The National Recreation and Park Association is
considering structural changes that could fundamentally
change how members associate. That has some longtime
aquatics leaders concerned the changes may be more about
saving money in a downsized organizaton than anything
A task force now is reviewing the option of doing away
with the branches and sections structure of the
organization. The task force is still finalizing its work,
but the preliminary recommendation is to reconfigure them
into a group of networks that would serve essentially the
same function, said Lois Finkelman, chair of the NRPA Board
of Directors. She added that though no final vote on the
recommendations will take place until the task force has
completed its report, the recommendations have received
positive feedback from the board.
Under the current system, individuals can join NRPA as
either a corporate member, industry professional or citizen
volunteer. And a member can elect to be a member of a
specific branch or interest group, such as aquatics.
Branches are required to have separate leadership and
governance. Sections are similar to branches, but
don’t have enough members to qualify as a
If approved, the new system would eliminate this
structure and create looser associations united via the
Internet, rather than by a codified structure.
Not everyone likes that plan, however. “I just
don’t see that the networking groups are going to
be as effective,” Terri Smith said.
Smith is an aquatics professional who’s held
leadership positions in NRPA for more than five years. She
and Juliene Hefter believe one primary motivating factor
could be saving money. A move to networks could potentially
save on staffing.
“I give NRPA a lot of credit for where I am in
my life,” said Hefter, a past president
of NRPA's National Aquatic Branch. “I
want that to be the same for future
A vote on the issue is expected to take place at the
2010 NRPA Congress & Exposition in October, but
Finkelman said if the task force completes its
recommendations before then, the board could vote