General Administration

ASPEN committees and task forces serve an important role in the society by connecting members and leaders, assuring the critical work of the society is done, and providing a way for members to serve the larger profession and the mission. They connect the society and its members, and plan and implement a variety of the Society’s programs.  

Think of your role on the committee or task force as a critical link in strengthening the society, the profession and indeed yourself and your peers. This section covers the role of the committees or task forces, how they connected to ASPEN, what you can expect in terms of support and what you can do to assure your group operates effectively.  

Where Do Committees and Task Forces Fit In?  

All ASPEN Committees, Subcommittees and Task Forces are appointed by and responsible to the Society’s Board of Directors to carry-out a clearly defined charge that relates to the Society’s strategic plan. Committees are appointed in the spring and serve from June 1 – May 31 of each year with the exception of the Clinical Nutrition Week Program planning Committee which is appointed in the late fall.  

Like committees, task forces work to assure the Society’s mission and vision is realized. Unlike committees which have a year-long agenda, task forces are appointed for a narrow and clearly defined purpose, such as developing standards of practice, writing a position paper, or assisting in the development of a new program or publication, that dictates the term. Some may be short-term (a few months) or long-term (more than one year).  

Scope & Responsibilities  


The primary goal of each group is to carry-out a clearly defined charge.

Secondary goals are: 

  • Engaging members of the group in meaningful work
  • Collaborating with the Board and Staff Liaisons in the course of the work to assure goals, deadlines and needs are met
  • Advancing ASPEN’s Strategic Management Plan and mission. 

In the context of these goals, volunteer leadership must work with and through the Board and Staff Liaisons to identify issues and gain approval on actions and positions. 

Role & Responsibilities  

All committees and task forces have a chair, a Board liaison and a staff liaison. Some may also have a co-chair or vice chair. The following includes information for each of these roles.

Role of Committee or Task Force Chair/Co-Chair 

  • Facilitates the meeting or conference call
  • Encourages members to fully participate in discussions
  • Provides leadership to ensure that the committee charge is met
  • Collaborates with Board and staff liaisons to develop and monitor the program of work or goals for the committee or task force
  • Works with staff liaison to set meeting and conference call agendas
  • Assists in the development of committee or task force reports submitted to the Board of Directors at least quarterly, or more often as determined by project of work
  • Join the committee or task force community in ASPENConnect
  • Performs such other duties as may be prescribed by the Board of Directors 

Role of Committee or Task Force Members 

  • Reviews all meeting materials in advance and comes prepared for an active, knowledgeable discussion
  • Arrives at committee or task force meetings on time to ensure a quorum is reached and decisions and motions can be officially made
  • Participates actively in all meetings and conference calls, but does not monopolize the discussion
  • Respects different points of view 
  • Provides written or verbal feedback on issues or documents under discussion by the committee or task force
  • Respects time limits, which are necessary to achieve committee or task goals for the meeting
  • Joins the committee or task force community in ASPENConnect 

Role of Board Liaisons 

  • Communicates the ASPEN Strategic Management Program to committees and task forces
  • Establish and maintains effective communication and coordination between the ASPEN Board of Directors and the various committees to which he/she is assigned
  • Join the committee or task force community in ASPENConnect
  • Present agenda items at Board meetings and lead the discussion
  • Coordinate with staff liaison to report back to the committee promptly, generally within one week, via telephone or email regarding the discussion and any action taken by the Board
  • Relay Board directives and assignments to their respective committees
  • Ensure committees’ continued progress on assigned objectives
  • Provides information regarding ASPEN initiatives and Board activities
  • Fosters a collaborative working environment between the staff liaison, Board liaison and chair
  • Collaborates with chair and staff liaison on group outcomes
  • Identifies and nurtures potential ASPEN leaders
  • Identifies potential chairs for coming year and forward recommendation to ASPEN’s Director for Membership and Marketing for inclusion in volunteer officer database

Role of Staff Liaisons 

  • Provides support services and resources (i.e., agendas, minutes, reports, research)
  • Implements committee or task force decisions
  • Provides clarification on issues and provides historical information on projects/issues
  • Collaborates with chairperson and board liaison on group outcomes
  • Provides input from a staff perspective on issues under discussion
  • Communicates information about committee activities to other staff members
  • Solicits information or input from staff as appropriate
  • Join the committee or task force community in ASPENConnect
  • Advise committees about when it is appropriate to present an agenda item, usually interim and final reports or specific recommendations, for Board consideration
  • Coordinate with Board liaison to report back to the committee promptly, generally within one week, via telephone or email regarding the discussion and any action taken by the Board 

Chain of Command  

If any Committee or Task Force has work to be approved, it will be brought before the Board for action either by the Committee/Task Force Chair or Board Liaison.

Any Subcommittee work to be approved will be brought before the parent Committee followed by the Board for action either by the Sub-Committee Chair, the Parent Committee Chair, or Parent Committee Board liaison.

Appointments & Vacancies 

Each spring, ASPEN’s President-Elect reviews committee and task force leadership and appoints chairs and members to each, accordingly. All committees and task forces have a chair, a Board liaison and a staff liaison. Some may also have a co-chair or vice chair. Individuals are appointed based on their experience and activity in the particular committee’s focus. All committee members may serve a one-year term, with a maximum of two one-year terms of office. Re-appointments are made at the discretion of the President-Elect. 

Subcommittee members may or may not also serve on the Parent Committee. Like committee members, subcommittee members may serve a one-year term, with a maximum of two one-year terms of office.

Appointments are made prior to June 1st each year for all committees except the Clinical Nutrition Week Program Planning Committee which is appointed in the fall. Terms run June 1 to May 31.

Filling Vacancies  

Individual members may be appointed to committees and task forces by the President any time a vacancy exists or when a member, who has the required experience and focus, expresses interest in volunteering on a specific committee. Of course, new task forces may also be created throughout the year. 

How We Support Volunteer Leaders    

Committees and Task Forces have several important connections to the society including your staff and Board liaisons.  Staff will strive to keep volunteer leaders informed and support your efforts through: 

  • Providing support services and resources
  • Providing updates on any significant Board or national office activities 
  • Implementing committee and task force decisions
  • Sending reminders of upcoming deadlines
  • Providing access to a community on ASPENConnect with a discussion board and file library 

Tips for an Effective Committee/Task Force   

Far too many committees hobble along limited by unclear agendas, unproductive meetings, and a reliance on poor or incomplete information. The signs of a struggling committee can be seen in poor meeting attendance, late arrivals and early departures, rambling minutes and missed deadlines. Turn this around, or avoid it all together by following a few basics.

  • Establish and put in writing your committee goals and action plan based on your committee charge. 
  • Take time to clarify roles of committee chair, members and your staff and Board liaisons so everyone understands the expectations. 
  • Establish ground rules which support participation and attendance. These may cover meeting logistics, how decisions are made, and reasonable code of conduct. Keep them simple so you can post at the bottom of the agendas and quickly revisit at meetings as needed.
  • Plan meeting agendas thoughtfully. Your agenda should be prioritized and include a stated outcome. Make use of consent agendas to avoid unnecessary reporting. Agendas should always be sent – along with any useful information – in advance to assure committees are prepared.
  • Praise in public, correct in private.  Do make sure your praise is appropriate and do praise as often as it’s warranted. Likewise, handle problems as they arise – sensitively and in private.
  • Evaluate your committee meetings and your work.  Consider at the end of each meeting asking for written comments or for each person to speak up. Some refer to this as the “check out”. You can also ask members to weigh in what a project is completed. This effort will help you generate continuous improvement in the committee.   

How do we manage…    

Collaborative spaces where the Committees/Task Forces can manage projects?    


  • ASPENConnect
  • Telephone (VOIP, Skype, mobile)
  • email, text messaging
  • Postal mail
  • Webcasting
  • See the Tools & Resources list 

Filing and storage?    

Your Staff Liaison will keep all of the group’s important documents and correspondence. You may also save copies of documents to your library in ASPENConnect