Glenda J. Ochsner: A Model for ASHA’s Year of the Volunteer Clinician, mentor, administrator, and educator Glenda Ochsner, ASHA’s 2003 president and David Ross Boyd Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Oklahoma, holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s and doctorate from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. A 33-year ASHA member, ... President's Interview
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President's Interview  |   January 01, 2003
Glenda J. Ochsner: A Model for ASHA’s Year of the Volunteer
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ASHA News & Member Stories / President's Interview
President's Interview   |   January 01, 2003
Glenda J. Ochsner: A Model for ASHA’s Year of the Volunteer
The ASHA Leader, January 2003, Vol. 8, 4-29. doi:10.1044/leader.PI.08012003.4
The ASHA Leader, January 2003, Vol. 8, 4-29. doi:10.1044/leader.PI.08012003.4
Clinician, mentor, administrator, and educator Glenda Ochsner, ASHA’s 2003 president and David Ross Boyd Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Oklahoma, holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s and doctorate from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. A 33-year ASHA member, she has served the Association in numerous capacities, including, most recently, as vice president for quality of service in speech-language pathology.
In this Year of the Volunteer, ASHA’s new president is a volunteer extraordinaire. She is an inspiring example of what it means to give of one’s energy and spirit for community betterment and for the protection of the future of the professions.
ASHA has designated 2003 as the Year of the Volunteer. As Association president, you currently hold the highest of ASHA’s volunteer positions. You also recently served as ASHA’s vice president for quality of service in speech-language pathology, so you’re quite an expert in the area of volunteerism. What is your personal philosophy of volunteerism, and how do you plan to implement it during your year in office?
As a graduate student I was guided by faculty who modeled the importance of volunteering, particularly to one’s professional associations. I was shown that the responsibilities of becoming a speech-language pathologist, audiologist, or speech, language, or hearing scientist were not limited to being well informed about current practices and performing one’s daily activities with honesty and integrity. In addition, each of us needed to volunteer some of our time and skills to ensure the growth and stability of our chosen profession. We were encouraged to become involved with local and state professional associations and, over time, with our national professional association, ASHA.
Later, I encountered the words of Martin Luther King commenting on volunteer service: “Everybody can be great. Because everybody can serve … You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” These words encouraged me to pass along to my students my view that volunteerism is a professional responsibility, one that all have the ability to perform. It only needs acquiring the habit of volunteering.
I am often asked how much I am paid for my volunteer activities. Actually, I am paid a lot. Volunteering has led to extraordinary experiences and a true sense of fulfillment. Volunteering has allowed me to meet a variety of interesting people, learn new skills, contribute to the directions our professions take, and influence outcomes.
I hope that, as ASHA’s president, I can convey my belief to the entire membership that you are each important to the future of the professions and that you can each make a vital difference. Volunteering can add enormously to the richness of life.
Hidden in the question about volunteerism were at least two other questions—what led you to seek the presidency of ASHA? What personal strengths do you bring to the job?
One of the greatest honors I have received in my professional career was the request to seek the ASHA presidency. To be recognized by one’s peers as having the potential to lead an Association of well over 100,000 members is a rare and special tribute.
The strengths that I bring to the task have been developed over the last 35 years during which I have served as an academic, clinician, researcher, mentor, and administrator. Over these past years, I have developed a sense of the history of the Association and the professions, a strong commitment to the autonomy of the professions, a clear advocacy role for what we do and for those we serve, a recognition of the diverse interests and needs of ASHA’s various constituencies, and a deep and abiding respect for the value of the discipline and the professions.
What are the most important challenges you believe to be confronting the discipline and professions at present, and what do you see as ASHA’s role in meeting them?
As the discipline and the professions move forward in the new millennium, there are many challenges facing us. Among these are:
•a burgeoning technology that promises to transform how we educate future professionals, serve our clients and patients, interact with each other, share new information, conduct our research, and define our scopes of practice.
•the need to recruit diverse individuals into our membership. Without the participation of people who more closely mirror the composition of national demographics, we will become increasingly less able to meet the needs of those we serve.
•significantly expanding scopes of practice for both our professions. These expanding scopes will place increasing need on each of us to remain current in the practice of our profession.
•personnel shortages in a number of areas. Although some of these shortages may be regional or related to specific skills and competencies, one area of shortage that is found in all areas is doctoral-level individuals to assume academic positions. These shortages ultimately can affect all areas of our work by reducing the numbers of young, well-educated people to join us in our professional odyssey.
•developing a pool of young, potential volunteer leaders. We need to have a constantly replenishing pool of volunteers to maintain the dynamic growth of our discipline and professions.
These challenges can’t be overcome without strong partnerships and cooperative efforts among ASHA and its various constituencies. Together we can develop the educational, advocacy, and recruitment activities that will allow us to confront our challenges and emerge successful.
Do you have any special projects that you’d like to pursue—or initiate—during your presidential year?
Consistent with the theme of the Year of the Volunteer, I would like to develop programs to attract and develop new volunteer leaders for our Association, discipline, and professions. For new members to become volunteers and leaders, it is first necessary that they understand the opportunities available and how to select the opportunities that best fit their unique talents and interests. I would like to see us work collaboratively with state and local associations, organizations, and universities to identify potential future leaders.
We can then work cooperatively to develop specialized programs and experiences designed to create a pool of volunteers. Communication, education, and opportunity are powerful tools in attracting volunteer leaders.
What do you hope you’ll have accomplished by the end of 2003? Where will ASHA be?
At the end of 2003, I would like ASHA to have developed a plan to address some of our most critical challenges. New focused initiatives will be identified during 2003 and implementation plans approved. These new focused initiatives, along with additional strategic planning, will help set the agenda for the Association for the next several years.
Your presidential year is also the last year in office of ASHA Executive Director Frederick Spahr. Since he’s only the second person to have held this position in ASHA’s history, the choice of a new executive director might influence the Association for decades. As part of the selection team, you have a daunting task. How do you see your role in the process?
Identifying a new executive director is a major task. I will not say that we will be looking for a replacement for Fred Spahr, since I believe that would be impossible. We have been very fortunate as an Association to have had only two executive directors, both serving for more than a quarter of a century. During the next several months, I see my role as ensuring a fair selection process that involves input from the Association’s diverse constituencies. It also is important that we balance the need for due deliberation with the need to have a new executive director identified early enough to provide as seamless a transition as possible.
Beyond 2003, do you have a personal long-term vision for the Association? Do you see specific forces—from within or without—that might affect the direction that ASHA will take in the future?
Over the longer term, I believe that it will become essential for the Association to develop the ability to respond quickly to a shifting landscape. We have only to remember the impact of the $1,500 caps to see the need to be able to alter directions in a timely fashion. In fact, we may face a reinstatement of the caps later in 2003. I would encourage our members to contact their representatives and senators and urge them to support a permanent repeal of the caps. In keeping with the need to develop rapid responses, our members can find assistance in sending an e-mail or personalized letter from ASHA’s Take Action site at http://takeaction.asha.org.
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January 2003
Volume 8, Issue 1