Policy Council Orientation

Welcome to the APPAM Policy Council!

Information for those new to the Policy Council

There are many ways that members can volunteer their service to the association, but none are more important to the long-term success of APPAM and its activities than the Policy Council. This page is only accessible by new Policy Council members and will lay out everything you need to know to fulfill your role as a Policy Council member. 

Below are links to some relevant information, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's), committee member and chair responsibilities and tasks. committee reports and meeting minutes, and links to bylaws and the current Policy Council roster that that will help bring you up to speed on the work that APPAM's Policy Council has undertaken recently.

We will have an orientation meeting with all new Policy Council members, Tara Sheehan, APPAM Executive Director, Samantha Oliver Thomason, APPAM Deputy Executive Director and Don Moynihan,  APPAM President.  The purpose of this meeting is to discuss:

  • Policy Council member expectations, including attendance requirements, committee participation and participation in Board Meetings
  • Highlights from the 2023 committee work
  • Current and emerging Policy Council issues
  • Board Culture and What to Expect at Meetings
  • Feedback from new Policy Council members: What do you expect to achieve on the Board? What would you like to get out of APPAM Policy Council service? 

The meeting will be Friday, February 23, 3:00 PM Eastern time. Click here for the link to the meeting. The password is appam. 

Important Links to Reference Materials

Below are some links to important materials that you should review prior to our orientation call. 

•   Committee Reports from the from the November 2023 Policy Council meeting
•   The Operations Plan for 2024 which guides the work of APPAM, from a staff perspective
•   The Strategic Plan Report, and the most recent Strategic Scorecard (please note we have not engaged in strategic planning as a board since 2015)
•   Policy Council members, APPAM Leadership and Committee Descriptions.  All 2024 Committee Assignments and Tasks can be found here

Committee and chair assignments were sent out earlier in the month. The chair of the committee will reach out to the members of the committee (if they have not done so already) to schedule a meeting to discuss committee work for 2024. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

What exactly is the Policy Council?

APPAM is a nonprofit corporation, chartered in Washington, DC and recognized as income tax exempt under section 501 (c) (3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. APPAM also is sales tax exempt in Washington, DC. As a nonprofit corporation, APPAM must have a duly constituted board of directors who bear the ultimate, legal responsibility for its operations and success. The Policy Council is that board of directors. But APPAM also is a membership association, and, as such, its membership must have representation in its governance. Unlike the boards of directors of other types of nonprofits, the APPAM board is elected by the membership.

What is the composition of the Policy Council?

The full Policy Council has 28 total members. It is comprised of the following categories of members, elected each year:

  • Two members working in an academic setting elected by APPAM’s professional members.  Each member serves a term of four years. Every other year, one of the these members is an early career member working in an academic setting. Early career means within 10 years of a terminal degree.  
  • One person elected by APPAM’s institutional members from within the APPAM Committee of Institutional Representatives.  This member serves a four year term.
  • One member working in a non-academic setting elected by APPAM’s individual members. This member serves a term of four years. 
  • One student member selected by the current APPAM President and the Chair of the Institutional Reps.  There are a total of two student member seats and one student is selected each year for a two year term.  The terms are staggered for continuity.  
  • Eight officers of the association, including the Immediate Past President, the President, the President-elect, two Vice Presidents, a Secretary, a Treasurer and a Chair of the Committee of Institutional Representatives. Other than the president, the term of service for all officers is two years.
  • Two ex officio non-voting members: the Executive Director and the JPAM Editor (both are compensated by APPAM for their service, and thus cannot vote to avoid conflicts of interest).

As may be evident, the APPAM Policy Council is among the larger boards of directors of professional/scientific societies. For example, the Council of the American Political Science Association has about 16 people.  The Policy Council used to be 43 people; the membership approved a bylaws change in 2013 trimming the size of the Board down to 28 people (16 Policy Council, 2 students, 8 officers, APPAM ED and JPAM Editor). 

Does APPAM carry directors/officers insurance? What is the potential legal exposure of Council members?

APPAM does have directors/officers insurance, and generally Council members would be shielded personally from any legal action taken against APPAM. This is because APPAM is incorporated and that means APPAM as an organization is legally distinct from its officers and directors. The one exception would be demonstrable, intentional malfeasance by a Council member, but that is not the scenario most often in the minds of persons worrying about legal liability. Pragmatically, APPAM faces little liability because it has employees and there could be legal issues related to human resources issues; APPAM signs contracts and there could be disputes; APPAM holds conferences and attendees could experience personal injuries while in attendance; and JPAM rejects articles for publication and authors could seek redress for damage to professional reputation. In its existence, no legal actions have ever been taken against APPAM, and our insurance underwriters have deemed all of these risks to be very small (as evidenced by low insurance premiums). Note that in the case of JPAM, the publisher Wiley includes JPAM editorial decisions under its legal liability coverage.

What does the Policy Council do in a typical year?

The Council normally meets in person four times a year, twice in person and twice virtually. In-person meetings are in the spring (usually April - May) and the fall (at the start of the Fall Conference though we have met after the Fall Conference virtually during covid). Virtual board meetings are in March and in August, each lasting about two hours and focusing on two or three specific issues for the Board to discuss. 

In person meetings generally last about four hours. Here are the regular items of business on the meeting agendas in each season:

  • Spring meeting: Review the audit results (if the audit is complete) and the annual performance of the invested reserves; review the modified budget for the year, review and modify the priorities of the APPAM office for the current year, receive a report on planning for the Fall Research Conference, receive a report on JPAM editorial activity, receive a report on the activities of all the committees, etc. 
  • Fall meeting: Review the projected financial report for the year and the proposed budget for the upcoming year, receive an annual report from the Executive Director on various programs and activities in the current year, receive reports from all the committees, receive reports on the Fall Conference, etc.    

These usually straightforward reports occupy the first third/half of a Council meeting. The second half may be devoted to a range of special policy matters that the Council may be asked to decide. The agenda is determined by the Executive Director and the APPAM President.

What else do Policy Council members do?

Council members will all be appointed to serve on at least one committee, from the roster of standing and ad hoc committees.  Those committees are: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Membership, Meetings and Conferences, Policy Relevance, Development and Communications, Nominating, Dissertation Review, Institutional Reps (comprised only of inst reps) and the Student Activities Committee (SAC - comprised only of students).

The chair of the committee (appointed by the APPAM President) will let the committee members know when committee meetings are, what the committee priorities are, etc.  Information on the committees was sent separately.  Policy Council members may be called on to act as reviewers for Program Committees or otherwise assist APPAM with its’ programmatic goals. 

Are there attendance requirements of the Policy Council?

Policy Council members cannot miss more than two in person meetings in a row.  Remote participation in a Policy Council meeting is not considered attendance for the attendance requirement, however, hybrid participation has become more normalized and s generally offered at each meeting. In general, in person attendance is strongly encouraged for the two annual in-person board meetings.

Does APPAM pay for travel to Policy Council meetings or otherwise compensate its Council members?  

APPAM offers travel reimbursement for the Spring Policy Council meeting only. APPAM does cover all travel and lodging for its student members for all meetings. 

What is the Executive Committee, and how does it relate to the Policy Council?

The full name of this committee is the Executive Committee of the Policy Council. It consists of the elected officers, and the Executive Director and the JPAM Editor (the two serve ex officio, or non-voting). The APPAM bylaws authorize the Executive Committee to act when circumstances require action with the authority of the Council but it would be difficult or untimely to hold a Council meeting. The Executive Committee generally meets before the Policy Council meets, in the Spring and the Fall. The committee maintains much closer contact with the day-to-day operations of APPAM than does the full Council.

What is the role of the Committee of Institutional Representatives in APPAM’s governance?

This committee consists of the persons appointed to represent each institutional member of APPAM to the association’s leadership. Officially, its current membership is about 100 people. The committee is empowered under the APPAM bylaws to elect one person to the Executive Committee (the Chair of the Institutional Reps) and one person each year to the Policy Council.  It is represented through these Council members in many activities related to the services APPAM offers its institutional members.  The Committee has its own bylaws.

Basics of Committees

All Policy Council members must serve on at least one committee.  All committees can be found here. There is a staff liaison for each committee. This staff member helps the committee chair manage the task list. 

Expectations of Committee Chairs

  • Hold committee meetings (every other month or 6 times a year)
  • Create an action plan and assign specific tasks to committee members
  • Create an action plan for committee budgets (currently $5K per committee)
  • Note that the APPAM President or President Elect can join calls or meetings, if necessary
  • Check in with your staff liaison monthly, to review tasks and to check on progress
  • Prepare two written reports, one for each Policy Council meeting, using the assigned tasks as the foundation for the reports
  • Be aware of the function of the other APPAM committees and, if necessary, check in with other chairs to jointly work on issues that affect multiple committees
  • The staff liaison will take notes and prepare an action plan for distribution after each meeting

Expectations of Committee Members

  • Committee members need to attend all meetings of their assigned committee. 
  • Committee members need to complete assigned specific tasks by committee chairs.