OPA Considers Changes to Governance Structure

By: Kathleen Ashton, PhD, OPA President Elect, Chair, Governance Structure Task Force

Due to concerns such as the ability to act quickly on issues, keep members engaged, provide valid representation to all OPA members, President Jim Broyles has appointed a Governance Structure Task Force. Members include Kathleen Ashton (chair), Michael Ranney, Mary Miler Lewis, Josh Shuman, David Hayes, Cathy McDaniels Wilson, Kevin Arnold and Sandy Shullman. Additional issues included concerns about the shift from from professional membership as an expectation to the belief that costs of membership should reflect benefits gleaned and considering moving from a constituent representative to competency governance. Many other states have already moved to changes in governance structure such as Washington, California and Georgia. In these states, as well as Ohio, they were concerns about getting people to run for office, chair committees and participate in committees.

The Task Force wants the membership to keep in mind important issues during this process. 1) Nothing will change without membership approval. The task force is just gathering information and making recommendations based on their research. The OPA Board will be reviewing recommendations, and there will be open forums for members to ask questions and give input. Any major changes to structure would entail a bylaws change which would also need approval of full membership. 2) Transparency. All of the task force minutes and research materials are available to the board on the board portal for review and will be made available by request to the membership for review. 3) Sensitivity. The task force is very concerned about being sensitive to members’ concerns in this process. The task force recognizes the value of each OPA Board member, committee member, and general member and think they make valuable contributions to OPA. A smaller board would only be recommended to enhance how OPA functions, and all committee heads would still be needed to provide their expertise and voice for input on OPA decisions. The purpose of changes would be to more rather than less inclusive. 4) Acknowledging worries about loss. Change is a difficult but necessary consideration for every organization. The Task force believes OPA is a strong organization that functions well, but there is always opportunity for improvement. The task force is carefully considering the strengths of OPA that they would recommend including in any new structure. 5) Communication. We will keep you updated with information as we go along. I will be posting on listserv and in OPA publications to start getting membership informed and involved. There will be opportunities for open forums to ask questions and provide input.

Thus far, the Task Force has met monthly since December to start gathering information to inform any recommendations. Their research has included surveys such as the 2012-2013 Board Evaluations, Early Career Psychologist Survey and Governance Structure Survey. They have also reviewed the OPA bylaws and Strategic Plan, APA Good Governance research, other state models such as California and expert resources on nonprofit boards such as Mary Byers “Race to Relevance.” The meetings have focused on the following: history of OPA structure; analyzing strengths, weaknesses, threats, opportunities based on current structure; integrating strategic plan into current or new structure; discussing organizing principles and themes based on research; starting to discuss possible models based on organizing principles.

Some of the organizing themes that have emerged from the meetings include the following:

A structure that:

  1. Allows communication from the larger membership/committees to give important input
  2. Enhances engagement with board members and membership
  3. Will maximize the use of technology to enhance engagement and efficiency
  4. Will maintain positive relationships with central staff and executive director
  5. Will allow OPA to become primary source of psychological information and professional tools for membership vs. a professional duty

The task force is in the early discussion of three possible models to present to the board and membership. The first model would likely reflect few changes from the current board structure. The second model would a very lean model with a 5-9 person board including an executive committee and 0-4 at large elected board members. The third model would be a mid-ground with a 9-11 person board with executive committee and members representing specific areas such as education, practice, public interest and science. The Task Force would like to present these preliminary models at the June OPA Board meeting for discussion and hopes to hold open forums for both the board and general membership to give feedback prior to that meeting.


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