AFA’s Board of Directors voted to approve new bylaws in a bid to strengthen organizational leadership and open voting to every member. The vote must be ratified by delegates to AFA’s convention in September for the changes to take effect.
“We voted to replace our complex and outdated Constitution with simplified Bylaws that will enable AFA to be more agile and responsive to opportunities and risks; more accountable to our members and stakeholders; and more effective in our mission to educate and advocate for American airpower and space power and to support Airmen and Guardians and their families,” wrote AFA Chairman Gerald R. Murray, the 14th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, in a letter to members.
Murray said the proposed bylaws are needed for two reasons: First, to vest more responsive and accountable authority in the Board of Directors, which meets frequently throughout the year, rather than in a convention that meets annually; and second, to empower every AFA volunteer leader and member, whether Active duty, Guard, Reserve, civilian, or community and industry partner, by enabling them to elect Association directors.
The Board approved the changes June 23, and the vote to ratify will be held Sept. 18-19.
Murray said he intends to spend the summer raising awareness of the proposed changes and to fully inform all convention delegates and members about what’s at stake. He urged members and delegates to educate themselves by reading up on the details and reaching out to AFA leaders to share their views on the changes and gain a fuller understanding of the issues at stake.
He said all AFA members, including Active-duty Airmen, Guardians, and civilians, deserve an opportunity and should be directly involved in their professional association.
“Under our present construct, it is the Delegates, not the Board, that make the most momentous decisions for the Association,” wrote Murray, noting that delegates gather only once a year. “In the high-tech, fast-moving, and dynamic society we live in today, that’s no longer good enough,” he said. “Our Association must be agile and adaptable, responsive to change and challenges.”
AFA President, retired Lt. Gen. Bruce “Orville” Wright, said giving every member a vote provides everyone a greater sense of ownership in the Association. “Today’s Airmen and Guardians offer a whole new perspective developed through decades of a dynamic, high-ops-tempo environment, including combat operations,” he said. “They know what works today and what doesn’t, what they need now, and what they’re going to need from their Association. Active duty and recently retired Airmen and Guardians are also the talent pool for current and future AFA volunteer leaders. They should have an active voice in the future of their professional association.”
AFA, like the military services themselves, must modernize, Murray said, invoking former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and quoting his advice to the Board from a year ago: “AFA is at an inflection point,” Welsh said then, before urging Association leaders to chart a new course to remain effective and relevant in the fast-paced future.
Murray said the new bylaws are long overdue. While a decline in membership has been arrested, growth has proven difficult, and he said the Association must diversify its income streams and its Board makeup by bringing in directors who can supplement the Board’s strengths with complementary skills and expertise.
“The Bylaws approved last week were crafted by a respected and experienced team of AFA leaders, aided by outside professional counsel,” Murray said. “The new Bylaws ensure volunteer field leaders continue to serve on and inform our Board [and] also enable AFA to attract new outside directors who can share expertise in business, academia, fundraising, and more.”
“Your Board stands strongly in favor of these changes,” Murray said. “Now we look to the delegates to affirm the Board’s decision to strengthen AFA, embrace all our members, strengthen our Board and governance, and build a strong future.”