Executive Director of AMTA Resigns

Elizabeth Lucas, who has been the Executive Director of the American Massage Therapy Association for more than a decade, has resigned.

The statement that was released by the Board of Directors was short and offered no details behind the departure. It read:

The AMTA Board of Directors has accepted the resignation of our long-time Executive Director, Elizabeth M. Lucas.  During her more than 10 years as Executive Director, and in her years before that as Director of Communications and Marketing, Liz provided AMTA, the National Office and staff with outstanding leadership, while carrying out the direction of the national board.  The board and staff thank Liz for all of her contributions and wish her all the best as she pursues other career opportunities.

The board will begin its search for a new Executive Director for both AMTA and the Massage Therapy Foundation. In the meantime, Shelly Johnson, who has been AMTA Deputy Director for more than 8 years, will function as Interim Executive Director.  All AMTA day-to-day activities will continue as scheduled.

AMTA Board of Directors

The timing of this is interesting; the National Convention is only three weeks away. I had in fact personally e-mailed Ms. Lucas this past week to express my personal opinion about the NCBTMB being prohibited from exhibiting at the convention, something I’ve known about for some time. I haven’t previously thrown it out on the blog out of my respect for AMTA and not wanting to look like I was accusing them of behaving badly, but it’s gotten to the point where it isn’t any kind of secret. It’s now common knowledge. When it hits Facebook you know the word is out.

I shared with Ms. Lucas my opinion that keeping out the NCBTMB was a retaliatory decision based on last year’s ill-conceived plan to morph into a membership organization and compete in the insurance market. The NCBTMB leadership realized that it was bad move for them, and rescinded it, and at Lucas’ own request, even put it in writing.

I pointed out to her, as I have stated in several previous blogs, that we are supposed to be a profession that’s all about healing, that we needed reconciliation, and that I depended on our organizational leaders to be the model for that. Her response to me, which I received on August 24, was to thank me for sharing my opinion and to say “I too, am a big advocate of playing well in the sandbox, modeling the way and walking the talk. I think we have those philosophies in common.”

In fact, in January of this year, Lucas responded to a written interview I conducted, and one of my questions was what did she view as the ideal relationship between all the professional organizations. Her reply was

Despite the reality that the profession has chosen to have multiple organizations to represent it, we all need to cooperate to support the profession.  Ultimately, we all serve the same stakeholders.  So, I believe, it is to the profession’s advantage to have these organizations work together.”

I agree wholeheartedly, and I hope the leadership of every organization takes note of that. This profession is the family of hands. Dissension and disharmony need to take a back seat to personality conflicts and playing tit for tat. There is enough room here for everybody.

Ms. Lucas had 14 years total of service with AMTA, as they have acknowledged. She also had an extremely well-paying job and benefits, in the $300,000+ neighborhood, the types of which don’t grow on trees. Normally, when someone leaves a position like that–particularly in a recession economy like the one we’re in–they either have a better offer on the horizon or they’re being forced out. No word on which case applies here.

Good luck to Ms. Lucas, wherever she winds up, and good luck to Shelley Johnson, Deputy Director, who is stepping up to the plate as interim director.

In the final analysis, AMTA is not about the Executive Director, or the Board of Directors. AMTA is the 56,000 or so of us who are members and the hundreds of massage therapists who volunteer their time to the organization.

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