On this episode of the Healthy Wealthy and Smart Podcast, Jenna Kantor guest hosts and interviews Jim Dunleavy on the New York House of Delegates.  Jim Dunleavy is Chief Delegate of the New York Physical Therapy Association Chapter.  James Dunleavy graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Health Education from Manhattan College in 1976. He received a P.T. Certification in 1977, followed by his MS. P.T. in 1983 from Columbia University. James was a Co-founder and acted as its first President of the Acute Care Section from 1992-1997. He served as an APTA Director from 1998-2004 and received the APTA‘s Lucy Blair Service Award in 2005. Currently, James is the President of the New York Physical Therapy Association, an office he took in 2006.

In this episode, we discuss:

-What is a motion?

-An overview of how the delegate assembly functions

-Jim’s advice for new graduates who are looking to get involved in professional organizations

-And so much more!


Jim Dunleavy Twitter

New York Physical Therapy Association


For more information on Jim:

APTA spokesman James M. Dunleavy is administrative director of Rehabilitation Services at Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He also serves as adjunct faculty in the Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Rutgers University. As an active member of APTA, he founded the association’s Academy of Acute Care Physical Therapy and served as its president for 5 years. He has held various volunteer positions within the association, including serving as a director on the APTA Board of Directors. Dunleavy also has held many volunteer leadership positions on APTA’s New York Chapter Board of Directors, including treasurer, district chair, district director, and president. In 2005 he received APTA’s Lucy Blair Service Award. He was the first recipient of APTA’s Acute Care Section Leadership Award, now named after him. He received a bachelor’s degree in education from Manhattan College, a master’s degree in physical therapy from Columbia University, and a doctor of physical  therapy degree from Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions.


For more information on Jenna:

Jenna Kantor (co-founder) is a bubbly and energetic girl who was born and raised in Petaluma, California. Growing up, she trained and performed ballet throughout the United States. After earning a BA in Dance and Drama at the University of California, Irvine, she worked professionally in musical theatre for 15+ years with tours, regional theatres, & overseas (www.jennakantor.com) until she found herself ready to move onto a new chapter in her life – a career in Physical Therapy. Jenna is currently in her 3rd year at Columbia University’s Physical Therapy Program. She is also a co-founder of the podcast, “Physiotherapy Performance Perspectives,” has an evidence-based monthly youtube series titled “Injury Prevention for Dancers,” is a NY SSIG Co-Founder, NYPTA Student Conclave 2017 Development Team, works with the NYPTA Greater New York Legislative Task Force and is the NYPTA Public Policy Committee Student Liaison. Jenna aspires to be a physical therapist for amateur and professional performers to help ensure long, healthy careers. To learn more, please check out her website: www.jennafkantor.wixsite.com/jkpt


Read the full transcript below:

Jenna Kantor:                00:00                Hello, this is Jenna Kantor with Jim Dunleavy who is the NYPTA chief delegate. And I am very excited to be interviewing this morning. So first of all, thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed on the wonderful, healthy, wealthy and smart. So delegate, chief delegate. Would you mind explaining what that is for anyone who does not know and what that is related to within the New York Physical Therapy Association?

Jim Dunleavy:               00:30                Well, the chief delegate actually leads the delegation from New York to the national house of delegates each year. I’m basically the organizer. I do the assignments of motions. I hold webinars and phone calls with the delegates during the course of the year to get them up to speed with the issues that are facing us that are brought before the house of delegates each June.

Jenna Kantor:                00:58                Yeah, it’s excellent. And I’m on that email list and so I’m always just going reading, having different physical therapists help transcribe it for me. So thank you, you just are so good at keeping us up to date with that. So for you, I’m just wondering on a weekly basis, how much time do you need to put into your job?

Jim Dunleavy:               01:17                I would say it varies. It gets more as we get closer to the house of delegates each June. The APTA has gone through kind of a metamorphosis and has created almost a year round type of governance process. So, the motions are starting to be brought out in concept form, usually early in the fall. In the past it’s just been we get it in March, we read it, we go to the house, that’s it. But now we have to really look at it almost as a year round job to keep people on top of it. Make sure we see what issues are coming possibly before the house. And giving our input from New York as to how we feel about these motion concepts and then the full blown motion will affect us in New York.

Jenna Kantor:                02:15                So when you’re saying motion, what do you mean by motion? Is that a new law? What is that?

Jim Dunleavy:               02:20                We run a house of delegates. It’s similar to a mini Congress or a mini house of Representatives. And so the issues that come before that house have to be in the form of a motion, which is a clearly defined statement, whether it be a policy, whether it be charging the APTA to do something, whether it be a philosophical or sociological position. And the group will review it, they will discuss it, they will argue about it and then they will vote on that motion.

Jenna Kantor:                02:54                Oh, so it’s like when it goes to the Senate or Congress. So if I was to think of the school house rock video where they’re singing, I’m just a bill. Do you like that reference? Yes, but honestly, that’s where my brain needs to go cause I’m massive beginner with this. So I right now I’m an alternate, which I’m very just honored to even be an alternate for the possibility of going. So I was wondering what is it like, let’s say day one at the delegate assembly? Is it just people just kind of, you know, is it, how are things brought in order? Is there an introduction? Are there, is there a ceremony with candles and, and you know, it was some sort of like traditional dance. What happens on day one at the delegate assembly?

Jim Dunleavy:               03:49                The candles and the dancing, that’s a good idea. Maybe we’ll get them going a little bit more. First two things. One, you mentioned the term delegate assembly. The delegate assembly is actually New York’s own little congress, little house of Representatives. What I’m chief delegate of is the delegation of New York that goes to the national house of delegates. So in New York, we’re a little different than other states. We have 10 districts. We have representatives from each of those districts come to our delegate assembly, usually in April or May, where we review all the things that are going to come before the house of delegates plus vote on any bylaw changes or other issues that are going on in New York state alone. In terms of how it’s structured, you have delegates are voted upon to go to the house of delegates by our delegate assembly.

Jim Dunleavy:               04:51                So that’s one set. Then in addition, each district has the ability to designate one person. So there’s 10 and then whatever is left in the order of the voting in the delegate assembly, those people are on our alternate list. So, believe me, it happens every year. We have people who drop out for various reasons. In fact, I have one right now that I have to replace, so I don’t know where you were on the list, but you might be getting a call from me later. I have to keep track of that and I have to constantly update the APTA delegate list and the chapter deligate list. So they get all the information that they need either as now an active delegate and not an alternate.

Jenna Kantor:                05:44                If somebody was an alternate, like my situation and then I’m down at the end of the list. But I’m also, honestly, I really am grateful to be on the list especially as a new Grad. So I’ll take it, so if I was able and fortunate enough to, you know, be able to fill in for someone, does that make me for the next year as a regular delegate or am I still considered an alternate?

Jim Dunleavy:               06:10                The delegation is a one year service time. So we will vote this coming April I think is the delegate assembly. We will vote for the delegates going to the 2020 house of delegates. This group of delegates that are going to Chicago in June of 2019, they were voted upon last delegate assembly. So it’s a one year cycle. We’ve actually talked about changing that to maybe get a little bit more experience in four people. So we’re talking about maybe changing the bylaws to two years of service. I’m not sure yet, but it is a one year service time.

Jenna Kantor:                06:58                Okay. Very good to know. Alright, so let’s go back to day one. So we’re at the house of delegates day one. So apparently there was no dancing ritual.  So what is the order usually on day one at the House of delegates?

Jim Dunleavy:               07:24                For the New York chapter, what we usually do is our delegation comes in usually the day before the house opens. And I usually try and hold a, what we call a caucus meeting to just orient everybody, go over any changes that I’m aware of and in any of the motions, prepare the delegates for the next morning, which are the interviews for people running for national office because the house of delegates is the voting body that votes for president, vice president and so on. We have interviews of those candidates all morning and we have I think four rooms or five rooms that we have delegates in who asks these candidates questions, we will then come back as a delegation together. We will talk about the candidates, make our selection and then start to work on the motions. Then after that, usually in the late afternoon, early evening, the house of delegates starts and it’s a pretty impressive place if you’ve never been there because you have over 400 plus of your colleagues from around the country sitting in front of a large dais with the speaker and other officers there. And we run a parliamentary rule meeting with the idea of making the best decisions for the profession in the United States.

Jenna Kantor:                08:53                This is honestly very exciting to me as much as I’m calm as I’m saying this, like it’s just, it’s getting my heart beating and I’m like, I want to be there one day.  This is just a random, silly question, but Lord knows anyone who knows me, I love random silly questions. So if I was to be interviewing for any of these amazing higher positions, that can make a great difference. If I did the splits or broke into a song and dance, would that help my position or possibly pull things back or maybe would you cast me in a Broadway show instead?

Jim Dunleavy:               09:24                I’d probably go with the Broadway show. Probably doing the song and dancing in an interview here, I don’t think the culture would really take to that very well. I think though that the culture in the interviews is changing with the age of the delegates. We talk a lot about millennials. We talked a lot about all of them, gen x’ers and everything else. And how we have to change our communication style in order to reach out to our newest members and future leaders. I’ve seen a change in culture and that it’s a little bit lighter, but I don’t think we’re doing the song and dance just yet in the interview process.

Jenna Kantor:                10:18                So no Hamilton rap? No, no, no. Okay. Okay, good. Just good to clarify it. In the hallway, right to take care of those nerves. So when going in the rooms, this honestly reminds me cause I have the musical theater background of auditions. It really does. So for you guys on your end, as you are interviewing these people, I mean aside from the buckets of coffee that you’re probably having to just stay really focused. You really need to see that people are right for these positions. Do you try to make it a friendly environment or like what kind of environment are you trying to create to help that person who is being interviewed?

Jim Dunleavy:               10:59                Well, I think we’re trying to make it a level playing field because what we have done is we have agreed to do a set questions in every room so that the delegates that are in each room gets to hear each candidate’s answer to the same question. Then each room does have an opportunity to ask some of their own questions. So when I ran for APTA board and I had to do these interviews myself, that was not the case. I had no idea what was going to be thrown at me in terms of questions. You could be asked anything. I think now it’s at least fairer, it’s a level playing field for the candidates. They know they’re not going to get any serious kind of Gotcha questions cause we went through a period of time where people thought that was fun. So I think it’s a much easier experience for the candidate then perhaps maybe it was when I ran. I think people still get insights into these people.

Jenna Kantor:                12:16                Absolutely. And for working with your team when you are discussing, cause you’re saying people are in different rooms, you know, you have the different rooms and are you guys all, is it say Melanie goes in, she gets interviewed in one room. Does she get sent to the next room and the next room? So all three groups interview?

Jim Dunleavy:               12:37                Yes. The candidate will get a schedule for the morning, what rooms they have to be in.  So usually very close to each other

Jenna Kantor:                12:48                And muscle relaxers. Anything for the nerves, right?

Jim Dunleavy:               12:51                Absolutely. Yeah, there is. And there is a candidate’s lounge where they set up food and coffee and everything else. So you have a place to go and cry when you mess up in the interview. It really is a very well oiled machine how they do it. So what I’m going to have to do as chief delegate, I’m going to have to basically divide up our delegates equally for each room. And then I’m in one room with what we call the Northeast Caucus, which is all the states, pretty much in the northeast. But they’ll be New York delegates probably somewhere in the neighborhood of six or seven, maybe eight in each room. So they can hear the differences in the different questions and then I will bring them all back together after the interview session and go through that and make sure that everybody hears what was said in every room by each one of the candidates.

Jenna Kantor:                13:48                Oh, that’s so smart. Yeah. I really like how you guys have a system because that’s not easy to even develop that system that works for everyone. So I think that’s really, really cool how you guys have that organized. So you’re done with all these interviews, you have to decide that night for that or was that during the whole weekend that that’s part of the house of delegates?

Jim Dunleavy:               14:09                It used to be much more laborious until we went to electronic voting. So after the day of our interviews that evening, the house will open and one of the first orders of business is that we will all vote on the candidates. And then at the close of that session, which is usually around eight o’clock that night, the results are posted both outside the house of delegates room. And on these huge screens that we have in the house of delegates proper.

Jenna Kantor:                14:40                Wow. Wow. Well organized. So you’ve done the interviews and now we’re at lunch.

Jim Dunleavy:               14:49                Up to the interviews, I bring my delegates back to a caucus room that I’ve got assigned and we start to talk about the candidates and start talking about the interviews.

Jenna Kantor:                15:02                Okay. And then after that discussion, what’s after that?

Jim Dunleavy:               15:07                Then later in the afternoon, we’re going to have what we call motion discussion round tables where chief delegates and some delegates if they want to come, can come. But we come and discuss strategy issues and or changes in motions, get more information on particular motions that are going to come before the house. And usually we have two or three of those in the course of the days that we’re together. So that once we get to the floor as many of us as possible, have the same information about a particular motion.

Jenna Kantor:                15:44                Oh that’s so great. So you can get on the same page. That’s brilliant. I really liked that. That’s so smart. And that’s the new thing you were saying.

Jim Dunleavy:               15:50                Well we used to do it a different way. We used to have these called motion discussion groups where motions were assigned to a room and then you would run around and trying to listen to the information that way. We’re going to try these round tables where I’m assuming it’s going to be set up, like each table is going to be a motion and you could go to whatever one you want, and just do that for a period of time. I think that’s a good change.

Jenna Kantor:                16:18                I love that. I like how you guys are always trying to fix a problem, solve and improve. That’s really incredible. And then we get to the meeting after everybody’s on the same page. Everyone understands what’s going on. Everyone then comes together. There’s that vote at the beginning, right, like you said. And then is it all run by Robert’s rules?

Jim Dunleavy:               16:39                Yes. Everything we do is via Robert’s rules. We have a speaker of the House who’s basically our facilitator, making sure everything moves forward as quickly and efficiently as possible, but also within the realm of Robert’s rules of orders. So everybody is dealt with in a fair way. We don’t want people, we have very small states. For example, we have states that may only have two delegates there. New York is a larger state. We have 25 delegates. So if you’re looking to influence votes in order to get something passed, you’re generally going to try and go to the California’s, the New York’s, the Illinois’, the Florida’s, the Texas’, to try and garner as many votes as you possibly can for whatever issue you’re trying to support. So the smaller states need to have protections. And so I think the caucus process of them being assigned to the caucuses from throughout the United States, they get much better information before they meet because then they’re just not talking amongst themselves and they also have the ability to create relationships with some of the larger states. So we all know what everybody is doing.

Jenna Kantor:                17:57                What do you mean by caucus? Would you mind defining?

Jim Dunleavy:               18:00                There are caucuses set up throughout the United States. The one New York is in is called the northeast caucus. It’s actually the oldest. We have states from Maine down to DC, I think it is on the east coast.

Jenna Kantor:                18:17                Oh. So it’s like a region essentially?

Jim Dunleavy:               18:19                It’s a regional Caucus. Now that caucus does not have any authority in terms of voting. We don’t block vote. We don’t try and get everybody together and vote one way at a particular issue. That’s not the purpose of the caucus. The purpose of the caucus is to share information, to perhaps bring a motion concept like I did with the New York motion this year to the caucus to get viewpoints and ideas. And perhaps as a caucus, ask for information, ask for changes in the way we do things, and send that to the house officers. So it’s an information gathering, sharing and actually very stimulating meeting. We have one in the fall and we have one in the spring, and we have one here. We had one here the other night, so we’re looking I think in March or April to have one. It’s up in Vermont, I think. And then the one in the fall, I don’t remember where that one is, but basically it is part of a year round governance process where we’ll be talking about motion concepts at all of these.

Jenna Kantor:                19:38                And for those who don’t know, we are actually at the combined sections meeting, which I did not say. So when he’s referring to here, he’s talking about here in DC 2019. Yes, yes. This is excellent. So during Robert’s rules, how was it handled for someone who’s new and they’re not familiar with what even Robert’s rules is? Is there somebody who teaches them when to raise their hand or say a motion or a vote of where somebody to just make sure, for lack of a better word, that they’re in line?

Jim Dunleavy:               20:16                It can be intimidating the first time for a new delegates especially when they first walk into the house and they see the physical enormity over get it. You don’t get a sense of that until you’re there. It’s also very, I find it very exhilarating to have all our colleagues together in one place. What APTA does, it’s a PowerPoint slide presentation to orient new delegates to the process. We have an orientation handbook in New York where I do a conference call and we’re probably going to move to a webinar format next time, with all the new delegates each year. So I basically go over what their role is, what to expect, some of the mechanics of what they need to do. And even with that, I know some of them are still not totally clear, we did that in November. And so I’m still getting questions. So, the good part is I’m getting the questions. In the past, I remember when I was a new delegate, we had no such orientation. It was, here you go and you’re done and you just deal with it.

Jenna Kantor:                21:42                Oh, just praying that you just rose your hand the correct way.

Jim Dunleavy:               21:47                Exactly. Right. They do have a lot of resources now. In New York, we usually buddy up, the new delegate with an experienced delegate. So if they feel for whatever reason, they don’t feel like you can find me or talk to me, they have this other person that they can reach out to.

Jenna Kantor:                22:09                Yeah, that’s wonderful. I definitely could see myself wanting to lean over and be like, what are they talking about? And you know, would you mind defining this? So I think that is a great thing that’s already in play to get that mentoring. I could definitely imagine myself, and this has been advice from others that the first year, not that  I wouldn’t vote on things, but to spend more time just being quiet and listening because there’s so much to take in. Would you agree?

Jim Dunleavy:               22:37                Absolutely. It takes time to get used to the process. And so you have to, early on as a new delegate, you have to spend your time dealing with the mechanics of what’s before you. But there are also situations where new delegates may feel very passionate about a particular issue that’s coming before the house. And so how we’ve done it in our chapter, is we’ve tried to keep it as open as possible. I do not restrict our delegates from getting up and having their say at the mic. And what I have noticed is I think the newer delegates are much more better equipped, I guess the best way to handle that situation. I know in the past and I was one of them, the first time up to the mic in front of 400 of your closest friends can be a little intimidating. I’ve seen with our newer delegates, a much higher sense of confidence in and a knowledge base and again, the passion that they bring. I think we’re going to have a number of delegates here in New York for many, many years to come that will be great representatives of the chapter.

Jenna Kantor:                24:06                I love hearing that. It’s very exciting. I’m so grateful to have somebody like you in New York who’s really leading us with such clarity. And I just want to thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for coming on to this podcast because this is going to be a resource that I’m going to be sharing out with people who are interested, a lot of students for sure. Cause I’m definitely, even though I’m still a new Grad so I still have that, you know, flowery perspective. So for you to take the time and sit with me on the last day of CSM when we’re very exhausted. I am truly grateful. So thank you Jim Dunleavy for coming on. Do you have any final words of advice you would like to give to anyone regarding the house of delegates?

Jim Dunleavy:               24:50                Well, I would just say for everyone to get involved. In New York you have multiple places to get involved. You can get involved at your local district level. That’s where I started. Somebody invited me to a meeting and here I am years later doing these types of things and also having served in national office and creating a section. It’s been a wonderful, wonderful part of my career. You always get paid back 10 fold, what you give. And so I would say get involved. Call the chapter, call your local district representative, find out when the meeting is locally, and start that process there because the thing that drove me was going to a meeting that a friend brought me to actually when I was in PT school. And I left that meeting thinking I do not want these people making all these decisions without me talking about this. And that was kind of my driver. You know, people have different drivers, but I think get involved because that’s the only way the profession is going to move forward.

Jenna Kantor:                25:58                Thank you. Thank you so much. Those are excellent words of wisdom. Thank you for coming on.



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