If current trends prevail, this year’s elections for AIHA Board of Directors—which
open March 1 and close March 19—will be
decided by approximately 25 percent of
our members. That’s roughly how many
eligible members have participated in the
Board elections every year since 2000.
(The exception was 2007, when a mere
fifth of eligible members cast ballots.)
Urging people to vote has a conventional feel to it, because the arguments
for voting—appeals to civic duty and
declarations of the worth of every ballot—are so familiar that they feel like
clichés. Yet clichés have a basis in truth,
and memories of the 2000 U.S. presidential election make the familiar statements
seem dramatically less cliché. Yes, every
vote really does count.
Of course, nothing as momentous as
the most powerful elective office in the
world will be at stake when AIHA members go to the polls next month. But the
association faces a number of challenges
that will define AIHA and the profession
for the foreseeable future.
Among those challenges are the lingering effects of the economic downturn.
Strong leadership from the Board will be
crucial for AIHA to continue providing a
mix of products and services that current
members find valuable. In addition,
AIHA will be revisiting its strategic mission and plan in 2010, and will begin a
process of re-engineering to better meet
the needs of future industrial hygienists.
Fortunately, our association has a surplus of dedicated volunteers from which
to select candidates. The current slate is
long on experience, talent, skills and
leadership abilities. You can find out
more about each candidate in the special
election section beginning on page 38.
To make the best choices, members
should keep in mind the key responsibilities of each office the candidates seek to
fill. The AIHA bylaws provide helpful
descriptions of the open positions in this
Vice President. This is the highest elective office in AIHA, and the first in a
four-year commitment to serve the association. Whoever is elected vice president in March will progress to
president-elect in 2011, president in
2012, and past president in 2013. This
structure allows each president two full
years of preparation.
The vice president and president-elect typically perform duties assigned
by the president or the Board. The president appoints the members and chairs
of each committee, develops agendas
and oversees the Board meetings, and
has the authority to create task forces
to address specific issues presented to
The position of past president is one
of an advisory role and ensures continuity. This position chairs the nominating committee; thus, the past president
is responsible for the selection of candidates for the next Board election and
the review of award nominees.
Secretary-Elect. The candidate who wins
the race for secretary-elect will begin a
three-year commitment to the Board:
one year as assistant to the current AIHA
secretary, Cindy Ostrowski; and two years
(2011 and 2012) as AIHA’s secretary. The
secretary is responsible for recordkeep-
ing, taking minutes at Board meetings,
and other duties assigned by the Board.
Directors. On the AIHA Board, directors
have fewer defined responsibilities than
the officers. But directors do the essential work of making sure the organization is following its strategic plan,
setting worthwhile goals, and making
wise use of resources. Directors also act
as liaisons between committees and local
sections and the Board.
Currently, AIHA has nine directors,
who serve overlapping three-year terms.
However, a bylaws amendment to reduce
the number of directors is on the ballot
this year. A reduction in the number of
directors will create a leaner, more agile
Board. To take effect, the amendment
must be approved by two-thirds of members who cast ballots. An explanation of
the implications of the bylaws amendment appears on page 38. For more information, see Cindy Ostrowski’s article
on page 10 of the January Synergist.
The annual Board elections give AIHA
members an opportunity to set the organization’s course. I hope that’s how all
members approach this year’s elections—
not as a duty or even a privilege, but as
an opportunity. Let’s not waste it.
CathyCole,CIH,CSP,ispresidentofAIHAanddi-rector of corporate occupational health at The
Sherwin-Williams Company in Cleveland, Ohio.