From the President: Change for the Better

From the President
Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo
Twitter: @mszampaulo

As we near the end of the second quarter of 2022, I’m pleased to tell you that this year has already been a busy one in the best possible way.

The Board of Directors met in Alexandria, Virginia, for its Spring Board meeting in April in conjunction with the Certification Committee and Language Chairs meetings. In addition to reading and hearing about the activities of ATA divisions, chapters, affiliates, and committees in recent months, the Board discussed the draft budget for the next fiscal year as well as plans to make some changes that will affect the Association in the months and years to come. Here are some of the decisions made at the Board meeting and what they mean for members.

Elections Policy Revision

This year, the Nominating and Leadership Development Committee (NLDC) had their work cut out for them as they put together a slate of candidates to elect three director positions for three-year terms and one director position for a one-year term (the latter to fill the director position that became vacant last year when President-Elect Veronika Demichelis was elected to her current officer position). The NLDC proposed a change to the Ballots section of the Elections Policy, which the Board approved. The change is outlined with an example below.

In the past, ATA has listed candidates running for a one-year term or two-year term as a separate ballot item. Going forward, all candidates for director positions will appear under the same ballot item, with longer positions being filled successively by candidates who receive the highest number of votes and the shorter, unexpired term positions being filled by the candidate(s) receiving the next highest number of votes.

In other words, if there are three regular (three-year) director positions, and two unexpired terms (one one-year position and one two-year position) to be filled, the NLDC would nominate at least 10 candidates for these five positions. The top three vote recipients would fill the three three-year positions, while the candidate receiving the fourth highest number of votes would fill the two-year position, and candidate receiving the fifth highest number of votes the one-year position.

The single ballot item means that voting members, not the NLDC, select the individuals to fill any unexpired terms. This policy change applies to elections only and has no impact on current policy or procedures for the temporary appointment of individuals to fill a vacancy on the Board when it occurs.

ATA Annual Conference

Planning for our Annual Conference in Los Angeles (October 12-15, 2022) is well underway. President-Elect Demichelis will update you with more details in her column (see From the President-Elect), so I’ll stick to some changes the Board is considering with regard to this conference and future conferences.

As Treasurer John Milan informed the Board, this year’s conference is likely to be well attended but also costly to put on. With the rising cost of food and beverage (F&B) throughout the U.S., it’s no surprise that our F&B expense is currently projected to be higher than what we originally budgeted. In an effort to keep F&B costs under control, the Board is thinking of creative ways to provide our usual events where food and drinks are served without increasing the cost for attendees and without spending beyond our means. So, if you see some changes at breakfast or the Welcome Celebration, for example, please understand that these changes are one of several efforts to keep costs under control while still offering an unforgettable and valuable experience to attendees.

In addition to small changes to F&B at our next conference, I’ve asked the Board to consider the possibility of updating our conference model going forward. While we do have conference locations already booked for the next several years, we need to think about the lower attendance we’ve seen over the past four or five with an eye toward what’s in the Association’s best financial interest. It’s incredibly expensive to put on a conference, so by assuming fewer than 1,200-1,500 attendees, we’re able to look at hotel spaces in tier-1 cities (the ones we all love to visit!) with a more compact space than what we’ve contracted for the past several years. This means we could potentially reduce the space we need for sessions and events as well as the room block, which would make our conference less expensive to put on. As we gain more attendees over the years, we can increase the size of the spaces and room blocks we need. I see this as a win for everyone.

ATA Headquarters Location

Our office lease for ATA Headquarters (HQ) is expiring later this year. With the majority of staff working remotely since the start of the pandemic, the possibility of having a smaller footprint for our HQ offices is a reality. While ATA must maintain a physical space of some size, the Executive Committee has asked Executive Director Walter Bacak to look for a significantly smaller office space that will allow our staff to come into the office to handle any administrative work that must be done at HQ and continue to work remotely. This change means savings across the board for ATA. The Board agreed that such a change makes sense given the new landscape of remote work and the goal to keep expenses in check.

Savings that Open Doors in the Future

While cost-cutting measures may seem like a negative development to some, we see them as necessary to maintain the financial health of the Association going forward. These changes open a door for ATA to be nimbler in the future. Spending less on some of the nice-to-haves means we have more resources to dedicate toward the must-haves and the programs that continue to offer our members the benefits and experiences that have a direct effect on their businesses and professional development. The Board has a fiduciary responsibility to disburse ATA funds prudently and for the benefit of the entire Association, and I’m confident these efforts will pay off (no pun intended!) for years to come.

Useful Links

ATA Voting Member Information
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ATA Board Elections Policy

ATA Board Meeting Summary

ATA Conference Website

ATA63 Conference Hotel Reservations

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