I traveled to Park City, Utah last week to attend the first annual meeting of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education, an organization I am happy to say I am a founding member of. In spite of the fact that I suffered through a heinous case of altitude sickness, I’m very glad I was able to attend, and I must report that the meeting was a rousing success.
Rick Rosen, the Executive Director, and his lovely wife Carey Smith, along with the leadership team, pulled off a wonderful gathering of some of the brightest and best in the bodywork business. The setting at the Grand Summit in the Canyons Resort was beautiful, the food and lodging was great, the education was a bonus, but I’d have to say the greatest thing was the fellowship and sharing of ideas that occurred over the course of the conference.
During the course of the long weekend, the membership came together for the purpose of brainstorming a vision for the future of the Alliance. This organization was founded last year for the purpose of being an advocate for the education sector of our profession. Membership is open to schools, teachers, and continuing education providers; associate membership is open to industry supporters. During the first day, we heard short speeches from the leadership of ABMP, the NCBTMB, COMTA, the FSMTB, and Coulter Non-Profit Management (hired to oversee the management) who all praised the formation and purpose of the Alliance. A number of sponsors and vendors were on hand as well, including representatives from Massage Today, Oakworks, Resource ETC, Bon Vital, and several others.
We enjoyed a gondola ride up the mountain, which incidentally still had snow lingering on the ground, to a great buffet dinner. I was thrilled to see lots of old friends and make some new ones. I was delighted to meet Mark Beck, who authored the massage theory and practice book I learned from as a massage student. He was elected to the Board of Directors, as was Ralph Stephens and Cherie Sohnen-Moe. Other members of the leadership team, including Su Bibik, Pete Whitridge, Iris Burman and Stan Dawson are remaining on in Board positions, which in fact caused the only hairy moment of the entire meeting. A couple of attendees questioned the fact that the leadership team put forth a slate of candidates that included themselves; however, the general consensus was that since this was a new start-up organization that the action was not without precedent and that such action was taken for continuity’s sake. A nominating committee was also elected to recruit suitable candidates for the next term. The seven board members will serve staggered terms of one and two years, for this first cycle, so there won’t be an experience deficit on the Board.
I attended a great class on ethics in education by Cherie Sohnen-Moe. Other offerings included a class on the Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge and several classes geared to school owners on the topics of recruitment and financial aid.
The last day of the conference included a raffle drawing with wonderful prizes, and a beautiful closing ceremony. All in all, it was a very harmonious gathering of like-minded souls who want to see massage therapy education thrive and reach its full potential. The AFMTE intends to facilitate that, and as with any people-driven organization, the success or failure of an organization depends on those people. I don’t think there’s any question that the Alliance is set to become the driving force behind the advocacy of excellence in education. Congratulations to Rick Rosen and the rest who made this first gathering a great one.