SPOTLIGHT ON ATS COMMITTEES
Molly Osborne, MD, PhD
Molly Osborne, MD, PhD, chair of the ATS Nominating Committee, talks about how she and her fellow members are working to ensure the security of the Society’s future by selecting candidates who will most effectively lead the organization over the course of five-year terms on the Executive Committee.
Q. What is the genesis of your committee? When was it established? And what is its charge?
A. The Nominating Committee was one of the original five standing ATS committees—Membership, Nominating, Publications Policy, Scientific Conference and Planning—all of which were established on December 1, 1905, when the ATS bylaws were first adopted.
Whereas at one time, the committee nominated every member of the Executive Committee, today, we are charged with nominating two candidates for ATS Secretary-Treasurer. ATS members elect one of these nominees, who then rises through the Society’s leadership ranks over the course of five years—first as Secretary-Treasurer and later as Vice President, President-Elect, President and Immediate-Past President.
In carrying out its responsibilities, the committee makes a concerted effort to consider ATS members of all ages, races, ethnicities and demographic backgrounds so that the Society’s leaders appropriately represent the make-up of the membership at large.
Q. ATS members just elected Atul Malhotra, MD, as Secretary-Treasurer for 2012-2013. Was the nomination process different in 2011 than in years past?
A. Yes, we slightly revised the process for the 2012 election so that it included additional outreach to ATS members and a request for early letter of intent submissions in summer 2011. Therefore, we had a smaller list of nominees who were selected to go through the full nomination process. And this year, nominees not only answered written questions about their vision for the Society’s future, but also created three-minute videos, which we hope made the process more interactive for voters. Likewise, all interested ATS members received personal feedback from the committee chair.
Q. As associate dean for student affairs at Oregon Health Sciences University, how is the perspective you bring to the table unique as committee chair?
A. My background has taught me that it is essential to have a clear and transparent leadership process that provides feedback and specific recommendations to all individuals who express an interest in ATS leadership. As a corollary, I feel strongly that this process should be communicated frequently to ATS members, who may or may not be aware of how their leaders are selected.
Q. Is the make-up of your committee representative of the Society’s membership at large? How are members selected?
A. Yes, the ATS bylaws ensure that committee’s seven members represent the interests of the larger ATS membership. The chair is appointed by the current president, and the remaining six members are elected by the Board of Directors during its annual May meeting.
Each spring, the board considers a list of suggested members that includes at least one international member, one former president and one member who served previously on the committee. Using a secret ballot system, each board member selects six members who he or she believes would best serve the Society as a member of the Nominating Committee. From this group, a list of the 10 most frequently suggested members is compiled, upon which board members vote. The six members who receive the most votes are invited to become Nominating Committee members, while the remaining four are asked to serve as alternates in the event that a member is unable to serve.
Q. Once ATS members have submitted their nominations for ATS Secretary-Treasurer, how does the Nominating Committee go about selecting just two candidates? What factors does the committee consider?
A. The committee considers many factors, including a candidate’s: 1) vision for the ATS; 2) contribution to ATS and ATS leadership; 3) letters of support and recommendation; 4) CV, particularly sections related to his or her area of clinical expertise, research/NIH funding, leadership positions, involvement in patient-centered activities at local and/or national levels; and 5) personally unique factors that would contribute to successfully leading the ATS. The committee also considers the unique contribution that nominees would make to the current Executive Committee, given the expertise of the other leaders.
Q. Looking forward, what is your committee doing to fine-tune the nomination and election processes?
A. We are doing a number of things to ensure that the nomination process is as efficient and inclusive as possible, while also exploring ways to increase the number of ATS members who vote in leadership elections. Recognizing that the responsibilities of Executive Committee members must not be so burdensome that we fail to attract the strongest candidates for ATS officer positions, we are also examining and recommending changes to the current leadership structure.
Meet the Members of the ATS Nominating Committee
Molly L. Osborne, MD, PhD (chair)
Nicola Black (staff)
Stephen C. Crane, PhD, MPH (staff)
J. Randall Curtis, MD, MPH
Serpil C. Erzurum, MD
Jesse B. Hall, MD
Louis S. Libby, MD
Mary J. Morrell, PhD
Marc Moss, MD