AAMFT Restructuring


President’s Report on October 2015 Board Meeting

The AAMFT Board of Directors met on October 16 and 17, 2015. This meeting occurred six weeks after the one-day board meeting held at the AAMFT Annual Conference in Austin, which is a very quick turn-around. However, those six weeks were incredibly active ones for Board members, who held on-going discussions in the AAMFT  Community in order to prepare for an effective and efficient two-day meeting in Alexandria. You can review the report via video or the written report below in text.

Consent Agenda and Routine Business

There were a number of action items to be considered. The Board of Directors approved all items in the Consent Agenda, which included items such as minutes of the September meeting; approval of reports from the President, President Elect, and Executive Director; an update from the COAMFTE Strategic Plan Task Force; the PAC report; Property Corporation Bylaws; and the Policy Monitoring report.
Related to routine business, the Board of Directors also approved a motion that recognized that the policy requiring a draft budget to be presented to the Executive Committee annually had been fulfilled with regards to the draft budget for fiscal year 2016.

AAMFT Research and Education Foundation

Following receipt of a request from the AAMFT Research and Education Foundation (the Foundation), the Board approved a motion to grant additional funding to the Foundation that will carry through the end of 2016. The approved motion included direction to the Foundation Trustees to establish benchmark data that will be used to evaluate the functioning of the Foundation as well as to provide needed information should additional funding be requested from AAMFT in the future.

Transnational Member Needs

The Board of Directors also discussed the evolving needs of transnational members. Two primary issues were considered. First, what type of relationship should AAMFT have with transnational associations and members? This conversation was particularly relevant because many of the identified challenges had corresponding solutions under the proposed restructuring. Second, since AAMFT already has members and divisions within Canada, the Board approved a motion directing the Executive Director to develop a Canadian business model. This model needs to include elements that are applicable to emerging markets and should be delivered to the Board at the March board meeting.

Bylaws and the Path Forward

The Board of Directors also acted on several motions that were the result of on-going discussion regarding advancing the profession and the association. Discussion occurred in the AAMFT Community prior to the Board meeting as well as during the Board meeting itself, and considered, among other things, comments received by the Board from members both in Austin as well as feedback via email and in response to the invitation to all members and division leaders to provide ideas for addressing our challenges.

As the Board previously addressed and again recognized in its discussions, the majority of voting members (61.42%) indicated they were in favor of the changes proposed by the Board and provided a clear indication that they want more flexibility and tailored benefits from the Association to meet their needs. The Board also weighed this with the concern expressed by some members voting against the change from the status quo and the potential loss that may incur. These discussions all occurred under the overarching reality that the Board recognizes that the three primary issues that led to the recommendation for restructuring still exist and data is starting to demonstrate their effects may be impacting the association even sooner than originally anticipated.

During our discussions, the Board strove to be mindful of our duty to the next steps of strategic direction of the association by honoring the wishes of the majority while being respectful of the concerns of those not in favor of the changes.  We identified three initial steps necessary to moving forward:

Step One:

The first of these areas of critical discussion involved the partnership of AAMFT and its divisions, especially in terms of clarity about roles, responsibilities, and expectations of each. The discussion was particularly vital because of the importance of branding to professional identity and recognition at a global as well as local level. Best practices in association management, marketing, and quality assurance expectations were also discussed, as was the harm done to the long-term success of the profession when branding and association management are not done well. As a result of discussion, the Board of Directors approved a motion to direct the Executive Director to present to the AAMFT Board of Directors, by the December 2015 meeting, charter agreements that clarify roles and expectations moving forward, identify branding and marketing expectations, quality assurance indicators, performance metrics and benchmarks, and remediation processes for those divisions needing to come into compliance with any aspect of the Charter Agreement.

Step Two:

The second step of our discussion related to the technical changes of the bylaws proposal (Phase 2: Normative Review Process). Many of the bylaws changes proposed in this section are vital to bringing AAMFT into best practices as well as the modern standards for association bylaws. The Board of Directors believes that it is critically important to have members vote on the proposed changes from Phase 2: Normative Review Process that do NOT alter the AAMFT divisional structure and do NOT change the bylaws from an Elections Council to a Nominating Committee. The Board of Directors approved the motion to put forward another bylaws election in 2016 related specifically to the Normative Review Process.

Step Three:

The final stage of our discussion related to the proposed restructuring. The Board reviewed the research and recommendations over the last nine years done by members as well as the strong support for these in the summer bylaws vote. The Board of Directors also discussed the concern expressed by some members regarding change from the status quo and the concerns about unintended consequences and impacts. Ultimately, the Board determined that the three primary issues that led to the recommendation for restructuring still exist and, in light of their potentially devastating consequences to the association, status quo is simply not an option for strategic direction. Thus the Board approved a motion that the Board of Directors will continue to actively pursue means to effectively address: (a) AAMFT’s mandatory two-tier dues structure that is not competitive with rival mental health associations; (b) the reality that the current organizational structure does not meet the needs of future membership; and, (c) recognition that the current divisional structure cannot capitalize on volunteer member interests and motivations. The pursuit of effective means for addressing these three critical issues will incorporate feedback and concerns related to execution.

Respectfully submitted,
Marvarene Oliver, President