BY TORI WEED
The USHJA National Convention kicked off in Denver, Colorado on December 8, 2019. Day one included individual zone breakout discussions and a two hour Zone Education panel. The panel consisted of zone committee chair holders, and Christy Landwehr facilitated the discussion.
Landwehr presented basic information about what is happening with the zones as they are currently under construction. The audience learned that USHJA asked for all current chair holders to remain on the zone counsel for another year, stating that chair elections will not occur in 2020. This means that elected seats from 2021 will then hold a three year position, and zone elections will return back to normal in 2024.
Why has USHJA decided to do this? Because with the current structure, the zones feel unheard—as if their requests and suggestions never make it all the way to the USHJA board. This causes a huge disconnect between the zones, working groups, and the board, leaving the zones not understanding why their voices are faintly heard.
Landwehr prompted the panel and audience to discuss areas of improvement for the zones. She asked what everyone would like to see remain while changes are made.
One question asked was: What outcomes would you like to see from the newly constructed zone counsel? The overwhelming response from both the panel and audience was an increase in communication. Face to face, representative, and individual member communication were the focal point of this discussion. The hope is that an increase in communication from everyone involved with USHJA zones will empower members to voice their concerns to create a better association.
The responsibility of increasing communication does not fall on board members alone. Every individual involved in a zone holds a personal responsibility to advocate for the changes they would like to see.
There was a general consensus from the discussion that in order to increase communication there needs to be a more direct connection between the zones and the USHJA board. Chair members need to be active advocates for their zones by attending meetings and being present on webinars. Additionally, individuals need to voice their opinions.
Individual members and zones all face different challenges within the association. Without the participation of everyone, appropriate changes can not be made to better USHJA. But if all voices are included in the discussion of what needs to be done, then hopefully we can improve upon what has happened in the past and begin to work outside the box to create an organization valuing everyone’s opinions and ideas.