Letter from the President
It is my pleasure to present you with an update regarding NJSHA’s status and activities over the past year as well as some of NJSHA’s many accomplishments, and to recognize those whose efforts have allowed these to happen.
All of us have been greatly affected both personally and professionally by the pandemic. NJSHA as an association has been affected as well. The hard work of your board and committees during this time of COVID-19 demonstrated the significant value that being a member of a professional association such as ours has.
Some of the issues that we addressed during this pandemic included:
- COVID-19 section on the website. This section provided regularly updated content to inform our members about changes happening in the schools in healthcare settings, and legislatively.
- NJSHA’s School Affairs Committee (SAC) met with the Department of Education (DOE) and was asked to develop a guidance document regarding best practices for using telepractice during a public health emergency (PHE). This was done and posted on both NJSHA’s and the DOE websites.
- NJSHA members met with the Department of Human Services regarding issues related to Medicaid.
- We interacted with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and addressed multiple issues regarding delays in having temporary licenses convert to permanent licenses, allowing remote supervision of clinical fellows (CFs) and students, and other licensing concerns.
- NJSHA reached out to the Governor’s office to ensure that speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and audiologists be recognized as essential workers and we were classified as 1A in order to get the vaccine.
- We established a working relationship with Horizon, the biggest insurer in New Jersey and ensured they had the CPT codes we use to allow for evaluation and therapy services to be reimbursed when provided via telepractice. This ongoing relationship has allowed us to continue to resolve a variety of reimbursement issues.
- We submitted testimony regarding telepractice payment parity and met with legislators on a variety of issues of concern to SLPs and audiologists.
- We continued to work on implementation of single license for audiologists.
- SAC and other committees responded to hundreds of questions sent in by members.
- NJSHA has reached out to the Division of Consumer Affairs to express concern regarding unlicensed practice by some registered dental hygienists (RDHs) who are advertising doing swallowing and speech therapy, for which they are not licensed.
It wasn’t all crisis management! During the past year despite having to be 100 percent virtual, NJSHA has provided more than 50 hours of live continuing education hours, has kept the membership informed of updates and addressed concerns via pop up meetings, update sessions and forums, as well as via email blasts, social media posts and VOICES.
Some of the many activities we have accomplished include:
- We have written and published several letters to the editor informing the public of the work our members do.
- We created a window mask and distributed it at a discount.
- We sponsored a private viewing of the documentary My Beautiful Stutter.
- We initiated a “Friends of NJSHA” program that allows you to send NJSHA tribute cards to honor, recognize and remember friends and colleagues.
- We created a variety of brochures that are posted in our website library and can be downloaded and shared.
- We continue to strengthen our relationships with the DOE, Consumer Affairs, Department of Health and Human Services, Horizon and other associations to ensure NJSHA and its members have a voice, are recognized and valued as the important professionals we are.
- ASHA’s Board of Directors renewed the recognition for 11 state speech-language-hearing associations including New Jersey. Theresa Rogers, 2020 ASHA President, recognized NJSHA as the official speech-language hearing association of New Jersey during a virtual ceremony in November 2020.
- The State Board of Education approved a resolution designating May as Better Hearing and Speech Month.
- The New Jersey State Senate General Assembly, issued a joint legislative resolution recognizing May 2021 as Better Hearing and Speech Month and pay tribute to NJSHA’s record of service, leadership and commitment. Both certificates can be found under “General Issues” at: https://www.njsha.org/advocacy/current-issues-in-legislation/
- In the fall of 2020, a membership survey was sent out for the Board to determine what was most important to our members. NJSHA board of directors and chairs met for two days of productive working meetings in December and developed NJSHA’s new three-year strategic plan. This plan, based on members’ feedback, was approved by the Board at our February 2021 meeting.
Special thanks to our association management team, Diane Yenerall, our business manager, and Dawn Klinefelter, our account manager, without whom we would not have been able to do any of this.
Special thanks to our lobbyists Lynn Nowak and Jacy Lance who have been on top of so many legislative issues. The 2020 legislative season had more than 10,000 bills introduced. That is a lot to monitor!! They have also been our connections, making introductions for NJSHA to meet with the DOE, New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI), Horizon, our licensing board and other agencies and government officials.
Special thanks to our public relations consultants, Jonathan Jaffe, Irene Laki and Liv Meier, for getting the word out to the public and creating so many creative and engaging pieces.
NJSHA’s main source of revenues are its continuing education events, with the biggest being our annual Convention, as well as membership dues. As you know, due to COVID-19, we were not able to have a full Convention in 2020. While we did hold a virtual alternative Convention last summer, the revenue was not nearly what we typically achieve during Convention.
Our membership numbers this year are well below where they were two years ago. That being said, I am confident that we will regain these members and continue to grow. As a NJSHA member you are part of a strong state association that focuses on issues that affect you and the people that you serve.
NJSHA has been able to grow the number and variety of programs and activities. Members always benefit from reduced registration fees, as well as have the opportunity to participate in free members-only programs and promotions. NJSHA’s Board focuses on growing member benefits. While our expenses have risen commensurately overall, NJSHA is able to support all activities and provide additional member benefits through diligent financial planning and oversight. We have been able to continue to support our members given our strong financial position and smart planning.
As our revenue has decreased in the past year, so too have our expenses. By keeping expenses under control, NJSHA has been able to continue to provide all the services and programs our members expect and deserve.
Each year NJSHA strives to increase the value of membership. The Board continues to provide a plethora of programs and services without raising membership dues or registration fees for our many continuing education events. In fact, this year the board decided to allow our new professionals who are within one year of receiving their master degree, to register for continuing education (CE) events at the student rate.
Our many events include: the annual free member webinar, increased numbers of webinars available throughout the year, our annual full-day continuing education programs such as the Fall Conference, the NJSHA/NJIDA Joint Conference and the Interprofessional Autism Conference (IPAC). In addition, our robust annual Convention rounds out the multiple choices for professional development.
As a result of strong financial oversight and guidance by our management company, Craven Management Associates, NJSHA has a solid financial reserve. Each year, the Board of Directors approves a balanced budget to cover all activities and implement all goals of the strategic plan. Our policies and procedures require us to have 100 percent of our operating budget in reserve. Per our financial policy, 20 percent of the balance of our reserves is available for special projects. In the past, this money has gone to a variety of initiatives including website redesign, leadership development, new professional development programs and hiring a public relations consultant to help NJSHA increase the visibility of our professions to the public. By doing so, the value of the services you provide becomes better understood and more highly valued. This past year, our reserves have allowed us to continue to provide all the programming and support I have described.
NJSHA’s financial resources are spent on six general areas. Typically, about half of our expenses cover NJSHA’s administration and management, which includes all program planning, membership services, hosting and maintaining our website, event planning and implementation, routing member questions to appropriate committees for responses, printing, creating and distributing resources such as VOICES, ASHA fees, public relations, including our public relations consultant, etc. These are contractual obligations needed to continue to run our association. Due to decreased revenue, in 2019-2020, that amount is a little more than two-thirds of our budget. Also in the past year, a larger percent was spent overall on continuing education events and legislative and lobbyist, while less was spent on Convention, given the virtual format. The balance, under three percent, is spent by committees and the Board. All committee chairs, vice chairs and members as well as all Board members are volunteers, devoting a great deal of their time and energy for NJSHA’s benefit.
Board of Directors
The list of NJSHA’s volunteer leadership is long. Our 15-member Board of Directors meets six times during the year. The Board brings experience from a variety of work settings to identify issues that need to be addressed and to advocate for our members and stakeholders. Our committee chairs and vice chairs meet regularly and provide our members with a plethora of opportunities in which to become involved and provide an unsurpassed professional support network. Our board members, committee chairs and vice chairs are our colleagues, SLPs and audiologists you know and work with. To find out who they are, visit https://www.njsha.org/who-we-are/board-of-directors/. To learn more about our committees, visit https://www.njsha.org/who-we-are/committees/. All NJSHA members are welcome to become involved. Join a committee, participate in an event or work on a task force. There is much to be gained and much to be achieved!
SEAL, STAR, StAMP
NJSHA’s mission is enhanced through various ASHA initiatives. ASHA’s State Education Advocacy Leaders (SEALs) are appointed by ASHA recognized state speech-language hearing associations to advocate on education issues. NJSHA’s SEAL is Melissa Eldred.
ASHA’s StAMP Network works at the state level to influence administrative and public policy decisions that impact Medicare coverage and reimbursement of audiology and speech-language pathology services. The State Advocates for Reimbursement (STARs) are ASHA-member audiologists and speech-language pathologists who advocate in their states for improved healthcare coverage and reasonable reimbursement. NJSHA’s STAR and StAMP is Barbara Schwerin Bohus.
NJSHA is fortunate to have Melissa and Barbara participate on monthly phone meetings with ASHA and share the information from the national level through regular reports that are available to read on NJSHA’s website and in VOICES. They also present information at our annual school affairs and healthcare updates at Convention.
It has been a little over a year since NJSHA redesigned its website. This has allowed us to make regular changes and add information to ensure our membership and the public are informed. In the coming months the Member Portal will be updated as well. Information will be coming your way via email!
It has been a busy year for advocacy! Under the guidance of NJSHA’s lobbyist, Lynn Nowak and her associate Jacy Lance, NJSHA has had significant impact on new legislation that impacts our professions. The details can be found on our website. To read about all our advocacy successes, as well as the issues that NJSHA is following and providing input to, go to https://www.njsha.org/advocacy/current-issues-in-legislation/.
We encourage you to get involved, take advantage of all the benefits of your NJSHA membership, share your expertise and enthusiasm on a committee, advocate for an issue of importance. Through NJSHA we each become greater as we work together. We are NJSHA.
At this busy time of year, on behalf of the Board of Directors, I wish you all a very happy and relaxing summer. As we bid goodbye to COVID-19 (hopefully), may you have time to spend with family and friends and find moments to relax, unwind and reconnect with friends and loved ones.
Robynne Kratchman, MS, CCC-SLP