As another year winds down, I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on the state of the American School Health Association (ASHA). I’m excited to report our association is strong. We are well positioned to initiate new programs to help transform all schools into places where every student learns and thrives. I am excited and optimistic about the future and looking forward to another great year. Here are some specific updates and things to watch for:
2019 ASHA Board Officers and Committee Chairs
Earlier this week, the 2019 ASHA board met for the first time to elect officers and committee chairs for the coming year. I’m thrilled to announce the 2019 ASHA board officers are:
- Ty Oehrtman, President
- Kayce Solari Williams, Vice President
- Beth McNeill, Treasurer
- Catherine Ramstetter, Secretary
In 2019 our organizational committees and taskforces will be led by:
- Sarah Helton, Co-Chair of Advocacy & Coalitions
- Ellen Essick, Co-Chair of Leadership & Recognition
- Lisa Meadows, Co-Chair of Leadership & Recognition
- Steven Goodwin, Chair of Professional Development
- Michael Mann, Chair of Research & Publications
- Sean Slade, Chair of Networking Communities
- Sharon Murray, Chair of ASHA School Violence Taskforce
Additional board members in 2019 include Bridget Borgogna and Alexander Fraser.
As the 2019 board gears up, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to outgoing board members: Adrian Lyde, Sharon Miller, Charlissa Quick, Wendy Sellers, and Deitra Wengert. These individuals have served ASHA with distinction, we are grateful for their service and wish them well.
2018 Year in Review
This year has seen much success for ASHA. We have seen growth in membership, new followers on social media, increases in unrestricted revenue, and the impact factor of the Journal of School Health increased again this year to 1.935. We hosted monthly webinars on a range of school health topics with hundreds of participants earning continuing education credit. In October, we conducted our 92nd annual conference in Indianapolis, where nearly 400 participants heard two extraordinary keynote presentations and dozens of other presenters sharing new and innovative strategies, research, and successes in support of the whole child.
Our Advocacy & Coalitions Committee worked hard to update and refresh our Core Beliefs which will be added to the ASHA website soon. We also revised and updated four position statements on critical school health topics. In February, I announced the formation of the ASHA School Violence Taskforce. The taskforce is made up of past presidents of ASHA and is charged with developing strategies to respond to the nationwide epidemic of school gun violence. I’m excited to see the results of their work in the coming months. Future action in this area will also be informed by the special town hall session on school gun violence that was held at our annual conference.
In January we announced ASAH’s major new partnership with Indiana University to provide staffing and administrative support. Now that we are nearly a year into that relationship, I continue to be excited by the opportunity and advancement that the relationship brings and continues to produce results. This relationship builds on an existing foundation of leadership in school health. In the coming year we will be further building on this partnership to add more capacity and expand our reach and impact.
Finally, I want to thank everyone who has served on one (or more) of our organizational committees this year. In 2018, we had nearly 70 volunteers serve on our four committees and two taskforces, more than at any other time in recent history. If you volunteered to serve on a committee in 2019, you should be receiving notification of your appointment to serve on a committee in the next week. If you have not yet responded to the 2019 call for volunteers, there’s still time, but please respond soon. 2019 committee appointments are being finalized now and will begin on January 1.
In 2019, we will continue to build on this year’s tremendous success! Recently, the board of directors revived work on formulating a new three-year strategic plan. We continue to chart a new course of action that will move us even closer to achieving our mission. At our core, ASHA has always been about developing the ability of school health professionals to create healthier school environments. In the coming year we will continue moving towards this with bold new steps to advance future leaders, support emerging professionals, provide continuing education, and fulfill our promise to lead, educate, and advocate for school health.
Some of the work I am most looking forward to are new and innovative formats of continuing education, including additional self-study opportunities. We are beginning to imagine new and more robust student scholarships, and school health leadership training opportunities. We are continuing to develop new educational publications, and we will be reimaging our awards and recognition program to assure that future awards are given to celebrate the work of diverse professionals working at the grass roots level across the country. We will be brokering and building additional strategic partnerships to expand our impact and ability to influence public policy at the local, state, and national levels. Finally, we will aggressively expand and diversify our membership base and our four virtual networking communities.
These are lofty goals, and there is a lot of work ahead to develop these programs. Earlier this year the board of directors seized on the opportunity to allocate resources for new programmatic initiatives in the coming year by establishing a special projects fund. We are committed to realizing our goals and ask for your support in growing that fund. In establishing the ASHA Special Projects Fund the board of directors collectively pledged $2,000 of their own money to match your donations starting on #GivingTuesday and continuing until December 31. If you have not already done so, I challenge you to make an end-of-year gift of $25 or more dollars to ASHA. All end-of-year gifts in 2018 will be directed to expanding our new Special Projects Fund, and invested in new programmatic activities being planned in 2019.
Serving as ASHA’s President in 2018 has been the honor of my life, and I humbly look forward to another year of service. I am inspired by the passion and dedication of the dozens of volunteers and staff that work hard each and every day to help us realize our mission. Having served in various ASHA leadership positions for nearly a decade, I can say that I have never been more optimistic about our future than I am right now. Thank you for all you have done to support ASHA this year, and in the years to come.
Ty Oehrtman, MS, MCHES, FASHA