National Leadership Assembly Helps Guide Future of PRSA
By Janelle Guthrie, APR, Fellow PRSA
The 2020 leadership virtual assembly gave leaders across the nation an opportunity to learn about the state of PRSA and goals for the future, while providing opportunity to weigh in on important governance proposals.
The assembly kicked off at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5, with a state of the society report, treasurer’s report and nominating report followed by leadership elections—and wrapped up mid-afternoon after a short town hall on the issues.
Roughly 220 delegates attended via Zoom and cast votes using an online voting tool. Here’s a high-level recap of the final votes on various items:
Leadership elections: Longtime PRSA member Felicia Blow, APR, was elected as chair of PRSA for 2022, succeeding Michelle Olson who will chair the association for 2021. Assembly delegates voted unanimously to approve 2021 slate of officers.
Amendment #1 – Removing the Chair of the Board from being an ex officio member of the Grievance Committee. Passed 201-3 consistent with the Chapter delegates’ recommendation and board discussion.
Amendment #2 – Increasing the number of members supporting a bylaw proposal from an individual from 25 PRSA members endorsing the proposal to 1% of membership OR 100 members – whichever is fewer. Passed 162-55. Consistent with the Chapter Delegates’ discussion with members of the PRSA National Governance Committee to clear up outstanding questions about the proposal.
Amendment #3 – Changing the language regarding the designation of Delegates by a Chapter to require chapters to identify their Delegates by January 15 and certify the Delegates 60 days prior. Passed 193-20 consistent with the Chapter delegates’ recommendation and board discussion.
Amendment #4 – Requiring that a proxy be given to another voting delegate only. Passed 215-2 consistent with the Chapter delegates’ recommendation and board discussion.
Amendment #5 – Removing the APR requirement for being on the PRSA Board and changes the qualifications required for being on the Board and becoming an officer. Motion to refer the amendment to committee defeated, 144-75. Motion to amend as shared with the board passed, 149 to 61. Motion to approve the amendment as amended, making the APR a consideration but not a requirement, defeated despite a vote of 134 yes to 72 no because the motion required a two-third vote. Much debate about this in the chat section because delegates voted not to extend debate without understanding what exactly they were voting on. Motion to suspend the rules to reconsider, 126 yes to 87 no, failing once again due to lack of a two-third vote.
Amendment #6 – Limiting delegates to a maximum of three one-year terms, before requiring at least a one-year break. Motion to refer to committee failed --150 no to 43 yes. Amendment approved 156 yes to 54 no. Chapter delegates did not support this bylaw, as discussed with the Board.
Next up on the agenda, PRSA leaders shared their “Voices for Everyone” initiative with an emphasis on civility, diversity and inclusion. They also gathered input on new membership models designed to provide more options for members to join. The assembly ended with a townhall, where members followed up with their concerns about the process around 20-05 and questions about the PRSA financials.
Your 2020 delegates worked hard to ensure a thorough understanding of the proposed amendments, asking lots of questions and eventually assisting in bringing a compromise amendment to the table on the question of removing the APR as a requirement for national leadership (Amendment 20-05). The amendment brought the proposal into alignment with the Puget Sound Chapter’s recent bylaw changes that still honor the APR by making it one of the considerations for leadership, without requiring it.
We were proud the compromise amendment was approved but then quickly disappointed as the underlying amendment, as amended, narrowly failed to reach the two-thirds vote required to pass. Lacking the votes to pass, the amendment will undoubtedly be refined and reconsidered in 2021.
PRSA members on both sides of the issue have committed to a robust effort to encourage and support members who are interested in pursuing their APR—while at the same time, working harder to be even more inclusive in our leadership recruitment.
We all look forward to welcoming our new delegates, Nathan Hambley, APR, and Michele Horaney, APR, who will join Cindy Sharpe, APR, at next year’s Leadership Assembly! While Suzanne and I will no longer be delegates as we complete our three-year terms, we are proud of this work and will continue to cheer everyone on.
Don’t miss the 2020 Year in Review for more news and updates from PRSA!