Sections are, by their nature, informal groups and so need limited administrative structure. This doesn’t mean they are “low maintenance” but that the maintenance is more focused on building community than running an organization.
This Section will cover what’s required of Sections, how you are connected to the ASPEN family, what you can expect in terms of support, and what you can do to assure your Section operates effectively .
Where Do Sections Fit In?
Sections are subgroups, with at least 50 members, that fall within ASPEN’s membership area. This chart shows flow of communications and how Sections fit in. The basic form, roles and responsibilities for Sections are dictated by the society’s bylaws.
Members have the option of joining a Section at any time through the membership join page.
Section Scope & Requirements
The primary goals of ASPEN Sections are:
- communication among members with similar professional interests
- identifying needs for educational programs and resources serving as the content experts for ASPEN initiatives
Secondary goals are:
- recruiting members from a particular area of interest
- providing a voice within ASPEN for Sectional interests
- advancing ASPEN’s Strategic Management Program
In the context of these goals, Section leadership must work with and through the Section Affairs Subcommittee or Board Liaison to identify issues, gain approval on actions and positions. Sections are not independent groups and are therefore required to work within the society’s agenda and position on issues.
- Maintain a minimum of 50 ASPEN members with a common, self-described area of interest.
- Complete an annual work plan and submit to the national office by August 15.
- Meet annually at Clinical Nutrition Week.
- Provide ASPEN with all requested reports and organizational documents.
- Maintain direct communication with the Board liaison, Section Affairs Subcommittee Chair, and Director of Membership on Section issues such as leadership, deadlines for submission of proposals for possible submission to Clinical Nutrition Week or annual work plans.
- Leaders attend an annual Section leaders meeting at Clinical Nutrition Week with ASPEN’s Section Affairs Subcommittee Chair, Board Liaisons, and Director of Membership.
- Neither Sections nor Section members may make public comment nor act as an agent on behalf of the national organization without explicit approval from the Board of Directors.
Key Areas of Responsibility
- Engage members in the group through conversations, activities and events as outlined in your annual work plan.
- Maintain a presence on ASPENConnect.
- Communicate regularly with Section members.
- Follow all procedures for submitting Clinical Nutrition Week meeting program proposals to Director of Membership for review and submission to the Education and Professional Development Committee for approval. See Section on Planning for more details.
- Provide expert advice to the Board of Directors and ASPEN staff in areas of specialization.
- Work through the Director of Membership on any proposed Section project not already approved as part of the Section’s annual program of work. The Director of Membership will then, after evaluation and discussion with the Section Affairs Subcommittee Chair, take appropriate steps to either seek Board approval or follow-up with recommendations.
How We Support Sections
Sections have several important connections to the society including your staff point person, the Director of Membership and Marketing, an ASPEN Board Liaison, and the Section Affairs Subcommittee. Staff will strive to keep Section leaders informed and support your efforts through:
- Providing updates on any significant Board or national office activities
- Sharing Section work plans with the ASPEN Board of Directors
- Sending reminders of upcoming Section deadlines
- Assisting with production, distribution, and posting on the ASPEN website of Section newsletters (if applicable)
- Ensuring that Section recommendations for future Clinical Nutrition Week programs and other training programs are communicated to the Education Committee
- Providing access to a community on ASPENConnect with a discussion board and file library
Tips for an Effective Section
When it comes to managing your Section, the best advice is “think minimal”. As a volunteer whose primary obligations are to your job and your family, the last thing you want is to get bogged down with administration activities.
To avoid getting stuck in details and busy-work, most of which will not contribute to the functionality of your Section or ensure that projects are launched, regularly ask yourself: “If I don’t do this, can we still get the important things done?” If the answer is yes, whatever it is should probably be dropped from your to-do list, or at least postponed or delegated.
Check here for information on how the basics can be handled and click through to our other Sections for more details on key functions. Also save the Annual deadlines and responsibilities to your computer to be sure you are on target. Always feel welcome to ask ASPEN staff or other Section leaders for advice.
How do we manage…
In general, these will be handled through ASPEN’s Association Management System (AMS). Because all Section members must first be members of the national organization, ASPEN will collect the membership dues and maintain a current Section roster. Please contact the membership team at 800.727.4567 for assistance.
The critical functions you need to cover are maintaining your Section’s ASPENConnect community, communicating regularly with members, and functions such as answering emails from current and potential chapter members, publishing an e-letter or newsletter (if applicable), and planning your CNW meeting. Your Section leadership structure should allow you to delegate tasks and responsibilities to the other leaders. Check the Tools & Resources list for a sampling of available low-cost/free tools and resources Sections could use to address a number of the tasks.
(Also see Marketing and Communications)
- E-communications and mailing lists - ASPEN staff will send e-blasts on your behalf if you want to market your Section’s event or make a Section-related announcement
- Website development and updating – Make sure you post all relevant updates and announcements in your ASPENConnect community
Collaborative spaces where the Section can manage projects?
Review the information found in Funding Section Activities.
(Also see Marketing and Communications )
- Telephone (VOIP, Skype, mobile)
- Email, text messaging
- Postal mail
- See the Tools & Resources list
Filing and storage?
You don’t want to rely on one person to keep all of the Section’s important documents and correspondence on his/her personal computer. Determine how and where these documents will be saved. The best solution is to save copies of documents to your library in ASPENConnect. You may also consider sharing materials through Google Docs or Dropbox and only provide access to the other Section leaders.
Annual deadlines and responsibilities
ASPEN BYLAWS - ARTICLE XXIII - SECTIONS
Establishment of Sections - Any group of members with similar interests, expertise or educational background who have developed goals which advance the Society's strategic plan may petition the Board of Directors, in accordance with the procedures established by the Board of Directors, for approval of the establishment of a Section. Such petition shall include a
specific plan describing the mission and goals of the Section and how it will support the Society's strategic plan and mission.
Qualifications - Any Society Member shall be eligible to join Sections in accordance with policies established by the Board of Directors.
Leadership of Sections - The President and President-Elect shall appoint a chair and chair-elect for each Section. The appointed Section Chair and Chair-Elect will appoint a leadership council of three to five members and may appoint various subcommittees from the Section membership to carry on the work of the Sections.
Section Communication - Each Section will be required to hold an annual business meeting and inform Society members of such meeting, in advance. The Society will provide a mechanism for Sections to propose to the appropriate Society body any meetings, programs and projects to support advancement by the Sections of the Society's strategic plan. The Sections will
be a source of both ideas and individuals with the expertise to serve on Society Committees and Task Forces, and there will be frequent communication between Sections and the members of the Board of Directors.
Work Plans: Sections are an integral part of the Society and each Section will submit an annual work plan consistent with the Society Strategic Plan for approval by the Board of Directors by its inclusion in the Society’s Implementation Plan and annual operating budget.
Agency - No Section Chair or other member of a Section shall have authority, absent express written authority from the Society President, to bind the Society to any contracts or to speak on behalf of, or otherwise represent, the Society.