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Leading a Volunteer Board

Running a Local Chapter > Leading a Volunteer Board


The Chapter

The Chapter is a vital part of the Association, and the Chapter President occupies the most prominent leadership position in the Chapter. In addition to being a key to the success of the Chapter's programs, the President can make important contributions to the success of Association-wide programs.

Article 16 of the UPA Bylaws covers the scope of a Chapter's existence and operations. It is very important that you read this material when you assume office. You also should try to attend the special workshop for Chapter leaders at the annual UPA Conference. Presidents who are unable to attend are welcome to send other officers in their place and should try to do so. Many regions also hold Chapter leaders' workshops once a year. You should attend them if you can.   The following is an organizational chart for a typical UPA Chapter. The Chapter Council is elected while committee managers, who report to the Chapter Council, are usually appointed.

Chapter Council


Note: Other organizational structures exist for UPA Chapters.


Chapter Sponsor

The Chapter Sponsor is a veteran UPA member is elected by the UPA's Board of Directors, responsible for overseeing one or more Chapter's operation and activities. who is in charge of Chapter affairs. Your Chapter's Chapter sponsor will be an essential part of helping you to get a Chapter started.   A Sponsor will communicate with you throughout the year and will be available to assist with your questions or problems concerning UPA. The Chapter Sponsor is your Chapter's link to the Association's Board of Directors and, as such, is your conduit to a wealth of UPA services and opportunities.

Make sure your reports on the status of your Chapter are submitted to your Chapter Sponsor as requested before UPA's two annual board meetings (winter meeting and annual conference). Your Chapter Sponsor can be an excellent resource when your Chapter considers conducting a membership drive, establishing a newsletter, or building a new public relations program. Invite your Chapter Sponsor to a Chapter function as a speaker for a business meeting, keynote speaker for a conference, or guest of honor at your awards dinner.

These visits provide an opportunity for you, your Chapter Council, and your Chapter Sponsor to confer about Chapter matters. At the same time, a visit allows the Chapter Sponsor to assess the strengths and needs of your Chapter and to meet potential candidates for Chapter- and Association-level offices and committees.

Your Chapter Sponsor can do a better job if you work together and communicate on a continuing basis. For example, you should respond promptly to requests from your Chapter Sponsor. If your Chapter Sponsor requests a report for an Association board meeting, submit a complete and informative report promptly. The Chapter Sponsor will attempt to visit each Chapter at least once during the three-year term.

If your Chapter has developed a long-range plan, submit the plan to your Chapter Sponsor. Any changes to the plan should also be submitted on a timely basis


Chapter Council

As defined in the UPA Bylaws, the Chapter Council is a group of elected Chapter officers that manage the Chapter's affairs. The Council is generally composed of the President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, and Immediate Past President. Its composition may vary depending on the Chapter's bylaws.   The Chapter Council meets at the call of the Chapter President or at the request of any two of its members. A majority of the Council (at least three of the five members) constitutes a quorum. A simple majority rules on questions brought before the Council.   If the Chapter Council decides that more than five officers are required for efficient operation, a proposition to increase the number of elected officers and change the Chapter's bylaws may be brought before the Chapter's general membership. The proposition must specify the title and duties of such officers.

Chapter Council's Responsibilities

The Chapter Council formulates and defines Chapter objectives. It also identifies some of the specific projects and programs by which these objectives can be reached. The Council assigns projects and programs to appropriate committees and individuals for implementation, refinement, or enhancement. The Council works closely with committees and individuals with special assignments.

In collaboration with appropriate committees, the Council seeks to provide some or all of the following activities:

•  monthly or bi-monthly meetings offering stimulating learning opportunities and strong membership involvement

•  a close liaison among the Chapter, Chapter Sponsor, Association, and other communication groups

•  a newsletter that reaches members at least five days before meetings (separate meeting announcements may also be appropriate)

•  a Chapter membership drive

•  a membership directory

•  professional development opportunities: at least one workshop, seminar, or regional conference

•  employment information committee

•  significant Chapter participation at UPA Annual Conferences

•  finding ways to gain support of business and industry for the Chapter and the Association

•  encouraging members to contribute to UPA publications

•  providing recognition through Chapter and Association programs



Chapter officers are the President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary.   The duties of the Vice President are sometimes divided into two positions:   First Vice-President and Second Vice-President for more efficient operation. All officers must be elected in accordance with Chapter bylaws, or in their absence, with the UPA bylaws.


Chapter Elections

One of the Council's most important responsibilities comes toward the end of your administration, the election of your successors. The future success of the Chapter depends on the caliber of those who are elected. With this in mind, observe and evaluate your members.

It is the President's duty to see that procedures for Chapter elections are carried out properly. The results of the election should be reported to the UPA office and the Chapter Sponsor as early as possible so the new President can be invited to a special workshop at the UPA Annual Conference.


Responsibilities of Chapter Officers

The Chapter officers, committee managers, and committee members should follow the Chapter Bylaws, UPA Bylaws and the policies and procedures of the Association in carrying out their responsibilities.

It is important to develop written responsibilities for all Chapter officers, committees, and committee managers. Because the structure of individual UPA Chapters may differ, the responsibilities described in this document are meant only as guidelines.

Chapter Elections

One of your most important responsibilities comes toward the end of your administration, the election of your successors. The future success of the chapter depends on the caliber of those who are elected. With this in mind, observe and evaluate your members.

It is the president's duty to see that procedures for chapter elections are carried out properly. The results of the election should be reported to the UPA office and the Chapter Sponsor as early as possible so the new president can be invited to a special workshop at the UPA Annual Conference.

Chapter President's Responsibilities


The Chapter President heads the Chapter Council and is responsible for all operations of the Chapter. The Chapter President should be enthusiastic, energetic, responsive, and good at solving problems, and resolving disputes. The President should also be gracious and a good listener.

The Chapter President:

•  conducts regular meetings of the Chapter Council (at least three to five meetings per year are recommended)

•  assigns duties to other officers soon after their election

•  suggests schedules for ongoing Chapter programs both within the Association and in collaboration with other professional groups

•  explores topics for the coming year's meetings with the Program Committee Manager and other officers

•  appoints special assistants or committees for specific tasks not easily managed by standing committees

•  applies and maintains controls for budgets, expenditures, and other fiscal activities and, together with the Treasurer, signs all Chapter checks

•  reviews contents of Chapter newsletter prior to publication

•  writes articles and columns for the Chapter newsletter

•  leads in the formulation of goals and policies for the Chapter

•  contacts committee managers periodically to obtain status/activity reports, which are then submitted to the Chapter officers

•  submits a report describing Chapter activities to the Chapter Sponsor prior to each UPA Board of Directors meeting

•  submits informal reports frequently to keep the Chapter Sponsor informed about the general condition of the Chapter

•  ensures that procedures for Chapter elections are carried out properly


Checklist for Chapter Presidents


Early planning will pay off throughout the year. As soon as you are nominated, you should start planning your year as Chapter President.

•  Think about your vision for the Chapter.

•  Contact each person running for a contested office. Ask the candidates what jobs they would like if they are not elected. You need them on your team.  

•  Consider how each position could or should fit in with your vision.

•  Fill the committee and newsletter editor positions. Ask candidates and non-candidates to take on some responsibility. Members who refuse large jobs often will accept smaller ones. Remember that membership involvement builds a strong Chapter team, so get as many people involved as possible.  

•  Announce your committee appointments and the date of your first Chapter Council meeting at your installation meeting.

•  Review the criteria for the Chapter Achievement Award to gain an understanding of what an excellent Chapter is considered to be.


Vice President's Responsibilities

The Vice President:

•  maintains a special awareness of all Chapter operations and confers frequently with the Chapter President, not only to advise and assist, but also to gain knowledge that could prove useful if the Vice President becomes President

•  helps formulate policy and establish the Chapter's long-term and short-term goals

•  monitors the Chapter's finances on a continuing basis

•  assumes responsibility for regular meeting programs in some chapters (see program committee manager's responsibilities)

•  assumes the duties of Chapter President when the President is unavailable

•  performs other duties as defined by the President


Secretary's Responsibilities

The Secretary:

•  takes minutes at Chapter Council and other Chapter meetings (or arranges for a substitute)

•  prepares and distributes copies of meeting minutes to officers within ten days

•  prepares correspondence related to Chapter business at the direction of the Chapter President


Treasurer's Responsibilities

The Treasurer:

•  prepares a budget at the beginning of the Chapter year

•  establishes and maintains a checking account for current operations (arranges for signature cards and other documents required by the bank. Checks must be signed by the Treasurer and co-signed by the President or vice-President.)

•  establishes and monitors a savings account and/or certificates of deposit when Chapter funds exceed those needed for current operations

•  deposits Chapter funds and pays invoices promptly

•  transfers funds from the operating account to the savings account when appropriate, with the concurrence of the Chapter President

•  renews nonprofit mail permit (if one is used) when due and periodically deposits additional funds in a mailing account at the post office

•  prepares a monthly report of Chapter income and expenditures for review by the Chapter President

•  prepares reports of income and expenditures on Chapter projects, making comparisons with the budget every 60 days for current projects and at the close of each project

•  develops a detailed year-end report (as of December 31) of all financial transactions; grouping income and expenses for each major activity . such as publications competition, science writing competition, and so forth

•  completes and signs a year-end report for the UPA Treasurer on a form provided by the UPA office

•  mails the year-end Chapter financial report to the UPA Treasurer as soon as possible, but no later than January 5, to ensure a prompt dues rebate to the Chapter


Monthly Planner for the President and the Council

January - February

•  Hold an organizational meeting of your new Chapter Council and your committee managers. Discuss your goals as Chapter leader and request the help of your officers and committee managers to implement these goals. Draft a mission statement. Review/revise your vision with the Council.

•  Review the file of the past Chapter President. This file should include the UPA Bylaws, the Association guidelines, and this publication. Request any missing information from the UPA office.  

•  Make certain that all committee managers' files are transferred. Give committee managers copies of pertinent information.

•  Ensure that the past Treasurer continues to function as Treasurer until the Chapter financial report is filed. The Association Treasurer will send you the report form. The report must cover the Association's calendar year (Jan 1 through Dec. 31) and must be sent to the Association Treasurer no later than January 5.

•  Make sure the Treasurer's records are transferred.  

•  Change the signature card for the Chapter's bank account to reflect the new officers: the Treasurer and either the Chapter President or vice-President. The signature of the Treasurer and either the Chapter President or vice-President are required for withdrawal of funds, as authorized by the Chapter Council.

•  Have each Council member draft goals for the year that are aligned with and support your Chapter's vision and mission. Ask each officer to present his or her goals to the Council.

•  Plan the program for the entire year. Submit the plan to the Chapter Sponsor to keep him/her informed.

•  Publish a meeting schedule for the entire year. Although it may not be possible to line up all the speakers, you can set the meeting dates, determine the program subjects, and assign the job of finding speakers to fill the slots.  

•  Invite your Chapter Sponsor to participate in one of your meetings.

•  Confirm that your Treasurer has prepared a budget for the year.

•  Verify that your mailing list is up-to-date and includes your Chapter Sponsor, the Association Vice President, and the UPA office. You may prefer to have an expanded list that includes potential members and newsletter editors of other Chapters in your region.


February - December

•  Hold Chapter Council meetings and schedule progress reports from all committee managers.

•  Write a Chapter President's column for each issue of your newsletter.

•  Ask your Program Committee Manager to have a guest register available before each meeting begins.

•  Write a welcome letter to each new member and follow up by asking the member to consider attending the next meeting. Be sure to greet and introduce all new members at their first meeting.  

•  Monitor the progress of all new appointees and elected officers.

•  Listen to your members' comments especially the negative ones. Ideas, suggestions, and criticisms can help you and your Chapter.

•  Remind key people of deadlines for the Chapter newsletter and Common Ground .

•  Make notes of Chapter accomplishments for use in your Chapter Achievement Award qualification form.

•  Submit names of qualified members that can be recommended for election to UPA office.

•  Watch for a quarterly list of unpaid members, which the UPA office sends to Chapters. The office also sends dues renewal reminder notices to any member who has not renewed membership.



•  Initiate a membership drive.

•  Notify the Chapter Sponsor if you, as incoming President and others in leadership roles will attend the Chapter Leaders' Workshop at the UPA Conference.



•  Inform your Chapter Sponsor of your Chapter's activities for a report to the Board of Directors during the Board Meeting at the annual conference.



•  Activate the nominating committee. This is a very important task, which takes considerable time and effort. Monitor the progress of the committee closely.



•  Submit a report of your Chapter's activities to the Chapter Sponsor for a January report to the board.

•  Send a list of incoming officers to the UPA office and the Chapter Sponsor. Include area code, telephone number, and address for each name.  

•  Have the Chapter financial books audited.  

•  Make sure the Treasurer knows that the term in office lasts until the Chapter financial report is filed.



•  See that all committee records are promptly turned over to the new administration.

•  Thank all of your Chapter officers, committee managers, and other volunteers.

•  Relax and look back on an interesting and successful year.


Chapter Committees

Standing and special committees are necessary to perform Chapter functions such as nominating, membership, and program.   Committee managers should meet often with the Chapter Council to report on their progress.


Program Committee Manager's Responsibilities

The Program Committee Manager:

•  develops programs for monthly and special meetings, schedules speakers, meeting places, and meeting dates with concurrence of the President (meeting sites can be assigned to an arrangements committee manager)

•  provides details to the newsletter editor early enough for the program description to be included in the issue scheduled to reach members at least ten days before the meeting

•  arranges to receive and record reservations and advance payments for meetings and special events

•  provides a log sheet for each Chapter meeting to record names, membership status, and telephone numbers of all people attending the meeting

•  reports the number of attendees to the newsletter editor and gives names and telephone numbers of nonmembers to the membership committee manager for follow-up

•  guides preparation and mailing of special meeting notices and/or contacts members by telephone

•  coordinates planning and operation of various Chapter activities such as seminars, competitions, and banquets when requested by the Chapter President (typically, this involves recruiting volunteers, managing them, and reporting on their progress)


Program Committee's Responsibilities

The program committee plans, schedules, and coordinates programs for Chapter meetings. These programs should meet the professional growth needs of the Chapter. A survey of the Chapter membership will help identify these needs.


The manager of the program committee serves as a member of the seminar committee, maintaining a link vital to the operation of both committees.

The program committee is responsible for:

•  determining seminar themes and program requirements

•  contacting speakers

•  securing biographical and presentation data from each speaker

•  providing copy for Chapter/seminar publications

•  keeping open and active lines of communication between the committee and each speaker from initial contact through the presentation

•  making final arrangements for local seminars

•  arranges for the seminar registration area, meeting rooms, AV equipment, luncheon, and coffee breaks

•  mails the registration brochure

•  receives registration materials and fees

•  confirms registrations

•  welcomes attendees the day of the seminar

•  Verifies that all attendees of meetings and seminars are members of the UPA and Chapter . Prospective Chapter members may attend one meeting or seminar to “check things out” before becoming a member of the Chapter and UPA .

•  welcomes first-timers and , hands them registration material and encourages them to join the Chapter and UPA  


Education Committee Manager's Responsibilities

In smaller Chapters these responabilities responsibilities could be taken over by the program committee. The education committee manager:

•  serves as Chapter liaison to related UPA international committees

•  designs, arranges, publicizes, and conducts at least one seminar or workshop aimed at improving usability engineering competencies of Chapter members and others (workshop or seminar programs are approved by the Chapter Council)

•  publicizes educational and professional development opportunities in the newsletter and at Chapter meetings, such as calls for papers for professional meetings and surveys related to education and training

•  reviews books about education in usability engineering, reports on them for the Chapter newsletter, and offers this service to Common Ground

•  designs and coordinates at least one innovative educational activity for members


Public Relations Committee Manager's Responsibilities

In smaller Chapters these responabilities responsibilities could be taken over by the newsletter editor. The public relations committee manager:

•  works to increase business and public recognition of the Chapter and the Association

•  publicizes UPA goals, programs, and services to members, prospective members, and their management

•  obtains details of each monthly meeting and publicizes the meeting well in advance, through the newsletter, flyers, and outside media

•  seeks the support of local sponsors

•  publicizes special seminars and workshops held by the Chapter

•  establishes a liaison with other UPA Chapters

•  establishes a liaison with Chapters and branches of other usability engineering organizations

•  helps prepare brochures and flyers as needed for the Chapter's projects and events

•  develops publicity for the Chapter and its activities

•  works in support of other committees preparing and dispensing press releases, brochures, special mailers, and other publicity-oriented materials

•  serves on the awards, seminar, and membership committees to coordinate publicity for each activity with those of the Chapter as a whole


Nominating Committee Manager's Responsibilities

The nominating committee manager:

•  directs a committee of three to five members who preferably have a wide circle of acquaintances in the Chapter

•  conducts a preliminary planning session to assign responsibilities, establish deadlines, and distribute copies of the membership roster

•  invites members, through the newsletter and announcements at Chapter meetings, to run for office or to suggest possible candidates

•  assembles the committee, as needed, to evaluate the qualifications of possible candidates proposed by Chapter members, as well as by committee members

•  assigns committee members to approach possible candidates who are qualified to run for office to determine their willingness to stand for election

•  advises the Chapter Council of potential candidates who are willing to run, and announces the slate in the newsletter and at a Chapter meeting

•  guides the election process from preparation of a ballot and holding the election to overseeing the collection and counting of ballots (the election should be held well before the final Chapter meeting of the year, preferably in September or October)

•  reports results to the Chapter Council and the candidates as soon as they are known

•  gives results to the newsletter editor for publication before the installation ceremonies

•  gives the Chapter Treasurer the names and addresses of the elected officers for inclusion in the Chapter's financial report to the Association

•  reminds the President to notify the UPA office and Chapter Sponsor of new officers

•  may be assigned to identify candidates for other purposes, such as local recognition, Distinguished Chapter Service Award, or candidates for Association-level office


Newsletter Editor's Responsibilities

The newsletter editor:

•  writes, edits, produces, and mails an attractive, professional, accurate, and informative monthly newsletter that reaches members at least five days before meetings. (The UPA office and the Chapter Sponsor should also be on your Chapter's mailing list.)

•  works with the President to communicate Chapter plans, objectives, goals, and progress

•  recruits Chapter members to assist with writing, editing, and producing the newsletter, and provides opportunities for input from other members

•  assumes joint responsibility for the quality, accuracy, and content of the newsletter (content should be received and approved before publication by the Chapter President)

•  understands and complies with standard guidelines for the ethical and responsible reporting of information

•  generates support from business and industry for assisting with production costs

•  submits news about Chapter meetings, conferences, or other items of interest to the UPA membership to the Common Ground editors

•  exchanges newsletters with other Chapters

•  receives columns written by the Chapter Sponsor and includes items in the Chapter newsletter as appropriate


Membership Committee Manager's Responsibilities

Each Chapter handles its membership responsibilities in its own special fashion. In general, the following responsibilities apply.

•  receives and forwards original UPA membership applications to the Association office

•  receives and updates Chapter roster and copy of membership applications, changes of address, and so forth, and maintains the membership records.

•  forwards changes of address, etc. received directly from members to the UPA office for processing through official channels

•  contacts and welcomes new members and mails them the most recent issue of the Chapter newsletter

•  maintains a complete, up-to-date mailing list; adding, deleting, and changing information in accordance with information received from the UPA office

•  operates a system for producing mailing labels , or e-mail lists, based on the mailing list

•  submits membership material (additions, deletions, changes) to the newsletter editor on a regular basis

•  works with the directory committee to prepare and publish a membership directory each year

•  organizes and directs an active membership recruiting campaign. Membership recruiting brochures may be obtained from the UPA office.


Membership Committee's Responsibilities

The membership committee's primary responsibility is to increase the Chapter membership. Obviously, this is a fertile field for an innovative, ambitious committee.

The membership committee:

•  notifies the Chapter President and editor of new members and sends appropriate notification to the Association office

•  maintains membership files

•  transmits address and telephone changes to the Association office

•  regularly updates and issues membership rosters to Chapter members


Special Projects Committee

A Chapter President may sanction or establish special projects or activities over and above the regular agenda. Usually the Chapter President appoints a special projects committee manager to direct such efforts.

Some goals of a special projects committee:

•  starting a new Chapter in a nearby city

•  idea exchange luncheons

•  a bid to host a regional conference, or Association board meeting


Chapter Loans and Grants

The UPA Board of Directors has instituted a program allowing a Chapter to apply for a grant or loan to help fund special Chapter programs or events.   Details on how to apply for a grant or loan are given by the Chapter Sponsor.

Grants are awarded for merit, seed money, or financial recovery/special need. Loans may be awarded when a Chapter has insufficient money to sponsor a fundraising activity, but anticipates enough revenue to repay the loan.

When the Association's annual operating budget is established, money is budgeted for the loans and grants program. A Chapter may request any number of separate grants or loans, but the cumulative allocation to any one Chapter cannot exceed $1,000 per year.   Additionally, no grant can be authorized that anticipates or commits the Association to an annual, periodic, or otherwise repetitive allocation. If your Chapter is considering applying for a grant or loan, discuss your needs with your Chapter Sponsor early in your Chapter year.

The board reviews each grant proposal in its own right. Approval or disapproval does not constitute precedent for subsequent proposals.

Loans are subject to less stringent requirements, but will not be authorized for any Chapter with an existing loan balance.

A Chapter applies for a loan or grant by submitting the completed forms to the Chapter Sponsor. The Chapter Sponsor brings the application before the Board of Directors at one of the two annual board meetings. The Chapter Sponsor or the UPA office will notify the Chapter President regarding the outcome of the request immediately after the close of the board meeting.

Within one year of receiving a grant, the Chapter is obligated to submit a report to the Association, outlining the effects and benefits derived from the grant. The same type of report is required from a Chapter when a loan is granted. These reports should be submitted to the Association through the Chapter Sponsor.

If a loan has been awarded, payment of any outstanding balance must be made to the Association at the time the one-year report is submitted to the Chapter Sponsor, or within 90 days following completion of the related project, whichever is earlier.


Encouraging Growth

If your Chapter has a fairly sizable concentration of members who live in an area somewhat remote from the bulk of the membership, the Chapter President could appoint a special projects committee to assess the potential for creating a Chapter in that area.  

The committee could then schedule a Chapter meeting at the target location and offer an attractive program to spark interest. At the meeting they could announce the possibility of establishing a new UPA Chapter and solicit reactions. If there is sufficient interest, the Chapter officers and the committee would pledge their support and, before adjourning, identify potential leaders willing to follow up with the organizational process.  

As an alternative, the special projects committee may search for ways to make meetings more convenient for outlying members.


Administrative Directory

The UPA Administrative Directory identifies individuals holding elected and key appointed positions in the Association. Addresses, telephone and fax numbers, and e-mail addresses are given for the following people:

•  members of the Board of Directors

•  Association committee managers

•  Chapter Presidents

•  Chapter membership managers

•  editors of Common Ground

•  Chapter newsletter editors

The UPA Administrative Directory is published on the UPA website. You can ensure the continued accuracy of this directory by sending necessary changes to the UPA office by e-mail or via the UPA website. This directory can be an important source of information for Chapter leaders.


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