Rocky Mountain Response to the GTF Report

Rocky Mountain Response to the GTF Report

July 3, 2013

In response to your request for feedback, the PSIA-RM-AASI Board of Directors begins by providing three points to reference as you review our comments.  Those comments will specifically address each recommendation, while these core principles form the backbone of our reply.

1 – The PSIA-RM-AASI Board has said and continues to say we are not signing the existing Affiliation Agreement.  It seeks to formalize a relationship in terms we do not accept, and while not intended to be a part of the GTF, seems to be inherently so. We endorse and will only accept an organization that has Divisions at its core and in control, one that grounds itself in the belief that we can collaborate and create results as a collective of independent member groups. Our form of a national organization serves to fulfill our needs, and not the reverse. We share a past that demonstrates that the value of the marks, logos, and intellectual properties are the direct result of Divisions and their members’ efforts to pursue excellence in education, certification, and service.

2 – We understand the governance model and structure the report suggests to be formalized.  We believe it is a model of top down organization and control created through:

  • The redefinition of ASEA as an individual membership organization.(See detail in comments on Clarity of Purpose and Recommendation #1)
  • The registration (effectively the ownership) of the marks, logos, and intellectual properties.  Efforts from the individual members of divisions created the value of each of those items as working ski and ride professionals.
  • The focus on accreditation (See detail on comments on Recommendation #2).  This topic does not seem germane to the governance theme and was not included in the agenda.

The Governance Task Force removed other models from the table without the kind of “extensive consideration” your report suggests, and the kind of discussion that might both foster creativity and yield as yet unknown possibilities for our organizations to work together as our profession moves forward.

3 – We are committed to having a national organization and remain willing to discuss other possible models.  We are unable to continue those efforts within the context of the Governance Task Force until those models are given a fair hearing.  Given the results of this report and its recommendations, the outcomes seem to us predetermined, the group’s purposes redefined, and the recent process compromised by its very design and facilitation.  PSIA-RM-AASI will continue to run its business and fulfill our responsibilities to our mission and our members, and await further conversation based on the feedback we are providing to you.

Feedback section by section:

Introduction: The report’s introduction ends with a statement about the Task Force being “proud to acknowledge that all of the issues/concerns brought forth from the SLC meeting received extensive consideration, and that the recommendations below substantively address those topics.”  Following conversations with our GTF Representative, reviews of the SLC discussions, and items in your workbook, we do not believe that statement accurately reflects the proceedings.  From our perspective the issues and concerns from the SLC meeting were more substantively dismissed.  A sense of pride in the work as a group suggests everyone is in agreement, but the report does not describe the mechanism by which each representative indicated acknowledge of that consideration.  Further, although dissenting opinion was solicited, it was not acknowledged.  Our recommendation of a Minority Report was disapproved in favor of a single report of implied yet erroneous unanimity.

1. Clarity of Purpose and Recommendation #1:  The GTF Report lists “Defining the purpose of PSIA-AASI vis-à-vis the Divisions” as a key issue relative to the groups task. Defining it as you have reinforces ASEA’s position over the divisions; the singular model you addressed.  With the affirmation of a new purpose of ASEA, it appears the GTF suggests something we believe to be contrary to the existing Articles of Incorporation.  Those, of course, can be changed like bylaws, all within the existing structure where divisions and members currently have no real representation.

What was the mechanism for affirming this new statement of purpose?  We all want to recognize the importance of our respective organizations’ members, but we cannot lose sight of the fact that our members become ASEA members only and directly through their divisions.  That raises the possibility that ASEA has a clear motivation to make Recommendation #1 continue “dual membership”. Does that mean members have to pay for services they don’t require?  The need for dual membership acknowledges some desired service needs, but we respectfully suggest those may be more in the realm of pro-deals and publication purchases than education and certification.   At present, members may want different marketing campaigns, and more effective management of administrative costs.  The mention of “affiliated Divisions” in the ASEA bylaws is an odd way to affirm your commitment through automatic dual membership. We are pursuing the option for members to join whichever organizations they choose and will seek to allow division-only memberships.  Further we do not recognize ASEA as a certifying or credentialing body.

2.  National Board of Directors Structure and Recommendations #2A-B-C-D: We do not believe this section addresses “all major concerns pertaining to National representation, accountability, and voting structure.” 2A – says members can vote through their divisions, and then places those reps. in the divisions’ board rooms.  This continues to muddle the “clarity and understanding” of representation of a Division, and keeps all conflict of interest concerns in play. ASEA’s defining the nomination and election process asks the division to supply the needs of that board, not their own.

Discussion of options for voting was a move in a good direction, but remained within the current structure with nine divisions.  Other Structures might include having smaller divisions merge with larger ones, but time spent doing the math as we currently elimited other possibilities from the discussion.  We note that proportional representation was discussed and this could be fulfilled under the Divisions as Members Model, but it is disingenuous to discuss it and then instituting a Super majority that effectively negates proportional representation.   The Rocky Mountain Board will nominate, vet and approve any representation of their members to the national organization and maintains its right to terminate that representative with or without cause.  The report also does not include comments about the impact to the budget with the recommended increase to the size of the board as in #2B.  Again, the number of board members is less the issue than the failures to more thoroughly address the duty of loyalty and role of representatives in Recommendation #2C.

Reminding representatives to advocate for their divisions is noted, but the proposed change to the PSIA-AASI Board of Directors’ Duty of Loyalty policy statement does nothing to remove the fact that they must continue to recognize “that the National board has the ultimate duty to the best interests of PSIA-AASI’s total membership”.  More disturbing to us is the inclusion of the phrase “for the benefit of its membership”, which re-affirms our belief in the attempt to change the organization’s purpose and claim the divisions’ memberships as ASEA’s own. Finally, Recommendation #2D is less significant, given how the report ties it into the other three and their more seriously flawed logic.

3. National Standards and Certification, and Recommendation #3: The topic of education and certification is absent in this report’s introductory list of key substantive issues, and seems out of place in this process; yet here it is. We believe the pursuit of accreditation suggested in this context is a precursor to assuming control over our divisions’ business: the business of educating and certifying. We state this particularly because you recommend Divisions “specifically acknowledge” their representatives can advocate for the division while honoring the duty of loyalty to the national group, tying this back to Recommendation #2C. The past and present collaborative efforts made on the part of the divisions demonstrate their interest in their mutual membership without having to direct any of that effort from above. It is one thing to speak of a “member-focused purpose”, but quite another to leave us uncertain about any general call from the memberships for giving “priority to conducting due diligence regarding pursuit of accreditation of PSIA-AASI Certifications”.

4. Presidents Council and Recommendation #4: This section falls in line with our stating that the framework for the GTF discussion took place under the ASEA top/down model. We would not want to affirm commitment to a council under this model. If the divisions were the members of a newly structured organization, the presidents would be the board and have no need to bring their agendas to any other organization’s attention for consideration. In one sense it is encouraging to see the desire to affirm commitment to the Presidents’ Council if it is meant to formally acknowledge past failures and limitations on its power. Allowing the Chair to sit on the ASEA Board and Executive Committee without vote does not change that Board’s duty of loyalty, and clarifying “the open invitation” to ASEA Board meetings goes no further in addressing that fundamental issue any more than the previous recommendation on that topic. There have been issues with past Council Chairs regarding representation of Divisions’ interests and failure to communicate important information. Questions have been raised about the ability to keep the Council Chair role clear of ASEA influence.  This is fundamentally a “feel good communication” recommendation and does not have any tangible or practical role in governance.

5. Leadership Development and Recommendation #5:  The PSIA-RM-AASI Board recommends that leadership development programs be requested by their own members, board, and employees, and discussed as a need collectively among the other divisions.  Other structures would allow us to have a choice of collaborators.  Governance can be strengthened without the direction of the present “tenth” organization, as is demonstrated by the process and facilitation of the latest attempt to address our concerns.

Summary, Rationale, and Next Steps:  There are problems with our accepting many of the premises shared in these sections of the report.  Our feedback raises fundamental questions about the overall concept and we find many issues needing more than refinement.  We have purposefully limited both length and details in our feedback here because we believe we have contributed significant amounts of information, clarification, and participation for some time in the evolution of the governance issue.  Our energies have been devoted to collaborating in the search for the creation of a new national snow sports’ organization and its purpose.  We continue to find ourselves being offered opportunities to discuss within a process that does not truly allow for points of view that differ from ASEA remaining as the player in control.  The opportunity to affect and essentially take over our purposes is not the opportunity we want to formalize as healthy for our future.  We are well aware our comments may raise questions and doubts about our motivations and past participations, and that our collective board and individual members’ integrities will be criticized,  but ultimately, the reason for our commitment has always been to protect and promote the rightful place of the Divisions as the core of a self-determined and self-directed group of professionals.  RM does not claim supremacy over any other group, but we are proud of our history as educators and volunteer leaders in managing our region’s success and we plan to continue our pursuit of excellence.

Next Steps:  Somewhere in the midst of all the philosophical and practical differences we each are driven to pursue, we all remain a group of people in the snow sports profession who share a rich history and potentially promising future.  We submit the following for circulation and further discussion as an attempt to shift perceptions back to how much we might agree rather than disagree.  Across the country, standards or no standards, we all use the core educational system we’ve developed collectively.  Might we all also agree to a Code of Ethics that speaks internally and externally about integrity in our work?  We all want services provided like some type of buyers’ club and marketing.  Yes, we’d need a structure, a way to define agreement, but the focus here is just to start talking about what we might agree on.  Envision an organization where:

1 – We agree* to use the collectively developed educational materials that fall under ATS.

2 – We agree* to uphold these collectively created ethical guidelines.

3 – We have a members’ buyers’ club and marketing group.

*There will have to be a new governance structure, voting that defines agreement.

Compliance with 1 and 2 gets you the use of the logos and marks because that is the core of their value: an educational philosophy and behavior that demonstrates we are professionals in service to guests and the industry as a whole.  Use signifies agreement with an educational system in the spirit of the founding members’ desire to have a recognizable and more consistent experience for people across the country who participated in our sport.  That is a different kind of spirit than controlling it. Independent groups can share agreement with behaving in a professional, ethical manner as a member of the profession. We believe creative (and creating) organization structures can be loose, collaborative, and far less about control, power, and money, and more about pride in the quality of our products, our people, our sports, and our passion for teaching and helping people learn to love these sports.

We are proud of RM’s contributions and commitment throughout our history together.   The feedback we have contributed should telegraph our intent to withdraw from the Task Force process until the format changes from one that is being controlled to one that seeks to explore all possibilities for change, renewal, and healing.   We are not alone in continuing to work towards a future that serves our members better than the current state of affairs.  We know what we’ve done, we know we disagree with your model, and we remain willing to pursue a national organization for the benefit of all in a forum where opposing ideas and alternatives to the ASEA model are the basis of the discussion, rather than topics to be dismissed because those controlling the process will allow for nothing less than capitulation to their own idea.

 -PSIA-Rocky Mountain-AASI Board of Directors

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