Empowering Our Members by Transforming Our Governance

Thanks to the world of technology and the internet, everything is transformed: how we communicate, how we engage in activities, and how we work together to make a better world for tomorrow. As these changes have occurred, so has the way in which we remain relevant to our members and to the overall health care system. Our self reflection through our strategic planning process revealed that for too long there has been what some might describe as a “class system” at ACA composed of two tiers: the leadership and everyone else. Some even feel that the long path to ACA leadership creates a division between our leaders and members.

It is true, historically, that the path to ACA leadership is very long; it can often take more than 14 years to become president. As we worked to find a better way, we realized that we want, and need, more member input in decision making and a greater sense of community. These were some of the issues your association leadership worked to address in our transformational new governance model, which will be considered for adoption in March at DC2017.

The House of Delegates has worked over the past year to assess our current governance needs and to develop a new model that builds on the best of our traditions while streamlining our decision making. The new model is based on leadership competencies and increases opportunities for members to serve in decision-making positions.

Our old model was one of ascendency through leadership chairs. “Who you know” was often more important than “what you know.” Our new model is based on member competencies and the needs of the association in meeting its objectives and realizing its strategic plan.

One of the most important components in our new bylaws is the establishment of an elected Nominating Committee charged with finding the most competent members to fill association roles. The new Nominating Committee will make recommendations for all presidential appointments and Board of Governors elections.

The Nominating Committee will be tasked with maintaining a database of the competencies and expertise of all ACA members who may have an interest in actively participating in decision making or policy development for the association. The recommendations the committee makes will be based on the competencies of the candidates, not on who they know or where they are from.

In addition, we will move to an increased use of targeted task forces instead of long-term committees. This will allow members with needed expertise to participate more easily by increasing the frequency of opportunities, while at the same time decreasing the time and energy required to make a difference.

Our old model for the election of governors was geographically based and limited to a candidate pool of a handful of state delegates in each area, who voted among themselves. This restricted the ability of your representatives to vote for the most qualified candidates from across the country. In our new model, we eliminated geographic districts and opened the board election process so any ACA member who qualifies can run for election to the Board of Governors.

The current governance model of the ACA was first adopted in June 1964, completing the merger of the National Chiropractic Association and the then ACA. The bylaws at the time were about 17 pages long. They were designed with many redundant layers of checks and balances, since trust was an issue with the parties in the merger. Through the years, the bylaws have become bloated to 33 pages with an additional 21 pages of standing rules and 31 pages of standard operating procedures.

The resulting governance model has become needlessly more complex and expensive to operate. This restricts the association from being as nimble as we would like in reacting to the evermore rapid changes in the health care environment. Restrictions and rules put in the bylaws over the past 50 years to address immediate needs at different times have become obstacles to fulfilling our current mission.

Our new model will allow us to realign significant resources, making better use of your dues dollars. The association will be able to react much more rapidly and effectively to your practice needs. The opportunities for you to meaningfully participate will increase greatly.

You will hear much more about the new ACA over the coming months if the bylaws structure is adopted in March. We will solicit CVs from our members over the next year to build our database of member competencies.

Think of the abilities you can bring to ACA and the ways you can work with ACA to improve your professional and practice satisfaction. We know there is tremendous untapped potential in our membership. We are creating the opportunity for you to play a greater, more meaningful role.

We want and need your input and participation in all aspects of the ACA. The power to change this profession is in your hands.