Association for Community Organization & Social Administration

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ACOSA By-laws



December 21, 2018


1.1 The Association for Community Organization and Social Action (ACOSA) is an interdisciplinary professional association grounded in the social work profession. Its mission is to promote social change by strengthening community practice in social work. ACOSA promotes social work education, research, and practice in all areas of community practice including community organizing, community planning and development, organizational leadership, policy practice, and social action. ACOSA fosters global perspectives on social work practice and social welfare policy, advances racial, environmental, and social justice, values interdisciplinary collaboration, improves the social and economic well-being of marginalized communities, and supports human rights for all.

1.2 No part of the net earnings of the Association shall benefit or be distributed to its members, board, officers, or other private persons, except that the Association shall be authorized and empowered to pay reasonable compensation for services rendered and to make payments and distributions in furtherance of the purposes set forth in the Association’s purposes. No substantial part of the activities of the Association shall be the carrying on of propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation, and the Association shall not participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. Notwithstanding any other provisions of these articles, the corporation shall not carry on any other activities not permitted to be carried on by any other organization exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or corresponding section of any future federal tax code.

1.3 Upon the dissolution of the Association, assets shall be distributed for one or more exempt purposes within the meaning of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.


Section 1 – Purpose

The purpose for which ACOSA is organized is to promote social work education, research, and practice in all areas of community practice including community organizing, community planning and development, organizational leadership, policy practice, and social action.

ACOSA fosters global perspectives on social work practice and social welfare policy, advances racial, environmental, and social justice, values interdisciplinary collaboration, improves the social and economic well-being of marginalized communities, and works towards the realization of human rights for all.

Section 2 – Goals

In order to promote social work education, research, and practice in all areas of community practice including community organizing, community planning and development, organizational leadership, policy practice, and social action, the goals of ACOSA are:

2.2.1 To provide opportunities for sharing information on teaching materials, literature, models, theory, research, and practice issues;

2.2.2 To facilitate networking activities among scholars, educators, practitioners, and students;

2.2.3 To encourage the development and dissemination of teaching materials;

2.2.4 To stimulate the development and dissemination of research;

2.2.5 To encourage the publication and dissemination of literature;

2.2.6 To influence other professional associations, decision-makers, funders, and the general public to support community practice, including community organizing, community planning and development, organizational leadership, policy practice, and community development, policy practice, social action, and positive social change.


Section 1 - Eligibility

Membership in ACOSA shall consist of all persons who submit a membership application and pay the required dues.

Section 2 - Setting of Dues

Dues shall be established by the ACOSA Board of Directors and guided by the twin principles of accessibility and organizational sustainability.

Section 3 - Requirements and Dates

Persons wishing to become members of ACOSA must submit a membership application and payment of the annual membership dues, as determined by the Board of Directors. Membership is renewable annually and extends from January 1 to December 31 each year.


Section 1 - General Powers

All the business of the Association shall be governed by the Board of Directors, although the Board is accountable to report to and consult with the Membership in its Annual Meeting.

Section 2 - Number, Nomination, and Election

4.2.1 The Board of Directors shall consist of twenty (20) voting members. Each board member is elected for a three (3) year term, with the exception of the Chairperson who has a two (2) year term and the Chairperson Elect whose term is one (1) year. References to the Chairperson Elect in the remainder of this document apply only in the years that the Association has a Chairperson Elect (i.e. every other year in the 2nd year of a Chairperson’s two-year term of office). International board members are elected at-large from countries outside of the United States and its Territories. Terms are staggered so that about thirty-three percent (33%) of the board is elected each year.

4.2.2 Voting members of the board are as follows: Chairperson (2-year term), Chairperson Elect (1-year term), Secretary, Treasurer, and sixteen (16) representatives - two (2) from each of the eight (8) regions.

4.2.3 The eight (8) regions are the following:

(1) NORTHEAST: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York; Rhode Island, Vermont;

(2) MID-ATLANTIC: Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, District of Columbia;

(3) SOUTHEAST: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands;

(4) NORTH CENTRAL: Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana;

(5) SOUTH CENTRAL: Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas;

(6) NORTHWEST: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska;

(7) SOUTHWEST: Arizona, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, California, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands;

(8) INTERNATIONAL: Two (2) representatives elected at-large from outside the United States and its territories.

4.2.4 The terms of Board members shall begin on January 1 and end three years later on December 31. Board members, with the exception of the chair and chair-elect (see 4.2.1 above), may serve for two consecutive three (3) year terms. After serving for two consecutive terms, Board members must resign from the Board for at least one (1) three-year term but may be re-elected to the Board following at least one (1) term off the Board.

4.2.5 Nominations to all Board positions shall be made by the Governance Committee, a standing committee of the Board. Ballots shall be emailed by the Board Secretary in mid-November of each year in which there are Board members to be elected or Board positions to be filled to ensure that the results are returned no later than December 15th. Additional nominations may be made by petition of at least five (5) ACOSA members.

4.2.6 Ex-officio members of the Board, without formal voting powers, shall include the immediate past chairperson of the Board, the Coordinator of the COSA Track at CSWE, the editors of the Journal of Community Practice,

Section 3 – Responsibilities of Members of the Board of Directors

4.3.1 Each Board member serves as an officer or member of at least one standing committee.

4.3.2 The two regional representatives are jointly responsible for outreach, recruitment, engagement, and member connections activities in their region.

Section 4 - Meetings of the Board

The Board of Directors shall meet a minimum of four times a year. Additional meetings may be called by the Chairperson as deemed appropriate. At least two weeks’ notice shall be given for special Board meetings. Telephone or web-based conferences are acceptable alternatives to face -to-face meetings.

Section 5 – Quorum

A majority (50% plus one vote) of the elected members of the Board (11) shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of any official business. All members of the board must be contacted for telephone or web-based conferences.

Section 6 - Vacancies

A Director may resign by giving written notice to all Board members. This resignation is effective immediately and does not require action by the Board. The Board Chairperson may appoint an appropriate person to complete the term of office of the resigned director, in consultation with the other officers.

Section 7 – Affirming Board Diversity

It is the goal of ACOSA to achieve and maintain a diverse Board. The Secretary shall annually report progress on the diversity of the board to the Board and membership. Efforts will be made to recruit diverse members. All members will be invited to participate in leadership development activities, with a focus on continually increasing the Board’s diversity.

Section 8 - Financial Responsibilities of Board Members

The financial management of the Association is the Board’s responsibility. The Board should exercise oversight over all financial activities of the Association. At a minimum the Board will:

a. Arrange for an annual audit of the financial records of the Association. The Board shall determine whether an internal or external audit will be performed.

b. The Board shall approve an annual budget for the Association. It may, at its discretion, delegate the preparation of the budget to the Chair or other Board members that it may designate.


Section 1 - General

The officers of the Board are the Chairperson, Chairperson Elect, Secretary, and Treasurer. These officers are elected directly by the ACOSA membership at the Annual Meeting. Officers are elected for a three (3) year term with the exception of Chairperson and Chairperson-Elect (see 4.2.1 above). The Chairperson-Elect has a one-year term that begins at the start of the last year of the Chairperson’s two-year term. At the end of this one-year term, the Chairperson-Elect transitions to the position of Chairperson for a two-year term. This is designed to ensure a smooth transition in leadership.

Section 2 - Chairperson

The Chairperson shall preside at all the meetings of the Board. S/he shall be authorized to take official action in contracts and agreements on behalf of the Board. The Chairperson shall ensure that the goals of ACOSA are addressed and can appoint individuals and committees to carry out the work of ACOSA. The Chairperson provides supervision, guidance, and support to ACOSA members and committees.

Section 3 - Chairperson Elect

A Chairperson Elect will be elected one year before the end of the two-year term of the Chairperson. The Chairperson-Elect will become the Chairperson after the end of the one-year term. The current Chairperson can also be Chairperson-Elect but will only have one vote on the Board. The Chairperson-Elect shall chair Board meetings in the absence of the Chairperson and shall accept additional duties as assigned by the Chairperson.

Section 4 - Secretary of the Board

5.4.1 The Secretary is a member of the Governance Committee with the responsibility for communicating to members about nominations to the Board and for preparing, mailing, and tabulating the results of each election ballot.

5.4.2 The Secretary shall also ensure that members are kept informed about ACOSA activities and decisions. The Secretary will keep minutes for Board and Executive Committee meetings. Executive Committee minutes will be distributed to Board members for their review

5.4.3 The Secretary shall work closely with the Chairperson of the Association to ensure regular communication with the membership, Board and other entities as the Chairperson may direct.

Section 5 - Treasurer

5.5.1 The Treasurer shall be responsible for the care and custody of all the funds in the name of ACOSA in a bank or other financial institution as selected by the Board of Directors. The Treasurer shall ensure that the financial management policies as established by the Board are carried out in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. The Treasurer may delegate fiscal responsibilities, including any and all responsibilities listed below, to a designee selected by the Board. The Treasurer shall work with the Chairperson to oversee the designee and the Association’s overall fiscal management.

5.5.2 The Treasurer shall receive all dues and other revenues of the Association.

5.5.3 The Treasurer will maintain the membership records of the Association.

5.5.4 The Treasurer will provide the publisher of the Journal of Community Practice the necessary membership information the publisher needs to enter a journal subscription for the member. Simultaneously, the Treasurer shall disburse funds to pay for the subscription.

5.5.5 The Treasurer will maintain the Association’s financial records in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. The financial records will be maintained on an accrual basis. The Treasurer shall prepare and submit to the Board annually a statement of financial condition within 60 days after the completion the Association’s fiscal year. The statement will contain a balance sheet and a statement of income and expenses.

5.5.6 The Treasurer shall submit to the Board Secretary copies of the following records within 60 days of completion of the Association’s fiscal year: 1) a printed general ledger, 2) a balance sheet, 3) a statement of income and expenses, and 4) a chart of accounts. The Secretary will include these documents in the documents to be permanently saved for the Association.

5.5.7 The Treasurer is a member of the Resource Development Committee.


Section 1 - General

6.1.1 ACOSA standing committees include the following: Executive, Governance, Award, Resource Development, Communications, and Social Action. Ad hoc committees can be established by a majority vote of the Board.

6.1.2 Committees serve an advisory function. Committees make recommendations to the Board. The Board has decision-making power.

6.1.3 Both Board and general members may be members of standing or ad hoc committees. Conveners of standing and ad hoc committees are responsible for reviewing the general membership interest list for potential members, issuing an invitation to join if/as appropriate, and providing an orientation for new members. At the annual Membership Meeting, the conveners of each committee will announce current membership.

6.1.4 Ad hoc committees may be formed by the Chairperson and the Chairperson Elect collaboratively at any time. Ad hoc committees are formed for a specific, time-limited purpose. Each ad hoc committee will be dissolved once its purpose has been met.

Section 2 – Executive Committee

6.2.1 The ACOSA Executive Committee will be comprised of the elected officers of the association and the immediate past chair who serves for one year following her/his tenure as chairperson. As needed other committee chairs may, as business requires, serve as ad hoc/advisory members in meetings of the Executive Committee.

6.2.2 The Executive Committee is responsible for overseeing operations, finance, and business matters of the association, including contract staff working on these matters, on behalf of the Board.

6.2.3 The Executive Committee may act on behalf of the Board or take action for the association in emergency matters for which the Board is unable to meet; however, the Board must be informed of such actions and have the opportunity to review, question, revise, or support these actions at the next Board meeting.

6.2.4 The Executive Committee is responsible for developing and communicating the agenda for Board meetings as well as for steering the ACOSA Board as to priorities and critical matters by offering recommended actions to the Board for consideration and approval.

Section 3 – Governance Committee

6.3.1 The Governance Committee shall consist of at least three members representing at least three regions, who will be appointed by the Chairperson and the Chairperson Elect collaboratively. The Secretary is a member of the Governance Committee.

6.3.2 The Governance Committee is responsible for maintaining accurate records on Board member terms, regional representation, and responsibilities along with officer terms.

6.3.3 Nominations to fill Board vacancies due to resignation or term limits will be made by the Governance Committee. Members will also actively recruit for Board and officer vacancies.

6.3.4 The Governance Committee will insure that the Articles of Association are periodically reviewed and revised as necessary and no less than every 5 years. Members will also recommend to the Board internal structures and/or processes that will serve to strengthen the Association.

Section 4 – Awards Committee

The ACOSA Awards Committee is charged with oversight of the annual awards given at the ACOSA Membership Meeting by the ACOSA Board at CSWE APM. The Board appoints a Chair, who is responsible for recruiting and orienting committee members, and facilitating the work of the committee. Their work includes soliciting nominations for the awards and selecting winners. Committee membership is open to ACOSA Board and general members.

Section 5 – Resource Development Committee

6.5.1 The Resource Development Committee shall be comprised of the Treasurer, regional representatives and other interested members.

6.5.2 The Resource Development Committee is responsible for supporting the membership recruitment efforts of the Board across all categories. This is done by developing outreach materials, recruitment templates, acknowledgment templates, and periodically analyzing the membership roster.

6.5.3 The Resource Development Committee is responsible for on-going efforts to identify diverse sources of revenue, recommend a plan for procuring funds to the Board, and helping to procure funds as approved by the Board.

Section 6 – Communications Committee

6.6.1 The Communications Committee supports overall written, verbal, and digital communications strategy for ACOSA. The Committee collaborates with the Board, standing committees, special projects, and partners to oversee a consistent and active communication strategy for the purposes of organizational messaging, fundraising, awareness and branding.

6.6.2 Tasks and responsibilities include, but are not limited to the following:

a. Opening doors by expanding ACOSA’s network.

b. Acting as a sounding board by assisting the board, committees, and staff with crafting public messages.

c. Researching target audiences and potential new partners.

d. Developing campaigns that will help ACOSA with fundraising, expanding membership, and raising awareness about community practice.

Section 7 – Social Action Committee

The purpose of the Social Action Committee is to actualize our social action mission through programming that includes but is not limited to the Rapid Response Team and the implementation of projects as identified in our strategic plan and as outlined in our mission.


7.1 As a partner organization, ACOSA through its Board of Directors is responsible for the planning and development of the COSA track at CSWE APM1. The Board of Directors will appoint COSA Track Co-Coordinators to act as an ongoing liaison between ACOSA’s Board and CSWE to plan and coordinate the COSA track. If the Co-Coordinators are not current Board members, they will be non-voting, ex-officio members of the Board of Directors.

7.2 The ACOSA Chairperson, in consultation with the Board, will select COSA Track Co- Coordinators at least one year in advance of the CSWE APM from the Board or general membership. One (1) of the Track Co-Coordinators will be selected from the geographic region of the country where the CSWE APM will be held.

7.3 The COSA Track Co-Coordinators will be responsible for developing the call for COSA track sessions at the APM in consultation with the ACOSA Board and with CSWE in keeping with the overarching theme of the conference and issues of the field. They will also be responsible for working with CSWE to develop a slate of COSA track proposal reviews and then selecting the COSA track sessions for recommendation for inclusion in the CSWE APM program. They will be responsible for communicating the final COSA track session program with session details, i.e., title, date, time, location, and presenter(s). They may work with CSWE on the identification and selection of moderators for COSA Track at the APM, as well as other roles that may be called upon by ACOSA or CSWE in the matter of the COSA track.


8.1 The Board shall authorize the preparation and production of a professional peer reviewed journal, titled Journal of Community Practice: Organizing, Planning, Development, and Change (JCP) to further the purposes and goals of the Association.

8.2 The Executive Committee of the Board shall solicit proposals for Journal Editor or Editors for a period of at least three and no greater than a five-year term. The Executive Committee will review and make recommendation to the Board, which will vote to select the JCP Editor(s). It is suggested this selection process occur prior to the end of the current Editor(s) tenure in order to accommodate orientation for the incoming Editor(s) with the current one(s).

8.3 The Journal Editors will be non-voting, ex-officio members of the Board of Directors

8.4 The Journal Editors will be responsible for establishing, recruiting/replacing, maintaining, and coordinating an Editorial Advisory Board for JCP, which will meet at least annually, preferably at the annual meeting of ACOSA. JCP Editorial Board members will serve three-year terms and may serve up to two terms consecutively before rotating off for at least one year. Selection and continued service on the JCP Editorial Board is dependent on maintainingindividual sponsor membership in ACOSA and active service in support of the journals, e.g., satisfactory review of manuscripts.

8.5 The Journal Editors will make a formal written report annually to the Editorial Board and the ACOSA Board at its annual meeting, and this report may also involve the publishers of JCP.

8.6 ACOSA will establish, maintain, and manage the publisher’s contract for JCP in consultation with Editor(s) and manage the financial arrangements with the publisher relative to membership costs and revenues as well as royalties.

(1) CSWE has the authority to maintain/change the COSA Track.


9.1 These Articles of Association must be reviewed by the Governance Committee of the Board at a minimum of every five (5) years.

9.2 These Articles of Association may be revised and/or amended by a two-thirds vote of all members. Changes to the Articles of Association will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors. An electronic vote on the changes will occur within one (1) month of the Annual Meeting. The proposed changes shall first receive the endorsement in writing of a minimum of four (4) elected members of the Board of Directors. It shall then be communicated to all ACOSA members and Board members at least one month prior to the Annual Meeting.


These articles represent an amendment “of the whole” of the original bylaws which were approved by a vote of the membership, on 3/8/87.

The bylaws, as revised on 12.21.18, incorporate all amendments approved by the membership on: