Governance Task Force Final Report 2019

By: Neil Weissman, MD, FASE, ASE Past President and Chair of Governance Task Force

If you are ever asked to chair a Governance Task Force, don’t frown or try to quietly slip away but rather recognize that it is an opportunity of a lifetime!

While governance may sound boring, it is at the heart of what an organization is and can become. More than 20 years ago, I joined ASE as a trainee. It was at ASE that I had my first scientific presentation, my first invitation to serve on a committee, or to later chair a committee and certainly my first organization that I rose to become its president. What is special to me about ASE is that it is a large international organization that (literally) sets the standards for echocardiography while also being an organization where anyone can go up to a national leader and start a conversation. It is, in short, my professional home.

So, when I was asked to chair the Governance Task Force, I saw the opportunity to give back and help ASE continue to grow into an organization with greater member diversity (as more and more sectors of medicine embrace cardiovascular ultrasound) AND one that could stay conducive to casual, stimulating and energizing interactions. In short, how do we grow bigger and broader, but keep that ‘professional home’ feel?

Formally, the 2015-2019 strategic plan for the Society stated that our goal was to “create a governance structure that is representative of our membership and supports an efficient and effective organization.” We quickly realized that to accomplish this goal, we needed to reconfigure our boards and councils to facilitate engagement from more members, to create a path for more people to get involved in committees and councils, and to make sure future leaders are representative of all aspects of our membership.

What resulted was a reconfiguration of the Board, greater reliance on the Councils to represent different sectors of our membership, standardization and transparency for entry into Councils and Committees, the creation of a Leadership Academy with a goal to increase the diversity of future leaders, and recognition that the ASE Foundation needed its own strategy and Board.

I am pleased to say that as of November 2019, these initiatives have been completed and new processes are now in place.

Redesign ASE and ASE board structures to facilitate engagement and strategic decision-making.

  • ASE’s board has a new structure involving an international representative, rising star representative, and a new “rotating” board seat for new Councils.
  • ASE’s Board was reduced from 29 to 20 with more frequent meetings and shorter terms for each member (to increase the openings on the Board)
  • ASE Foundation has a new strategic plan and tactics to expand its reach and a separate board meeting.
  • ASE Foundation has a new, separate board of directors to guide the organization’s mission.

Improve access and training of Committees and Councils to increase communications and create dedicated volunteer workforces representing ASE

  • All ASE committees include clearly identified Council representatives; reporting also assigned to the Council Representative on the Executive Committee to relay information and connect the committee work to the Board
  • President works with staff to identify and maintain momentum and to reward good volunteers during committee reappointment cycles
  • President works with staff to revise committee and task force charges annually to focus on upcoming goals and tactics

Document and provide transparency to Council operations and move toward standardizing to allow for additional growth and development of new Councils

  • All Council Chairs are included in the regular ASE Board orientations and have separate orientations with the Council staff liaison to review specific roles
  • Rules of Governance were revised to clearly outline the Council roles and expectations
  • ASE’s Council Representative also serves on each Council Steering Committee to provide direct information to ASE’s Executive Committee
  • ASE’s Council Representative holds quarterly meetings with all Council chairs
  • Council assigned committee members are issued invitations noting their representative roles that includes communicating back and forth related projects in these working areas to the Councils.
  • Councils were renamed “Council Steering Committees” to delineate their roles and operating procedures were standardized for all Councils to be clear and transparent
  • A policy of establishing a Special Interest Group (SIG) was approved. This new policy outlines the criteria for establishing a SIG, which may eventually evolve into a Council Steering Committee.

The Special Interest Group (SIG) application process is now online and available to members. This structure will provide a community network and provide outreach to feed the needs of growing areas of cardiovascular ultrasound. SIGs have the opportunity to engage with ASE in numerous ways:

  • Write SIG-specific quarterly blue pages communications for JASE
  • Develop SIG sessions of interest to be held at the ASE Scientific Sessions
  • Identify a SIG-specific article of interest for ASE’s Twitter Journal Club
  • Host an ASE Live Webinar with CME on a SIG-specific topic
  • Gather for a SIG networking session at the ASE Scientific Sessions
  • Create a SIG-specific abstract submission category for research or clinical cases to be presented at the ASE Scientific Sessions
  • Advance future ASE guidelines and standards development on SIG-identified topics of need.

To submit a proposal, log in to your ASE member portal, then select “Membership” from the menu tab, then select “Special Interest Group”.

Develop a leadership training program to foster young leaders and provide them a pathway onto the Board.

  • ASE established a Leadership Academy to foster young leaders and to provide education, ASE volunteer involvement and mentorship by ASE leaders. The first Cohort of 14 is set to graduate in the fall of 2020. Cohort #2 will begin November 2020, with the application process opening this Spring.

As a past president, it is amazing to see the growth and progression of our Society is it moves into a new era that includes all users of cardiovascular ultrasound. I hope these governance changes helps position the society to welcome and embrace these new users and incorporate them into our society so we continue to be as successful for the next 50 years as we have been since our creation 50 years ago!