I have been an active member of PRSA since I graduated college in 1986 (technically before that if you count my one year in PRSSA). Since that time I have had the honor of serving my local chapter in a variety of capacities including as its president a few years ago. In addition, I co-chaired our Western District conference when we hosted it here in Arizona two years ago and am thrilled to serve as the current chair-elect of Counselors Academy.
I tell you all this not to brag, but to demonstrate my commitment to our profession and to serving our national association. However, one aspect of PRSA that I do not have on my resume is the APR designation. And those three letters have stood between me and the opportunity to serve on the national board of directors. Until now.
I was thrilled to read the email from Joe Cohen that detailed out the proposed bylaw amendment that would allow the two At-Large seats, as defined in the bylaws, be opened up to qualified members who do not possess the APR credential. This has been something I’ve advocated for for many years. I have attended several Leadership Assemblies where very passionate members have talked in support and against a similar change when it has been proposed in the past.
I understand the value that PRSA places on the accreditation process and applaud those that have chosen to study for that accomplishment. My studies took me in a different direction (master’s degree), but should be no less valued when it comes to a leadership role.
Many things should be taken into consideration when determining who should serve on a board of directors. Things such as understanding how to read a financial statement, what it means to be fiscally responsible to an organization that is funded by dues-paying members and sponsors, and of course, the ability to commit the time and talent in the best way possible. Consider the candidates past experience serving on board of directors and their demonstrated leadership qualities when thinking about them as a board member.
I applaud the current leadership for listening to what the research and its many non-APR members (82% of the organization’s membership) have been saying over the years.
Given the opportunity to serve, people will step up. Let the voting membership determine who the best candidate is for a board position. Whether or not a certain three letters appear after the candidate’s name can be a consideration, but should not be the only thing standing in the way of a qualified person willing and able to serve.
I strongly encourage this year’s assembly delegates to vote yes on this important amendment. PRSA needs capable leaders, so let them have the opportunity to lead.
Abbie S. Fink, Vice President/General Manager, HMA Public Relations, Phoenix and Chair-Elect, Counselors Academy