Marin CAMFT Position on the Chapter Affiliation Agreement

Marin CAMFT has been a chartered member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists since 1979. Although there have been several name and bylaws changes in those thirty-five years, CAMFT's recent drive to upgrade and transform itself has met with great concern from its constituents.  Currently, CAMFT is seeking input from each chapter about the new Chapter Affiliation Agreement that it has proposed. Click here to download.  At least 16 of the 28 chapter have replied that they will not sign the agreement as written. Click here to download statements. Marin CAMFT sent the following statement to CAMFT:

"In an effort to make an intelligent and thoughtful decision regarding the proposed Chapter Agreement, the Board of Directors for the Marin County Chapter of CAMFT has integrated the feedback expressed by other Chapters, has identified the concerns specific to our Chapter and has thoroughly considered the broader impact of the proposed Agreement.  We elect to join hands with those opposed and decline to sign the proposed Chapter Agreement as written."


CAMFT  will be discussing the Chapter Agreement issue, a proposed schedule for fee increases and other topics at its September 20 meeting in Berkeley. Click here for details if you would like to give CAMFT your feedback in person.


A SPECIAL REPORT ON CAMFT'S RECENT BYLAWS REVISION
 

THE ISSUES

This report is an effort to provide the membership of Marin CAMFT with accurate information about the the recent vote to revise State CAMFT’s Bylaws. This vote, represented in the accompanying booklet as “an opportune time to update our Bylaws (originally drafted in 1964) and bring them into full compliance with modern California law”, actually made some very significant changes to the purposes and composition of CAMFT. Unfortunately, prior to the vote, there was no public discussion or side-by-side comparison of the old bylaws and those proposed by the CAMFT Board and Executive Director. Many members voted without realizing that they were approving the following changes:

  • The definition of a clinical member (previously-a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) has become “any individual licensed as a mental health professional by a regulatory Board of the State of California that requires a minimum of a master’s level degree shall be eligible for voting membership”
  • The definition of an associate member (previously-an allied licensed professional) has become “any individual who does not qualify as a voting member, but who has a professional interest in CAMFT’s activities and resources and is supportive of issues pertaining to mental health professionals”.
  • The purpose of CAMFT (previously - to advance marriage and family therapy as an art, a science and a mental health profession; to serve and represent the common professional and business interests of marriage and family therapists; to set and maintain professional standards for marriage and family therapists and to advocate and work to achieve public and private policies for the advancement of family life) became “the advancement of mental health professionals as follows: Maintain and promote high standards of professionalism, competence, accountability, inclusiveness, and ethics. Advocate for the advancement of mental health professionals. Promote information regarding professional issues and services. Engage exemplary, visionary, accountable, dedicated, and ethical individuals as its leaders and administrators. Cultivate a participatory and growing membership.”
  • Substantial changes were made to Board nomination and election procedures, as well as to the formation and authority of CAMFT standing committees. 
  • If you are interested in comparing the two sets of Bylaws and CAMFT's Articles of Incorporation, you may download them here: 

THE REACTION

  • Midway through the voting period, some CAMFT members realized the possible implications of these changes and attempted to inform as many CAMFT members as they could. Much consternation was expressed on the Chapter Leadership listserv and local chapter listservs, and members were urged to write and call CAMFT Board members and Executive Director, Jill Epstein. Former Marin CAMFT President, Daniel Sonkin, started a dedicated listserv. Click here to join.
  • Richard Leslie, JD, Of Counsel (attorney) to CAMFT contacted CAMFT about his concerns regarding the Bylaws revision process in the following two letters: two letters. One was written to Sandra Wolf, CAMFT Board President (at that time) and the CAMFT Board, dated 5/28/13, prior to the vote being counted. Click here to read it. The other was written to Jill Epstein, CAMFT Executive Director, on 5/6/13, a few days after he received the bylaws booklet. Click here to read it.  He has not received a written response to either.
  • H. Dan Smith, who has been President of the CAMFT Board of Directors twice, has written an important letter detailing the history of the board and calling bylaws vote "an ill-conceived venture that may have far-reaching consequences for the association." Click here to read it.
  • On June 18, Daniel Sonkin and a colleague (a past president of CAMFT) filed an ethics complaint with the CAMFT Ethics Committee, regarding how the Bylaws were changed. Click here to read it.
  • A concerned group of CAMFT members have started an online petition on the Wiki page click here to view  to call for a "special meeting" as outlined in the new bylaws. The petition needs 1550 signatures (1000 Licensed, 550 Pre-licensed) to pass. The purpose of this special meeting will be to remove the members of the Board of Directors, without cause.  The information on this site is frequently updated and contains many of the resources referred to herein. SAVE_CAMFT eventually collected 2200 online signatures and over 1000 hard copies.
  • On July 27, an email from Mary Riemersma, past Executive Director of CAMFT, was posted on the Save CAMFT listserv. In it she expresses her thoughts about the changes to the CAMFT Bylaws. Click here to read it.
  • On July  31, 2013 one or more members of CAMFT retained the law firm of Robbins Arroyo, LLP San Diego to represent them as members in the matter involving the Bylaws development process, the Bylaws vote 2013 booklet, the vote, and all related matters. This law firm focuses on representing investors in shareholder derivative actions when they have been wronged by corporate misconduct, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty. Their mission is to empower shareholders to exercise their legal rights and demand corporate accountability and financial integrity. They fight on behalf of shareholders for transparent, effective, and honest corporate governance. In this particular matter, CAMFT's members are not shareholders. Rather they are members of a mutual benefit nonprofit corporation-a corporation that exists for the mutual benefit of its members.
  • On August 22 Daniel Sonkin announces that a letter of demand has been sent to the CAMFT Board on behalf of Breffini Barrett and himself.
  • Marin CAMFT conducts a Survey of its membership in regard to the Bylaws election. Click here to download and read it.

CAMFT’S RESPONSE

CAMFT has responded to the members' reactions to the Bylaws vote. 

  • On June 26, CAMFT also hosted a telephone conference for chapter leaders that focused on many policy details, including the process for submitting amendments to the Bylaws (any CAMFT member can submit proposed amendments to bylaws@camft.org due on August 1, to be considered at the September Board meeting) and the requirement for each chapter to ratify the new Bylaws (by 60 days from November 15, 2013). It has been stated that chapters not ratifying the bylaws will lose their charters.
  • On July 4, CAMFT changed their website to reflect the new dedication to "the advancement of mental health professionals", eliminating references to Marriage and Family Therapists in the description of the organization's purpose.
  • On July 11, the CAMFT Board held a special meeting, agreed to restore the “purpose,” as defined in the old bylaws and specified that officers and 2 Directors must be LMFTs. They acknowledged that they “did not achieve the kind of transparency that our members expect”.
  • On July 12, CAMFT terminated Richard Leslie’s employment, effective August 18, specifically forbidding him to participate in any meetings of the Ethics Committee in the interim. He has been a legal consultant for CAMFT, its members and for the CAMFT Ethics Committee for more than twenty years.
  • On July 15, CAMFT began to survey some of the clinical members of CAMFT about their experience with the Bylaws election.
  • On July 27, CAMFT CFO, Chairman and CEO met with 100 CAMFT members in San Rafael. The meeting was videotaped by Jason Saffer and can be accessed through these links.  
  • On August 22 Jill Epstein announces that she is taking a medical leave of absence for treatment of breast cancer. Cathy Atkins, Deputy Executive Officer, takes responsibility for daily operations.
  • Twelve CAMFT members came from throughout the state to attend the September 21/22 CAMFT Board Meeting in Santa Barbara in order to express various concerns about the 2013 Bylaws and to request that the Board repeal them and reinstate the 2009 Bylaws. The Board responded to the voice of the membership and voted to "approve the repeal of the current bylaws approved in July 2013 and reinstate the bylaws adopted in 2009. The Board's approval is subject to voting members' approval by ballot" and "to send the vote to the membership, regarding the bylaws, per the motion approved on July 21, 2013, for a December 4, 2013 election date."
  • October: CAMFT holds facilitated meetings in Southern and Northern California ostensibly so that members have a chance to focus on possible future directions for CAMFT--many members take the opportunity to discuss their concerns about the pending bylaws election.
  • November: Balloting has begun!


The Marin County Chapter of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
PO Box 9065, San Rafael, CA  94912 - 415-459-3484 
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