Submitted by Nneka Jenkins, PRSA-MD Immediate Past President/Assembly Delegate
October 11, 2014
During the official kickoff of the 2014 PRSA International Conference in Washington, D.C., PRSA’s Leadership Assembly (a group of more than 300 delegates representing PRSA’s districts, chapters, sections and student society) voted overwhelmingly to allow eligible members without APR credentials to fill at-large positions on the PRSA National Board of Directors.*
This historic vote (185 to 57) to approve Proposal #1401 ironically happened during the same year that PRSA is celebrating the APR’s 50th anniversary. The number of APR applicants has been on a steady decline for years, making it increasingly difficult to fill a complete slate of candidates eligible to serve in a national office capacity. By the same token, the elimination of the longstanding policy of the APR as a prerequisite to serving on the PRSA National Board of Directors has been gaining steam in recent years.
Those in favor cited that it would enable PRSA to tap into the leadership potential of the entire Society, noting that the APR is a not an indication of leadership. Many have long felt marginalized by the APR requirement, almost like they have been relegated to “second-class citizenship” within the Society because they have not been allowed to ascend into leadership positions above the chapter level. They feel that leadership opportunities to govern the Society should be open to the entire PRSA community.
Those against the proposed amendment felt that eliminating this prerequisite would weaken the APR brand, resulting in the APR’s slow, but steady death. Many believe that the best solution is to support recent efforts to strengthen the APR, which would restore certification participation levels and eliminate the need to do away with the traditional prerequisite.
However, three years of independent research and studies revealed some key findings. While a majority of the Society’s membership do see the APR as a mark of personal achievement, they do not see the APR as a determinant of leadership ability. As a result, the National Board of Directors threw its support unanimously behind the measure and shared these findings with the 2014 Leadership Assembly.
*Please note that an APR credential is still necessary for eligible members who seek to represent a district or serve on the executive committee of the board.