Guide to Running for an NSPRA Office

Election and Campaign Information

2018-19 NSPRA Executive Board sits at a table to discuss association businessCongratulations on considering a leadership role with the National School Public Relations Association. NSPRA is the professional association for those who are committed to improving public relations and communication in schools and between schools and the communities they serve. NSPRA has a long history of dedicated leaders, who have worked hard to create and sustain the financially-sound and membership-strong association that serves you today. That commitment to professional development and true collegiality among members is a hallmark of the association. You are to be commended for aspiring to carry on that tradition by becoming an NSPRA leader.

Serving as an officer of the NSPRA Executive Board takes time and energy, but as past officers will attest, it is also an opportunity to stretch yourself professionally and strengthen your leadership skills for the future. You also have a chance to travel to other chapters, meet new people and make a positive contribution to our profession and to education.

What's involved in running for an NSPRA office?

The following information provides an overview of the process of running for an NSPRA office. Review the information carefully to determine your eligibility and to better understand the responsibilities and commitment associated with serving as an officer of the NSPRA Executive Board. Much of the information comes directly from the NSPRA Bylaws and the NSPRA Policy Manual. 


Qualification requirements for potential candidates

Source: NSPRA Policy 205.12

Officers of the association must be association members who are eligible to vote and to hold office. They should meet the association’s standards for school public relations professionals. They should have demonstrated interest in and commitment to the goals and objectives of the association and the activities necessary to the achievement of those goals.

Officers are expected to attend regular and special Executive Board meetings as well as other necessary meetings and appearances on behalf of the association. They should have the approval of their employer to run for office.

A. To be eligible to be a candidate for an NSPRA elective office, members must:

  1. Have maintained a professional membership (individual or school communication service I, II or III) for the past five consecutive years;
  2. Be a member of their state NSPRA chapter if one exists;
  3. Have attended at least three of the last five Annual Seminars;
  4. Comply with association policies on elections and campaigning for NSPRA office; and
  5. Sign a Commitment to Service Agreement to fulfill the responsibilities of the office.

B. A member may not run for office if:

  1. They reside in the same state as a regional vice president whose term is expiring (See Article V, Elections, Section 2 of NSPRA Bylaws);
  2. Another employee of their district or organization is an elected or appointed officer of the association; and/or
  3. They are a paid employee/representative of an NSPRA chapter.

C. It is preferred that a candidate for NSPRA president-elect be Accredited in Public Relations.

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How to become an official candidate for office

Role of the Executive Board Search Committee

Source: NSPRA Policies 205.13, 225.13

There shall be an Executive Board Search Committee (EBSC) comprised of seven association members representing each of the seven association regions, and one association member who is a racial minority. The Executive Board shall appoint the members of this committee and specify their terms of office. The term of office of each member of the EBSC expires in the same year as the vice president from his or her region (or the vice president for diversity engagement). The president-elect shall appoint one member to serve as their chair.

The EBSC shall:

  • Encourage members to consider running for the Executive Board and provide information about the nomination, campaign and election process.  
  • Annually seek out and identify a slate of one or more candidates for each office that will become vacant the following year.

A call for candidates shall appear annually in the association’s primary member publication (The NSPRA Network) and be posted on the website. Information should be sent to all chapter presidents in January to inform them about the nominating process and to ask them to encourage strong candidates to seek NSPRA offices.

April 1 is the deadline for candidates to submit the required materials to EBSC declaring their desire to run for NSPRA offices that will become vacant in October.

By April 25, the EBSC will complete its work of securing candidates.

By May 1, the EBSC chair shall report the results of its search to the NSPRA president and executive director. The official slate of candidates will be announced in the next issue of the association’s primary member publication (The NSPRA Network) and be posted to the association website.

The EBSC shall introduce the slate of candidates to the membership at the Annual Meeting of the association, which is held on Sunday during the NSPRA National Seminar

Becoming a Candidate

Once you have determined your eligibility and made a decision to run for office, you must submit the following materials to the EBSC by the April 1 deadline:

Submit all materials:

  • By mail to the Executive Board Search Committee c/o NSPRA Headquarters, 15948 Derwood Road, Rockville, MD 20855; or
  • By email to the EBSC chair (view contact information), with a cc: to info@nspra.org.

The EBSC must determine its recommended slate of candidates by May 1. Once the slate is submitted to the NSPRA Executive Board, candidates are official and will be notified by the EBSC that they may begin their formal campaigns. Candidates must agree to abide by the association’s policies on campaigning for office. These policies were implemented to clarify the campaign process, ensure all candidates have an equal opportunity, and avoid potential campaign conflicts.

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Election campaign policies and procedures

Source: NSPRA Policy 205.140

Note: Questions about campaigning before someone is announced by EBSC as an official candidate are addressed in the Q&A section of this webpage.)

An official candidate for elective office must adhere to and ensure that his/her supporters adhere to the following requirements. In addition, the candidate must sign the NSPRA Executive Board Candidate Campaign Pledge.

A. General Campaign Practices

  1. Executive Board members and association staff will remain neutral during the campaign process. They may not wear or distribute campaign materials or endorse candidates. Staff and board members’ names or photos may not be used on campaign materials.
    • Activities by Executive Board members and association staff perceived as endorsement of a candidate are no longer restricted after an uncontested candidate is affirmed by acclimation during the Annual Meeting or a candidate is duly elected.
  2. Candidates may not use the NSPRA logo, letterhead or any materials or resources of the association for campaign purposes, except as stated in A3.
  3. The association will provide candidates with an electronic list of voting members (a regional list for vice president candidates, a complete list for president-elect and vice president for diversity engagement candidates) to be used for campaign purposes only. A set of mailing labels may be purchased from the association for a minimal fee upon request by the candidate.
  4. In the event of a contested election, following the annual Seminar, the association will send members a special electronic publication featuring candidates for office. Each candidate has the option of including a one paragraph bio, a photo and an e-mail address or website link.  
  5. In accordance with NSPRA Bylaws, the association sends election ballots to members (regional for vice president candidates, national for president-elect and vice president for diversity engagement candidates) by August 15. Information on each candidate shall include a photo, a one paragraph bio, and answers to questions posed by the EBSC.
  6. Any additional campaigning, within the policy guidelines set by the NSPRA Executive Board, is at the option of each candidate and is solely their responsibility.
  7. A current officer of the NSPRA Executive Board may continue to perform the duties and responsibilities associated with that position, even after declaring his/her candidacy for President-elect. However, while acting as an official representative of the Association, the candidate may not distribute or wear campaign materials or request support for his/her candidacy as part of a speech or presentation.
  8. Any member serving the Association in an official capacity (i.e., committee member, auditor, consultant, workshop presenter or keynote speaker) may not distribute or wear campaign materials or request support for their candidacy or that of another member while representing the Association at a specific event or assignment.
  9. Only candidates for elected offices may campaign. (Vice presidents at large are appointed.)
  10. Candidates who run uncontested for an office do not have to campaign and will be affirmed by acclamation of the NSPRA Executive Board during the Annual Meeting of the association held on Sunday of the NSPRA National Seminar. However, they are encouraged to share information about their platform with members.

B. Campaign Practices at the NSPRA Seminar

  1. Candidates and their supporters will ensure that public displays of support for a candidate for office will not delay or disrupt sessions or impede the natural flow of the Annual Seminar. Candidates will ensure that campaign materials do not distract from the Seminar or cause damage to the hotel. Candidates wishing to conduct campaign activities away from the designated campaign table provided by the association (see C, below) must first gain permission from NSPRA and the Campaign Oversight Committee.
  2. Five minutes will be provided at the Annual Meeting for speeches from each president-elect and vice president for diversity engagement candidate, and five minutes will be provided at regional meetings for speeches from regional vice president candidates. Uncontested candidates also are expected to give a speech.
  3. Candidates for president-elect and vice president for diversity engagement may distribute campaign materials at the Annual Meeting only. Candidates for regional vice president may distribute campaign materials at their respective Regional Colleague Connections meetings only. All candidates may distribute materials at their assigned tables (see C, below). No materials may be distributed at any other event that appears on the official Seminar program. A candidate is responsible for funding and promoting any hospitality suite that advocates his or her candidacy. Executive Board members and Association staff may only attend such hospitality suites or events for uncontested candidates after they have been affirmed by acclimation during the Annual Meeting.
  4. Presenters at the Seminar are encouraged not to wear campaign insignia during their presentations.

C. Campaign Tables

  • At the request of a candidate, the Association will provide a designated space and table at the Annual Seminar from which to conduct his/her campaign. Candidates must pay for any electrical, AV support or other materials they wish to use.

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Nomination and election timeline

  • January-March - Call for candidates appears in NSPRA's member e-publications and on its website.
  • April 1 - Candidates' nomination materials due to Executive Board Search Committee.
  • May 1 - EBSC presents a slate of candidates to the current president and the executive director. The official slate of candidates will be announced in the next issue of the association’s primary member publication (The NSPRA Network) and be posted to the association website.
  • June 1 - Candidates' campaign responses, photos and biographical information due in to NSPRA for inclusion on a candidates webpage and the e-ballot for contested elections. (NSPRA will communicate with official candidates regarding what and how to submit.) In addition, any candidates who plan to attend the Executive Board meeting held just prior to the Annual Meeting at the NSPRA National Seminar in July should notify NSPRA staff at mbraham@nspra.org by this date.
  • July - Candidates will deliver speeches and may campaign, following association guidelines, during the annual NSPRA National Seminar. Candidates for uncontested positions may be affirmed by acclimation by the Executive Board during the Annual Meeting at the Seminar. Candidates are invited to attend the Executive Board meeting prior to the Annual Meeting at their own expense to observe the board in action. Candidates who plan to attend the meeting should notify NSPRA staff at mbraham@nspra.org by June 1.
  • August 15 - E-ballots sent to professional members of NSPRA, at the regional level for contested elections of regional vice presidents and at the national level for contested elections for president-elect and vice president for diversity engagement. Deadline for submitting completed e-ballots is 15 working days from August 15.
  • September 30 - Deadline for Teller Committee to certify election results.
  • October 1 - Successful candidates - those who were elected or affirmed by acclimation - assume office.

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Association governance structure 

Source: NSPRA Policy 205

The association is guided by an Executive Board that is composed of 10 elected and two appointed officers:

  • President – one-year term; assumes office after one year as President-elect
  • President-elect – one-year term; assumes office as President in second year on board
  • Vice President for Diversity Engagement – three-year term; represents minority concerns
  • Regional vice presidents (seven):
    • Northeast Region Vice President – three-year term; represents Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Eastern Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Quebec
    • Mideast Region Vice President – three-year term; represents the District of Columbia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia
    • Southeast Region Vice President – three-year term; represents Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
    • South Central Region Vice President – three-year term; represents Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas
    • North Central Region Vice President – three-year term; represents Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario
    • Northwest Region Vice President – three-year term; represents Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan and Yukon
    • Southwest Region Vice President – three-year term; represents Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming
  • Vice President at Large (two) – appointed by the board for a two-year term to represent constituencies the association needs to hear from (one superintendent and one representing a different special focus area or group as determined by the executive director and board)

NSPRA is a non-profit corporation whose structure and operation is determined by Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, which can be amended by a majority vote of the membership, and Policies, which are adopted by the Executive Board. 
 
The Executive Board meets three times each year (in November, March and July) for a two- or three-day session. The association pays for officers’ transportation, lodging and per diem expenses for the November and March meetings. Because the July meeting is held in conjunction with the annual National Seminar, the association pays lodging and per diem expenses for the meeting days only. Board members are responsible for transportation to the Seminar site and for their lodging and expenses during the Seminar. Board members do receive a 50% discount on Seminar registration. Board members also receive a nominal budget to assist in their chapter outreach responsibilities.

In addition to attending these meetings and working with other board members and the executive director, officers are expected to promote the association, be liaisons to association committees and the state chapters in their region, work to recruit and retain members, welcome new members, and help to ensure that the association meets the needs of its members.

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Executive Board powers and duties

Source: NSPRA Bylaws, Article III Executive Board

The NSPRA Bylaws outline the powers and duties of the Executive Board as follows:

  • Doing whatever may be necessary for the furtherance of the purposes of the association, the attainment of the purposes of the Articles or Incorporation, the study and teaching of its ideals, its ethics, and its unique features or organization.
  • Assist the president in preparing programs for the Annual Seminar and other meetings of the association; authorize appointment of all committees; formulate policies for the program and services of the association.
  • Direct the executive director depositing or investing association funds and in all business arrangements made on behalf of the association.
  • Formulate and adopt policies governing the association, including annual goals and objectives.
  • Approve the annual budget, major expenditures, the annual audit, and other aspects of the financial operation of the association.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of association programs and activities; annually evaluate the performance of the executive director; and annually evaluate its own performance. Regarding this self-evaluation, the president shall send an appropriate form to each member, collect and tally the evaluations, and share the results with the board and executive director.
  • Interpret the activities of the association to members and to the educational community, and represent the needs and desires of members and chapters in association matters.

Official decisions of the board can be arrived at only at duly constituted meetings, or in an emergency, through a telephone conference call. Individual board members or groups of members do not have authority to speak for the board or to make any commitments on behalf of the board, except as provided in the Bylaws or by specific board direction.

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Job descriptions for national offices

Source: NSPRA Policy 205

President/President-elect

The president of the association shall preside at all meetings of the Executive Board and of the association, or arrange for a presiding officer. He or she, in conjunction with the board and the executive director, shall prepare programs for the Annual Meeting and other meetings of the association, shall appoint all committees not otherwise provided for in the Bylaws, and shall be an ex-officio, non-voting member of all committees.

The president shall chair the board and shall have the same right as other members to discuss questions and to vote on resolutions and motions. He or she shall call meetings of the board and shall perform such other duties as are commonly associated with this office.

The president-elect shall assist the president and shall assume the duties of the president in his or her absence. The president-elect is also encouraged to: (1) work with NSPRA regional vice presidents to promote NSPRA with the state chapter leadership; (2) develop a network of resources for chapter leaders; and (3) periodically update chapter leaders on NSPRA activities.

In the event of a vacancy in the office of president, the president-elect shall at once succeed to the office of president to fill out the unexpired term, and shall continue to serve as president for the full term to which he or she was elected.

Vice Presidents

Vice presidents shall be members of the Executive Board, and in that capacity, shall work for the good of the association as a whole.

Regional vice presidents are directly responsible for communications contact and activity between the board, the executive director and national office, and the chapters, state/province coordinators, and individual members in their respective regions. They shall keep chapters and members informed of association activities, policies, and other pertinent information, and will bring the region’s concerns to the board.

The vice president for diversity engagement shall bring to the board the perspectives of the association’s racial minorities and urban, majority minority, and increasingly diverse school districts.

The two vice presidents at large are appointed by a majority vote of the elected members of the Executive Board to two-year terms. The purpose of this position is to provide the Executive Board with membership representation or expertise that is not provided through the election process.

As a member of the board, the vice president:

  • Attends all NSPRA Executive Board meetings and the National Seminar.
  • Makes policy decisions to further the purposes of the organization.
  • Works with the executive director and the board to set future direction of NSPRA services and to strengthen NSPRA as a membership organization.
  • Stays informed about NSPRA organizational and financial matters in order to make policy decisions.
  • Evaluates the executive director.
  • Serves on ad hoc committees of the board as needed.
  • Serves as liaison to national committees as requested by the president.

As a representative, the vice president:

  • Serves as liaison between chapters and the national office.
  • Develops and maintains communication with chapter presidents and other leaders about national, regional and chapter issues.
  • Keeps abreast of national education issues and articulates the position of NSPRA on issues related to education.
  • Serves as resource person about the organization and the school public relations profession for chapter leaders and NSPRA members.
  • Works to strengthen chapters and develop new leaders.
  • Promotes NSPRA membership, activities, products and services.
  • Promotes school public relations as a profession within the education community.
  • Provides counsel and assistance to members on request.
  • Promotes the accreditation of members and encourages individual and chapter professional development activities.

As a regional vice president (elected), the vice president:

  • Represents the region’s concerns and opinions to the NSPRA Executive Board.
  • Helps staff stay informed of communication trends and issues.
  • Informs NSPRA members in the region about issues and activities of the national association.
  • Works with the vice presidents at large to achieve goals.
  • Communicates regularly with all NSPRA members in the region, especially the chapter presidents at least once every six weeks, including talking points from each of the three board meetings.
  • Actively promotes the value of NSPRA membership to the region’s state chapter members, their superintendents and prospective new members.
  • Works to demonstrate the value of a national network for addressing local and regional issues.
  • Attends chapter seminars and conferences in the region as time and funds permit.
  • Assists regional chapters with their efforts to be successful, either through direct assistance or by helping chapters make connections with people and resources that can provide support.
  • Leads a project (in second or third year of term of office), as identified by the President or President-elect.
  • Welcomes new NSPRA members from the region to the association.
  • If possible (when made aware and provided contact information) sends a welcome letter to superintendents beginning a new superintendency at a district in the region, reminding them of the resources and support NSPRA and chapters have to offer.
  • Presents to each chapter at least once during their term of office (in person, or via Skype or other video or audio conference format).

As vice president for diversity engagement (elected), the vice president:

  • Represents the interests and concerns of diverse audiences and members of color to the NSPRA Executive Board.
  • Represents the interests and concerns of urban and increasingly diverse and minority-majority school districts.
  • Assists NSPRA officers and staff in identifying and developing a more diverse group of leaders.
  • Assists in developing and facilitating specific training opportunities on cultural competency for NSPRA leaders and members.
  • Leads and facilitates dialogue and professional development opportunities that enhance communications to diverse school stakeholders.
  • Identifies and spotlights communication and engagement best practices specifically targeting communities of color and English language learners.
  • Cultivates and mentors NSPRA members of color.
  • Works with regional vice presidents to enhance diversity goals and/or strategies in their work.
  • Facilitates ongoing discussions with NSPRA members on issues of diversity and equity through various communication channels.
  • Facilitates the development of new products and services that will assist members in their work to effectively communicate with diverse stakeholders.
  • Develops and implements plans designed to provide significant learning opportunities and create more synergy between urban and suburban school district communications professionals.
  • Works with expert external organizations to provide professional development opportunities for NSPRA leaders and members in the areas of providing more effective and authentic communications to stakeholders of color and understanding and embedding equity in day-to-day work.
  • Attends chapter seminars and conferences as time and funds permit.

As a vice president at large (appointed), the vice president:

  • Represents the concerns and opinions of the specific member group (i.e., superintendents) to the NSPRA Board.
  • Informs specific member group about issues and activities of NSPRA.
  • Works with regional Vice Presidents to achieve goals.
  • Identifies and recruits members from the representative professional group.
  • Assists in developing professional development activities in public relations and communications for the specific member group.
  • Communicates regularly with all NSPRA members about issues.
  • Attends chapter seminars and conferences as time and funds permit.

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Code of ethics for NSPRA officers

Source: NSPRA Policies 120.1, 120.2 and 205.07

NSPRA requires all members to abide by two codes of ethics – the NSPRA Code of Ethics and the North American Public Relations Council Uniform Code of Ethics. In addition, NSPRA policy prescribes the following code of ethics for its officers.

Members of the Executive Board of the Association shall endeavor to:

  • Devote time, thought and study to the duties and responsibilities of board membership in order to render effective and creditable service.
  • Work with fellow board members in a spirit of harmony and cooperation in spite of differences of opinion that may arise during debates.
  • Base decisions on all available facts; vote with honest conviction in every case; and thereafter, abide by and uphold the decision of the board.
  • Resist temptation and outside pressure to use board membership to benefit either individual board members or any other individuals or agencies apart from the total interest of the association.
  • Bear in mind, under all circumstances, that the primary function of the board is to establish the policies by which the association is administered, but that the administration of the association is the responsibility of the executive director and his or her staff.
  • Encourage the active cooperation of members and chapters in establishing association policies on current operations and proposed future developments.
  • Refrain from publicly endorsing any candidate for association office other than himself/herself.
  • Strive to enhance the communication concept and expand the activities leading to more effective interpretation of the objectives, accomplishments, problems and needs of education.

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Conflict of interest 

Source: NSPRA Policy 205.15

While serving on the Executive Board, NSPRA members shall not be paid any financial remuneration for services rendered to the association.

Executive board members shall refrain from local, regional or national activities that may have a negative effect on national association activities, programs, products or services.

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Forms: Required for Candidate Nominations

Source: NSPRA Policy 205.13

All those seeking to be considered as a candidate for NSPRA office by the Executive Board Search Committee must complete and submit the following documents, along with the other required candidate materials, by April 1 via email to the EBSC chair (view contact information) or mail to EBSC c/o NSPRA Headquarters, 15948 Derwood Road, Rockville, MD 20855.

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Forms: Election Complaints

Source: NSPRA Policy 205.141

If a voting member of the association alleges a violation of NSPRA Policy 205.140, Campaigning for Office, he or she must file a formal complaint against the candidate by submitting it in writing on the official NSPRA complaint form.

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Questions and Answers

Following are some questions asked in the past regarding running for an NSPRA office. If you have a question about elections and campaigning, please email it to info@nspra.org. Your question and NSPRA's response may be posted here in the future to benefit all potential candidates.

  1. What is the difference between active campaigning versus having theoretical conversations?

Active campaigning involves presenting oneself as an official candidate for NSPRA office. Only those individuals approved by the Executive Board Search Committee and recommended on its official slate of candidates may present themselves as candidates for office.

Speaking to people about your interest in running for office in the future or mentioning informally that you are considering a run for office would be considered theoretical conversations.

  1. Can I form an exploratory committee to build a network of supporters?

If it is presented as a truly exploratory committee and not a campaign committee, yes.

  1. Am I able to secure endorsements or letters of support from NSPRA members in anticipation of filing a candidate packet?

As part of their nomination materials, eligible association members who decide to run for office must supply the Executive Board Search Committee with a minimum of two supporting letters of nomination from NSPRA colleagues in good standing (i.e., those who hold a current membership). Letters of support intended for that usage can be secured in anticipation of filing a candidate packet.

However, you cannot announce endorsements or supports for your candidacy before you become an official candidate who is approved and presented by EBSC. On a personal basis, you may ask individuals if they are willing to commit to you that, should you be approved to run by EBSC, they will support you as a candidate. 

  1. Am I or my supporters allowed to engage in conversation about a potential candidacy publicly via social media, emails, phone calls, during events, etc.?

This is an area to exercise caution. Only those individuals approved by EBSC and recommended on its official slate of candidates may present themselves as candidates for office. So long as you do not actively campaign for votes or present yourself as an official candidate, it is generally not a violation to engage in theoretical conversations - publicly or privately - about a potential candidacy.

  1. What remedies or sanctions will I face if my supporters or I am found to be in violation of any of NSPRA's campaign rules? 

NSPRA Policy 205.141 outlines the campaign complaints and enforcement process. Failure to comply with or violations of that policy and/or the NSPRA Executive Board Candidate Campaign Pledge may result in actions ranging from an oral or written reprimand to disqualification. 

  1. If I am the successful candidate, when do I officially become a member of the NSPRA Executive Board?

Uncontested candidates may be affirmed by acclimation of the NSPRA Executive Board during the Annual Meeting in July and candidates for contested offices will be selected by voters in August, but all successful candidates officially assume office on the board on October 1. Their official board membership begins on October 1.

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