Get off the fence

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The work of the Nominating Committee in 2022 “has been great…just being able to talk to people, see their interests, what they want to bring to ASWB,” says Sonia Andhi Bilkhu of British Columbia, chair of the committee. “The most fun, of course, is seeing when people put their names forward.”

Bilkhu and members of the Nominating Committee were working the crowd during the education meeting, answering questions and recruiting volunteers to be considered for the slate. “Sometimes, they’re sort of sitting on the fence, and everyone is so busy. … Just being able to assure them that, yes, there is a time commitment if you get elected, but look at the rewards!”

2022 elections

Delegates will elect five members to the Board of Directors and three Nominating Committee members in 2022.

Board of Directors

  • President-Elect (four-year term)
  • Secretary (two-year term)
  • Treasurer (special election to fill one year of an unexpired term)
  • 2 Director at Large, licensed social worker (two-year term)
  • 1 Director at Large, public member (two-year term)
  • 1 Director at Large, member board administrator (two-year term)

Nominating Committee: Three seats (two-year term)

For those who may still be on the fence, Bilkhu has three words: “Go for it!” (But go for it soon, because the deadline for submissions to the Nominating Committee is July 1.)

“I think something that makes people hesitate is [the thought] ‘What if I lose?'” Bilkhu says. “Getting over that fear and putting yourself out there,” is rewarding. “Yeah, it’s a little bit uncomfortable, a little bit challenging, but [ASWB] is such a safe, supportive environment” for taking that chance, Bilkhu says.

And she knows about taking the chance to run for office. Bilkhu has stood for election to her local school board of trustees and for Parliament. In her school board election, Bilkhu garnered more than 27,000 votes—not enough to win, but enough to impress her kid. “He was, like, ‘Wow, how did you get 27,000 votes?'” she says. “I don’t know how, but I did.”

In her election to serve on the Nominating Committee in 2020, Bilkhu got to skip her least favorite part of political campaigns: fund-raising. “You do a little campaigning [for ASWB elections], which is all good stuff—talking about your resume, highlighting your skills, your qualifications, what you’re going to bring to ASWB,” she says.

Photograph of nominating committee members
2022 Nominating Committee: Kenya Anderson (TN), Sonia Bilkhu (BC), Stephan Viehweg (IN), Erin Michel (OH). Not pictured: Vikki Erickson (NV).


“It really makes a difference who you have in the leadership role, and it inspires [people]. And that was the reason I ran for school trustee. … We have eight school board trustees [who are white], and where we live, the demographics are mostly south Asians, people like me.” Bilkhu says. “Representation is important.”

Whether citizenry, schoolchildren, or voting membership of an association, people need to see themselves reflected in leadership. The Nominating Committee is charged with ensuring that the election slate includes candidates with a diverse range of backgrounds, identities, and lived experiences. “We’re making such a big difference in electing people and ensuring that we have a really diverse group of people that are running the organization,” Bilkhu says.

By running for leadership positions with ASWB, “you have a chance to impact change. … Whether it’s on the Nominating Committee, seeing who gets to be the next leaders as we form the slate,” she says, or as a member of the Board of Directors making critical policy decisions for the organization.

Running for election at ASWB “really isn’t as daunting as it seems initially,” Bilkhu says. “Once you get into it, it’s a great way to know the organization and then know your fellow members, whether you are running for the Board [of Directors] or the Nominating Committee. It’s wonderful.”