| Greetings ACTE Leaders,|
The staff here at ACTE Headquarters hopes the fall is treating you well. In this issue of In the Lead, we will focus on association management. Just this summer, ACTE developed the Association Management Handbook to assist you in the governance and operations of the state organizations. The handbook covers information, resources and tools on the following issues that state leaders face: Legal Issues, Governance and Structure, Finance, Membership, Management, Public Policy and Grassroots Advocacy, Media Relations, and Programs and Services.
In this issue of In the Lead, we will highlight three topics covered in the handbook: "How to Establish an Effective Board of Directors," "How to Run an Effective Board Meeting" and "Membership Recruitment and Retention." We hope you find this issue of In the Lead helpful, but we also want to emphasize that the handbook, although a living document, is a comprehensive one-stop resource for you to access much more information than can be delved into here. You can download the complete handbook online here. Also, please visit the ACTE State Leaders Resources page for other useful tools and resources.
Before we get to the association management stories, please read about the Skills for America-NOW! Capitol Hill event, held on Sept. 21, to launch the Coalition's legislative priorities.
| Attendees discuss the issues at the Skills for America-NOW! coalition meeting, held September 21 in Washington, D.C. |
Skills for America-NOW! Coalition
Meets on Capitol Hill
On September 21, the Skills for America-NOW! coalition announced its legislative priorities during a briefing on Capitol Hill. The "Connecting Workers' Skills With Employers' Needs" event featured economist Nicole Smith from Georgetown University's Center for Education and the Workforce, and panelists Bryan Albrecht, ACTE past-president and president of Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Kathleen Coulombe, manager of tax and benefits at the Society for Human Resource Management. Smith presented information on the need to have more students enrolled in postsecondary education and training to ensure students have the necessary skills needed in today's workplace.
Currently, there is a mismatch between skills employers need and the skills employees possess. Albrecht provided specific examples of how Gateway partners with the business community to ensure students have the latest skills needed in the workplace. He discussed the impact he has seen in the community. Coulombe talked about the need for the Employee Education Assistance program and its impact on the economy and reducing the skills gap in the country.
To address the skill shortage, the Skills for America-NOW! Coalition developed three legislative priorities. These concepts include:
· developing a "Skills for America-NOW!" fund that supports the most effective evidence-based strategies to immediately retrain workers for existing jobs and careers
· establishing a payroll tax credit to employers for training activities (embodied in existing legislation, H.R. 5600, that would extend employer-provided education assistance, including certifications and two-year institutions)
· strengthening the federal government's infrastructure related to evidence-based education, workforce development and training practices, and the country's human capital needs.
The event raised awareness with congressional staff and education and workforce organizations about the critical need to reduce the skills shortage and its effect on the economy, and preparing students and adults for the workforce, including the emerging careers. The next step for the Coalition is to begin meeting with key staff on Capitol Hill in hopes of having legislation introduced that incorporates the Coalition's concepts.
How to Establish an Effective Board of Directors
The hallmark of a pre-eminent association is its governing board. Through its work, an association's governing board defines the organization. The responsibilities of the association board of directors may be small in number, but they are large in importance.
An effective board does the following:
· Determines measurements for success. The board defines what success looks like for the association. It determines the evaluation criteria for measuring whether or not the Association has achieved success.
· Establishes policy. The board creates and maintains a decision-making structure for association policy development.
· Defines the association's vision for the future. The board articulates the organization's vision and strategic objectives and translates both into action through the planning process.
· Fulfills fiduciary obligations. The board works to meet the established legal requirements regarding legal and regulatory compliance and financial oversight. The board ensures the resources necessary for achievement are available and used efficiently.
· Serves as champions of the association. Board members are advocates of the association, its membership and purpose. The board should focus its time on:
Board Leadership Roles
Role of the Director
Directors are elected by their respective constituencies to provide a voice to the deliberation process. Each director brings to the decision-making process valuable information and insight. Individual directors on the board have five major responsibilities:
1. active participation in the strategic planning process by continuous monitoring of the membership and the external environment and embracing dialogue and deliberation before decision-making
2. communicating the goals and the objectives of the association to members and external stakeholders
3. bringing forth the needs and positions of the constituencies represented, yet making decisions for the organization
4. fulfilling the liaison role to committees
5. serving as mentors to each other and to potential leaders
Roles of the Spokesperson
The official spokesperson of the association is usually the president. In his or her absence, either one of the officers or the executive director may speak on behalf of the association. The board of directors represents the leadership of the association and determines the positions and policies for the organization. In this role, directors are often asked to comment or state an opinion to members, the media and external stakeholders. Directors are no longer "ordinary" members, and every statement made is perceived in a different context. Even when placed on personal stationery, comments expressed by directors are taken as official position. Directors must exercise caution when publicly expressing an opinion or commenting on any issue. Any statement made on official stationery requires the president's approval. Always be mindful of current official positions and policies, and be careful not to stray from them, regardless of personal thought.
Role of the Executive Committee
The executive committee is not a quasi-board. It is established to act between board meetings in case of emergency or when an issue of a critical nature arises and must be addressed before the next board meeting. The executive committee should always take care to make decisions within the parameters of the board's official positions and policies with an understanding of the board's culture. When there is trust between members of the board, the executive committee is a practical and efficient method for maintaining the fluidity and responsiveness of the association.
Role of Officers
Each officer within the association has a specific task. The officers are most effective when they act as a team to provide continuity to the board and staff. The president has the responsibility to lead the association and manage its affairs. The president is also the key liaison with the executive director. The president-elect must be ready to assume the office of president if necessary. This officer also acts in the place of the president at meetings, events and social functions. The immediate past president provides continuity, insight and wisdom to the association. Specifically, this officer assists the other officers with implementation of their task through his or her institutional knowledge.
Role of the Staff
The headquarters staff serves as a resource for the board. The staff, working with volunteers, is responsible for the management and implementation of the direction established by the board. The staff provides daily oversight and, as a result, brings a unique perspective to the board's decision-making process. The relationship between the staff and the board is one of partnership and collaboration.
How to Run an Effective Board Meeting
The Board of Directors is responsible for establishing the direction of the association. In fulfilling this obligation, the board must keep its focus on the hori zon. It must always be aware of the needs of the members, prospective members and external stakeholders. Decisions made by the board should be made based on information about the internal and external environment.
The Consent Agenda
Effective boards follow the "consent agenda" format for its meetings. This format allows the board to properly review and accept the delegated work of the committees and focus its attention on the broader philosophical and policy issues challenging the career and technical education profession and the association.
What Is a Consent Agenda?
A consent agenda is an automatic approval agenda. It is used for two projects: to speed routine items that are always approved by the board without discussion, and to approve items that have already been delegated by the board to committees, task forces or staff. Items placed on the consent agenda are those that do not require board discussion. It assumes the board of directors has done its homework and reviewed the information prior to the meeting.
What Can Be Included on a Consent Agenda?
There is no limitation as to what can be included on a consent agenda. Realistically, only those items that do not require board discussion (as described above) should be included. Items that are routinely included by associations are approval of minutes, officer reports, staff reports and committee reports. Items that require approval of motions by the board, but are routine (i.e., approval of division/region reports), can be included.
How Does the Consent Agenda Work?
One of the first items of business at the board of directors meeting is the approval of the consent agenda. Those items that have been included in the consent agenda will be listed in the overall meeting agenda. Approval of the consent agenda implies approval of all items included. For example, a committee has submitted a new purpose description for board approval, and this request is part of the committee report placed on the consent agenda. The approval of the consent agenda carries with it the approval of the new purpose. In Roberts Rules of Order, this is referred to as "general consent." Under these conditions, the method of general consent can be used either to adopt a motion without the steps of stating the question and putting the motion to formal vote, or it can be used to take action without even the formality of a motion.
What if a Board Member Does Not Agree With an Item on the Consent Agenda?
Any item can be taken off the consent agenda and placed as a separate item on the meeting agenda. Prior to approval of the consent agenda, the president will ask if there is any item that a board member wishes to discuss. If so, that item will be moved to the regular agenda.
Why Use a Consent Agenda?
By putting routine and delegated items for quick approval, the board can spend its time discussing policy and strategic issues that demand its attention. It also allows the board to have ample time to thoroughly discuss those issues that are sensitive or controversial in nature. The consent agenda also facilitates the organization's desire to streamline the decision-making process and include a greater number of members in the planning and implementation of programs and services.
Board Strategic Issue Discussion
Effective boards operate on the knowledge-based decision-making principle. This enables an association to move from political model of decision-making to a more rational model based on information and insight. The knowledge-based philosophy of governance enables the board to fulfill its role of setting the strategic direction for the association and remain focused on the future.
To be a knowledge-based organization, the board must continuously address four essential bases:
1. sensitivity to member needs and views
2. foresight about the profession
3. insight into capacity and strategic position
4. awareness of ethical implications
The board should spend a considerable portion of its meeting time exploring issues of strategic importance to the association and the career and technical education profession. Through the use of dialogue and deliberation, the board explores the four essential knowledge-based questions before taking any action. A strategic issue can be explored over several meetings without action taken. The discussions look at the issues from a number of perspectives and often raise more questions than answers. Questions are researched and additional data is provided to the board as the discussion continues. Decisions are based on information and insights. Decisions are made only when they evolve naturally by discussion and have been reached through board consensus.
Membership Recruitment and Retention
Attracting and retaining members should be of seminal importance to every association. There is nothing more important to a membership organization than maintaining or growing the membership. Here are some tips when dealing with recruitment.
- Gather data -- How much do you know about your current members? How long have they been members? What's the average amount of time they stay members? Where are they from (i.e., geographic, discipline area, type of school)? The more you know about your current members, the more you will be able to craft and successfully launch a recruitment campaign.
- Where is your opportunity? -- After you have more knowledge about your current members, you should be able to see where you have opportunities. If all of your members are in comprehensive high schools, look to career centers, community colleges and trade schools. If your members tend to be focused in just a few disciplines, how might you expand into other areas?
- Define your audience -- Once you have located your opportunities, you must define your audience. Who are you going after for membership? What do they need? What is missing for them?
- Develop a plan/resources -- If you know you have a big opportunity in postsecondary, you have to develop a plan on how to recruit these potential members and what you may need to develop or deliver to sell them on your Association. At this point you should also set a goal -- a 10 percent growth, or nine new members, or every division will increase its membership. With a goal, you have something against which you can measure your progress.
- Execute the plan -- Your recruitment plan should include a timeline and a list of activities that will help you realize your goal. It should be as detailed as possible so you are following the overall plan. If people don't know the "why" of what you are doing, they won't get behind you. This goes for internal staff, as well as potential recruits. Keep in mind the other activities that you are already doing and how they might integrate into what you are doing. If you have a publication, how might you use that in the campaign? If you have a meeting, what might you do there? Try to keep the activities coherent and understandable-don't just jump all over the place.
- Look for resources -- Look for any and all resources you can to help with your membership recruitment. A quick search on Amazon or at American Society of Association Executives will yield a plethora of resources and ideas to use to help in your recruitment efforts.
Now let's take a quick look into retention. Most people believe that retention starts after someone becomes a member. The fact is that retention begins before someone joins your association. It's your Web site, the recruitment materials you have sent, your presence at another meeting or event. These resonate with people long before they decide to join. Here are some pointers and ideas related to retention:
Look for resources -- Look for any and all resources you can to help with your membership recruitment. A quick search on Amazon or at American Society of Association Executives will yield you a plethora of resources and ideas you can use to help in your retention efforts.
- Collect the data -- Here we go again with data. If you don't know who is leaving or why, it's hard to address those who are leaving. As an idea, ACTE sends a quick survey to its non-renewed members each month. The nice thing is that, each month, we get a number of people who reply that they simply forgot to renew. This is easiest and cheapest retention tool we have.
- Gather feedback -- One of the questions on any renewal survey should be related to needs and wants. Or, better yet, what keeps you up at night as an educator? If you can get the answers to these types of questions, you will be on your way to developing and/or providing for your potential members.
- Keep communicating -- Always communicate with your members. Let them know what is happening in the association and in the industry. When you survey your members, let them know the results. An open-door communication policy will go a long way with keeping your members engaged.
- Provide involvement -- How can members get involved? If you have a complicated and hierarchical system, you will lose a lot of new members right away. Are there long applications or steps to go through to volunteer? If so, you might want to rethink that or come up with ways people can easily get involved.
Important Dates to Remember
10th of every month -- current member rosters due (to unified states only); monthly financial detail with dues checks are mailed.
15th of every month -- monthly membership reports are due.
Last Tuesday of every month -- monthly state leader conference call.
October 15 -- Assembly of Delegates list due to ACTE.
October 29 -- Advance rate deadline for Annual Convention registration.
November 4 -- In order to vote in the 2011 Board of Directors Election, you must be an active member of ACTE by this date.
November 12 -- Registration deadline for Convention (if not registered by this date, you must register at Convention).
December 2-4 -- ACTE Annual Convention, Las Vegas, Nevada.
December 3 -- Voting in the 2011 Board of Directors election begins; voting information is sent via e-mail to eligible voters.
January 1 -- Voting ends.
Week of January 3 -- Election results are posted.
Late January -- ACTE/NIOSH School Lab Safety Award application due.
February -- CTE Month
Late February -- Cliff Weiss Memorial Essay Contest application due.
Late February -- ACTE Image Award application due.
March 4 -- National Policy Seminar registrations due.
March 7-9 -- National Policy Seminar, Arlington, Virginia.
April -- Applications for the 2012 Board of Directors election open.
Early May -- Lifetime Achievement Award, Award of Merit and Carl Perkins Outstanding Service Award applications due.
June 15 -- Applications for the 2012 Board of Directors election are due.
Beginning of July -- Early-bird registration deadline for 2011 Annual Convention.
N. Susan Emeagwali, firstname.lastname@example.org.