On this episode of the Healthy, Wealthy and Smart Podcast, Jenna Kantor guests hosts and interviews Kathy Mairella on how to get elected to the House of Delegates.  Dr. Mairella is Assistant Professor and Director of Clinical Education at Rutgers University.  Dr. Mairella has served in a number of leadership positions, including service on the American Physical Therapy Association Board of Directors, and terms as president and chief delegate of the American Physical Therapy Association of New Jersey.

In this episode, we discuss:

-How to make yourself known to the Nominating Committee as a potential candidate

-Referencing the candidate’s manual and seeking guidance from your campaign manager

-Candidate interviews and Kathy’s experience with election day

-The continual pursuit for leadership experience

-And so much more!


APTA Engage Website

Kathy Mairella Twitter

For more information on Kathy:

Kathleen K Mairella, PT DPT MA, received a Baccalaureate degree in Physical Therapy from Boston University, and a Master of Arts in Motor Learning from Columbia University. She received a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the MGH Institute. Dr. Mairella is Assistant Professor and Director of Clinical Education. She teaches Professional Development I, and Health Care Delivery I and II. Her professional interests include health policy, professional leadership, and clinical education. She has presented on these topics on the national and state level. Dr. Mairella has served in a number of leadership positions, including service on the American Physical Therapy Association Board of Directors, and terms as president and chief delegate of the American Physical Therapy Association of New Jersey.

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 healthy, wealthy and smart. And I’m here with Kathy Mairella and we are at the house of delegates and going to talk about the process, the election process for people who are running for positions within the APTA. And I know nothing. So first of all, Kathy, thank you so much for coming on.

Kathy Mairella:                                     Thanks. This is fun. I’m looking for to talking about this.

Jenna Kantor:                                        So for those who haven’t listened to any of the interviews that I’ve done before that were kind of similar, I am totally beginner and I’m just going to be asking step-by-step and learning with you the listener about this process. So let’s start from the very beginning. And honestly, I don’t even know what that is. So Kathy, would you start, how does it just even start in the first place? Is it a piece of paper you signed? Do you raise your hand in a meeting? Like how do you get the opportunity to run for a position within the APTA?

Kathy Mairella:             00:49                So that’s a great question. So many, many of the leaders who run for positions at the APTA level started the component level and they often, it means state component mainstay or it can be an academy section as well. Those are also components. So every state has a chapter and then your sections are also considered components. So most candidates who run at the national level have had some level of leadership experience at the component level. And so you start there simply by showing up and getting involved in different activities. Usually if you have a leadership interest, somebody will notice and give you some direction and it helps to get that direction if you ask for it. If you’re doing some work on a committee level or a task force level, you can ask the people who are more engaged.

Kathy Mairella:             01:55                How did you do this? How did you get started? I started as a New Jersey component leader. I started as a secretary and moved through vice president and president and then to chief delegate. And so I got to know people on the national level through my work as a chapter president and as a chief delegate because that’s where you come to a national meeting and you start to connect with people beyond your component. You start to meet people who are either other delegates or serving on the national level. And you develop connections, you develop relationships. When I went to my first delegates, I looked at the candidates who ran and I thought I would never in a million years do that, but I was a delegate and I watched and then people came to me and said, we think you have some leadership, would you be in check?

Kathy Mairella:             03:00                And I was totally floored. I did not expect that at all. In fact, I was a member of APTA’s nominating committee. So nominating committee members are elected to slate the candidates who run and they start years ahead of time identifying those who are interested. And so I was approached and I thought, not really, no, I don’t think I really want to do that, but it gave me the idea of perhaps in the future serving at a national level.

Jenna Kantor:                                        I want to pause you just very briefly. Would you mind saying what a delegate is for those who don’t know what that means?

Kathy Mairella:                                     Sure, absolutely. So each state chapter elect delegates who go to the house of delegates to vote on motions which are ideas, ideas for action. Really the house of delegates is considered a representative body, just like Congress as a representative body. So you are elected by your state or there are also section delegates, but you’re elected to represent them in the house of delegates.

Kathy Mairella:             04:21                And the house of delegates has about 402 delegates. And so the states with larger membership have more delegates, states with smaller memberships have at least two. They will never have fewer than two. So they call that apportionment.

Jenna Kantor:                                        So you’re bringing up the delegates cause they’re the people who vote for you. So it’s important to be introduced to them because it can help your candidacy if you should run.

Kathy Mairella:                                     Correct. And when you decide you want to run, it’s important to get a sense from people. Is this a good idea? You don’t want to put in all the work and then not be successful. So you really do start to observe people who have been elected or people who are doing work within the association that inspires you, that interests you and you know, you can observe them, you can ask them questions.

Kathy Mairella:             05:24                You can start to connect with people. And then running for offices really a matter of experience. But it’s also a matter of timing. We all have work life integration and we figure out the timing that works best for us. And in my case, I had three growing children. I knew I wanted to serve at a point where they were a little bit more independent. So that determined my time frame. So again, I had been a chapter president, a chief delegate, and then at the end of the time I was a chief delegate. My youngest child was graduating from high school and I thought, okay, this is the time for me to start pursuing that. So, I would observe then you need to know what the positions are. You need to know.

Jenna Kantor:                                        So just to run for say, secretary or President or director, you need to know what it means that you would need to know what to do.

Kathy Mairella:             06:29                Correct. So, the board of directors at the APTA level is 15 members. You have nine directors and then you have house officers, speaker and vice speakers. So those are two board positions that actually run the house of delegates. And then you have president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. So you would need to know, you know, kind of the roles and responsibilities of each of those. And you can also run for the nominating committee, which I mentioned earlier. So those are the people who are elected by the delegates to determine who the candidates are each year. So, you know, you run through a process that starts immediately after each house of delegates. So we literally just finished the house of delegates today on June 12th, and the next cycle starts for the 2020 election today. And it starts by forms that are available on the APTA website that any member can complete.

Kathy Mairella:             07:34                They don’t need to be done. You don’t need to be a delegate. You don’t need to be a leader. You can go on the APTA website and you can put in what’s called an NC1 form, which stands for nominating committee one form. And you put that in and as an individual and you recommend someone that the nominating committee should contact as a possible lead for them to slate for office and you can you choose, I think this person would be a great secretary. I think this person would be a great treasurer. And you put in the recommendations for the offices that are up for election in the following year and the nominating committee collects all of that information. They also keep an ongoing spreadsheet of people who have expressed interests cause sometimes people will say, yes, I’d like to do this in the future, on completing a residency now and I’m getting married the year after that and I’d like to practice for three to five years and then maybe I’ll be ready.

Kathy Mairella:             08:47                They start to keep that spreadsheet and they turn that over every year from nominating committee to nominating committee so that they have a database of potential candidates.

Jenna Kantor:                                        I have a question. I have a question about that. I’m definitely a person who wants to work on the board one day. Definitely a dream of mine. And what if I’m in a position where I don’t have somebody saying, Oh, I submitted for you. Like what if you don’t have something like that? Does that look low upon yourself?  I would love to know that perspective.

Kathy Mairella:                                     Sure. So the volume of those NC1 forms really doesn’t make a difference. It’s important to have a few people say, yeah, it would be nice for nominating committee to talk to that person. You’re not committing to anything. It simply gives your information to the nominating committee as someone that they should talk to and it just gets you in kind of in the system.

Kathy Mairella:             09:47                So, I think for anyone who is interested, you can contact someone on the nominating committee directly. Their list of names and contact information is on the website. And usually they’re assigned to a region. So who’s ever assigned, you know, if you’re from New York, from the northeast, you know, you can directly contact, you don’t have to have NC1 forms until you’re actually ready to run for office. So once you decide you are ready to run for office, it usually is a good idea to ask a few people. Would you be willing to put in an NC1 form for me? And talk to people kind of before you’re ready, you know, do you think this is a good idea? Cause as I said earlier, you don’t want to put in all the work and then find out that you’re not successful.

Kathy Mairella:             10:35                You’re spending this time looking at your leadership skills. Learning about leadership. Always growing, always growing. There are some resources. APTA has opened, a new platform called APTA engage. And they are in the process of transferring some of their leadership development resources to that place. When I was on the APTA board, I chaired the leadership development committee and we came up with some core competencies of leadership. So, they were self function, which is how an organization works people, which is managing people’s skills and visions. So knowing how to be visionary. And so I would recommend that you would look at all of those areas and they’re always, they’re not linear. It’s not as if you develop self first and then people and then they’re cyclical. Right?  So you can be, you know, you can work on all of those things and constantly come back to developing yourself as a leader.

Kathy Mairella:             11:43                You’re always developing yourself no matter how experienced you are. So the nominating committee, these NC1 forms are available between now, which is June and November. Usually it’s around November 1st they close and then the nominating committee takes those forms. They look at who the possible people are that might be good to be slated for these positions and they actually reach out to these people. They interview people, to figure out who should be slated for this next year’s offices. And they come up with a slate and what they decide how many candidates to slate. So usually if it’s an officer position, president, vice president, secretary, they try to slate two people because there’s one position. And for director there’s usually three positions. They try to slate six individuals for those three. So two for each position is the goal. And that’s what they would consider a full slate. And sometimes that’s a challenge to get a full slate to get people to commit to run and you have to consent to run. They will call you to say, do you consent? They don’t just put people’s name on a list.

Jenna Kantor:                13:15                So for you, you went through this whole process yourself and several times. Oh my gosh, this is for those who do not know, Kathy, she has the stamina of wonder woman just doing the whole process. So you knew you were going to run. Is there a meeting to teach you about principles or how are you trained for what is to come.

Kathy Mairella:                                     And that’s a really great question. So the nominating committee members are mentors or guides for you. They’re not your advocates because they remain neutral in the election process. But they will assist you with some resources. But then APTA staff who work in the governance department become your assistants as well with the process. There is a candidate manual that contains much of the information and that’s available to anybody. You don’t have to wait until you’re a candidate.

Kathy Mairella:             14:16                Any member can go on the website and locate the candidate manual and read lots and lots of information about this whole process. And it really describes the nominations process, the candidacy process, and the elections process. So once the nominations process ends, the candidacy process begins and the nominated committee publishes the slate and the slate goes up on the website. And that’s when people find out, it’s usually early in December. They usually find out these are the people who are on the slate and then the campaigning begins. And as candidates, you are given a question to answer that goes in written form that goes on the website, on your candidate page. You also have to have your CV that gets posted there and that becomes available to the delegates and to the members to look at who are these people.

Kathy Mairella:             15:21                And that’s how you get information. The CSM meeting in February is usually the first live appearance of the candidates. When delegates start to pay attention to who are these people who are slated? And so the candidates pick a campaign manager and your campaign manager is the person who helps you. They are your advocate. They are the ones who help you navigate the candidacy and election process.

Jenna Kantor:                                        I love that you guys do that.

Kathy Mairella:                                     Yeah, and I actually I served as a campaign manager last year and I loved it. It was really a lot of fun. I really enjoyed that. So usually you want your campaign manager to somebody who does understand this whole process and who can again be your advocate, you know, let you know if your hair is straight and you know what you know, look at the things that you’re writing and give you feedback and be sort of your sounding board when you have questions on strategy and who should I be talking to and here’s what I’m hearing and how do you think I should handle it?

Kathy Mairella:             16:38                That’s your campaign manager’s job. Because they have the job of being your advocates. Do you show up at CSM, you go through the process of contacting people, you know, asking them for your support, putting together your platform. Why are you doing this? Why should somebody vote for you? You have to have a pretty clear picture of why, if you’re going to convince people, you know, to vote for you, it’s politics. It’s absolutely politics. And the thing about elections is that not everybody can win. You have to understand that the delegates vote for a variety of reasons. It’s not always personal. If you are not the one who is elected. And there are multiple reasons why delegates will look across the slate at everyone that they’re electing. They will be looking at the balance, they’ll be looking at geographical balance.

Kathy Mairella:             17:43                They’ll be looking at age, they’ll be looking at male versus female. So they’re looking at all of those things for a mix. Again, because your board is a team of 15.

Jenna Kantor:                                        I would love for you to go into now the day off, so the day off. So, for those who don’t know, at the house of delegates, it begins of course with a bunch of meetings, but the real star time where people are coming together for delegates to start voting on things are the interviews for these candidates. So if you wouldn’t mind talking about that experience.

Kathy Mairella:                                     Sure. And candidate interviews are identified by potential candidates as being one of the biggest barriers to serving because many members find the idea of doing these candidate interviews to be really intimidating.

Kathy Mairella:             18:42                The candidates at this point get at least one of their questions in advance. So you work on that and get it, you get that one prepared. So I ran this year for the office of Secretary. And so there are 20 minutes allotted for your interview. You get a two minute opening and you get a one minute closing and then the other 17 minutes you are interviewed by delegates to the house. They’re divided into four groups. And so you how you do this four times, so you do 20 minutes, four times with a break in between each. And really, the delegates can ask you almost anything. And there’s a standardized rotation and about who gets to ask the actual questions. So again, because I’ve done this a number of times, I actually enjoy the experience. The first time I did it, I found it to be, you know, completely intimidating and scary.

Kathy Mairella:             19:39                Because it’s been identified as a barrier, there’s been a lot of discussion about how else can delegates get information about candidates besides these interviews. You know, when you’re a board member, you’re not necessarily a performer. You know, it’s not necessarily about being a good person who answers questions well on your feet, but yet that’s how you are being evaluated based on, you know, on these interviews. There’s a lot of behind the scenes leadership roles. So this process I think does favor those who interview well for lack of a better term. And again, it scares a lot of people.

Jenna Kantor:                                        I get that. I get that. I was wondering for the last question now. So you’ve done all these interviews, who you finally get to go eat, drink, try to take a nap cause then you’re waiting for the votes. So the votes go through. What’s that experience? And so the last question, what’s the experience of getting the votes and how it ends?

Kathy Mairella:             20:36                This is a great question. I had to explain it to my husband the other day. So, the actual election takes place in the house of delegates and the delegates use a ARS device for electronic voting. So it is anonymous. And so they vote for each office and then ARS system tabulates the results. As that’s happening, the candidates are asked to go with their campaign managers to a special room and you are handed in your hand an envelope with the results. So you get, as a candidate, you get the results before they’re publicly known, which is very much a kindness. So you’re not like sitting in the house of delegates getting the results at the same time that everyone else is. So you have some privacy around getting the results. You get that envelope, you either stay in the room, you go somewhere else with your campaign manager, and then you open the envelope and there you see the entire slate with the vote tally and how many each candidate and who you know, who is elected and who’s not.

Jenna Kantor:                21:57                And for anybody listening of course there can be mixed opinions on how this is run at seeing the tallies, seeing the numbers. I’ve honestly heard the ying and the Yang version of that, but overall this is the process. So I’m not doing this interview to add on all those opinions. This is just for just that blanket, like this is how the candidacy people running for the APTA. This is how it’s run. This is how it works. Of course. Thank you so much Kathy. You just gave all these references for people, for them to look up and find out more details on their own if they really want to see details by details. That’s amazing that there’s a packet of book you said. The candidate manual. That’s amazing. But thank you so much, Kathy, for coming on. This is a pleasure and I cannot wait for people to learn this information though.

Kathy Mairella:                                     I think it’s really important that this information is shared. I think it’s really important that members and potential members know how their leaders are elected and how they can get involved.


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©2019 Karen Litzy Physical Therapy PLLC.
©2019 Karen Litzy Physical Therapy PLLC.