This week’s blog is about the elections at the upcoming Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards annual meeting in New Orleans on September 27-29. Who gets chosen to serve on the Board of Directors of this organization is important, because FSMTB controls the administration of the MBLEx– the primary licensing exam in our profession, and is in the process of trying to adopt new national standards for continuing education.
These upcoming elections are shaping up to be a joke, and a bad one at that. I reported last week on the bylaw changes that have resulted in handing over all the power that should belong to the Member Boards to a 3-person Nominating Committee, removed the Delegates’ rights to nominate anyone from the floor, took the power of choosing officers out of the hands of the Delegates and put it into the hands of the Board of Directors, and extended the total length of time a Board member can serve to three 3-year terms.
I don’t know who the Nominating Committee has chosen as their “slate” candidates, but I can tell you some of the people they have overlooked. Two of them are sitting members of the FSMTB Board of Directors: Phyllis Salyers of Tennessee and Billie Shea of Nevada. Both are eligible, and as far as I can tell, both are qualified. Shea was in fact just reelected as the Chair of the Nevada State Board of Massage Therapists for the seventh time. Salyers has been off the Tennessee Board of Massage Licensure for about a year, but still acts as a consultant to the Board and under the Bylaws of the FSMTB is still eligible to serve two more terms. Since they were elected the first time, one assumes that they both still possess the skill sets necessary to the job. Since both have been faithful servants to the organization, you have to wonder why they have been passed over for another term.
Another person who didn’t make the cut is Mark Dixon, currently serving as Vice-Chair of the California Massage Therapy Council. Dixon has been a massage therapist for almost 25 years and his list of qualifications and past service to massage organizations would be another whole blog. He is genuine leadership material, yet he was not even granted the courtesy of an interview by the Nominating Committee.
I actually have the biggest issue, not with the candidates, but with the Bylaw change allowing the Board of Directors to serve three 3-year terms. Since Board members can continue to serve after their service to their state massage board is over, this could effectively result in the entire Board of Directors being composed of people who are no longer on their state boards. I don’t think that was the intent of this organization when it was started–and their very name indicates that.
The issue, to me, is that when you are no longer on a state board, you are no longer obligated to follow the agenda of that board, whatever it may be. In fact, as a non-board member, you are in all likelihood not even privy to the goings-on behind closed doors when there is an executive session. You can have your own little agenda, and that’s what I find disturbing. Due to the various election schedules of the FSMTB Member Boards, I am not suggesting that anyone should be thrown off in the midst of their term, but I think serving out that term is the way to go–and then let another sitting board member have that position.
So, here we have no nominations from the floor; a 3-person committee deciding who is best for the job instead of all the delegates from 42 Member Boards getting to put forth someone they might like to nominate; two sitting members denied another term in spite of their service and qualifications and bylaws that currently allow them to serve; a well-qualified applicant denied; and bylaw changes that are totally contrary to what is in the best interests of the state boards.
Out here in the heartland of the massage therapy profession, we’re counting on our colleagues who do the usually thankless job of representing state boards to do the courageous thing here. I will make another plea for the Delegate Assembly to stand up at the annual meeting, say that this is not acceptable, and to propose amendments to the FSMTB Bylaws that restore an appropriate balance of power and authority.