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American Association for Public Opinion Research

AAPOR Advocacy Activities, By-Laws Vote and Staff Transitions...Looking Forward

by Mollyann Brodie, AAPOR President
Hello from water-starved California! I hope this finds you well into enjoying your summer and finding balance between your ongoing work efforts and all those fun summer activities.

Right before the 4th of July holiday, your AAPOR Executive Council met for our annual strategic planning session. We spent the large part of the day talking about ongoing and new initiatives across the vast array of AAPOR’s activities.

We will share more on those activities soon. For now, I want to focus on three important agenda items that were also included in our meeting:
  1. Potential AAPOR activities in response to the recent FCC ruling on the TCPA
  2. Final revisions to the AAPOR By-Laws
  3. AAPOR staff transitions. 

AAPOR Next Steps in Response to the Recent FCC Ruling on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

As you may have already read in my AAPORnet post, the Executive Council agreed to create an ad hoc group to explore what AAPOR should do in response to this ruling. While we recognize and appreciate that many of us are very concerned about this issue, there is not such a clear path forward as to what AAPOR, as an association without paid, trained, legislatively focused staff (like the role Howard Fienberg plays for MRA) can and should do. We have traditionally relied on our relationships with our allied organizations such as CASRO and MRA to help us provide information to our members and options for Council action. We will continue to do that. (FYI: The CASRO/MRA statement is found here.)

In addition, through a new ad hoc group, led by Councilor-at-Large Joe Lenski, we will be reaching out to members to help us explore how AAPOR can best support CASRO/MRA, options for how our individual members can get involved and other activities that AAPOR might pursue. Please let me know if you would like to volunteer your time to help this group (you can email me at [email protected]).

Final Revisions to the AAPOR By-Laws and Upcoming Vote of Members

As you may remember, we have been in the midst of a review of our By-Laws. An ad-hoc committee led by Paul Lavrakas and Jennie Lai delivered their recommendations to the Executive Council early in 2015, the Executive Council accepted the proposed changes and posted them for member comment. We also reserved time for discussion of the changes during our Annual Business Meeting in Hollywood, Fla. The Executive Council reviewed all the comments at our June meeting.

Overall, we received approximately 25 comments on the proposed revisions and the vast majority of those were expressions of support for several of the proposed amendments; particularly popular was the addition of an elected Chair and Associate Chair of Education.

There were a few questions and concerns raised. For example, four comments expressed concern about the elimination of the membership termination appeals process and three comments expressed concern about granting students the right to vote. The Executive Council considered each comment and made two additional changes as a result of our discussion. We will include detailed information on each of the concerns raised and Council’s response to those concerns in the final document summarizing the recommended amendments to the AAPOR Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws. The document will be posted on July 20 along with the final red-lined version of the By-Laws. I plan to respond by email to each individual who commented as well. The Council is grateful for our members' close attention to and consideration of this important document. 

The final stage is up to you: voting will be open from July 20 - August 17. Don’t worry, we will be providing ample reminders so you can be sure to take part in this important governance activity!

Staff Transitions

Earlier this year, we announced that the Kellen Company had acquired our original management company, The Sherwood Group. We expected that some staffing transitions would follow as the two organizations became one. Susan Tibbitts, who has commendably and loyally served as our executive director for the past five years, will be leaving us soon to become the executive director to a new Kellen client. We all thank Susan for the tremendous and significant contributions she has made to AAPOR over her tenure. Adam Thocher will be coming on board to work with us as our new executive director effective July 13. Adam comes to AAPOR and Kellen with tremendous experience particularly in the technology and membership arenas, two critical areas for AAPOR moving forward. His energy and enthusiasm will assure that he gets up to speed quickly, and luckily for us, Susan will still be close at hand to help with the transition and answer any questions as they arise.

In addition, we have a new marketing and communications manager, Eric Bailey, who comes to us with many years of experience in email marketing and advocacy, website development, social media engagement and data analysis. Eric is already on board as of the first week of July and working closely with Communications Chair Jordon Peugh, Associate Chair Sandra Bauman and the entire communications committee. The team is particularly excited about Eric’s expertise in digital content and we look for future improvements to our AAPOR News and the website. We also expect Eric to lend support to our social media subcommittee, as they continue to build AAPOR’s presence on new media.

Finally, Crystal Stone, PMP, joined the AAPOR staff to manage the day-to-day administrative functions of the association with a particular focus on support for the Transparency Initiative, the Awards Committee, and general support for committees and task forces, including member terms and recognition. In coordination with the executive director, she also handles the logistics for the elections and voting. Heidi Diederich remains as a core member of our staff team coordinating the day-to-day administrative functions of AAPOR, working with administrator Crystal Stone and Member Specialist Tonya Cabrera. She coordinates the annual conference program, membership retention and recruitment efforts, and chapters and provides general administrative support for the Executive Council and committees. Heidi coordinates the necessary logistics for Council meetings held in-person and by teleconference.

Adam and Eric joined us at our planning meeting and we are excited about moving forward with the team. We will have more in-depth profiles of Adam, Crystal and Eric in our next newsletter.

The year is off to a great start. Everyone on Council is energized in the wake of the conference and ready to take on the challenges that lay ahead. This is an exciting and potentially controversial time for public opinion research. We hope that together we can tackle the challenges and provide a service to our members and our industry that will help advance our field.