Unlike the U.S. election process, the nomination and ultimate voting for volunteer American Academy of Audiology Board members doesn’t depend upon caucuses, never-ending focus groups, deep pockets for extensive marketing, or even Gallup Polls. As a matter of fact, amongst the various activities and decisions the Academy Board of Directors has made over the past year, the electoral Policies and Procedures for Academy Board of Directors has undergone some notable changes. After a thorough review and benchmarking of current procedures against other professional health-care associations, revisions were made that will allow more member involvement in the selection of candidates and ability for members to further assess the candidates before the election.
Each year, four Academy members in good standing are elected to serve three-year terms on the board (three members-at-large, and one president-elect). As detailed in the Academy By-Laws, the Academy’s immediate past president serves as the chair of the Nominations Committee, and is tasked with enlisting Academy members to serve on the nominations committee. The committee’s charge is to recommend a slate of candidates to the Academy Board of Directors for both the president-elect and member-at-large positions.
How representative is that Nominations Committee? The Nomination Committee must not only be representative across a broad geographical region but also practice settings with a few who are currently seated on the board. A “Call for Nominations” to Academy membership is placed through publications and electronic media, as well as soliciting nominations from Academy leadership including committee chairs, committee members, and the state leader’s network. The Nominations Committee is approved by the Academy Board of Directors in July, with much of the committee’s work occurring in the fall and winter months.
Unlike the U.S. government elections, the Academy requires all board candidates to have professional as well as board experience. When looking at past experience of Academy Board members, it isn’t unusual to see that all have extensive experience on local, state, national, or international professional boards or committees. In fact, to be eligible to serve as a member-at-large on the board you must have a minimum of 10 years of professional experience. A candidate for president-elect must have a minimum of 15 years’ experience and/or a minimum of 10 years plus current Academy board experience. At first brush, the 10 to 15 years of professional experience might seem to prohibit “young and fresh thoughts” during board deliberations. However, before an individual can make critical decisions and strategic planning about the future of a profession, they must first have personal knowledge about the profession’s history and experiences that they can leverage to help make the decisions that will advance the profession.
Perhaps the most significant change in the Academy’s election process is the timeframe. The Academy Board will approve the final slate of candidates in December, with elections following the annual Academy convention in the spring. Consequently, there is a golden opportunity for members to meet and listen to all candidates on the final slate at AudiologyNOW!
It’s certain that unlike U.S. governmental elections, none of the board candidates will require their personal custom buses or jets, nor million dollar election war-chests to win their seat on the Academy Board of Directors. What is certain, with the newly modified procedures, LIKE the U.S. election process, there is a dependency for Academy members to VOTE for their chosen candidates who they believe are representative of their voices and vision for the profession of audiology.
Jackie L. Clark, PhD
Member-at-Large, Academy Board of Directors (2015 – 2016)