NCBTMB Seats New Board Members

The NCBTMB seated their new Board members last week. Bruce Baltz, who has served one term and was not even on the ballot for a second term, was tapped as the new Chair-Elect. Michael McGillicuddy, who was also not on the ballot, was appointed as a therapist member by the Board, and Teresa M. Matthews is filling the remaining therapist member seat. Dr. Stuart Watts has been named the public member.

I wish them all luck, and I feel that they’re going to need it.

To start with, it is my opinion that the NCBTMB is leaving themselves open to a legal challenge of any decision this board might make. I have maintained since his candidacy was announced that Dr. Watts was inappropriately put forth as a public member. I don’t personally know Dr. Watts, but as soon as I read his bio, my thought, and that of several other people who chimed in on my previous blogs about it, felt that he was suitably qualified to be a therapist member, and totally unsuitable to be the public member, based on the bylaws of the NCBTMB. He currently holds a license in two states, although the people trying to defend this decision have said he is retired, and he holds an office in another national organization, which is also against the by-laws, although I was told that he had agreed to quit that position if he was named to the NCBTMB. According to the current bylaws on the NCB website under 6.2 Qualifications. “No Director shall hold a national level office in another competing therapeutic massage and/or bodywork professional or trade organization” and further states………”A Director who is a public member shall not be a Certificant or a practitioner of therapeutic massage and/or bodywork within three (3) years of election, and shall have no material financial interest in the field of therapeutic massage and/or bodywork.” I honestly do not understand how the nominations task force thought he was an appropriate choice for the public member. To me, it’s a big “DUH!”

I also find it less than transparent that the press release did not say he was the public member, but rather put the spin on it that “he has worked for both practitioner rights and the rights of the public throughout his 40-year career.” On a regulatory board, the mandate is indeed to protect the safety of the public. However, this is not a regulatory board in spite of their numerous past attempts to appear as one, and a public member is supposed to represent the viewpoint of a consumer, not be an expert in the field. Watts appears to be an expert in the field with 40 years of experience. I don’t think he is representative of the average consumer and I defy anyone to dispute that. It sounds like splitting hairs, since I would have approved of him as a therapist member. My issue is that I don’t expect a therapist member and a public member to necessarily vote the same way. People have to remember that when you are serving a board, you are not supposed to just avoid a conflict of interest–you are also supposed to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

I have briefly met Matthews a couple of times when I attended the FSMTA convention. She has been a school owner and instructor for 18 years. Baltz and McGillicuddy are both people I know and I am a big fan of both of them. However, I also question the way their appointments came about. Neither were on the ballot sent to certificants. The sudden departure of the previous Chair, Sue Toscano left a therapist seat empty that needed to be filled, so I will assume that was part of the reason. However, I am aware of several other people who had thrown their name in the hat for the election, and I do question that none of them were tapped to fill the empty seat. I have asked both Steve Kirin and Leena Guptha questions in the past about the election process, and they have both replied to me that they are not privy to the goings-on of the nomination committee.

I’ve been nationally certified since 2000, and it seems that there has been controversy on their election process many times….including one time years ago when I threw my own name in the hat. I was interviewed on the phone, and later notified that I had been chosen as a candidate. I was told to write a candidate statement and that it had to be X amount of words; I forget the number. When the ballots came out, the first thing I saw was that my own candidate statement looked ridiculously short compared to the others. I called them on the phone and asked why I was singled out for a short statement. Initially the person on the other end of the phone argued with me that I had misunderstood the instructions. When I sent him the email I had received from them proving my point, he had to back up and apologize, and said that I had received the first draft of the letter by mistake. He said “there’s really nothing we can do about it now.” I was not surprised when I wasn’t elected, because my statement looked idiotic compared to the other candidates. My attitude now is that it was a blessing in disguise that I wasn’t chosen; that particular regime was fraught with management trouble, board trouble, and lawsuits.

I have referred back to my own blogs from past years that had links to the NCBTMB website for the press releases that were put out about some of their major mistakes, and they have all been removed.

The NCBTMB has been dysfunctional for a very long time. Their financial revenues have fallen greatly since the introduction of the MBLEx. Their 990 for 2012 was just posted on Guidestar a couple of days ago and will be the subject of my next blog.

Dr. Leena Guptha stepped into the Chair position about a month ago. Leena is a positive person, and refers to herself as an ambassador for the organization. She has previously served as the national president of AMTA, and I have no doubts that she has the best of intentions. I have no doubts that the new board members, and any of the other people there have the best of intentions. I actually have no doubts that the immediately previous board and management had good intentions…but that has not yet turned things around. Dr. Guptha has stated to me that since she has a three-year term, she will have time to make a real difference and positive changes at the NCBTMB. Time will tell.

I feel that the NCBTMB is on their last chance to get it right. They do not have the financial resources to keep making mistakes. The PR spin that has been put on the new Board Certification doesn’t fly. People want advanced certifications in specific areas, and that hasn’t happened. Developing such things requires a lot of money, and I don’t know that they have it. Leena Guptha is organizing a Think Tank to gather input about the CE Provider program, and I initially agreed to serve on it. However, I’ve taken so much criticism for that in the past few weeks I have decided to back up and punt. I have publicly announced many times that I would not serve an another board as long as I am writing this blog, and even though a committee is not the same as a board of directors, people seem to be concerned that my impartiality will fly out the window. I had even stated to Dr. Guptha that my presence on the CE committee would not prevent me from blogging about them, and she said she didn’t expect it to. It’s a moot point now; I have withdrawn. Even though I am not on the board–it was one of those appearances of a conflict of interest that I referred to above.

I have also served on a previous CE revamping project at the request of Paul Lindamood. About 30 educators came together to discuss it, and the resounding theme was “go back to vetting the individual classes.” That advice has so far been ignored. Ergo, there are a lot of classes approved for CE that are in blatant violation of their own bylaws and that are an embarrassment to the profession and that should be an embarrassment to a board that holds itself out as “defining and advancing the highest standards.” Approving classes in flower fairies and shapeshifting  just doesn’t hold up to that mission statement. There is no need to wait for a Think Tank to start taking care of that situation; the new board needs to start taking care of it immediately.

As I said, I wish the new members luck, and I feel sure they’re going to need it. As always, you’re free to disagree with me; this is my blog and my opinion.

The Financial Health of Our Organizations: FSMTB

Note: For the past few years I have done a series of reports on the financial status of the non-profit organizations that represent the massage therapy profession. I obtain this information from Guidestar, a financial information clearinghouse for non-profits. The organizations can provide their Form 990 (Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax) to Guidestar, and if they don’t, the IRS does it for them. I will state for the record that I am not an accountant or a financial analyst; I just report what I see (and maybe offer a few opinions). I usually get asked the question every year why I am not reporting on ABMP. Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals is a privately-owned for-profit company, and they are not obligated to release their financial information. Non-profits are on a different filing schedule than the rest of us, and there is variance amongst them in when their fiscal year ends.

The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards is as usual, in excellent financial condition. For the fiscal year ending 06/30/2012, they are showing revenues of almost $5.2M, up about $857K from 2011. Their expenses were slightly over $3.3M, leaving their net revenue for the year at over $1.8M. They also have assets of over $3.8M. Not too shabby for an organization that isn’t even ten years old yet.

Unlike some of our other organizations, the Board of Directors of the Federation are not compensated, with the exception of being reimbursed for travel expenses. They’re all volunteers. The Executive Director, Debra Persinger, was paid reportable compensation of $231,472 and a little over $49K in other compensation. Non-profits have to report the salaries of the directors, trustees, and the highest-paid employees and there were no others listed. Other wages and salaries were less than $74K total.

Pearson-Vue was paid a little over $1.4M for delivery of the MBLEx. Exam processing and development accounted for another $1.4M. The exam revenues were over $5M so none of that seems out of line.Travel expenses amounted to slightly over $30K, conventions and  meetings were almost $69K, not an unreasonable figure since they have a presence at all national events and some state ones as well. Advertising expenses were less than $22K; office expenses were slightly over $18K.

There’s really no story, here, folks. The FSMTB seems to be in fine shape, not overextending themselves, and building up healthy cash reserves.

 

The Financial Health of Our Organizations: AMTA

For the past few years, I have been reporting on the financial health of the non-profit organizations of the massage profession. I am not an accountant or a financial expert. My information comes from Guidestar, a clearinghouse for non-profit information that is available to anyone. Non-profits may post their filings on Guidestar, and if they don’t do it, the IRS will do it for them. My annual reports do not include ABMP; they are a for-profit company that claims membership of more than 80,000 massage therapists, about 25,000 more than AMTA. Non-profits operate on a different filing schedule; the date of this filing was for the fiscal year beginning March 1, 2012 and ending February 28, 2013.

AMTA appears to be in a stronger financial position than last year’s filing, due to a huge jump of almost $1 million in their investment income. Let’s all hope that bodes well for investments in general in the US. Just two years ago, their investments had actually lost over $34K. According to the 990, AMTA actually lost 1030 members from the previous year, with the membership standing at 55,368 people as of February 2013. They are listing 79 employees, down 5 from last year. However, the organization still lists 850 volunteers, the same as last year.

Total revenues increased by over $824K. Salaries and other compensation went up by over $258K, in spite of the small reduction in employees. Overall, expenses increased by about $219K, so there was a little belt-tightening elsewhere. The bottom line, of revenue minus expenses, looks much better than last year, with an increase of over $605K.

The biggest expenditures for the organization are staff salaries, with 6 individuals listed who receive more than $100K a year in compensation. Then-Executive Director Shelly Johnson received a little over $265K. CFO Larry Laboda received over $149K, while current ED but then-Deputy ED received almost $160K. David French, listed as the Director of Marketing, was paid over $105K; Mark Tyle, Director of Chapter Relations, received over $108K, and Jocelyn Pysarchuk, listed as Director of Knowledge Transfer, received over $102K.

The 12-member Board of Directors at AMTA is also compensated in amounts ranging from $5K-6K for members-at-large to almost $40K for the President.

AMTA paid over $800K to Daniel J. Edelman, Inc, their public relations firm. That seems like a steep amount of money to me, and I wonder what they are doing that a Director of Marketing couldn’t do, or vice-versa. Outsourcing is okay, but I’d like to know the differences in what is handled in-house and what is not. That’s a question for one of my future interviews with the management. AMTA did undertake a big campaign to educate the public and raise awareness about massage this year with the traveling van and appearances all over the country. I certainly do not begrudge them spending that money; it was well-received and got a huge amount of media attention.

Other than investments, AMTA’s primary source of income is of course membership dues, which brought in over $11 million.

AMTA spent $72K on lobbyists last year, and personally, I’d like to see that figure raised in the next year. I recently called on AMTA and the other massage organizations to make a concerted effort to get the NCBTMB removed from all statutory language in the regulated states, and that’s going to require lobbying money. I suggest that they spend it in the interest of straightening out some of the mess that the massage profession is in.

Office expenses are more than $1.2 million. That’s a lot of paperclips. AMTA also spent more than $490K on travel. Hopefully, that’s economy class. Many massage therapists are struggling in our present economy.  I realize we can’t hold the national convention at Motel 6, but every year I hear from dozens of people who wish they could attend, but don’t, because of the cost.

I personally have enjoyed my years with AMTA. Our state chapter (NC) is one of the larger and more active chapters, and I haven’t missed one of the national conventions in years. The fellowship and volunteer spirit and continuing education opportunities there are alive and well; I’m sorry to see the organization is losing members instead of gaining. May that turn around as much as their investment income did. It doesn’t look like this organization is in any danger of going away anytime soon.

The Financial Health of Our Organizations: AMTA

This is the fourth year that I have reported on the financial status of the non-profit organizations that represent the massage therapy profession. I am not an accountant or a financial expert. The information is taken from Guidestar, a clearinghouse where you can look up the financial filings of non-profits.

This blog has been revised–after I posted the original blog, Guidestar posted AMTA’s latest 990. Since non-profits have a different filing schedule that the rest of us, it is not unusual for the “latest” 990 appearing on the website to be a year old or more. This revision reflects the 2012 filing. It was signed in October of 2012 and just made it to the Guidestar site within the past week. Thank you to Rachel Mann, VP of AMTA Board of Directors, for bringing it to my attention.

The American Massage Therapy Association is showing a net revenue of over $419K, compared to their loss for the previous year of almost $110K. Glad to see they’re out of the hole.

The revenue increased over $600K from the previous year.

AMTA compensates the members of their elected Board of Directors, in amounts ranging from $5000 for members-at-large to almost $40K for the President (during this filing, that was Glenath Moyle.) Executive Director Shelly Johnson was paid almost $261K–a drastic cut from the $316K plus almost $10K in “other” compensation that was paid out on the 2011 filing to the immediate past ED, Elizabeth Sublewski (aka Liz Lucas).  Sublewski also received severance pay of over $82,000 on the 2011 return. On the 2012 return, she received almost $260K….apparently, it was quite expensive to the organization to get Sublewski off the job. My hope is that in the future, AMTA will negotiate executive contracts that are more favorable to the organization. Total salaries accounted for about 3.5 million; that is actually almost $500K less than they were the year before.

Over $11 million dollars worth of AMTA’s revenue came directly from membership dues. The remaining revenue is derived from sales of literature, convention sponsorships and booths, advertising, and investments.

AMTA has the same kind of expenses that any other business or organization does–office supplies, information technology, advertising, postage, banking and credit card processing fees, and so forth. None of it looks out of line, considering the size of the organization. AMTA represents over 57,000 members. They’ve seen recessions come and go and have survived them all. As a long-standing member myself, I have never seen service suffer in any way, whether it was a fat year or a lean year.

As an aside, I hear that Executive Director Shelly Johnson is stepping down later this spring to spend more time with family. She has done an excellent job during the 8 years she spent as Deputy Director, and since she stepped up into the ED position in 2010. She will be missed by the organization, and I wish her the best of luck.

Transparency

Transparency, when defined in the context of non-profit organizations and public boards, implies that said organizations are accountable to those they represent, that meetings and communications are open, that full financial disclosures are made public, and that all business practices are an open book. It’s an ethical obligation.

I’ve recently posted on my blog my second annual series of reports on the financial health of the non-profit organizations representing the massage profession. As my disclosure states, I am neither an accountant nor a financial expert. All of the information I used to prepare my blogs was taken directly from www.guidestar.org

Guidestar was founded in 1994 as a clearinghouse of information on non-profit organizations. The IRS Form 990 and any other filings required of non-profit organizations, as well as other data collected by them, is published on the website. They have data on every entity registered with the IRS as a non-profit organization.

It is a rule of the IRS that information on non-profits is publicly disclosed, including the compensation of key personnel. The organizations listed with Guidestar have the opportunity to post their filings themselves, and if they choose not to do that, Guidestar gets it straight from the IRS. I want to make it clear that the information I blogged was not some big secret that I received from one of my anonymous sources. It is public information and anyone who goes to the trouble to look it up can find it. I just saved you the trouble by publishing it in my blog, for those who are interested.

I almost went into a state of shock when I received an e-mail from one of our leaders who was upset with me for publishing that compensation. The statement they made to me was that it was their personal and private information–sorry, but that ain’t so, when you work for a non-profit–and that I was doing more harm than good by publishing it, that it would be taken out of context and that while others who administrate non-profits would understand, that the average massage therapist would not understand why their pay is what it is. I actually did not imply in any way that the person was overpaid, because I don’t believe they are. I call it like I see it and if I thought that, I would certainly say so.

I conducted a little informal poll on Facebook, and out of 51 responses, 50 of them agreed that I was promoting transparency by printing the information. The one dissent actually wasn’t a dissent; it was more of a sympathy note of understanding why people don’t want their salary revealed.

If you work for a for-profit company, then it’s certainly your prerogative to keep your income a secret–to a point–because even large corporations have to disclose the salary of their top brass. And if you work for a non-profit, especially one that claims to promote transparency, then disclosure is a given–as well it should be.

The Financial Health of Our Organizations: FSMTB

This is my second year of doing an annual report on the financial status of the major non-profit organizations of the massage therapy profession. I am not an accountant or a financial expert. This information was taken directly from FORM 990, the Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, which is published on Guidestar.

If there’s such a thing as a poster child for good finances in these economic times, it’s the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards.

It was reported at last month’s annual meeting that the Federation had paid off their $700,000 start-up loan 27 months early.

The 990 shows an increase in total revenues of over $1.2 million from the previous year, a decrease in liabilities, and an increase in assets. Of course expenses increased, but when revenues take that big a jump, so do the expenses related to generating those revenues, particularly the money paid to the exam administration company. That amount increased about $600K, due to the rapid increase in the number of students taking the exam. The Federation’s revenues come from the MBLEx and from the annual dues paid by the member boards, currently numbering 40.

Executive Director Debra Persinger received an annual raise of $38,500. The FSMTB also moved into more spacious offices in Overland Park, KS this year and as announced at the 2009 meeting, added another staff member. Persinger had previously been the sole employee since the inception of the Federation.

One noteworthy point is that the Board members of the FSMTB are not compensated at all, other than their travel expenses to and from meetings and expenses directly related to Board business. According to the filing, Board members spend 10-15 hours per week on FSMTB business. As a state Board member myself, I can relate to that.  Serving on any Board is time-consuming. The FSMTB Board members deserve recognition for serving without any per diem.

Congratulations to the FSMTB for doing such an impressive job in the middle of a recession.

The Financial Health of Our Organizations: AMTA

This marks the second year I have reported on the financial health of the non-profit organizations that represent the massage profession. I am not an accountant or a financial expert. The information reported here comes directly from Form 990 as filed with the IRS; non-profits are obligated to make their tax reports public knowledge, and these can be easily accessed on Guidestar.

Last year I reported that the American Massage Therapy Association had taken a hard hit from the recession. The AMTA has gone through some major changes this year, not the least of which was the sudden departure of Elizabeth Lucas, the former Executive Director. Lucas’ compensation accounts for a big chunk of change on the filing, $279,438 to be exact, almost $6000 less than last year. Shelly Johnson, the former Assistant Executive Director who is currently Interim Executive Director, actually received $14,000 more in 2009 than she did the previous year. I personally support Shelly for moving permanently into Lucas’ vacated position; I do have to say, however, that I thought Lucas was overcompensated and I hope that the next ED, whomever it is, will not be getting more money than the governor of most states, which was formerly the situation. Compensation overall increased by $144,004. Since the membership dues collected went down by over $150,000, and the total revenues have declined by $459,000 since the previous year, I have to wonder why we’re paying out more money to provide services for less people.

The balance sheet shows accounts payable of almost $3.5 million and accounts receivable of only $241K.

AMTA spent $40K less on lobbyists during the 2009 fiscal year than 2008. I’m not sure that’s a good move, unless the organization is sending out board members in place of the lobbyists. When it comes to protecting the legal rights of massage therapists and putting a stop to detrimental legislation, I think that’s one of the obligations of this organization to the stakeholders. I’d rather see the lobbyists paid and that money cut somewhere else.

Travel expenses were cut again this year by about 15K, but office expenses rose by more than twice that amount. In fairness, total functional expenses decreased by $568K, so they’re saving money somewhere. Total net assets declined; total liabilities increased, which is still a move in the wrong direction.  Grants and assistance to organizations declined by over $265,000. The main beneficiary of that money has in the past been the Massage Therapy Foundation; hence Ruth Werner’s presentation at the open BOD meeting in Minneapolis about the necessity of seeking other partners to support the Foundation sounds all the more like a good plan to me.

AMTA is certainly not alone in being fiscally challenged by the economy. In the coming weeks I will be reporting on financial status of the other non-profit organizations. I need to say that I am a card-carrying member of AMTA, and reporting on their finances is obligatory to me as one who tries to keep up with what’s going on in the world of massage and keep my readers informed. I report the news, whether it’s good or bad, and that doesn’t always suit everybody all of the time. I don’t apologize for it.