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 The NCBTMB leadership realized that it was bad move for them, and rescinded it, and at Lucas’ own request, even put it in writing.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.

6 thoughts on “Executive Director of AMTA Resigns

  1. Angela Palmier

    Well said Laura. I’m sure there are several people scratching their heads at Liz’s sudden departure. And with all things, I’m sure at some point, we’ll have some clarity as to why she left just a few short weeks prior to the convention.

    We’re a profession that has experienced many changes, challenges, growth, decline, successes and failures, all of which have a direct impact on each and every professional massage therapist in this country-despite any organizational affiliation. For this profession to survive and thrive, it is critical that we, the individual therapists maintain awareness, promote the positive actions taken by ANY organization that is working toward supporting the profession, refuse to accept those actions which separate and divide, and more importantly, take an active role however we are able to support the profession. I had the honor of serving the AMTA-IL Chapter as a delegate, third vice president, first vice president and finally ended my volunteer tenure with the Chapter in 2009 as Chapter President. While addressing our members at the 2009 State Conference and Annual Meeting, celebrating the Chapter’s 60th Anniversary I stated “…an awareness and appreciation of our past successes and achievements, however is NOT enough for the future. The success of any organization rests on how it will change as the future changes and alters the way we all perceive and act. It will be my responsibility to see those changes and build on what has gone before….” I share this because I believe that the AMTA National Organization is faced with a critical “change” right now. Each of us have our own ideas and opinions. We expect the leaders of all associations that serve, yes—-serve the massage therapy profession to do a very real job whether CEO, ED or Volunteer. We respect and recognize the importance of the work associations and organizations provide and we expect that the leaders will not merely grace the shelves or look the part. The AMTA National Board elections are right around the corner. They are charged with selecting the future Executive Director of this organization and it is vital that they choose well. We place our trust in this board to execute on our behalf. We must also place our trust in our 56,000 fellow members to take the time to learn about the candidates and vote. I look forward to seeing many of you who will read this statement at the national convention in Minneapolis, and I hope that while change is a-foot, the mission “To advance the art, science and practice of massage therapy” will be at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

  2. Administrator Post author


    I’ve questioned that, actually, and I was told by AMTA that her salary was recommended by a compensation consultant and the Board of Directors voted to pay it. If you can command that kind of money, who would turn it down? That being said, no, I do not think it is justified. Considering that much of the work of AMTA is done by the volunteers in the trenches, it seems like an overly generous amount. Now that they are conducting the search for a new ED, it will be interesting to see what kind of compensation that person gets. Once a precedent has been set like that, it might be tricky to try to tell the next person in line that they’re not worth that much.


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