Special Interest Groups: An Integral Part of Our ASHA Family You may have heard that I am very proud of my Italian heritage. Besides the pleasure we Italians get from our native food, drink, and art, we have a strong commitment to familia , including extended family. We also take joy in welcoming others into our family. I recently met ... From the President
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From the President  |   March 01, 2011
Special Interest Groups: An Integral Part of Our ASHA Family
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ASHA News & Member Stories / From the President
From the President   |   March 01, 2011
Special Interest Groups: An Integral Part of Our ASHA Family
The ASHA Leader, March 2011, Vol. 16, 23. doi:10.1044/leader.FTP.16032011.23
The ASHA Leader, March 2011, Vol. 16, 23. doi:10.1044/leader.FTP.16032011.23
You may have heard that I am very proud of my Italian heritage. Besides the pleasure we Italians get from our native food, drink, and art, we have a strong commitment to familia , including extended family. We also take joy in welcoming others into our family. I recently met a friend for dinner in Baltimore’s Little Italy. When he extended his hand, I said, “Oh, no, here we hug,” and gave him a big embrace. For me it’s all about making people feel part of our group, feel connected!
I was reminded of this story when I thought about focusing this column on ASHA’s transition from special interest divisions to special interest groups (SIGs). For me the core principle at the center of this change is ensuring that SIG affiliates are an integral part of the extended ASHA family. When I chaired the Board of Division Coordinators, I realized that in some cases division affiliates felt a strong connection to the other members of their division, but did not feel as connected to ASHA. In 2011, during the 20th anniversary of ASHA’s special interest division program, it’s time to update and improve the program to foster communities and increase involvement (visit ASHA’s webpage about the divisions restructuring for a summary of these changes).
We are all ASHA. There is benefit in connecting with colleagues who share our interests and expertise, but we gain much more when we also use our collective knowledge to advance the goals and objectives of the entire organization. The intent of the Special Interest Group Program is to facilitate greater community engagement. It will emphasize greater collaboration and integration and help us align the activities and programs of the SIGs with ASHA’s strategic plan, the Strategic Pathway to Excellence.
What does this change mean for you when the program is implemented in 2012? It will mean expanded benefits for SIG affiliates. Although you will begin to see changes this year as we transition, new affiliate benefits will be added next year. Those benefits will include expanded access to all Perspectives for all affiliates, affiliate-only discounts at ASHA convention and conferences, more dedicated staff at the national office to work with SIGs, and state-of-the-art online networking for each SIG. These expanded benefits will be available at the same affiliate rate of $35 for each SIG.
What does this change mean for ASHA? ASHA will be able to expand the impact of SIG affiliates as they identify and provide expertise to committees and boards; suggest and provide content for ASHA programming and continuing education activities; help identify content experts for ASHA-sponsored conferences and other educational programming; foster future leaders in our discipline; and provide input on policy development, practice documents, and advocacy matters.
To accomplish this, ASHA’s Board of Directors approved a 2011 investment of more than $600,000 to integrate the SIGs into the ASHA family. Our restructured special interest groups will help ASHA make our vision “3D”—dynamic, dedicated, and driven—to meet members’ needs.
If you’re not already one of the more than 20,000 ASHA members who affiliate with one or more special interest groups, I urge you to join; for more information visit ASHA’s webpage for joining a Special Interest Group. Affiliates receive:
  • Full-text access to an online member publication, Perspectives .

  • The opportunity to earn ASHA continuing education units through self-study of Perspectives .

  • Members-only e-mail lists and web forums.

  • Exclusive online content.

  • Discounts on select SIG-sponsored meetings and short courses at the ASHA convention.

Remember, in 2012 affiliates of all SIGs will be able to access all Perspectives at no charge. In addition, Perspectives self-study will be available to all ASHA members (and non-members) via the ASHA store. Affiliates of each SIG will continue to pay only a $5 processing fee for each exam of their respective Perspectives —a great way to earn ASHA CEUs to meet certification maintenance requirements.
As we implement these enhancements to the program, we will look for ways to improve operations, reduce costs, boost value to SIG affiliates and members, and increase opportunities for member engagement. The result will be a stronger association better able to meet the needs of all SIG affiliates and other ASHA members. In the new system, affiliates will be not only welcomed within their SIG, but also sought after and invited to participate in many more professional activities. I look forward to hearing from you as ASHA rolls out the SIGs. If you have suggestions or ideas, go to ASHA’s website and contact the Board of Directors through our “In Touch” form. Let us grow together.
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March 2011
Volume 16, Issue 3