Several years ago, ASE created a governance task force to assess the structure and function of the governance of ASE at all levels. This task force has recently focused its attention on improving the governance structure of ASE councils. Before addressing some of the ongoing changes, I would like to give some background on the current Council structure. ASE currently has four councils, which includes the Councils of Cardiovascular Sonography, Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease, Vascular Ultrasound, and Perioperative Echocardiography. Each of these councils consists of members who have self-selected themselves to engage in this specialty interest area(s). Currently, the Council on Perioperative Echocardiography (COPE) has 1509 members. Additionally, each council has a Steering Committee, which consists of council members who oversee the council activities.
The changes coming to the Council Steering Committees are occurring with several goals in mind. These goals include improving alignment of the councils with ASE’s missions and goals, enhancing the ability of the councils to engage and involve members in the society, and ensuring that the councils reflect ASE’s goals of inclusion, openness, and transparency. This is not to say many of these were not already the case, but each council had different methods of functioning, which would occasionally lead to confusion. To this end, operating procedures across all of the councils will now be standardized.
The Council Steering Committees have specific charges and functions. These include providing guidance to the board regarding specialty issues as well as communicating to their council members pertinent issues to that specialty. These communications will come in the form of JASE Society blue pages, posts on Connect@ASE, ASE E-Newsletters, and social media. Additionally, steering committees will participate in creating a specialty track for the Annual Scientific Sessions, contribute to various other ASE educational offerings, and work with the guidelines and standards committee on topics pertinent to their specialty interest.
To achieve these goals, council steering committee structures will also become uniform. Each steering committee will consist of 11 members, and most members will have a defined role. Three of these members will be the Council Chair, Council Chair Elect, and Immediate Past Council Chair. This will be a ladder position with the term of each position being two years for a total of six years. The Council Chair will not only oversee the function of the steering committee, but also serve as the Council Representative on the ASE Board of Directors. Each Steering Committee will also consist of a Scientific Sessions Chair and Co-Chair, both of whom will be responsible for providing guidance and assisting in the development of the specialty sessions at the Annual Scientific Sessions. The Council Representative from the ASE Executive Committee serves in an ex-officio role. Additionally, members will be designated as the Council Representatives to serve on both the ASE Education Committee and the ASE Guidelines and Standards Committee. These members will assist these committees in ensuring specialty interests are represented. The final three openings are to be filled by at-large members. These at-large positions will be open for member nomination (either self-nomination or nomination by another ASE member). COPE’s steering committee has traditionally been filled by a majority of cardiac anesthesiologists, but has sought to involve representatives from cardiology, cardiac surgery, and cardiac sonography. How these at large positions will be filled is still being finalized, but the goal is to be open for any member of the council to participate while also ensuring representation from various specialties. Term limits will also be in place for the steering committee members. Committee officers (i.e. those representing a council in another committee) will be limited to one, two-year term and at-large members will be eligible to serve two, two-year terms. Lastly, there will be a transition period as many of the steering committees with more than 11 members move to this structure by letting terms of current members expire without filling these positions.
A Council Nominating Task Force has also been created to formalize and ensure transparency in the method steering committee members are chosen. The goal with this new method is that a clear and transparent path will be created for all ASE members to become involved with the Council Steering Committees. 2017 is the first year this new path has been enacted and began in January when an open call was placed on Connect@ASE and the E-Newsletter for openings on the Council Steering Committees. Applications were accepted through March. Applicants were evaluated, and the successful applicants demonstrated the greatest ability to promote ASE’s strategic needs and promote member diversity. The new Steering Committee slate was presented to the ASE president for final approval. Successful applicants were notified in April of their selection, and their term will begin at the completion of ASE’s Scientific Sessions in June.
The Governance Task Force members have put significant work into this restructuring and sincerely hope that the new structure will provide a more open and transparent vision of how ASE’s councils operate. We also hope that we have now created a clearer path for those ASE members interested in becoming more involved at the ASE Council Steering Committee level. If you are interested in learning more about COPE volunteer opportunities, please contact Natalya Read at nread@ASEcho.org .
Alan C. Finley, MD, FASE is a cardiac anesthesiologist and associate professor at the Medical University of South Carolina and is Chair of the ASE Council on Perioperative Echocardiography Steering Committee.