Message from the Chair: The Benefits of Public Members

A recent survey of ICE members revealed that networking is one of the most appreciated benefits of membership. When I think of networking with fellow members of the ICE community, I get even more excited about the upcoming ICE Exchange. In this month’s ICE Digest, I’d like to focus on a group we may inadvertently overlook when we think about who will benefit from the ICE Exchange and other ICE-sponsored networking and educational opportunities: our public members.

As I deliberated about this article, I asked a few key ICE volunteer leaders for their suggestions. My favorite thought about the role of the public member came from the public member on the ICE Board of Directors, Rebecca “Becky” LeBuhn, MA, who said, “Do not list just the negatives, like not deriving income from the profession or having a family member who practices in the profession.” Isn’t she absolutely right? I know I am guilty of that perspective. Based on her experiences with public members in a variety of settings, Becky distilled the role down to the following description:

The public member’s role is to champion the public or consumer interest, bring new ideas and goals to the table, contribute an unbiased perspective, encourage consumer-oriented positions, and bring additional public accountability and responsiveness. The public member should have a track record of advocacy on behalf of the public interest, a basic understanding of certification and accreditation, and previous experience serving on the governing or advisory board of a business, religious or civic organization, or similar entity.

Mary F. Macomber, JD, one of two public members on the NCCA Commission, is another resource I contacted. She helped me understand an often-overlooked benefit of public members to our organizations, commenting:

A public member can be a great PR coup for an organization if they use the position properly by showcasing that they have a member who is dedicated to representing the public interest on the organizational board. It can sound very altruistic, which it should be, as the public member has a strong role to play in leveling the playing field, if allowed and supported by the organization.

When you think about how your organization can better support your public members, don’t forget about how ICE can help. For example, when a president or CEO registers for the ICE Exchange, that organization’s public members receive complimentary registration. Why not bring them along? The program committee for the ICE Exchange 2016 has done an outstanding job in selecting programming of interest to public members. A list of these sessions can be found here. There’s even a Public Member Breakfast on Wednesday, Nov. 9, and a Public Member Debrief on Friday, Nov. 11. Events like these will give public members in attendance a great opportunity to connect with fellow public members in attendance.

Be sure your board’s public members are receiving news about opportunities like these by listing them on your online ICE organizational profile. (If you need assistance with this update, please contact Katie Iandoli at

I truly appreciate and benefit from the generosity and collegiality that is so evident in our community. I encourage you to extend this gift to other members of your staff and board, including your public member.

Have you had unusually good experiences with your public members or do you have some lessons learned to share? I’d love to hear from you. Email me anytime at


Claudia Zacharias, MBA, CAE, is serving in her second three-year term on the Board of Directors of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE) and is the board’s chair for 2015-2016. She previously served for two years as the board’s secretary-treasurer. Since 2009, she has served as president & CEO of the Board of Certification/Accreditation (BOC). Her background includes executive positions at the American Nurses Credentialing Center, Leadership Maryland and the U.S. Naval Institute. In September of 2015, she was named one of the Daily Record’s “Most Admired CEOs in Maryland.”

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