By Nina Brown, EdD
Attending APA's Leadership Conference for Division's President-elects was very informative and rewarding, but was also a little overwhelming for a first time attendee. The central office staff and the Committee on Division/APA Relations planned and conducted an exemplary meeting. They were organized, welcoming, interactive, and sought to address all of our needs for information and clarification, even when we were not aware of what questions needed be asked.
Our Society was fortunate to have both the President and the President-Elect attending. The President's university funded her attendance, which was a valuable support for her and the organization. Jean and I were able to generate ideas to accomplish the division's major goals around membership, marketing, initiating fundraising for the Foundation, and increased participation and visibility in APA governing bodies for members. What follows is some of the information presented at the conference that can guide our focus and initiatives for the future.
Access and Input to APA's Council
Every division has a representative (ours is Gloria) who can bring the division's perspective to issues and concerns discussed at Council meetings. It was recommended that we ask our council representative to review the council's agenda and provide summaries of issues to be considered to the division's Board prior to Council's meetings. This will give the Board an opportunity to provide the representative with thoughts and ideas about agenda items. It was also recommended that the Board ask the representative to provide them with a summary of decisions made by the Council.
Nominations and Appointments
Other ways for the division to have influence and input is to nominate and/or appoint division members for open positions on the various committees and boards that initiate and review issues and concerns before these go to the Council. There are numerous such committees and board, and the Society's Board could post the openings on our web site and listserv to invite interested members to apply for the nomination or appointment. While we may not always be successful at having our nominee selected, we will get visibility and consideration for trying and may be successful the next time.
Conventional thinking is that the Society has too few members to attain another Council representative even if all members gave all of their apportionment votes to the Society. However, I learned at the conference that apportionment can be more complicated and, that under certain circumstances, could lead to an additional seat on the Council even for small divisions like ours. What can happen is that sometimes there are remaining seats, and the division with the greatest percentage of votes (not the number of votes) gets another representative, and the process continues until all seats are filled. There were three phases to the appointment process last year. There is some possibility for the Society to gain another seat and we are encouraging members to give as many of their votes for the Society as they can.
We were presented some data to guide us for recruitment and retention. Following are some major points:
More than half of APA members do not belong to any division
81% of new members in 2009 refused to self-identify with a racial/ethnic group
Men tend to belong to divisions more than do women
Free memberships for students do not produce continued memberships in a division
Fewer than 12% of new APA members join a division
Web Hosting Services
APA is beginning the process of offering web design, graphics, content, and technical support to all divisions and intends to bring divisions on board in a sequence but not all at once. I inquired about support and services two years ago when the Society needed to update its web site, and was told that APA would do this in the future, but they could not give me a time frame. Thanks to Lee Gillis and others, we have a new web site and host but we will discuss how and when we can take advantage of this new service.
A new "social networking tool" by APA will be APA Communities where division members can participate in discussion forums, post blogs, conduct polls and surveys, post announcements, and the like.
Mid-Winter Board Meeting
The mid-winter board meeting was productive and rewarding. Board members worked in a collaborative way to address agenda items, and to understand the immediate and long term needs of the Society. It was a pleasure to observe the committed people who are willing to expend their time, energy, and resources to carry out the interests of the organization.
Future president-elect columns will present updates on continuing initiatives and proposals for new ones.