It is the time of year again when the kids head back to school, the leaves start to turn, and we prepare to hunker down for the long winter. This time of year also marks the fall AILA Board of Governors meeting – so while my family set out to ride the Purple Ride 2012 on a gorgeous fall day, I set out for the board room.
The AILA Board is comprised of the elected National Officers, 21 elected Directors, the 36 Chapter Chairs, a New Members Division representative and Past Presidents. The board meets four times a year for in-person meetings and is charged with determining the policies of the association and with carrying on its business. As a newly Elected Director to the Board, what follows are my insights on what really happens during five non-stop hours inside the boardroom.
We started out by reviewing the recent AILA member needs assessment survey. Overall, members noted high satisfaction with the association and its services – that’s not to say that everything is perfect, so we spent the next few hours discussing AILA’s 2013 goals.
This discussion followed the four prongs of AILA’s mission statement: promoting justice, advocating for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advancing the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhancing the professional development of AILA members. The conversation moved from global topics such as setting metrics to assess how AILA is doing, to more focused discussions on how to provide better member services through specific tool kits and programs. As you might imagine, it was a robust discussion that jumped around at times but ended up being extremely productive in identifying key AILA services areas in need of improvement. In January the Board will review and ultimately approve the 2013 Annual Plan, so this discussion was instrumental in helping AILA National focus and prioritize goals for the upcoming year.
The other main topic we discussed was deferred action for childhood arrivals (now commonly referred to as DACA) which many of us are currently confronting – either with clients in our own practices or through Pro Bono services. While this program was welcome news when it was announced on June 15th, it has proven challenging on a number of fronts. We discussed areas of success and frustration, and heard how AILA continues to work with the administration and stakeholders to ensure that the implementation of the program is clear.
In the end, I was impressed by the thoughtful, hardworking and dedicated attorneys with whom I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon. I continue to find enormous value in the being a part of a professional organization committed not only to the practice of immigration law, but the furtherance of fair immigration policy that benefits our nation. So in the end, despite the miles between us, my family and I had similar experiences last Saturday: we worked hard, we had some fun along the way and we ultimately persevered!
Written by: Sarah Peterson Stensrud, AILA Board of Governors Member