The term transparency, when applied to an association such as the American Choral Directors Association, implies openness, communication, and accountability. For an association, transparent procedures include ﬁnancial disclosure statements, democratic elections and election audits, regular budgetary review and audits, and open meetings and communication procedures. With ACDA and its added performance and publication focus, transparency is extended to audition procedures and publication submissions.
Transparency goes further than the ethic of honesty in its attempt to make the processes, decisions, and outcomes of the work of the association completely in line with its mission and purpose and in clear view of the membership. As ACDA works at being transparent, we are working to be democratic and non-exclusive to the membership, clear in our intentions, and completely open for inspection in relationship to our ﬁnancial work, our audition process leading to program choices and honor choir choices, election of ofﬁcers, and the publishing of articles and books.
As ACDA Executive Director, I welcome any question into the processes, decisions, and outcomes of the work of ACDA, but would like to highlight a few of the more visible areas of our ongoing work. These areas are foundational to our mission, and give a healthy representation of the processes involved in signiﬁcant areas of operation.
Performance on National and Divisional Conferences The audition process that leads to winning a performance place on our premiere conference performances is a completely blind audition. Hundreds of conductors submit recordings according to our procedures, and at every point, anonymity is preserved. This past year, the applications were actually “hidden” by our national archivist, and after our staff technician uploaded the ﬁles to an anonymous list, the actual recordings were also hidden until the ratings were tallied. Then, the highest scores were matched, by identiﬁcation number, to the actual submission. The audition committee had no knowledge of the identity of the choirs with the highest ratings until after the results were tabulated.
Honor Choir Selection As is true for the audition process for conferences, students selected to be members of an honor choir submit their singing application via blind audition. Thousands of singers along with their supporting teachers and conductors submit recordings every year for an ACDA Honor Choir. Once again, through our blind electronic submission process, no judge knows the identity of any singer. Teacher, school, home location, as well as the name of the singer are hidden from the selection committee. Only after the scores are tallied are numbers matched to names so that singers can be notiﬁed.
Featured Articles in Choral Journal Each volume edition of our respected Choral Journal contains three featured articles. When an article arrives, a staff member at the ACDA National Ofﬁce removes any and all possible identiﬁcation marks that could lead to a writer’s identity. These articles are then distributed and blindly adjudicated by the Editorial Board. Only after an article is chosen is the author revealed, and then the editing process begins. Some articles are accepted, some are accepted with editing qualiﬁcations, some are returned for revisions toward future resubmission possibilities, and some are not accepted. Interest sessions for ACDA conferences follow a similar procedure. There are additional columns and articles in Choral Journal that come from interest areas and repertoire areas that are not adjudicated, but rather, are published as a result of the work of our publication editors and working committees.
Leadership Opportunities and Volunteerism There are more than 1050 leadership positions available in ACDA throughout the Association at any given time. This means that 5% of our members hold ACDA leadership positions. Many of these leaders are appointed by State, Division, and National leaders (e.g., Repertoire and Standards leaders, committee chairs, committee membership). One of the great beneﬁts of ACDA is the opportunity to learn to lead through one of these positions. These positions also serve as entry-level opportunities for leadership positions of greater and greater responsibility. I received my entrance into our association and the leadership opportunities available through ACDA by writing for the Choral Journal. This led to a position on the Editorial Board of Choral Journal. Others move into this stream through the chapter leadership opportunities, through the Repertoire and Standards leadership structure, or through our Standing Committees and other committees.
Election of Ofﬁcers State, Division, and National presidents for the American Choral Directors Association are chosen in open and advertised elections. The availability of online voting over the last year has increased the percentage of voter participation in 2007 from 5 percent, to over 20 percent for our most recent National election, and an impressive 40 percent participation in a recent state election. New technology is changing the nature of our election outcomes, now that voters can vote with ease and added candidate information. Voting is one of the beneﬁts of membership in the Association, and is also a leading indicator of membership loyalty. The growing percentages of participation indicate a very positive sign for our energized membersip.
It is important for me, as well as for the ACDA Executive Committee and National Leadership Board, to continue to demonstrate transparency in each of the above areas, as well as all of the workings of our association. The American Choral Directors Association belongs to the membership of the association, and members are stakeholders, with an equal stake and voice in our work and mission.
Leadership and proactive membership make the difference in ACDA, and it is how we make a difference in quality choral education and performance throughout the country.