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The 2022-2023 AAPOR Council Nominations Process

by Dan Merkle, Past President and Nominations Committee Chair

On April 11, 2022 AAPOR announced the winners of its 2022-2023 Executive Council election. The election is a culmination of a long process that starts many months before. With so many qualified and dedicated AAPOR members, you may be wondering how the 18 candidateswho ran for the nine offices were selected. This article explains how the nominations process worked this year

As this year’s Past President I chaired the Nominations Committee. To start the process, I worked to assemble a diverse committee that would bring different perspectives. This committee was approved by AAPOR’s Executive Council at its September 2021 meeting. I would like to thank those who agreed to serve with me on the committee: Ipek Bilgen, Patricia Moy, Anna Sandoval, Tamara Terry, and Luis Tipan. It was a great group to work with, and their hard work and input in assembling ‎the list of potential candidates was a key part of the success of this process.

The overall goal of the committee is to recommend to Executive Council potential candidates for each Council position. It is then up to Council to deliberate and choose which candidates will be slated for the election. Council has the ability to choose candidates on the list for each office or to move a candidate from one office to another.

When identifying potential nominees, the Nominations Committee tries to cast a wide net with the goal of finding people with the experience and commitment needed for each position, and who are willing to run if selected and willing to serve if elected. Our goal was to produce a list of possible candidates that represented the diversity within AAPOR and the field, to also build on past service to AAPOR, and to cultivate future leadership.

When considering potential candidates, the committee followed four guiding principles, consistent with previous Nominations Committees.  The first principle is that the committee has to do its job in such a way that AAPOR can’t lose. That is, no matter which candidate wins the election, it should be a win for AAPOR and the membership. Our goal was to match equally strong and equally qualified candidates against each other.
The second principle is that leadership pipelines matter. To develop AAPOR’s long-term leadership, we need a balance of both experience and fresh views so that we give a diverse set of future leaders the experiences and opportunities they need to develop and demonstrate their capabilities.

The third principle is the importance of diversity. Having diverse voices on Council helps ensure that AAPOR remains relevant and effective for our members and for the industry more broadly. The committee worked to produce a list of recommended candidates that represented the diversity of AAPOR’s members and the field. Having a diverse slate of candidates means considering numerous characteristics such as gender identity, age, race and ethnicity, service record to AAPOR, stage of career, length of membership in AAPOR, and organizational sector and size.

The fourth principle is that we need people who are willing to work hard, as part of a team. AAPOR offers many activities and opportunities for members, and AAPOR Council is very busy. The Executive Council is a place for dependable, hardworking, dedicated volunteers. We considered factors such as volunteer service on AAPOR committees and task forces, previous service on AAPOR’s Council, and other service to AAPOR and the field.

There are nine offices on the Executive Council. This year nominees could come from either the commercial or noncommercial sector for every office except for Vice President/President Elect. For this office the nominees had to come from the commercial sector this year based on the rotation outlined in AAPOR’s Bylaws.
The committee began with a list of 190 AAPOR members who were recommended to run for Council from various sources. These include names we received from a call for nominations sent to all AAPOR members (including several reminders) through which people could nominate other AAPOR members or themselves. I also sought recommendations from the other members of the Nominations Committee and from current members of Council.

Next the committee worked to narrow down this list of 190 names by distributing “priority points” to everyone on the list. Each committee member distributed 50 points among the 190 people on the initial list. Committee members could allocate anywhere from five points to someone they were very enthusiastic about to zero points depending on their level of enthusiasm for having that person nominated. For names allocated any points, the committee members also suggested what offices they thought each potential candidate would be best suited for.

Anyone who received at least one point made it to the next round for further consideration. However, when we met to discuss the outcome of this stage, committee members had one last chance to move people who had received zero points up onto the list of consideration for the next round if they felt someone had been missed. A handful of additional people were added to the list for the next round at this point.

This resulted in a list of 91 names to consider in the next round of deliberations. I assigned these names to the nine AAPOR Council offices based on the consensus of committee recommendations in the previous round. The committee then discussed these assignments, and we moved some people to other offices based on the consensus of the group. We also had a discussion of these candidates, and committee members were given the opportunity to express what they saw as the strengths and limitations of the candidates.

Then the committee rated each of the 91 candidates within each office on a scale of one to four, with four being very favorable. I took the average of these ratings and used this to rank the candidates within each office. From that list, I started calling people in order of the rankings within each office, until I had three or four people who agreed to run for each office.

In all, I talked to 56 AAPOR members to determine if they were willing to run if asked and willing to serve if elected. Making these calls was the most enjoyable part of the process for me because it meant talking to so many members who love AAPOR as much as I do. These calls yielded 31 members who were willing to be considered for this election. Interestingly, almost all of those who declined to be considered this year said they would be willing to be considered in the near future, but that now was not a good time for them, for a variety of reasons.

Next, the Nominations Committee members ranked the 31 candidates who agreed to be considered from highest to lowest within each office. I averaged these rankings to come up with a ranking of the candidates within each office. This rank ordered list was presented to Council for discussion at its January 2022 Council meeting. At that meeting the Council spent a considerable amount of time discussing the candidates and offices and made the final decision as to which two candidates would be slated to be on the ballot for each office.

It was an honor and a privilege to chair the Nominations Committee this year. Thank you to the Nominations Committee members and to the Executive Council for their diligence in putting together this year’s excellent slate of candidates. Thank you to all who agreed to be considered as possible nominees, to those who agreed to run in this election, and to those who will serve on the next Council. This volunteer spirit is what makes AAPOR so special.