December 2016 Message from Board Co-Chairs

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Guest Blog by Leslie Bailey and Stacy Bardo, co-chairs of the board of directors

Hi fellow NACA Members!

Whew—with Thanksgiving now in the rearview mirror and 2016 rapidly coming to a close, we figured it was a good time to reach out to you all and check in on some important things. Having just lived through what will (hopefully) be the most contentious and emotional presidential campaign we ever experience, we’re feeling especially cognizant of the important role NACA plays in fighting for justice for consumers and bringing people together. In that spirit, we want to kick off our year of serving as your board of directors co-chairs—and make good on the promise at our annual meeting—with an era of open communications between the board and the membership.

For starters, here are some of the priorities our board is planning to tackle in 2017:

  • Developing NACA’s next three-year strategic plan—We’ll be looking for your help shaping it, starting with the member survey that will be sent out very soon.  
  • Updating NACA’s bylaws—Once we have the new strategic plan, we’ll begin work on updating the bylaws, strengthening our governance, and developing a comprehensive plan for NACA’s 501(c)(3) charitable fund.
  • Supporting NACA’s professional development efforts—We’re going to look for ways to increase membership volunteer opportunities and to that end, we’ll continue to promote member services and education opportunities, including the launch of the first eLearning course next year and the upcoming bi-annual FCRA conference in Baltimore, Maryland. We’re also thrilled to announce that NACA has established a NACA Women listserv.
  • Supporting NACA’s advocacy and fundraising efforts—As Ira and Christine emphasized in their outstanding November 30 webinar, “Consumer Rights in the Trump Administration,” now that we must begin to navigate what will happen to the CFPB and important consumer protection rules, we will focus on how to speak to our clients, legislative representatives, the news media, and others to ensure that our message is not lost. On the advocacy front, we may face attacks on consumer rights and remedies, potentially in all branches of the federal government. We will work strategically to defend consumer protection policies as well as monitor the actions of federal agencies that are focused on protecting consumers in the marketplace. To that end, we hope you will respond whenever we call on you to take action to stop dangerous anti-consumer proposals and actions.

Next, we want to bring everyone up to speed on the Membership Expansion Taskforce.

  • What is it and why do we need it? As some of you know, in late 2015, we looked carefully at the overall financial health of the organization, including the threat to cy pres donations, and gave serious thought to the brand we want for the organization, our shared interest in helping new consumer advocates succeed (and avoid making bad case law), and the importance of having transparent guidelines and applying them consistently across all the states. To address these issues, the board charged a volunteer taskforce—comprised of eight NACA members from the ethics committee, membership committee, and board—to make recommendations on how we can expand our membership to include consumer advocates who are interested or engaged in representing consumers while remaining consistent and true to NACA’s mission.
  • What has happened so far? The taskforce began its work in January 2016. Its initial charge was to look carefully at our membership criteria. In June 2016, after six months of work, the taskforce submitted its initial recommendations to the board for consideration. After a comment period during which members of the ethics and membership committees were invited to weigh in, the board adopted revised membership criteria based on the taskforce’s recommendations. Many of the revised criteria merely describe what is already current practice, while other changes are more significant. Overall, the board believes the new criteria will be fairer, more transparent, easier to apply consistently, and, critically, will encourage people to join NACA.
  • What’s next? No changes have been implemented yet. The taskforce is now charged with reviewing the membership application, pledge, vetting process, possible member code of conduct, and communications to applicants, and proposing changes to align them with the revised criteria adopted by the board. They are due to submit recommendations to the board in early- to mid-2017. Over the coming months, you can expect to hear much more from us as the taskforce completes its work and the board adopts and implements new practices.
  • Who can I contact for more information? The co-chairs of the membership expansion task force are Mike Quirk (MQuirk@wcblegal.com) and Leslie Bailey (lbailey@publicjustice.net). Feel free to reach out to Leslie and Mike if you have questions or ideas.

Want to get more involved? We welcome it! If you have questions or comments, please reach out to us. If you feel there are things that the organization could be doing better or new areas that need to be covered, we want to hear from you, especially if you bring possible solutions and a willingness to work on the issue for the organization. Our strength is our membership. We, all the members, are NACA, and the organization is only as strong as what we are willing to put in. So if you haven’t considered a volunteer position in the past, we hope you will consider taking one on in 2017 if you have the time and interest.

Thank you so much for entrusting us with the leadership of this incredible organization. Best wishes for the holiday season and a prosperous and peaceful 2017.

Cheers,

Leslie Bailey                                                                                                                                   Stacy Bardo
Co-Chair, NACA Board of Directors                                                                                           Co-Chair, NACA Board of Directors
Staff Attorney, Public Justice                                                                                                      Founder, Bardo Law, P.C.