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The President's Perspective
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AMHCA Is Energizing Its Relations With Its State Chapters on Numerous Fronts
By Judith Bertenthal–Smith, ALPS
AMHCA President, 2013–2014

As the Beatles sang, “… it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter.” Hopefully, “here comes the sun” and you are emerging into a world where the beauty and hope of spring are outside your door. For me, the cold and nasty weather offered lots of time for reflection in front of a warm fire. I have been thinking of where AMHCA’s energies have been targeted and the changes occurring within our organization. 

This is a year of transition, with our new executive director & CEO, Joel Miller, having begun his tenure in September. New leadership should always mean reassessment, and Joel and the entire staff have come together hoping to become more efficient and visionary in their roles. 

The office space was spruced up and made more functional—for example, we’ve added a new conference room to our suite of offices. For the first time, your AMHCA board was able to hold the spring board meeting at the AMHCA office rather than a local hotel, enabling key staff to be present as needed. This previously under-used space also allows for staff meetings and for hosting external participants at our office.

A Focus on Our State Chapters

Legislation: While the focus this year may seem to be mostly legislative, with our ongoing efforts to win Medicare reimbursement, the AMHCA board and staff have a renewed commitment to our state chapters. The relationship between AMHCA and our state chapters is symbiotic—a strong association and strong chapters are mutually beneficial. The call for our members to let their voices be heard collectively and individually in Washington is one you have been hearing from us all year. This is still important, and we urge you to keep contacting key individuals in Congress (see this month’s Legislative Update). 

Chapter Conferences: Yet, as I attended different chapter conferences, it has become clear how important it is for AMHCA to have a presence at our chapter conferences. While the content of our formal keynotes and/or presentations is always valuable, it is the more informal dialogue that drives the connection. The question that we board and staff have been asking is: 

“How can we best serve our chapters and strengthen this connection 
between the national office and state chapters?”
We have a number of both established and new ways to keep our connections strong. Renee Kreithen has been named our director of state chapter relations. She assumes this new role in addition to her administration of theDiplomate program and her communication duties. Renee is now the “go to” person for our state leaders, and she is excited to develop new ways to assist our chapters. Renee also monitors our Facebook page and other communication networks. 

Our new monthly conference “call in” for state chapters leaders on the third Thursday of each month has been a success. The focus of the call changes each month, enabling chapter presidents and chapter executive and associate directors, along with Renee and various AMHCA board members, to discuss important issues. 

Leadership Training: We also encourage all chapters to send their top officers to our Annual Leadership Training, which is always held during the two days just before the start of our Annual Conference in July 

A multitude of pertinent topics are covered and networking opportunities abound. We have set aside more time this year for our AMHCA regional directors to meet with chapters with the hope of strengthening each region.

Grants to Chapters:
 Our Chapter Development Grant initiative has proven very successful. We are in our second year and have gotten great feedback on how the grant has strengthened the recipient chapters. Chapter grant applications are accepted twice a year; the most recent deadline was April 1. Check it out on our website or see the article about it in the March Advocate on page 26.

Speakers Bureau: AMHCA has plans to establish a Speakers Bureau to help chapters looking for inexpensive ways to bring new, exciting workshops to their conferences with presentations by knowledgeable speakers. We know we have a wealth of talent in our membership and that many members routinely offer workshops for their state chapter. Our hope is that nearby states can share in this expertise if presenters are willing to travel not too far from home and be willing to deliver workshops for the cost of travel. Details will be available shortly. I am also asking every chapter to allow any AMHCA member to attend a state conference at the member rate as if they were a member of that state. 

AMHCA Website: Please take a moment to visit AMHCA’s website. The website has been redesigned to be more user friendly, and it has a multitude of useful information—not only about the organization but with links to chapters, conference information, and our latest white paper on trauma. 

It is important that chapter information is current. More and more people use our website to find out about licensure in a specific state. We want to make sure that these individuals are directed to the most current contact at each chapter. In addition to the Connect With Chapters web page, check out your chapter listing in the Leadership Directory and let us know if you have changes.

Also, the “News Update” section has postings relevant to our members and the public on many topics. Two recent postings about the Affordable Care Act have generated lots of interest (see Noteworthy in this issue), mostly from non-clinicians and nonmembers.

Chapter Reports: We will be restructuring our chapter reports that are due in May. I cannot stress how important it is for chapters to send in the report. Not only is it part of each chapter’s obligation, but it enables us to have up-to-date contact information and allows us to be aware of what is happening at the chapter level. These reports also assist our regional directors in deciding how best to work with a chapter.

Unified Dues: This is another way to strengthen AMHCA chapter relations. The more members we have, the more impressive AMHCA appears to the outside world. Unified Dues makes it more affordable for our members to join both the state and national association.

Annual Conference:
 Did you know you can register for the conference online? For information about the conference, visit I look forward to seeing you all in July in Seattle!

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