Alliance Conference in Tucson a 5-Star Success

June 15, 2012  


The Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE) Conference focused on creating an atmosphere of collaboration, respect and mutual support. The conference theme was “Deepening Connections in the Massage Education Community.”  Keynote Speaker Benny Vaughn’s inspirational opening reminded us that a society is judged by how it educates its young and that massage therapists need to increase their self-esteem.  Vaughn says, “In this digital world touch is vital.”  He envisions a world where we will be greeted with reverence and shouts, “The touchers are coming!  The touchers are coming!”

The Alliance re-elected Pete Whitridge, Iris Burman, Su Bibik, and Cherie Sohnen-Moe to the board as well as elected two new board members Heather Piper and Stephanie Beck. The Alliance held elections for the leadership Development Committee and announced that Debra Curties, Joe Lubow, Susan Beck, Tracy Walton and Tim Herbert were elected.

The Board deemed this meeting an incredible success. It brought together a distinguished group of participants from the US and Canada.

From the AFMTE Leadership Development Committee

The  group of veteran educators who established the Alliance For Massage Therapy Education have accomplished a tremendous amount in a short period of time. Spring-boarding from the AMTA Council of Schools, where they were members but wished for a more independent voice on behalf of the massage education sector, Iris Burman, Pete Whitridge, Stan Dawson and Rick Rosen initially conceived of this new organization in mid-2009. They began by calling themselves the Leadership Team and Eugenie Newton and Su Bibik joined the group.  It included a blend of school faculty/owners and continuing education providers, and represented varied organizational affiliations and diverse geographical locations within the United States.  In September 2009, the Leadership Team formally announced the Alliance’s launch to the massage therapy profession – and Rick Rosen was hired to serve as its Executive Director. The Alliance was incorporated as a non-profit organization the following month, and The Coulter Companies was retained to provide day-to-day management in December 2009.

With the basic structure in place, they planned and held the Alliance’s inaugural conference in Park City, Utah in June 2010.  The Leadership Team was officially disbanded at this meeting, giving rise to the first formally-elected seven-member Board of Directors, pursuant to the organization’s Bylaws. From the startup group, Su Bibik, Iris Burman, Stan Dawson and Pete Whitridge were elected to the new Board positions. They were joined by Ralph Stephens, Cherie Sohnen-Moe and Mark Beck who were also elected in Park City to complete the seven-member roster.

The seven Board positions formally represented two each from the categories of faculty, school owners/directors, and continuing education providers, with one at-large seat. Board positions were established as two-year terms, but the initial group had three one-year positions so that normal turnover controls could be established. Stan, Mark and Ralph were re-elected for two-year terms in 2011.
Another major evolutionary moment occurred at the end of 2011 when it was decided that the young organization could not sustain the management structure it had put in place. Operating without an ED or management firm, the Board members have handled huge workloads and responsibilities in 2012. It was decided that two additional Board positions were needed, specifically for individuals with talents in marketing and membership recruitment. A marketing position was created mid-year; Stephanie Beck joined and has thrown herself into the marketing area. Stephanie’s mid-year appointment is up for ratification at the upcoming conference in Tucson. Pete, Iris, Cherie and Su indicated their willingness to run for new two-year terms.
All candidates have been interviewed by the Leadership Development Committee (LDC), and all incumbents have been recommended for re-election by their Board peers. The Leadership Development Committee proposes reelection of the four incumbents and ratification of Stephanie Beck for one of the new seats. The LDC conducted an applicant search for the ninth position and is recommending Heather Piper.

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