At the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Delegate Assembly, ASWB membership afforded trust in me to fill the Office of President. This position consists of one year as president-elect, two years as president, and a final year as past president. At the end of the 2019 Delegate Assembly, it will be my time to transition from the role of president to the role of past president. As the transfer of leadership nears, I’d like to take the opportunity to review accomplishments of the ASWB Board of Directors, share thoughts for the future, and give thanks.
Over the past six years through the labor of staff and an abundance of volunteers, ASWB has advanced and matured into its current position as the regulatory pillar of the social work profession. In 2016, our association was midway through the 2014–2018 Strategic Plan. Two years later, the first year of my presidency, ASWB was preparing to lay the foundation of the current 2019–2021 Strategic Framework. During this pivotal time, your Board of Directors and the association engaged in self-examination, scanned our environment, and determined our future.
Recognizing significant Board accomplishments
I wholeheartedly agree with a statement about board effectiveness in a Harvard Business Review article by CEO Ana Dutra:
To be truly effective, a board needs directors who can work as a group to clearly define their role and mission, and in specialized individual roles, such as succession planning, acquisitions and capital allocation.
Working collaboratively with the chief executive officer, senior executive staff, our attorney, and one another, ASWB Board members engaged in training activities with nonprofit industry specialists. The outcome of our trainings assisted us in developing into a Board that used small workgroups to best advantage, allowing each individual member’s voice to be heard while aligning our purpose to the mission of the association. We defined our roles as Board members to the association, developed an understanding of our individual roles on the Board, and established strong bonds between Board and staff. I am pleased to share with you that as a result of this collaborative work ethic, Board members, the chief executive officer, senior executive staff, and our attorney reaffirmed and embraced a healthy, ethical, and legal governance position that provided prudent financial oversight, ensured adequate resources, and focused on issues pertinent to our members.
During my tenure, the Board has undertaken numerous activities resulting in positive accomplishments in fulfilling the mission and goals of the association. Some actions the Board accomplished directly, while others were undertaken through task forces, subcommittees, and workgroups. Some of the Board’s accomplishments are:
- Restructuring of membership dues, resulting in a reduction of annual dues
- Development and adoption of an instrument for the annual board self-evaluation
- Review of policy and process related to evaluation of the CEO
- Fiduciary oversight and approval of expenditures related to the new headquarters
- Planning and development of the 2019–2021 Strategic Framework
- Bringing the ASWB Foundation in-house to focus on regulatory research
- Development and updating of leadership policies related to succession planning and emergency communication in the absence of the CEO
- Ongoing monitoring of exam activities and creating a process to ensure members’ compliance with examination use policy
- Representing ASWB as ambassadors at external events and within the association when assigned to committees, workgroups, and task forces.
Excitement for the future
My thoughts about the future of ASWB are filled with excitement for three reasons.
First, because of the work of the Board, staff, and volunteers, ASWB is in a position of being the North American leader in social work regulation, recognized not only within our profession but within the larger regulatory arena, especially in health care. We are and will continue to be at the table with the other pillars of the social work profession—practice and education—and we will bring a strong, undeniable voice to advance social work as a licensed profession and to champion public protection.
Second, because of the commitment of our volunteers and our staff, ASWB remains mission focused. ASWB is fortunate to have a large number of dedicated, talented, and motivated volunteers who ensure our exams are reliable and legally defensible, our internal operations are enhanced by the unselfish contribution of their knowledge and skills, and our governance is strong. We are fortunate to have a CEO and senior executive staff who don’t see their jobs as just a means to a paycheck, but who are mission driven and invested in public protection.
Third, the Board has grown into a collaborative group who understands its role in governing a nonprofit association that operates as a business. It has been my honor to work with such a high-performing governance body as we have engaged in concentrated training, generative discussions, collaboration with the CEO, senior executive staff, and the association attorney over the last two years.
Thankful for the opportunity
I must give thanks to the membership attending the ASWB 2016 Annual Meeting of the Delegate Assembly who shared their confidence in my ability to lead and collaboratively work with the Board, CEO, senior executive staff, and our attorney as we pursued our mission and set goals for our association. I must thank Mary Jo for her guidance, enthusiasm, and boundless energy as we worked together for our association. There are not enough thanks in the world to give to each member of the Board of Directors for their support, grace, and commitment as we labored on behalf of our association. In my 35 years of board service, I have found the 2019 ASWB Board of Directors to be the most professional, association-focused, and hardworking board with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working.
As I transition to the position of past president, my promise is to support Harold in whatever manner he seeks as he transitions into the role of president, to continue as a productive member of the ASWB Board of Directors, and to work in concert with the CEO, senior executive staff, and association attorney as we continue together on this journey to fulfill the mission and goals of our association.