Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) State Chapter Coordinators (“coordinators”) have experienced hearing loss themselves or have a spouse or child with a hearing loss and serve as volunteer leaders in their state. Appointed by the HLAA national office, they serve as key liaisons to HLAA chapters (chapters). They are an integral part of the HLAA team and make major contributions to the strength and development of the chapter network in their states.
HLAA hopes that the experience of being a coordinator provides an opportunity for achievement, recognition, personal growth, the sense of working to a person’s full potential, and an element of excitement and fun.
As with all HLAA leaders, coordinators:
- work together with the HLAA national office, chapters and state organizations for the good of people with hearing loss
- communicate regularly with the HLAA director of chapter development (herein referred to as director), the chapters within their purview, fellow coordinators in their state (if there are others) and state organizations
- support chapter growth
- grow HLAA membership through the Unified Membership Program
- respect diverse points of view and communication preferences
- identify and develop leaders
Coordinators possess strong, positive interpersonal skills including spoken and written communications and are proficient in using the internet and email. Coordinators are comfortable networking and coordinating with constituents within their state: namely, the HLAA state association or office (if one exists in their state; referred to here as “state organizations”), chapters, current members and potential members, and other outside organizations that share goals similar to HLAA. Coordinators should be able and willing to travel within the state to help new chapters form and to support existing chapters. HLAA expects coordinators to attend an HLAA Convention every two years. Additionally, coordinators are expected to participate in chapter development and chapter leadership training webinars offered by the national office.
Coordinators work as volunteers. HLAA does not cover all expenses for travel, meals, hotels, etc. HLAA will reimburse coordinators up to $750 for -related expenses. See the “Expense Reimbursement” section for details.
The amount of time per week coordinators typically spend working on HLAA matters varies considerably.
Each coordinator plays a key role in HLAA. Recognizing that each state differs in size and composition, the coordinator seeks to:
- support and grow the local chapters that reach out to people with hearing loss and their friends, family and co-workers, in every corner of state there is a chapter;
- have chapters in every urbanized area of each state (defined as 10,000 people with at least one large central city with a population density of 1,000 people per square mile);
The HLAA director of chapter development (referred to hereafter simply as “director”) appoints coordinators with input and recommendations from state and chapter leaders. Coordinators work in partnership with the director to keep him or her informed about the chapters under his or her purview. Coordinators also have a working understanding of the self-help philosophy; enjoy working with people; and are flexible, patient and able to gain the trust of others. HLAA asks coordinators to submit a written, yearly plan of goals and provide a minimum of quarterly updates on reaching those goals.
The coordinator’s role is to:
- initiate and coordinate the development of new chapters
- advise, support and strengthen existing chapters
- identify and nurture potential chapter leaders while helping them strengthen their leadership skills
- keep chapter leaders informed of HLAA activities and positions on issues; and,
- increase the number of HLAA members throughout the state
Coordinators must have an email address to be used for communications and internet access.
As an HLAA representative, coordinators conduct themselves professionally at all times in person and in all written and oral communications. To the chapters, other organizations in the state as well as national and local members, coordinators symbolize the national organization, its Board of Trustees and all of its members. By word and example, coordinators encourage the chapters under their purview to abide by the same high-quality standards.
Conflicts of Interest
Coordinators are expected to comply with all aspects of the HLAA Code of Conduct.
Coordinators have a duty to disclose to the director any personal or financial interests that might interfere with an impartial performance of the duties of the position, as set forth in this document. Potential conflicts of interest can be nuanced and have more to do with a duality of interest than an actual financial conflict. An example of a duality of interest might be leadership roles in other nonprofit or for-profit organizations or employment relationships. Disclosures are evaluated and plans of action are formulated on a case-by-case basis.
Hearing health professionals are not encouraged to start new HLAA chapters, because of the appearance of a conflict of interest. HLAA is not to be used as a vehicle for business; it is important to avoid even the appearance of a possible conflict of interest. For this reason, hearing health professionals should be discouraged from starting a chapter or from holding office after receiving chapter recognition. Hearing health care professionals are more than welcome to serve as chapter professional advisors and to tell their patients about chapters that might already exist or be in the process of forming. They may support chapters in other ways, as well.
Length of Service
Ideally, the term of a coordinator will be two years with an option to extend. HLAA values coordinators’ suggestions for successors for the position. An important part of what coordinators do is to identify potential successors and discuss the candidate with the HLAA director. Ideally, a successor would shadow the current coordinator’s activities in preparation for stepping into the role.
HLAA reimburses coordinators up to $750 per 12-month period for expenses incurred while on chapter business; e.g., postage, in-state travel, etc.
HLAA reimburses coordinators miles driven in service of charitable organizations by personal car at the rate established by the IRS. Please check the website by typing in search box – irs mileage rate – when preparing expense reimbursement form. It can change during the year.
Complete the expense reimbursement form provided by the national office, attach original expense receipts to it and mail it to HLAA. In states with more than one coordinator (as designated by HLAA in response to state geographic or population size), each may submit expenses up to $750.
Some coordinators choose to treat their expenses as a donation to HLAA and itemize allowable expenses on their income tax return; upon request, HLAA will provide a letter acknowledging expense totals. HLAA is deeply appreciative of the financial and in-kind contributions of coordinators who do not ask for reimbursement; HLAA urges coordinators to request reimbursement rather than endure undue financial hardship.
Coordinators offered personal compensation for a service or services should consult with the director before finalizing any agreement. Coordinators have a duty to disclose to the director any personal or financial interests that might interfere with an impartial performance of the duties of the position, as set forth in this document.
HLAA Organizational Structure
The purpose of the HLAA structure is to facilitate communication and cooperation among chapters, state organizations, and the national office. HLAA staff and volunteers are united in a single mission: to open the world of communication to people with hearing loss by providing information, education, support and advocacy.
In conjunction with these guidelines, all coordinators are familiar with the Hearing Loss Association of America Organization Structure.
In states where there are state organizations already stated on first page, the coordinator works closely with their leaders, as well as the director when setting goals for chapter development.
An HLAA state association’s bylaws include coordinators as members of its Board of Trustees. HLAA state offices, however, do not have bylaws and work closely with coordinators on matters of statewide concern.
Coordinators at HLAA Conventions
State associations/offices and chapters may register up to 4 officers (i.e., president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer) PLUS 1 Delegate (encourage a member who is being groomed for a leadership role to use the Delegate registration). Simply note “coordinator” on the registration form.
The HLAA Board of Trustees convenes at the HLAA Convention and we encourage all coordinators to attend the meeting and all chapter-related workshops.
Coordinators are a key part of a dynamic movement. The first priority of all coordinators is chapter development of ALL the chapters in their purview. Most coordinators also belong to a chapter and this is as it should be. However, coordinators must not also serve in chapter or state organization leadership positions. HLAA defines chapter and state organization leadership roles as those held by the president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and committee chairs. Dual roles demand too much time and create the potential for the appearance of a duality,or conflict, of interest. Coordinators are expected to relinquish their chapter and state leadership roles when they become coordinators. This expectation is discussed during the application process. Of course, a reasonable amount of transition time is allowed, if necessary, in order to minimize the impact on the chapter or state organization.
Addition Information Coordinators Need to Know
The following information guides and supports coordinators and appears in three parts: coordinator-related; chapter-related; and national-related. However, there is obvious overlap. The material can help coordinators formulate a plan for their state after evaluating the state’s circumstances, the time coordinators are able to give and what is most useful, practical, and beneficial to the chapters.
Share chapter news and updates with the director and HLAA Coordinators are HLAA’s “army” and HLAA relies heavily on them to be the primary liaison between the national office and chapters. Coordinators often accomplish this by emailing newsletters or other message. HLAA periodically emails updates and other news.
Read and become familiar with the leadership support materials posted on Leader Support. The resources provide answers, guidance, ideas and the HLAA organizational philosophy.
Order HLAA brochures, fliers and copies of Hearing Loss Magazine. New coordinators receive a sampling of these publications. Go to the HLAA Online Store if you need more or other materials.
Develop relationships with leaders and active members through whatever means is practical – personal visits, phone calls, or emails. Periodically, as distance allows, arrange chapter leader workshops or meetings to help leaders share progress, programs, experiences, problems and solutions. Work with the HLAA state organization (if one exists in the state); HLAA chapters and members; non-members, state government offices and agencies, and other organizations that share goals similar with HLAA.
Establish an email connection with all chapter leaders and email them periodically, especially if there is no HLAA state organization. Keep chapters informed of your activities and achievements on their behalf, as well as events and developments of interest within the state.
Encourage chapters to support events that bring all members together such as state conferences, leadership programs, trainings, etc. If funds are available, an HLAA staff person might be able to attend special events. Encourage all chapters to participate in the Walk4Hearing, see walk4hearing.org.
Submit nominations for HLAA awards.. HLAA has many amazing members who have overcome tremendous difficulties, made significant contributions to a chapter, or otherwise distinguished themselves. There are also local chapters that have significant projects that might be unknown or unrecognized. These awards are presented at HLAA Conventions.
Nominate or recruit someone to serve on state agency boards or committees if there is no HLAA state organization. State agencies responsible for providing services and programs for people with hearing loss often seek out HLAA members to represent others who have hearing loss and might contact a coordinator to serve or to ask them to recommend someone else. Coordinators have found that they cannot handle this much involvement without neglecting chapter development. Instead, form a pool of members who are strong advocates, knowledgeable about HLAA and its policies and willing to represent HLAA.
Provide quarterly updates to HLAA. HLAA asks coordinators to submit a written, yearly plan of goals and provide a minimum of quarterly updates on reaching those goals. The quarterly updates can be a simple email or a formal document. Coordinators list the current strengths, successes and challenges of each chapter, how they were, are, or will be involved and what resources they need from HLAA National to support them.
All new chapters are automatically enrolled in the HLAA Unified Membership Program. This information is available from the director. Any Chapter may elect to participate in the Unified Membership Program. It is the role of coordinators to understand the program and to help the chapters understand it. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information to increase understanding.
Chapter participants who are not HLAA members continue to be a concern. Since HLAA staff and leaders have begun to increase membership, most local leaders have been diligent about encouraging chapter members and participants to join. However, HLAA needs every chapter to promote HLAA membership at meetings and in newsletters. HLAA needs everyone’s support to build a large constituency to make hearing loss an issue of national concern.
Since HLAA chapters represent the national organization, HLAA requires their leaders to be HLAA members. HLAA cannot monitor this all the time, but, in random checks on a person’s membership, such as when chapter leadership changes, if HLAA finds a leader or officer is not a member, we ask that they join and explain why this is a requirement. When coordinators receive lists of HLAA members, HLAA asks that they check it for leaders and officers of the chapters under their purview and remind anyone missing from the list to join HLAA promptly. The quickest way to join or renew is to go to hearingloss.org and click on the Membership tab.
Please urge chapter leaders to study the materials on the Chapter Leaders Resource page. HLAA provides these materials to help give them knowledge of their duties and confidence in their leadership roles. The answers to most commonly-asked questions are in the materials which provide direction, guidance and ideas. Having leaders familiarize themselves with the materials also makes the coordinator’s job easier.
Send a welcome note or letter to new presidents and a thank you to outgoing presidents. Volunteers value hearing from the coordinator.
Strive to attend at least one meeting per year of each chapter as a visitor or preferably as a speaker. When speaking or writing, emphasize the scope of HLAA as a nationwide organization, the importance of the Unified Membership Program, the HLAA mission, and the gains HLAA has made that help them live a higher quality of life despite their hearing loss.
Recruit leaders. Tell the director about influential chapter members who have a potential to serve in leadership capacities, have particular interests, and special talents that have a future or growth potential within the HLAA structure.
Strengthen existing, struggling chapters. See the How to Revive a Chapter information. A common problem that chapters have is dwindling attendance, but HLAA often does not hear about it until the chapter disbands. This is avoidable; refer to Is It Time for a Chapter Tune-up? to help turn the chapter around.
Start new chapters. Search for people who will make a commitment to organize new chapters. The list of HLAA members in the state will show where there are pockets of members but no chapter.
When a coordinator finds potential chapter organizers, request that they read the information on Starting an HLAA Chapter. When meeting with people (the ideal situation), bring printed copies of the section and some HLAA brochures, fliers and magazines to show and discuss. Please send the potential organizer’s name to the HLAA coordinator so that he or she can contact them.
When problems develop and coordinators need support they are welcome to contact the director to brainstorm solutions. It is likely that a similar problem has come up elsewhere and together these two people can seek a solution.
In the case of unsettled conflict between individuals or perceived factions, we suggest using the HLAA National Bylaw Grievance Procedure found in the HLAA Bylaws.
Collect current information from the chapters. HLAA asks chapter leaders to annually complete a current Chapter Update Form and send it to HLAA by October 1. Chapter coordinators are asked to remind chapter leaders to do this as often as it takes to get the task completed.
The information chapters provide helps HLAA staff have a closer look into each chapter and their activities and programs. This information ensures people who use the HLAA website to locate a chapter to have the best and most current information possible.
Urge chapter leaders to allow time at every meeting to share current news about the activities at the national level. Give chapter leaders examples of compelling language and benefit statements they can say to encourage membership in HLAA as well as a local chapter. The Unified Membership Program will greatly simplify this process. Point out that membership is more than receiving Hearing Life magazine. Being a member is being a valuable partner in a national advocacy and awareness campaign. The more constituents HLAA has, the more clout HLAA has with government agencies and policy makers, and the more HLAA can do to benefit people with hearing loss.
One member put it this way, Participating in a local chapter but not joining HLAA is like trying to walk on one leg. The membership cost – less than 10 cents a day – might be high for some people who want to join but cannot afford it. Suggest ways a chapter can help, such as a special fund, raffle or a gift membership. Have them contact the HLAA membership department about hardship cases. HLAA never turns anyone away who wants to become a national member.
Send HLAA Chapter and State Coordinator Chapter news for Hearing Life magazine or for the online Hearing Life e-News. Send high-res .jpg (at least 300 dpi) photos and a summary of events identifying all people in the photographs to the director.
Publicize the chapters locally. Collaborate on and promote awareness via all the publicity and media opportunities available! Encourage chapters to use or write media releases for special events, etc. See Publicity and Promotion for ideas on how chapters can promote themselves.
Encourage chapter leaders and members to attend the annual HLAA Convention. Coordinators strongly encourage chapter leaders and members to come to the annual HLAA Convention. HLAA urges each chapter to select and help fund at least one delegate, preferably the president-elect or other future leader to represent their members.
Urge chapters to submit HLAA Awards nominations. HLAA emails the nominations packet to all chapter and state leaders and coordinators in the fall. Nominations are due the first week in December.
Reinforce HLAA’s policy positions. HLAA policy is determined by the Board of Trustees. Common issues relate to commercial relationships, sponsorship of an activity or organization, and conflict of interest. You can read HLAA policy statements here. In representing HLAA there are things coordinators need to know. Except in states with state organizations, coordinators often are spokespersons for HLAA – someone who has the answers. When it is necessary to assume a position, it should reflect HLAA’s position and mission. All the policy papers are on our website. Positions should not be guesswork or based on intuition. If in doubt as to whether or not something is an issue, please ask HLAA staff.
Advocate for people with hearing loss. Collaborating with other organizations to achieve a common goal such as captioning of local television programs can make a huge difference. Collaborative efforts result in positive outcomes for all involved. If there is any question about who people with hearing loss are and what the HLAA position is, please consult with the HLAA staff for guidance before engaging in shared initiatives. We do not advise coordinators entering into formal agreements with outside entities without consulting with the director.
Respect HLAA Member and Chapter Privacy
To protect the privacy of individual members and the integrity of the organization, HLAA mailing lists are never released for use as vehicles for business or any other type of solicitation. As an alternative, HLAA offers advertising in Hearing Loss Magazine, the online HLAA e-News, and on hearingloss.org.
Chapter leaders might receive solicitations from companies that sell hearing loss-related products and would like to provide company catalogs to chapters. Chapters may accept such offers and should tell their members that neither HLAA nor the chapter endorses any product over another. Ads in newsletters are also an option for advertisers – in which case each newsletter should include a non-endorsement clause – Mention of goods or services in articles or advertisements does not mean Hearing Loss Association of America endorsement, nor should exclusion suggest disapproval. Also, when manufacturing company representatives speak at a chapter meeting, it is wise to have literature from other manufacturers as well, such as if a MED-EL representative speaks about cochlear implants, also order materials from Cochlear Americas and Advanced Bionics and display them at the chapter meeting.
Use the proper terminology. HLAA has an obligation to call attention to and correct terminology. The reason HLAA uses the phrase “people with hearing loss” rather than “hearing impaired” is to call attention to a specific population. This is important for program development and funding. The words “deaf” and “hearing impaired” are often confused and misused. Using “people who are hard of hearing” or “people with hearing loss” in a title or reference helps identify a specific population.
HLAA has found that many people do not like the word “impaired” because it implies that people with hearing loss are less than perfect or afflicted. Also, terms such as “the blind,” “the deaf,” “the hard of hearing,” refer to people as objects rather than as individuals. It is important to recognize hard of hearing people as people first and the hearing loss as secondary.
If the terminology is correct, others will catch onto it over time.
Please email the HLAA national chapter coordinator Erin Mirante, or leave a message with a callback number at 301.657.2248 extension 109. You can also address a letter to HLAA, 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 1200, Bethesda, MD 20814.
Last modified: January 2018