Task force examines OHA committee structure

By Allison Tracy, OHA Council

It you’ve ever sat in on an Oral History Association Council meeting, you’ll know we do a lot of talking. For a group of folks who have centered their work on listening to others, which we also do at meetings, of course, it can feel unnatural to talk so much, but we do get a lot of it in.

In recent months, conversations returned again and again to committees. The work of committees is essential to the OHA. Committees are places where focused, patient attention can be brought to problems, initiatives and tasks that require ongoing efforts. But as we kept circling back to committees, we realized we could be doing better. Council can interface better with committees, and how the committees function can be improved to make the work more satisfying for members and more impactful for the association.

Before Council’s mid-winter meetings in Phoenix this year, Kristine Navarro-McElhaney, our interim executive director, asked me to work on some of these issues we kept returning to. I realized quickly I would need some help and was exceedingly lucky to recruit Mary Larson, Stephen Sloan and Annie Valk to join me on the newly formed Committee Task Force.

Over the winter, President Doug Boyd sent questions to our current committee chairs and members, asking for feedback. Questions included: “How can we as an organization better utilize our committees?” “How can we better recruit for membership?” and “What can we do to better empower and motivate committees?” At the mid-winter meetings, Council reviewed the very helpful feedback we received, and this spring the task force began its work.

The feedback highlighted four areas in need of improvement: How we recruit members to committees, how we develop committee charges, the communications between committees and the broader association, and promotion of the committees and their work. The task force is  thinking about these areas and what changes can be made. We hope to have some changes and improvements implemented as soon as the annual meeting.

Part of the task force’s work is to consider the current language of our bylaws and constitution as it pertains to committees. If we think any revisions are needed to the language of either document, we certainly will give the membership proper notice and follow all of our relevant procedures.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions for the Committee Task Force, we’d love to hear them! Please email me at allisonkaren@gmail.com.

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