Presidential Letter

Dear MSHA Members:  

I want to take this time, at the close of 2011, to let you know what YOUR MSHA Executive Board has done for you in 2011.  Although we correspond primarily by electronic communication these days, I wanted this letter to come to you by the old fashioned post office-delivered snail mail.

During 2011, this Board developed and presented your 2011 MSHA Conference in March that was a huge success (many thanks to Suzie Rosser as Conference Chair). The Board also redid some bylaws (voted and passed by the membership in April 2011) and is the process of completely redoing the MSHA Bylaws to bring them current in 2012 (many thanks to Jim Peck, Cindy Gibson, and Christine Gibson as Bylaws Committee)(you will see more on the MSHA web within the next 30 days and then at March Annual Convention (March 28, 29, 30, 2012).

In addition, MSHA developed a financial plan and policy (thank you to our Management Firm and Deirdre McGowan), added an ad hoc committee for Young Professionals (thank you to Ashley Hicks as chair), strengthened our ASHA liaison positions ( 2012 STAR represented by Leslie Hammond, SMAC represented by Kristin Johnson, SEAL represented by Georgene Johnson: see the MSHA website for their regular reports), and upgraded our MSHA website (thanks to Rick Burk, VP: Publications).

MSHA was a visible presence during our 2011 Legislative Session, thanks to VP: Healthcare, Christine Gibson and our lobbyist, Stephen Clay (Clay Firm).  MSHA also clarified some IRS policies through our accountant, so that we are in correct and full compliance with the IRS (always a good place to be!).

The MSHA Board listened to members’ concerns about needs in the state and developed a MSHA ad hoc committee on Autism, chaired by Morgan Weihing, to address consumers’ needs in the area of communication and autism and to furnish information to the MS Autism Advisory Committee.  With the help of our Stephen Clay, our lobbyist, we secured two positions on the MS Autism Advisory Committee, filled by Maureen Martin (our incoming MSHA President-Elect) and Julie Chadwick, (Director of the TAD Center at North Mississippi Regional Center).  We (MS SLPs and Audiologists) now have a channel and process for improving services to consumers and their families who are affected by autism.

The MSHA Board secured a position on the MS Relay Committee through the MS Public Service Commission (Telephone Relay), again giving MSHA members more visibility and a voice in the telephone relay system in Mississippi.

MSHA gave recommended names to the Governor to consider for appointment to the open positions for the Mississippi Department of Health Licensure Board Advisory Committee.  Although this is not a MSHA Board, we appreciate the opportunity to give input to the names selected to represent MDH licensees in Mississippi.  Please refer to the MSHA website for the MDH Committee for 2012.

MSHA has taken a clear role in the MDE Task Force for the 216 License (co-chairs Dr. Gloria Kellum and Jayne Buttross) through VP: Schools Rachel Powell’s work on the MSHA subcommittee of the Task Force and myself as a member of the Task Force.  Updates are available on the MSHA website. You will hear about the working of the Task Force at the 2012 March annual convention. 

The Board applied and was selected to receive an ASHA Advocacy Training Grant (amount $1000) to develop student advocacy and involvement with our 2012 Mississippi Legislative Term.

Our membership has increased this year, many thanks to Camille Williams as MSHA Membership Chair! Annual renewal time is now! If you have not renewed, please do so immediately so you can continue your member benefits! In addition, the Board, under the guidance of Rick Burk, VP: Publications, has developed a new member benefits brochure (your copy is enclosed in this mailing).  Please share with others who may not be members of MSHA and encourage them to support the association that speaks for each of us in so many arenas!

These are just a few of the things that the MSHA Board has worked on this year for YOU! You can continue to look forward to new horizons in 2012 under the leadership of Darlene Gore as President and the 2012 MSHA Board (see MSHA website for names and positions).  Just a few of these include the presentation of a VP: Audiology in the recommended bylaws, an interim ad hoc Audiology subcommittee,  updated MSHA Policy and Procedures, a great annual conference under conference chair, Stephanie Beebe,  changes in Honors under the leadership of Lisa Ivy and Christy Coker as co-chairs, completion of the ASHA Student Leadership Project,  the possible addition of associate members and student members in the association (through recommended bylaw changes), and the introduction of a loan forgiveness policy in the 2012 State Legislature.

Lots of work and lots of miles to cover yet, everyone! Please give your support to this new 2012 Board……they need your ideas, time, and help!

Come to MSHA Convention in March (registration forms on the web now), support your exhibitors, get continuing education, learn about what is happening in the state in healthcare and education, share your needs and ideas with the Board members, see friends and colleagues, eat good food, and enjoy Jackson, MS! (March 28, 29, 30, 2012, Hilton, Jackson, MS). 

Visit the MSHA website frequently for new information (we just posted new information from ASHA on the ICD-10 codes that will become mandatory in 2013 as well as 2012 Convention information, and updated reports from our STAR, SMAC and SEAL positions).  A goal this year (and will continue to be with the 2012 Board) is transparency of all MSHA Board business.  As we strive toward this, all Board minutes as well as financial accountings have been and will continue to be, posted on the web for members to review as well as on-going project information like the MDE Task Force accomplishments. 

I want to take this moment to thank the 2011 MSHA Board for all they have done to support me and to help you in 2011!  Board members who will be leaving are Dr. Nola Radford, VP: Continuing Education, Suzie Rosser, Past President, and Dr. Lollie Vaughan, VP: Finance.  Many thanks to them for the volunteer service they have given prior to and during 2011. We also want to take a moment to remember colleagues we have lost this year, who have retired and moved, or who live in other locations but who will always have their hearts in Mississippi.

I also want to take a moment to thank our Management Firm, under the leadership of Deirdre McGowan, Cindy Gibson as a Past President, Jim Peck as a retired member who have devoted hours to supporting this association this year,  as well as  the Presidential Consulting Committee (MSHA members with history, perspective and knowledge so helpful as we craft the direction and needs of the MSHA membership),  the chairs of each of our graduate and undergraduate training programs in MS,  and a very personal thanks to some specific members who have believed and worked tirelessly for MSHA during 2011 (Ojus Malphurs, Mary Ann Mach,  Gloria Kellum, Sue Hale, Georgene Johnson, Jan Shook, Leslie Hammond, Morgan Weihing) to name just a few. I am sure I have left out some and for that I apologize but know that my heartfelt thanks go to all of you.  I can never put into words what your involvement and guidance meant to this Board this year!

And, as I pass the gavel to Darlene Gore, I want to thank her for the tremendous support she has given me during her President-Elect year. With her leadership and direction, MSHA will continue to be strong and visible.

I want to end this letter, as I walk into that Hall of Esteemed Past Presidents of MSHA, by saying thank you to the MSHA membership and to all of you who have guided me, called with concerns and advice during this year, as well as the cards and notes of support as this Board worked for audiology and speech-language pathology in the Great State of Mississippi! This is YOUR state association! Make your voice and your vote heard! Make your needs known!

I say thank you, from the 2011 MSHA Board and myself, for a great 2011 and let’s make 2012 even better!

Carolyn Wiles Higdon, 2011 President, MSHA

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