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The National Rehabilitation Administration Association.


The purposes of the division shall be to improve administrative and supervisory practices by:

1. Promoting the highest administrative and supervisory ethical practices.

2. Upgrading of professional standards in administration and supervision.

3. Helping to develop a specific body of knowledge in this field and working to disseminate that knowledge as it evolves.

4. Encouraging and supporting professional training opportunities.

5. Providing a forum for discussion.

6. Encouraging and stimulating systematic scientific research and enlightened inquiry.

7. Developing methods of close communication with other professional groups dedicated to rehabilitation.

8. Reflecting the needs of the practicing National Rehabilitation Administration Association membership to the Association.

9. Relating closely to the other NRA divisions for mutual planning and advancement of rehabilitation (NRAA Policy Procedures Manual, 1994, p. 3).


The Founding Years

The origin of the National Rehabilitation Administration Association is traced to the founding of its parent organization, the National Rehabilitation Association (NRA). The early leaders in the formation of NRA were directors and supervisors in the state vocational rehabilitation agencies. NRA leadership focused upon significant problems facing the State-Federal program and the agencies that were involved in services to the nation's vocationally handicapped youth and adults. Throughout the early years of NRA (1923-1975), membership in NRA became a prerequisite to employment in many of the state vocational rehabilitation agencies (Oberman, 1965).

The initiation of divisions within the National Rehabilitation Association, with the founding of the National Rehabilitation Counseling Association in 1958, was viewed by many administrators in the State-Federal vocational rehabilitation organizations as an unnecessary fragmentation of focus and a potentially dangerous dilution of resources and efforts. It was not until 1968 that a group of educators, administrators and supervisors with an interest in forming a professional administration division were able to mount a real attempt that met with success. The founding group selected the Administrative and Supervisory Practices Division (ASPD) of the National Rehabilitation Association as the name (Sales and Harcleroad, 1981). During these founding years, the leadership of the division was vested in the following Presidents: Sol Richman (North Carolina, 1968); Reuben Margolin (Massachusetts, 1969); and Vivian Shepard (Missouri, 1970).

The stated purpose of ASPD was to advance the field of administrative and supervisory practices in all areas of rehabilitation activities in order that all personnel working in a rehabilitation setting could achieve maximum use of all resources, including themselves, in promoting the rehabilitation of people with disabilities. At this time, a major concern of State-Federal administrators was legislative support at the Federal and State levels. Support for such legislation became a major activity. Membership in the division was extended to all NRA members employed in an administrative supervisory, instructional or research position in the broad field of rehabilitation (Richman, 1968).

Period of Growth and Expansion

During the next three years, 1971-1973, significant strides were experienced by the rehabilitation field with increased funding of governmental programs, increased numbers of persons employed to work with the nation's handicapped population and increased community agency involvement. ASPD acted on these initiatives. The membership base was expanded to include administrators, managers and supervisors in rehabilitation facilities, institutions for the mentally retarded and the mentally ill and public schools that provided services to the clients of the State-Federal Vocational Rehabilitation program. The focus of purpose during this period was upon interagency cooperation and the development of a favorable public awareness program. Leadership in ASPD moved to supervisors in public rehabilitation agencies with the following Presidents: William L. Herrick (Iowa, 1971); Homer Jacobs (Alabama, 1972); and Dorothy Jeffrey (Kentucky, 1973).

Early Period of Professionalism

By 1974, ASPD began to embody many of the elements of a true professional association. "Accountability," the catch word of the previous era, had an impact upon association concerns and activities. Professional qualifications, training and education, and evaluation standards within rehabilitation administration replaced concerns of organizational growth and development.

Encouragement and support for professional training seminars at state and regional meetings and at national rehabilitation conferences was a focus of ASPD. Universities were encouraged to develop continuing education programs for supervisors and to establish master's degree programs in rehabilitation administration and supervision. ASPD encouraged the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), State and other vocational rehabilitation agencies to develop accreditation and certification standards for service programs offered through rehabilitation facilities.

ASPD leadership during this period was provided by the following Presidents: David Schriemer (Florida, 1974); Roger Decker (Georgia, 1975); and Marvin Spears (Minnesota, 1976). At the end of this era, ASPD was publishing a newsletter and considering the development and publication of a professional journal.

Period of Concentrated Effort in Professionalization

The year 1977 marked significant professionalization efforts by the organization's leadership. At the annual conference in 1977 an agreement was reached with DePaul University to jointly publish the first professional journal in the field of rehabilitation administration. Dr. Stan Smits (Georgia, 1977), President of ASPD, accepted the role as the first editor of the Journal of Rehabilitation Administration (JRA). Publication of JRA was based on two broad goals. The first was to provide a high quality professional journal for the publication of rehabilitation administration-related articles in the areas of practice, theory and research. The second goal was to involve practitioners by soliciting their comments on published articles or by involving them as co-authors of articles.

The following year, 1978, at the NRA annual conference, ASPD adopted a new name, the National Rehabilitation Administration Association (NRAA), and remained affiliated as a division of NRA.

During the era, 1977-1980, other significant efforts at professionalization undertaken by NRAA included the development of a Code of Ethical Standards for rehabilitation administrators and supervisors, initiation of a movement for accreditation of university master's degree programs in rehabilitation administration and initiation of a study to determine the membership's attitude toward certification of practicing rehabilitation administrators and supervisors.

It was during this era that the Presidents of NRAA -- Stan Smits (Georgia, 1977), Lionel Parker (West Virginia, 1978), Jerome R. Lorenz (Illinois, 1979) and Clinton Wainwright (Texas, 1980) -- made valiant efforts to convince the membership that rehabilitation administrators and supervisors were truly professionals in their chosen field.

Period of Cut-back Management

The national economy, the attitudes of the general public toward taxation and political pressures impacted upon human service programs in the United States during the early 1980s. Cost containment and fiscal restraints became the catch words of the time. Membership in NRA declined drastically. Speakers at National Rehabilitation Association Annual Conferences advocated a need to reduce budgets and reduce personnel employed in rehabilitation work. NRAA initiated fiscal policy restrictions that limited membership growth and seriously hampered the professionalization effort.

The Presidents of NRAA, Bill Gardner (West Virginia, 1981), Robert Brabham (South Carolina, 1982) and Fred Tenney (Arizona, 1983), were forced to address issues that could be financially supported by reduced membership dollars. During this era NRAA continued to place emphasis upon professional training through forums and seminars at state, regional, and national annual conferences. However, the movement to support the study on accreditation of rehabilitation administration education programs was lost. The enthusiasm for a certification process for rehabilitation administrators and supervisors waned and efforts in this direction ceased.

Emergence of a Rebirth Period

A history of dependence on governmental support caused NRAA leadership to predict a tragic future if steps were not taken to seize control of its destiny. President Tenney brought a new awareness of the role rehabilitation facilities play in service delivery, their capacity for rallying local support and the need for their participation in defining the future of the profession. William G. Emener (Florida, 1984) NRAA President, expanded on the need to take the initiative and subsequently described his year as President as "a year of empowerment and involvement." J. Stuart Phillips (Illinois), the 1985 President, continued Emener's theme and set specific target areas -- rehabilitation facilities, women in rehabilitation administration and front line supervisors -- for NRAA's efforts for increased involvement and potential membership growth. Neil Sculley (Missouri), NRAA 1986 President, continued to focus on these areas as a prelude for significant future changes in the field of rehabilitation and the consequences of these changes for NRAA.

Turbulent Times and Significant Action

As a consequence of previous efforts at membership recruitment and retention. NRAA emerged in the mid-1980s in a relatively strong position to meet future challenges. However, an organization that does not periodically reassess its goals and structure is likely to become ineffective. For several years NRAA leadership addressed the issue of how NRAA could become more effective and how to best use its membership dollars. During the Presidency of Kathy Williams (Kentucky, 1987) a reorganization plan for the NRAA Board was adopted and phased in during the Presidencies of John Newman (Georgia7 1988) and Peter Howell (South Carolina, 1989). The centerpiece of the reorganization was the streamlining of the NRAA Board by reducing the number of Board members from 26 to 13. Specifically, the positions of Vice President and Board Representative to the Executive Committee were eliminated, as were the four Board Member At Large positions. In addition the number of Regional Representatives to the Board was reduced from two representatives per Region to one while their responsibilities were increased. Also, the term of office for the Treasurer was increased to two years in order to have greater continuity in the management of NRAA's finances.

The financial difficulties of funding the State-Federal rehabilitation program were felt as the national economy experienced a recession. The concept of "privatization" of state and local government operated rehabilitation programs, the emergence of a strong private sector vocational and medical rehabilitation industry and the disability rights movement were concerns addressed by the following Presidents of NRAA: James Stephens (Georgia, 1990); Jack Roper (Oklahoma, 1991); Mary Valentini (Texas, 1992); William Burnside (Virginia, 1993); and George Melde (Texas, 1994). Under their leadership, NRAA has been a strong advocate of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Recognizing the mutual interests of medical and vocational rehabilitation administrators, exploratory talks were held between NRAA and the Association of Medical Rehabilitation Administrators. In 1993 the results of these efforts lead to the merging of the medical administrators with NRAA. At the end of 1993 NRAA membership was 1,338.

Organizational Structure

Subject to the Constitution and decisions made by either the entire membership or through the annual NRAA business meeting, a fourteen-member Board of Directors conducts the affairs of NRAA. The Board's authority shall include, but not be limited to: 1) adoption of a fiscal year and policy, 2) adoption of a budget, 3) bonding of officers, and ordering audits, 4) designation of fiscal representatives, 5) calling an annual meeting, 6) hearing and acting on committee reports, 7) appointing standing and ad-hoc committees, 8) serving as final judge of election results, 9) proposing resolutions, 10) initiating cooperative agreement and contracts, and 11) accrediting regional and state units (NRAA Policy and Procedures Manual, 1994, p. 6-8).

The NRAA Board of Directors includes the following officers each serving a one-year term: President; President-Elect; and Past-President. The Secretary and Treasurer both serve two-year terms. In addition to the officers there are seven Regional Representatives, each of whom serves a two-year term. The Association of Medical Rehabilitation Administrators also has a Representative on the Board. Also, NRAA elects a representative to a three-year term to serve on the NRA Board.

NRAA has the following committees: Awards, Nominations & Elections; Constitution & Bylaws; Membership; Annual Program; Grants; History; Newsletter; Jerome R. Lorenz Memorial Fund; Ways & Means; and Certification. In addition NRAA has two representatives on the Policy Board of the Journal of Rehabilitation Administration.


The NRAA Assembly, the Board of Directors, the various committees and the regional and state chapters have the primary responsibility for advancing the mission of the Association. However, additional programs have been initiated to further support the mission of NRAA. The following are some of these programs:

State/Regional Grants: Much of the support for the Association comes from the State or Regional level. Consequently, the Association provides substantial programmatic and operational financial support for activities which reinforce local involvement.

Newsletter: The NRAA Newsletter is the primary means of communication with membership in the Division. Publication of the Newsletter is funded by membership dues.

Pre-Conference Training: NRAA normally sponsors a training session prior to the start of the annual NRA meeting.

Awards: NRAA has established several awards to individuals who have made a significant contribution to rehabilitation administration. Three separate awards are made in memory and honor of Mary E. Switzer, Guy F. Hubbard and Jerome R. Lorenz. Annual awards to units include Professional Programming and Membership.

Benefits of Membership

The following list reflects some of the benefits of NRAA membership:

Professional Affiliation: Members can interact with other professionals in their field at the state, regional, and national levels.

Current Issues: The NRAA Newsletter is published several times a year and provides a means whereby the membership can be informed of the activities of the Association and current issues facing the field of rehabilitation administration.

Professional Publications: All members of the Association receive the Journal of Rehabilitation Administration, a publication devoted to advancing the practice of rehabilitation administration.

Linkages: The Association provides members with formal linkages to NRA, other divisions, the legislative network and other relevant professional organizations.

Involvement: The members have the opportunity to shape the field of rehabilitation administration by participating in the planning and prioritization of the Association's efforts.

Professional Development: Through state, regional and national conference programs the members have the opportunity to further develop their professional expertise.


National Rehabilitation Administration Association. (1994). NRAA policy and procedures manual.

Newman, J.F. (1993, October). The history of NRAA. Paper presented at the annual business meeting of NRAA, Atlanta, GA.

Oberman, C.E. (1965). A history of vocational rehabilitation in America. Minneapolis, Minn: T.S. Dennison.

Richman, S. ( 1968). Role of ASPD. Administration and Supervision in Rehabilitation, the Administrative and Supervisory Practices Division Newsletter.

Sales, A. & Harcleroad, F. (1981). Emerging professional organization and interest groups in rehabilitation. In W.G. Emener, R. Luck & S.J. Smits (Eds.). Rehabilitation administration and supervision. Baltimore: University Park Press.

Wainwright, C. & Phillips, J.S. (1986). The National Rehabilitation Administration Association. Journal of Rehabilitation, 52, 47-49.

Clinton O. Wainwright, Ed.D., CRC, is Professor Emeritus of Rehabilitation, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas. A Licensed Professional Counselor in Texas and a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, currently he provides vocational rehabilitation consulting services to the private sector. He served as the NRAA historian for twelve years.

John F. Newman, Ph.D., CHE, is Associate Professor, Institute of Health Administration, College of Business Administration, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia. He is a Diplomate of the American College of Health Care Executives and a Certified Healthcare Executive. Currently he is the NRAA historian.

J. Stuart Phillips, Ph.D., is President and CEO of Eisenhower Center, a residential brain injury program in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Previously he was a faculty member in the graduate Rehabilitation Administration and Services Program of the Rehabilitation Institute, Southern Illinois University.
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Title Annotation:Special Anniversary Issue 1925-1995: National Rehabilitation Association
Author:Phillips, J. Stuart
Publication:The Journal of Rehabilitation
Date:Jul 1, 1995
Previous Article:National Association of Rehabilitation Secretaries.
Next Article:The National Rehabilitation Counseling Association.

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