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Perspectives from the Council of Representatives Chair - July 2020

By:  Lee Huss, CoR Chair

When I was selected to lead the ISA Council of Representatives (CoR), I and my fellow Executive Committee members were given the directive to improve the communication between CoR and the ISA Board of Directors and staff. This fits well with the ISA’s “ownership linkage” that all ISA members have a voice in the organization. As my term as the ISA CoR Chair comes to a close during this challenging year, I have been asked to comment on my tenure.  I have to reflect and remember how I got here in the first place. Thirteen years ago, after the retirement of Dr. Harvey Holt from Purdue University, I was selected by the Indiana Arborist Association (IAA) to step in as his replacement to the ISA Board of Directors.  As a past President of the IAA and someone who respected and held a close personal friendship with Harvey, I was honored to be his replacement.

Back then, a much different governance model was used by the ISA. The ISA Executive Director was overseen by over forty-five different chapters, associate organizations and professional affiliates to chart the future course of this member-owned organization. During my first years on the ISA Board of Directors, I took part in voting in the current ISA governance model of a smaller elected Board of Directors by the entire membership and the establishment of Counsel of Representatives. In short, I was voting myself out of job. Even though this move did have some resistance as it was viewed as disenfranchising some from the ISA leadership, I strongly approve of the current governance model as it has produced a diverse Board and promotes greater international representation. I have witnessed during the past ten plus years, like a small child, CoR has taken some awkward steps along the way, but has always had strong leadership from its past chairs and executive committee members.

CoR was instructed to encourage collaboration between chapters, associate organizations and professional affiliates. This was accomplished by meeting in person once a year with the ISA Board of Directors during the ISA Annual Conference.  It has proven to be a great opportunity to compare best management practices for newsletters, tree climbing completions, volunteer recruitment, awards programs and more. Arboriculture is an inherently dangerous profession, so promoting tree worker safety is always paramount. Roundtable discussions are used to identify problems and seek solutions that CoR members may be experiencing with their local organization. I believe that becoming an ISA CoR representative is also a great opportunity to learn about the governance of ISA and perhaps for those who desire to lead seek election to the ISA Board. 

My goal as CoR Chair this past year has been to improve the communication between the group members and create greater opportunities for input with the ISA Board and staff. In addition to CoR’s two annual videoconferences, this year we added additional Town Hall meetings with ISA Director Caitlyn Pollihan and ISA President Paul Johnson. Due to the rescheduling of the ISA Annual Conference, CoR will have an additional Town Hall meeting in August, will participate in the virtual ISA Leadership Workshop in October and is on track for the in-person CoR Annual Meeting with the ISA Board of Directors in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, in December.

In closing, I am blessed to have worked with an outstanding CoR Executive Committee that consists of Jim Vaughn (Minnesota), Kimberly Pearson (Florida), Anne-Marie Morgan (New England) and Mike Watson (Ontario). Professional arboriculture is as diverse as its members. The ISA Board of Directors values the work of CoR, and I hope the general membership will appreciate the behind the scenes work CoR performs with the Board to make the organization better. My ISA membership has provided me with valuable skills over the years in my role as a municipal urban forester. I am honored to give back to this organization and thankful for wonderful memories working with others in Arboriculture. I am thankful for the many friendships I have created with this group over the years.

About Lee Huss:

Lee Huss has a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from Purdue University. His interests are in forest management both urban and rural in Indiana.  He has served on the Board of Directors of the Indiana Arborist Associations, and the Indiana Society of American Foresters. He has served as President for both organizations and currently on the Board of the Indiana Woodland Owners Association. An ISA Certified Arborist® he recently retired as Urban Forester for the City of Bloomington, Indiana, after 37 years.