OHA 2021 Business Meeting: Bylaws Revision and Addition

After the 2021 Annual Meeting, OHA President, Dan Kerr, appointed an Organization Restructuring Taskforce, comprised of Tomás Summers Sandoval (chair); Cynthia Tobar; Allison Tracy-Taylor (until February); and Yolanda Leyva (since April). The Taskforce’s charge was to review the current structure with respect to committees, task forces, and interest groups; review association documents and consult with current committee leadership and others; and propose changes to improve the organizational structure and ensure it reflects and supports the new Strategic Plan.

Out of their work, they have proposed the following changes to the Bylaws regarding OHA’s committee structure. Changes were approved at the August 2021 Council Meeting, and now need to be voted on by the membership at the Business Meeting. As per OHA Bylaws, the changes need to be presented to membership 30 days in advance.

There is a Bylaw Revision and three Bylaw Additions (the numbers reflected below is what the new bylaw order will be). Members can find the complete Bylaws under Association Business on the public website.

The Business Meeting will take place during the 2021 Annual Meeting, on Tuesday, October 12, 12:30pm ET.


Original Bylaw Language:


The standing committees of the Association shall be Education, Emerging Professionals, Diversity, Finance, International, Membership, and Publications. Council may create and dissolve standing committees as necessary to accomplish the mission of the Association. In addition to the standing committees, the president may appoint such ad hoc committees as may be necessary from time to time. Vacant committee member and chair positions, except for the Nominating Committee, shall be appointed for specified terms by the president. This process will be completed as soon as possible after the annual meeting. Association members will be given opportunities to express their interest in serving on particular committees, and that interest can be taken into consideration when appointments are made. Chairs will work with the president to draft committee charges for the coming year. Chairs, engaging their full committees, will work with Council to fulfill charges and will report the activities of their committees to Council three times a year (with the first report due prior to the mid-winter meeting, the second during the summer, and the third prior to the annual meeting). Council liaisons will be responsible for working closely with their respective committees, promoting the efforts of these committees, and ensuring that the committees are acting to fulfill the organization’s objectives. Expectations of chairs and committee members will be communicated prior to appointment. In instances of unsatisfactory service, Council shall have the option to remove committee members or chairs.

New Bylaw 14 Revised Language:


The OHA relies on committees of members to fulfill the mission of the Association.  Committees execute the work and responsibilities as described in these Bylaws and in their charge, provided by Council on an annual basis. Council may create or dissolve committees as necessary to accomplish the mission of the Association. The standing committees of the Association will be Advocacy, Awards, Committee on Committees, Development, Diversity, Education, Emerging Professionals, Finance, International, Membership, Nominating, Programming, Publications, and Scholarships, as described below:

  • ADVOCACY COMMITTEE guides Council and the Association in their role as an advocate for the field of oral history and issues of concern to the Association and its membership. The committee coordinates public statements relating to our principles and best practices, and the rights of oral historians and narrators. More broadly, they advise the OHA in our efforts to support a more equitable, just, and democratic world; defend marginalized voices and peoples; and protect the process of free inquiry.
  • AWARDS COMMITTEE determines the recipients of the various awards and scholarships sponsored by the OHA. Through its subcommittees, it ensures transparent criteria for the selection of awardees and fulfills the mission of the organization in its conferral of awards.
  • COMMITTEE ON COMMITTEES recruits and assigns members to serve on the committees of the Association. The Committee on Committees seeks the advice and consent of Council in making committee assignments and actively seeks to fulfill the goals of the Association with regards to diversity and inclusion.  
  • DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE oversees the association’s fundraising campaigns and other efforts to support the growth of the endowment in accordance with the strategic plan and the mission of the association.  
  • DIVERSITY COMMITTEE supports the Association’s work with regard to diversity and equity within the membership, leadership, annual meetings, and in the field more generally. The committee works independently and collaboratively with other committees to foster inclusivity and promote the meaningful involvement of historically-marginalized populations, in particular those based on race/ethnicity, spiritual beliefs, gender, sexuality, class, and ability. The committee also advances the inclusion of unaffiliated oral history activists and practitioners.
  • EDUCATION COMMITTEE promotes the use of oral history in the classroom and works to ensure the Association meets the needs of educators. The committee creates and maintains networks of educators to facilitate communication; promotes excellence and innovation in oral history education; and provides professional development resources for educators at all levels.
  • EMERGING PROFESSIONALS COMMITTEE ensures the Association is welcoming and professionally relevant to new professionals entering the field (including students, interns, early-career oral historians, and oral historians seeking their first professional jobs). The committee helps create an inclusive and nurturing community within the Association by providing resources, advice and mentorship initiatives, networking opportunities, and by advising Council on policies and procedures to advocate for new professionals within OHA and the public sphere.
  • FINANCE COMMITTEE oversees the finances of the Association and provides information and advice to the officers and Council on their fiduciary responsibilities with respect to OHA income, expenses, and investments. To promote an informed and transparent decision-making process, the committee reviews the annual budget and audit, and ensures the executive office maintains appropriate financial records.
  • INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE fosters and maintains relationships with oral history programs, organizations, and practitioners beyond the United States. The committee maintains open communication with these constituencies and advises the association as it seeks to support and advance the practice of oral history abroad and enhance the presence of non-U.S. practitioners within the membership. The committee serves as the liaison to the International Oral History Association, and encourages the reciprocal participation of members of both in the others’ organization, annual meetings, and publications.  
  • MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE promotes the mission of the Oral History Association by ensuring the growth of a dynamic and diverse membership. The committee maintains membership data, conducts membership drives, and promotes efforts to enhance membership benefits and involvement in the association.
  • NOMINATING COMMITTEE nominates members of the Association for election to Council or as officers of the association, subject to the approval of Council. The committee seeks nominees reflecting the diversity of our membership and the inclusion of those historically marginalized within the profession, and collaborates with the Diversity Committee and others to fulfill its charge and promote clear pathways toward leadership within the OHA.
  • PUBLIC PROGRAMMING COMMITTEE sponsors and hosts a yearly program of events, workshops, and other gatherings relating to oral history and aligned with the needs and interests of the membership of the Association.
  • PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE develops and implements a comprehensive and professional publications program for the Association that reflects the diverse and varying interests and needs of the membership and broader public. The committee reviews and solicits publications both in traditional print and electronic formats, including white papers and pamphlets produced by segments of the OHA.
  • SCHOLARSHIPS COMMITTEE selects recipients for the OHA Annual Meeting scholarship awards.

 Committees fulfill the responsibilities described above and as specified in an annual charge given them by Council. All committees are responsible for making a report of their work to Council—once in advance of the midwinter meeting and again in advance of the annual meeting—and whenever Council may request. As the foundation of the Association’s work, committees are also responsible for suggesting ways the Association might better serve its members and fulfill its mission and goals. Committees have the right to make motions at the annual business meeting without the need for a second for the motion to be considered by the floor. All committees will be assigned a meeting time at the annual meeting and in consultation with the vice-president/president-elect, committees may sponsor sessions at the annual meeting.

 Each year, with the advice and consent of Council, the Committee on Committees selects members to serve on all committees (with the exception of the Nominating Committee, whose membership is determined as described in these Bylaws). Committee members must be members in good standing of the Association and no one person can serve simultaneously on more than one committee. Committee membership should reflect the diversity of the membership of the Association and ensure the inclusion of groups who have been historically-marginalized within the profession. Annual committee assignments are finalized by July 1st, announced before the annual meeting, and terms of service begin at the beginning of the meeting. As part of their service, committee members are required to participate in committee meetings during the year, attend the annual meeting, and take an active role in supporting the committee’s charge.

In order to encourage and maintain effective communication between Council and the Committees, each Council member and officer (except for the Vice President/President Elect) will be assigned to serve as a liaison to one or more Committees. Council liaisons are non-voting, ex-officio members of the Committee to which they are appointed. Liaison assignments for the upcoming year are made by the outgoing Council immediately upon the election of new committee members and Association officers. To facilitate transition, both the outgoing and incoming liaisons should attend the appropriate Committee meetings at the annual meeting. In order to fulfill their responsibilities with regard to the planning and organizing of the annual meeting and conference, the Vice President/President Elect will not be assigned liaison duties. 

 Each committee is guided in their work by one or more chairs. Committees select their own chairs by the Annual Meeting and notify the President of their decision. Chairs are responsible for fostering an open and democratic process for their committee. They convene and preside over committee meetings and, with the participation of the committee members, develop an agenda for each meeting and keep a record of the attendance and minutes. Chairs are tasked with collaborating with their Council liaison to maintain open and informed communication between the committee and Council. Toward that end, they are responsible for preparing and presenting reports of the committee’s work to Council.


New Bylaw 15:


The President, in consultation with Council, may create a task force when the needs of the Association so require. A task force is an ad hoc committee of members charged with specific (usually time-limited) tasks. The president shall appoint a task force chair (or chairs) and will work with them to appoint members and develop a clear charge, including the work they are to accomplish and a timeline for its completion. If no members of Council are appointed to the task force, the president will act as liaison.

 Task forces make reports of their work in progress to Council, as requested.  When they have completed their work they make a full report to the Council for formal action. Once Council recognizes their charge as complete, the task force is disbanded. If the work of the task force reveals itself to be a continuing need, Council will consider whether to convert the task force into a standing committee.

New Bylaw 16:


The OHA is defined by its mission and governance documents, but also by the interests, concerns, and needs of its membership. One of the ways these shape the Association is through our caucuses. A caucus is a formally-recognized group within the membership, one defined by a shared identity, interest, or other criteria. The goal of a caucus is to foster community and inclusivity while creating mutually-beneficial relationships within the Association.

 Caucuses are created by members according to their own initiative and interest. Council formally recognizes a Caucus upon their request and in accordance with the goals of the Association. In general, a request for recognition should be made by at least ten (10) members in good standing and include a succinct description of the defining composition of the caucus. Once recognized, caucuses will be advertised within the Association and its membership. They will also be given meeting time within the program of the annual meeting.

 Caucuses have no formal responsibilities to the Association but, as recognized and valued segments of our community, the OHA welcomes their voice, advocacy, and contributions toward strengthening the work of the Association. 

 In order to maintain formal status, each caucus must submit the names of up to two co-chairs and a roster of current members at the end of each annual meeting. Chairs are responsible for convening the caucus and maintaining formal status. They should be selected by the caucus members on an annual basis and in a manner agreed to by a majority of those participating.

New Bylaw 12:


There shall be a Committee on Committee composed of six members, three of whom are elected by the members on each annual ballot from a slate of not less than five nor more than seven candidates proposed by the Council, in addition to nominations by petition. Candidates may be paired. Members shall vote for three candidates. If they are paired, the nominee in each pair receiving the higher number of votes shall be elected. If they are not paired, the three candidates receiving the highest number of votes shall be elected. Members of the Committee on Committees shall serve for two years until their successors are announced at the annual meeting of the Association immediately following the election.


Scroll to Top