We Are Collaborative Partners in Setting Goals for NCFR

Leigh A. Leslie, Ph.D. NCFR President
/ Winter 2019 NCFR Report

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As I begin my tenure as NCFR president, I want to start by recognizing the outstanding contribution our outgoing president, Anisa Zvonkovic, and board members Karen Guzzo, Stephan Wilson, and Tammy Harpel have made to NCFR. I thank them all for their generous dedication of time and energy to achieving the goals of the organization. Anisa has been a wonderful mentor in preparing me to take over this role. And Karen deserves a huge thank-you from the membership. In her tenure as liaison to the Journal Board Committee, Karen was involved in search committees for editors of all three NCFR journals, a feat we aren’t sure was ever performed by any other NCFR member.

Turning now to the next two years, I want to share with you my goals for the organization. As a therapist I often ask clients, “If therapy is successful, what will we have accomplished by the time therapy is over?” I have spent some time asking myself a version of that same question, “If my tenure as NCFR president is successful, what will we have accomplished as an organization?” As I reflect on this question, I have two answers, somewhat independent of each other. First, I want to work to see increased input from, and involvement of, members in the operation of the organization. While we do have several avenues for member participation and contribution, such as sections and focus groups, I often hear complaints at conferences that members do not feel that their voices are heard. The irony here is that board members are always anxious to hear from and work on behalf of members; we even have a standing item, “communication with members,” as part of our monthly board meeting. So somehow we have a disconnect that needs to be addressed. Making progress in this area is critical, because the purpose of the board is to act for the interest of the members. The NCFR governance policy states “The dues-paying members of NCFR are the moral and legal owners of NCFR in whose interests the board acts” (ncfr.org/board-and-governance). Further, of the several activities assigned to the Board of Directors in our governance policy, two are particularly relevant in this area. The board is to act as the governing link between the organization and the ownership and be responsive to concerns of all NCFR members by keeping abreast of current and emerging issues in the field and in the profession (see board member job description). So as the owners of NCFR, the board wants to work for and with you. As president, I will be actively pursuing this goal and welcome your ideas, feedback, and most importantly, active participation in making this an organization that is responsive to the ownership. Please feel free to contact me directly at [email protected].

My second goal for my tenure relates to one of our “Global Ends.” If you are not familiar with the Global Ends Policies of NCFR, I encourage you, as owners of the organization, to read up on them. Global Ends Policy #2 states that “NCFR will support the dissemination and application of research- and theory-based information about the well-being of families. My goal over the coming two years is to increase our presence nationally as a research-informed source of information on promoting the needs of families, particularly vulnerable families. Always mindful of the constraints imposed by our status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, I would like us to more actively engage in promoting practices and policies that our research tells us are beneficial to children and families. I will say that much progress has been made in this area over the past several years. As we all know, NCFR staff do an excellent job in providing us with resources regarding both practice implications and advocacy approaches for several current events that have an impact on families (ncfr.org/resource-collections). While supporting the actions of individual members in their efforts to advocate for research informed practice and policy is a critical part of what NCFR does, I believe NCFR as an organization should also have a greater voice in the conversation about family health and well-being. Toward that end, NCFR has developed a much larger social media presence (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) and is taking steps to drive more keyword search results to the NCFR website. We are also increasing our work with other NGOs to share policy statements. Additionally, recent policy briefs and the NCFR Report article on guns and mental health have been shared with all members of the U.S. Congress, and we are working toward state-by-state distribution to legislative bodies. Moving forward, I would like to see NCFR as an organization develop a strategic proactive approach to both what we want to communicate and the appropriate audiences for those communications. While we will continue to need to react to current events happening in our world (e.g., distributing the piece challenging mental health as the source of gun violence in response to recent mass shootings), I believe the board, with member input, should delineate a set of priorities around which we could develop content and plan effective, repetitive, and targeted communications.

I hope you share these goals with me. However, as owners of NCFR, I am also anxious to hear your thoughts on where we as an organization should be headed. As in therapy, setting goals is a collaborative process, and you as members are a vital part of that process.