Leadership Recruitment and Development
ACHA Needs You!
Congratulations on making the choice to get more involved in ACHA! Perhaps you’ve been approached by a mentor or maybe you have been casually involved but see a way to improve on what we’re doing and you’re ready to take on that challenge. No matter how you got here, know that your involvement helps us advocate, educate and provide research for you and your students. Volunteers are at the core of ACHA success and for that, we thank you.
Generally, ACHA volunteer leaders are expected to:
- Assemble a diverse, representative team who can study a problem in its entirety and propose solutions or create a final product to be used by other members
- Hold regular (agreed upon) virtual and in person team meetings
- Work within the given timeline for project completion
- Communicate with appointed ACHA staff
- Present project findings at the ACHA Annual Meeting
- Serve as an expert/representative on your project for other members
- Recruit the next generation of leaders
Understanding the structure of ACHA and how projects fit into this structure
ACHA is governed by an elected 18 member Board of Directors, which is comprised of the Executive Committee, four members-at-large, six regional representatives, and two student representatives. ACHA is an affiliate-based organization, meaning that we’re a national network of college health professionals.
How to Get Involved
Members interested in joining coalitions can do so just by signing up. To join a committee or task force, members must express interest and be appointed to the committee or task force by the ACHA President.
ACHA has created nine sections to provide members with the opportunity to build professional relationships with others in their specific scope of practice or area of expertise. These sections reflect the professional diversity of the individual members of ACHA. Members are free to join the sections most relevant to them. These include:
Advanced Practice Clinicians
Committees and Coalitions
ACHA's numerous committees, task forces, and coalitions have arisen over the years to address the relevant issues of the day. These groups are where most of the leadership opportunities exist and are a great way to contribute to the field of college health and become an integral part of the association.
ACHA is divided into 11 regional affiliate organizations. Each affiliate organization is governed by its own elected affiliate officers, who provide guidance and leadership to members and help forge strong partnerships with colleagues on the state or regional level. Members are automatically part of their region’s affiliate. While some affiliates are more active than others, our goal is to have every affiliate highly engaged in ACHA activities.
How do affiliates, sections, and committees/coalitions coordinate?
Each affiliate has its own board of directors, its own annual meeting and its own programming. However, we encourage all affiliates to regularly communicate through with team members to troubleshoot, highlight success stories, pose questions etc. All affiliates are dealing with similar issues so maintaining good relationships between them is important.
ACHA is an organization with over 900 institutions of higher learning and over 8,000 individual members. In other words, we have a wealth of experience and knowledge to draw from. We work best when we take advantage of our vast network of college health professionals.
What makes a leader successful at ACHA?
That’s the million-dollar question! Let’s start with what a leader isn’t. A leader isn’t merely a manager. Yes, we need people to manage committees and coalitions and yes, that’s an important part of the job. But we’re looking to find leaders who bring something more to ACHA. Leaders who bring a deep knowledge about the problem at hand, can think “big” and can inspire their team to think “big” in order to solve complex problems.
Many of our committees and coalitions also have overlap. Again, we encourage open lines of communication and when necessary, leaders from one coalition are encouraged to reach out to leaders of other coalitions.
I’ve been asked to lead a committee, but I’m not sure where to start.
Before you start building your team, take the time to:
- Set large goals and specific objectives.
- Create a timeline for the project.
- Determine what kinds of team members will help you achieve these goals and objectives.
- Contact your board and staff liaisons.
How do I find the right team members so that my team is effective?
Your first step in assembling a team is to talk to ACHA leadership in your area of interest. For instance, if you’d like to support a specific Task Force, contact a Chair or Officer of that group to schedule a time and method to learn more. They often have many useful suggestions.
Next, look around at the people attending and leading the relevant ACHA conferences with you, the people who are most engaged in the field. Even if they can’t participate, they may know of others who are interested.
If you are looking for a specific hole to fill on your team, consider putting out a call for help on the ACHA Connect online discussion forum.
About Diversity and Inclusion
The ultimate goal of any ACHA committee or coalition is to enhance the health, well-being and academic success of the nation’s college students. This means we need to be researching problems and designing programs for a diverse group. Therefore, it’s our goal at ACHA to always strive to include committee members who reflect the college population we serve and/or who have a deep understanding of diversity issues.
How do I “make the ask”?
First, be clear about what you’re asking and set realistic expectations. You are asking a professional to serve as an ACHA volunteer leader. Don’t downplay the amount of time needed or the tasks that will be expected of your team member—try to be as realistic as you can about time commitments and the timeline for the group’s work.
Last, set up a time to directly ask your potential committee member for their participation. Then follow up with an email detailing what you’re asking of them, with a response deadline if they haven’t already committed; and outline their next steps.
I’ve been asked to lead an ongoing committee/coalition but I can only commit to leading this effort for two years. How do I plan for the future?
Leadership transitions often occur naturally when projects come to a pause or when one piece of the project is finished. This is why succession planning and mentoring is so important for leaders in all positions. When a transition is imminent, tapping the chair-elect, or someone on the team whom you’ve mentored, is ready to step up to become the leader. Schedule a formal ‘handoff ‘meeting where you outline the requirements, responsibilities and expectations of the position, turn over copies of all files and paperwork, identify key players, and explain the status and path forward on all ongoing work. Most importantly, offer yourself as a resource to help guide the new leader in their critical first six months.
In situations where all the committee members are ready to end their involvement on the project or when there is no natural leader to take over, committee leaders should consult with ACHA President to help them identify the next leader for the group.
Thank you for volunteering your time and talent to the ACHA! Questions? Please contact ACHA Volunteer Coordinator Dawn Goodman.