State Leaders Gather at NATA 2023

June 22, 2023 by Beth Sitzler

Held in-person for the first time since 2019, the State Leadership Forum welcomed leaders from around the country June 21, in the JW Marriott, for part two of this year’s hybrid event.

Kicking off the forum was an awards presentation recognizing the 2023 NATA State Association Advisory and NATA Government Affairs Committees’ award winners. Jarrett Rhoads, MSEd, ATC, CSCS, of New York and Lisa Walker, LAT, ATC, of Utah were honored with the SAAC Excellence in Leadership Award, while Cassandra Snow, MS, NHLAT, ATC, of New Hampshire and Katelyn Zimmerman, MS, LAT, ATC, of New Jersey earned the SAAC Emerging Leader Award. GAC presented the William T. Griffin Award for Outstanding Leadership in Legislative Advocacy to Lynne-Marie Young, MEd, LAT, ATC, the Impact Advocacy Award to J. Paul Capp, MS, LAT, ATC, and the Daniel L. Campbell Legislative Award Class I to Idaho Athletic Trainers’ Association and Virginia Athletic Trainers’ Association.

NATA Senior Manager of State Government Affairs Deanna Kuykendall then provided attendees with an update on the NATA Legislative Boot Camps. With health care being one of the top five policy issues in state legislatures, the NATA office tracks more than 600 state bills each session. To help state associations with their legislative priorities and address any issues that come up, NATA started hosting legislative boot camps in 2019.

“The boot camps are unique to each state,” said Kuykendall, adding that the boot camps are two-day roundtable discussions with NATA government affairs staff and state leaders.

Since its inception, 27 boot camps have been held, with more scheduled to place later this year in District Two and elsewhere. In addition, NATA has moved into 2.0 of the boot camps, which further the discussions that took place in the first boot camp.

“If you feel there is work that needs to be done, let us help you,” Kuykendall said.

NATA President Kathy Dieringer, EdD, LAT, ATC, presented the State Leadership Forum keynote, discussing the legislative and advocacy efforts of the association and the collaboration that takes place with the states and districts to advance the profession.

Dieringer began by addressing the resiliency of the athletic training profession, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting changes and challenges that occurred.

“I’m extremely proud of how SAAC pivoted [during COVID],” she said, explaining that when in-person events were put on hold, SAAC moved the State Leadership Forum to a virtual platform, ensuring state leaders still had access to resources and peers. “I continue to be amazed by what we can achieve on behalf of our members.”

From toolkits geared toward emerging and state leaders to the NATA Third Party Reimbursement Project, NATA has worked in collaboration with the state and districts, as well as other organizations, to advocacy for and advance the profession.

“The collaboration between state leaders and the NATA government affairs staff is strong and happening more than ever,” she said.

Dieringer said this partnership can have a great impact. For example, she said, the day before, South Carolina  Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill into law to modernize the state’s athletic training practice act. 

“We celebrate alongside [the South Carolina Athletic Trainers’ Association],” she said.

“The question I pose to you is: How can we help you?”

NATA 2023 attendees can learn more about the evolution of NATA’s advocacy efforts by viewing the Government Affairs Timeline display in NATA All Access in the Indiana Convention Center, Hall I. There, attendees can visit other Connect features, including the NATAPAC Kiosk and NATA Strategic Plan display.

Following the keynote, Dieringer, Outgoing District One Director Diane Sartanowicz, MS, LAT, ATC, Outgoing District Four Director Craig Voll, PhD, LAT, ATC, District Five Director Rob Marshall, ATC, District Six Director Scott Galloway, MBA, ATC, LAT, and Outgoing District Seven Director David Gallegos, MA, ATC, Cert. MDT, participated in the NATA Board of Directors Roundtable.

The roundtable discussion included moderated questions as well as questions from the audience. The board members discussed how they got involved with leadership – most getting their foot in the door at the state level – as well as what they have learned throughout their leadership journeys and the impact of mentorship.

The State Leadership Forum concluded with district breakouts and a networking session, ensuring attendees had the opportunity to meet fellow leaders from their districts as well as around the country.

To learn more about the State Leadership Forum and other resources available to members, visit the State Leaders Professional Interests section of the NATA website.