance); Kerry Chmielenski (associate director, SIG); Carmen Santana (administrative assistant, SIG); Michelle Ferketic (director, SIG Program)


To develop a process/guidelines for volunteer leaders and staff to use to enhance collaboration between Special Interest Group volunteer leaders and affiliates and National Office staff


The 2010 Task Force on Special Interest Divisions Structure, Programs, and Operations Report stated that the Special Interest Groups (formerly Special Interest Divisions) program is integral to and integrated within ASHA.

This mandate, coupled with increasing staff appreciation for the wealth of expertise and experience of the Special Interest Group (SIG) volunteer leaders and affiliates, has resulted in a rise in the number and types of requests for SIG input and/or participation in Association initiatives. Consequently, Coordinating Committees have expressed concern about their ability to satisfy the myriad requests to provide subject matter expertise.

Timeliness of requests has been an issue in some cases when staff must respond quickly to requests from or actions by outside agencies. In other cases, timeliness of responses has been a problem. For example, staff may request input too close to a deadline or a SIG may fail to honor a commitment. On occasion, disagreement among SIG leaders and affiliates has complicated the process (e.g., review of brochure copy).  

To address such issues and better support the mandate to involve SIG leaders and affiliates in ASHA's work,  staff and SIG representatives have formed a team-with participants representing the Board of Special Interest Group Coordinators and National Office staff-to develop a model of collaboration.

On Friday, October 7, 2011, the collaboration team held a conference call.

Outcome of the Call

After a period of discussion, participants identified two key dimensions that need to be considered with each request: type of request and type of input required.

Categories of Activities/Requests

Requests for input or action fall into two categories:

  1. Standard/annual cyclical activities, such as
    1. calls for
      1. input to Governmental Relations and Public Policy Agenda and systematic review topics
      2. calls for systematic review topics
    2. suggestions for Health Care and Schools conference topics and presenters
    3. peer review

To assist with annual program planning, staff developed a master calendar of SIG- and ASHA-related activities (attached). The calendar provides a general schedule of Association- and SIG-wide activities (e.g., call for nominations for BOD and SIGs) and may be used by Coordinating Committee members to develop their respective SIG work plans each year. Coordinating Committees identify-and incorporate in the calendar-routine activities (e.g., call for SIG and BOD nominations) that warrant or require SIG input.

  1. Non-standard activities, such as
    1. review of regulatory language
    2. assistance with committee work (e.g., HCEC CPT coding, survey codes
    3. developing web resources

Categories of Input/Review

Participants identified three types of input/review that, singly or in combination, may be required for any given request:

  1. Coordinating Committee
  2. experts in topic
  3. all affiliates

Involving Affiliates

Coordinating Committees are responsible for planning and coordinating the activities of their respective SIGs, including prioritizing initiatives and organizing affiliates. However, this obligation does not require that Coordinating Committee members personally complete all tasks and activities. Rather, the Coordinating Committee oversees the work and may invite participation by—and delegate duties to—other affiliates.

There are two primary ways in which affiliates may become engaged by the Coordinating Committee in the work of the SIG:

Coordinating Committee Project Team (CCPT)

A CCPT is created to work on a specific, time-limited task or project (e.g., review an ASHA product).

For example, although a Coordinating Committee may choose to carry out a program/activity as a group or through individual members, the committee may invite affiliates to work on a Coordinating Committee (name of initiative) project team (CC_PT).

Note: Coordinating Committees may be asked to identify affiliates to serve on an ASHA Member Advisory Group (MAGs). A MAG, made up of SIG affiliates and other ASHA members, assists staff with an ASHA initiative (e.g., review of CPT codes).  

CC_PTs and MAGs are ad hoc groups and are dissolved at the completion of the tasks. Unless stated otherwise, a CC_PT or MAG comprises no more than five individuals.

Individual Affiliates

There may be activities that require the help of only one or two affiliates (e.g., identify affiliates in a state to serve on a speakers' bureau).


Because of the multi-dimensionality of each request (i.e., no one process could be used for all requests), the collaboration team identified a matrix for addressing requests for SIG input.

Activity/Request Examples Input/Review Responsible Party

Routine call for input that does not relate to the SIG

  • Peer review for non-SIG related documents
  • Call for Board of Directors nominations



  • Ex officio or other staff member posts "call" to the SIG's online community.
  • Coordinator or other Coordinating Committee member follows with a message encouraging affiliates to follow-up.
  • Please note that, although these types of calls are seemingly benign, they are opportunities to encourage SIG affiliates (to run for office) and share specific concerns of affiliates as they relate to the document.

Routine call for input that relates to the SIG.

  • Documents that address topics related to the SIG (e.g., language, voice)
  • Call for professional development topics
  • Requests for mentors


  • Coordinating Committee(s)
  • Affiliates
  • Coordinating Committee reviews and comments accordingly.
  • The Coordinating Committee may identify an ad hoc Coordinating Committee advisory group to assist with the task.
  • Coordinating Committee shares its concerns with affiliates via online community and encourages affiliates to respond as well.

Unique requests that require expert input

  • Reimbursement for videostrob
  • Web resources
  • Regulatory language (Some requests could be listed under multiple categories).

Experts within SIG

  • Experts, identified by the Coordinating Committee and ex officio, provide input or participate on member advisory committee (a Coordinating Committee liaison is identified, along with the ex officio, to ensure the work is completed in a timely manner).
  • There may be times when staff have been working with an individual on a project. The staff person/ex officio would inform the Coordinating Committee of the individual's involvement.
  • For brochures or other written materials, draft copies are shared with the Coordinating Committee to ensure agreement.

Unique requests that require Coordinating Committee input

  • Brochure on pediatric swallowing disorders
  • Regulatory language
  • ASHA product review

Coordinating Committee

Coordinating Committee is responsible. However, to assist with multiple requests, the Coordinating Committee may identify an ad hoc Coordinating Committee project team (three to five affiliates) to assist with these requests.


The Board of Directors intends that the SIGs program and activities are infused and integrated into the work of the Association. It is the responsibility of the SIG volunteer leaders and National Office staff to

  1. identify opportunities for collaboration and
  2. develop processes to work together-efficiently and effectively.

Doing so provides increased opportunities to involve more SIG affiliates (i.e., ASHA members) in the work of the SIG and the Association, consequently increasing the active involvement of members.

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