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AMTA Leadership Update

January 28, 2022 05:58 PM

American Music Therapy Association Leadership Update

Greetings All and Happy New Year,

As we start a new year and new leadership cycle, we are grateful to all of you who have reached out to express your thoughts and concerns and pushed for much needed change in our association culture, policies, and practices over the previous months and years. We are committed to working together to move our association forward, and we are excited about joining with you to make those changes happen.

One of our first steps toward change is improving transparency and communication. In keeping with that goal, we want to start the year by providing an overview of the work conducted by the Board of Directors at the end of 2021. During the 2021 AMTA Virtual Annual Conference, many members of our community called for us to be more deliberate in our communication efforts and address longstanding issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. As part of this, there was a direct request for the Board of Directors to reflect on their ability to serve as effective stewards of the organization. The Board took this request seriously and engaged in both self-reflection and eight post-conference meetings. During those meetings, we had difficult but productive discussions about leadership transitions, the election process, DEI representation on the board, potential changes to our processes and bylaws, communication and transparency, trust challenges within the board and with the membership, and ongoing board work such as approving the 2022 annual budget.

In addition to communicating what happened in late 2021, we also want to update you about ongoing and new efforts. Current efforts include:

  • Volunteers: In December of 2021, we released a call for volunteers. To date, nearly 90 individuals have responded, identifying areas in which they are interested in serving. We want to work together to transform our association, so we hope this call will be a first step in increasing inclusion and engagement across our community. If you are interested in micro- or extended volunteer opportunities in areas such as governance, transformative policy efforts, or other important areas such as communications, website review, diversity, equity and inclusion, and data collection, we hope you will consider joining with your peers in responding to the call. For more information, please click here.
  • Board of Directors: The AMTA Board consists of elected and appointed board members who serve two-year terms per the AMTA Bylaws. Elected Board members are selected by the membership and through Assembly of Delegates elections. Appointed members have historically been selected by the president. As another step toward greater diversity, equity, and inclusion, President Gooding has assembled an ad hoc committee who is partnering with her to compile the slate of appointed board members. This committee was assembled through outreach to all seven AMTA regional presidents, the DEI Committee, and former leaders and members who have served AMTA in many capacities over the years. Individuals being considered for Board service are those who specifically expressed interest in participating in board work on the Call for Volunteers. Consideration will be given to a variety of factors such as age, career stage, professional role, geographic location, gender, ability, race, skills desired for service at this time (for example fundraising) and other important diverse characteristics. After the committee and President Gooding finish their work, the elected members of the Board will approve the slate of appointed members at our first meeting. We are hopeful that by expanding the process beyond the Board, we can begin to demonstrate our commitment to doing things differently. The full Board is expected to be in place by mid-to-late February 2022.
  • Strategic Planning: Strategic planning remains a key priority for 2022, and we have heard the calls for increased community engagement in this process. In light of this input, the Board felt it was important to pause and find ways to join together as a community in strategic planning. As soon as possible, we will begin gathering more information, and we hope to identify a process and timeline for strategic planning to bring to the board by mid-to-late spring of 2022.
  • DEI: We embrace the efforts of the DEI Committee, affinity groups and the extended community to ensure that DEI concerns and considerations are embedded into how we think, plan, and conduct the work of the Association. We remain cognizant that our previous efforts have fallen short. We recognize that thoughtful short- and long-term change is required to build an authentic culture of diversity, equity, inclusion, and access that does not promote tokenism, further damage trust, or foster disengagement. We are committed to doing the work to grow, thoughtfully change, and enter a cycle of continuous learning, as we seek to build an inclusive and equitable association. As part of this commitment, CEO Calhoun Coates is currently connecting with DEI consultants to gather information related to hiring a DEI professional who can guide us as we move forward.
  • Bylaws. We look forward to working together as a community to address the gaps and challenges that hinder participation in our association. To do this, we will, along with strategic planning and other initiatives, conduct a review of the AMTA bylaws and other policies. More information will be shared as it becomes available.

We recognize that there is much work to do, and many needs across our community, but we are committed to working together to enact change. We will strive to offer transparent updates as we move forward, and we welcome input throughout the process. Please reach out to us through our established feedback channels with your thoughts and concerns and let us know when we have not provided you with the clarity you need. We look forward to working in community throughout 2022.

Thank you.

Lori F. Gooding
AMTA President

Adonia Calhoun Coates
AMTA Chef Executive Officer


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American Music Therapy Association
8455 Colesville Road, Suite 1000, Silver Spring, MD 20910 | (301) 589-3300
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AMTA Mission: To advance public awareness of the benefits of music therapy and increase access to quality music therapy services in a rapidly changing world.