Governance FAQ

Background Information

The Governance Task Force was convened in 2016 with the charge to identify potential opportunities to strengthen governance and better enable ASN to implement the strategic work of the association. The focus is on retaining value added elements of the current ASN system while identifying and recommending modifications to better serve ASN and its members today and in the future. The Task Force has been hard at work since 2016 focusing on these three issues:

  1. Identifying and gaining agreement on changes to strengthen ASN governance to provide our society with a strong governance platform for future growth and success.
  2. Revisiting and updating the roles of councils, research interest sections and committees to determine the structure that best meets our current and future member needs
  3. Standardizing and simplifying processes for all member groups where possible (e.g. to select leaders, appoint members) to make the best use of the precious time from our member volunteers and to streamline the staff support needed for carrying out the increase of programmatic activities.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose and charge of the Task Force?

Identify opportunities to strengthen ASN’s governance and better enable ASN to implement the strategic work of the association. The focus of the Task Force is retaining value added elements of the current ASN governance structure while identifying and recommending modifications to better serve ASN members.

  • Identify and gain agreement on changes to strengthen ASN governance
  • Revisit and update roles of councils, research interest sections and committees to determine the structure that best meets the needs of both current and future members
  • Standardize and simplify processes for all groups where possible (e.g. to select leaders, appoint members) to streamline the staff support needed

The Task Force members are:

Co-Chairs and Past Presidents Sharon M. Donovan and Simin N. Meydani
Laura E. Caulfield, Past Global Nutrition Council Chair
Frances A. Coletta, Past RIS Director
Cindy D. Davis, Past Nutrition Science Council Chair and RIS Director
Edward Saltzman, Past Medical Nutrition Council Chair
ASN Board Sponsor, Past President Marian Neuhouser

The Task Force was guided by one of the leading experts in society and not-for-profit governance, Mr. Rick Goldstein, President of Kensington Consulting. Mr. Goldstein has over twenty years of expertise in this area including leading governance reviews for societies and associations in the not-for-profit sector and for companies in the for-profit sector.

Why are we looking at the ASN Governance now?

In 2005, ASN was created from the merger of three societies: the American Society for Nutritional Sciences, the American Society for Clinical Nutrition and the Society for International Nutrition Research. In 2012, ASN developed its first ever strategic map, which guided our society from 2012-2016. Since the merger in 2005, ASN has dramatically evolved with membership increasing over 400% and the profile of membership becoming younger and more diverse. We have also grown from publishing two to four scientific journals and are offering many more educational programs. With the rapidly expanding scope of ASN programs, updating the governance structure is necessary to support future growth and to align with society governance best practices.

What are the Task Force Recommendations?

Recommendation 1: Board Governance. The Task Force recommends that all ASN members are empowered to vote for all ASN voting Board positions. Currently only a portion of ASN membership is eligible to vote for four board positions. The voting members of the ASN Board will evolve from the current state of having six officers- President, Past President, Vice President, Vice President Elect, Secretary, and Treasurer and three Council Chairs, one RIS Director, and two Members-at-Large to a new composition of six officers: President, Past President, Vice President, Vice President Elect, Secretary, and Treasurer and six At-Large Members representing ASN membership areas. See this in the Governance Task Force Webinar.

Recommendation 2: ASN Committees. The Task Force recommends consolidating the roughly 20 standing committees we currently have to two standing board committees – A member elected Nominating Committee and a Finance and Audit Committee and four program committees that are aligned with each of our key society programs: Membership, Publications, Educational and Professional Development, and Science Policy & Advocacy. These committees should be more fully empowered to set the strategic direction ensuring the growth in each of these four programmatic areas. Increasing the use of Task Forces with specific missions and shorter time horizons provides the opportunity for many more ASN members to engage in volunteering with ASN, thereby increasing member loyalty. See the Governance Task Force Webinar.

Recommendation 3: Create GEMS- Groups Engaging Members. We are recommending that member engagement groups collaborate and operate under the umbrella of GEMS- Groups Engaging Members. These GEMS provide our members a “home within the large ASN home,” representing either a specific scientific or career interest which offers our members the opportunity to discuss the latest advances in science, network and collaborate. Membership groups focusing on specific member interests would be encouraged to strengthen member engagement and society loyalty. Each of these GEMS would be provided a platform for easily communicating directly with their members, recommending scientific programming to the respective program committees, convening discussion forums and social events, as well as recruiting and attracting new members to ASN. Administrative processes would be streamlined for selecting GEM leaders and evaluative criteria would be developed jointly to ensure we have the right GEMS to meet the interests of current and potential new members of our society. See the Governance Task Force Webinar.

How can I give feedback or discuss these recommendations with other people?

The Governance Task Force values your feedback. You can participate in the ASN NutriLink Governance discussion forum by logging into, reviewing the materials and sending in your feedback on the ASN website here, or emailing the ASN Secretariat at

Will ASN members vote on these recommendations?

Yes, any time there is a proposed change to the ASN bylaws, there will be a vote by the ASN membership.

What will happen to the Research Interest Sections (RIS)?

The ASN Research Interest Sections are highly valued by the ASN membership. RISs will continue to be invested in to achieve even higher membership growth under a new umbrella called GEMS- Groups Engaging Members. ASN membership has grown and it is expected to continue to grow. We expect to launch even more GEMS to provide increasing member value and a “community” where members can fulfill their needs.

What will happen to the Councils?

All ASN groups will evolve into member engagement groups. Members can form new member engagement groups under the umbrella of GEMS where members discuss the latest advances in science, network and collaborate in their area of interest.

How will the ASN Board be elected?

ASN members will vote for all Board positions. ASN members will continue to elect the ASN Nominating Committee. The ASN Nominating Committee accepts nominations for open Board seats from members. The Governance Task Force has proposed six broad ASN areas of scientific expertise: Nutrition Science Mechanisms, Global Nutrition, Food and Nutrition Policy, Medical/Clinical Nutrition, Nutrition Science Translation, and Nutrition Population Science from which the nominating committee will select names for six At-Large BOD positions. See here for more details on these six areas.  The nominating committee evaluates candidates with regards to their overall qualifications. For some positions (e.g. treasurer), demonstration of a particular skill or expertise is required. The Nominating Committee prepares a slate of candidates (no more than two candidates for each open Board position) for voting by the membership.  Voting will be conducted by electronic ballot by all voting-eligible members. The three council members taking office in June 2018 will be on the Board of Directors through their two year terms as will the current RIS Director who took office in June 2017.

What impact will these recommendations have on my opportunity to volunteer to serve ASN?

Volunteer opportunities will be expanded. Program Committees will need more ASN members to volunteer to work on Task Forces, and of course there are always opportunities to serve as a reviewer for any of the excellent ASN journals or serve as a reviewer for abstracts at our annual scientific sessions.

What is the timeline for this Initiative?

The Board established the Governance Task Force in the spring of 2016. The Task Force started its work immediately by conducting interviews, researching best practices, holding conference calls and two in-person meetings. The Task Force presented interim reports and had discussions with the ASN Board in September and December of 2016, and in April of 2017. Following the Task Force Report to the ASN Membership webinar, there will be an open discussion forum launched on ASN NutriLink to secure feedback. The Task Force will present a final report to the ASN Board for their action.

Where can I get more information about these recommendations?

The ASN Board is committed to full and open transparency and applauds the Governance Task Force for their openness, leadership and hard work. Please see the Governance Task Force webinar.

Back to Webinar

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