Vol. 28 • Issue 6 • Page 12
The assembly will consider seven motions designed to:
• increase opportunities get "new blood" on the legislative body,
• better prepare and mentor new reps for their roles as leaders,
• provide for ongoing discussion of important issues through the creation of regional focus groups, and
• replace alternate representatives with representatives elect.
But the once-threatened assembly will remain in tact under this new plan, something for which state representatives have fought during the past 24 months. The body voted down two previous attempts in 2010 and 2011 that would have reorganized the national association by replacing the assembly with a 15-20-member council made up of representatives elected at large and appointed by the board of directors. (See "Change for the Better," ADVANCE, March 28, 2011, p. 12.)
This new plan comes from a motion made at last year's spring assembly by Illinois Rep. Robin Jones, to create an ad-hoc committee "to evaluate current operations and functions of the RA to improve efficiencies and clarify procedures of the Representative Assembly to address practice concerns and association issues."
It's been long agreed by many members of the assembly that some slimming down was necessary in a tight economy, and that the little legislature could stand some procedural changes to help move business along faster. The question was how to do it.
Fact-finding became the job of the Representative Assembly Operations and Functions Ad Hoc Committee, an 11-member body appointed by RA Speaker Yvonne Randall and chaired by former COP chair Janet Delaney. Its members included Rebecca Argabrite Grove, chair of the Bylaws, Policies and Procedures Committee (BPPC), a former RA rep from Virginia; current RA Vice-Speaker Francie Baxter; Denise Chisholm, past RA agenda chair; Georgia Rep. Debi Hinerfeld, chair of the Emerging Leadership Development Committee; South Carolina Rep. Cristina Reyes Smith; Michigan Rep. Susan Robosan-Burt; and Kentucky Alt. Rep. Rhonda Tapp Edwards. Also participating were three students: Jennifer Ferguson, Sarah Shapiro, and Emily Wright.
The group met 14 times by Live Meeting over the past year to review and discuss reports and information collected by other committees that have studied structural and functional change in the association, and posted a two-part Zoomerang Survey Sept. 8, 2011, to gather input from RA representatives and association leaders.
A total of 91 representatives and alternate representatives responded to parts 1 and 2 of the survey. Another 18 of 41 leaders from the board of directors, association officers, RA Coordinating Council, RA Leadership Team (RALT) and relevant AOTA staff took part in a replicated Part 1.
Feedback from the survey showed that there seemed to be no need to change or replace the current committees, commissions and councils. But common themes among respondents were:
• concerns about enough mentoring and/or leadership opportunities for current and incoming members of the RA, ASD and members of AOTA interested in becoming more active in RA activities;
• improving the efficiency of the assembly and clarifying procedures to address practice concerns and association issues;
• improving civil discourse within the RA;
• determining whether alternate representatives were actually needed; and
• increasing communication opportunities among RA representatives, between RA representatives and their constituents and between the RA and the AOTA Board of Directors.
From this input came the seven motions the assembly will debate during its on line task groups meeting April 6-19. Members of AOTA may monitor the meeting on OTConnections. The general assembly will meet in Indianapolis to vote April 25. Here's a rundown of the main parts of the proposal:
Recruitment Ad Hoc
To develop a recruitment program for current and past members of the Association of Student Delegates (ASD) and other AOTA members interested in participating in the Representative Assembly.
This will include workshops and materials on opportunities and strategies for becoming involved with the RA and other leadership possibilities. It will be offered statewide and nationally. Members of the planning committee should be members of the RA and members at large registered on the Coordinated Online Opportunities for Leadership (COOL) database.
VLDC SOP, JDs and Transition Plan
This motion directs the Recognitions and Nominating committees of the RA to develop standard operating procedures, job descriptions and a transition plan, working with the BPPC for the development and implementation of the Volunteer Leadership Development Committee as a standing committee of the Representative Assembly.
Process and Criteria for Motions
Currently RA motions are processed only twice a year, right before and during spring and fall RA meetings. This means the business of the assembly is fully "conducted" only twice a year. This motion asks the RALT to "develop a criteria and process for motions based on a uniformity of procedures and timelines" so that motions can be received on an ongoing basis. Also to be developed are guidelines for representatives to use to help their constituents create and forward motions to the assembly.
RA Leadership Networking Communities
This motion revives part of the old plan, in which regional representatives would replace state reps. But in this scenario, no one is being replaced.
Representatives from several states or election areas would meet electronically four times a year to discuss on-going RA business with either a RALT or RACC member present.
After each meeting, they would present a brief report to the assembly speaker.
Motions 5, 6 and 7
Eliminate Alternative Rep Position; Create Representative-Elect Position and Establish Rules
Fifty-three percent of RA reps and leaders were in favor of replacing the alternative representative position with a representative-elect position that would last for one year, giving an elected rep the same three years in office, and allowing two terms. Under this system, the longest a rep could stay in office is six years. A timetable is attached to this motion as to election years.
This is the only motion that, if passed, would take effect by the end of this year. The rest would come before the assembly in 2013 for final adjustment and voting.
The Fiscal Issue
The cost of putting this plan into place is still to be determined. In carefully broken-down expenditure estimates for each of the projects, the ad hoc committee came to a total of just over $15,000. Another $8,000 could become part of the annual budget as representatives-elect come into the spring meeting.