By Anna Young
The MTABA organization continues to grow in scope of activities that it offers to its chapter members and to the community. Between September 2020 and September 2021, the MTABA executive board included Lorri Coulter, past president, Ania Young, president, Traci Shinabarger, president elect, Autum Koska, treasurer, Bradley Tiefenthaler, secretary, and three members at- large, Brett Gilleo, Shelley Burbank, and Karlyn Gibbs.
In 2021, members of the MTABA executive board focused their efforts on coordinating the annual fall conference with Dr. Greg Hanley as the key presenter. The COVID- 19 complications made it challenging to decide about whether the conference should be conducted in- person or virtually, and the executive board conducted a survey to seek input from its members to decide about which option to select. Majority of the membership supported the in-person option. The executive board also coordinated a virtual option for the event as well as a recording of Dr. Hanley’s presentation (available for limited number of days) for those who were not able to attend in person. The MTABA conference committee secured a beautiful venue in Bozeman, MT, to host the conference. The organization’s budget made it possible to provide refreshments and coffee for the attendees during the event as well as lunch on one of the two days of the conference. Overall, the conference was a success as measured by post-conference survey of attendees who reported high satisfaction with quality of the speaker presentation, presentation content, venue, and overall comfort at the conference.
In 2021, MTABA’s executive board has continued to provide a vital link to communication with the Montana Board of Psychologists (BOP), which licenses behavior analysts and board-certified assistant behavior analysts in their practice in the state of Montana. Board members attend the BOP’s quarterly public- forum meetings, and with the former board member, Jackie Mohler as a representative of our profession on the BOP, the BOP has access to most up-to-date information about the behavior analytic practice, its code of ethics, and supervision requirements. In the fall of 2021, BOP considered reduction of annual fee for license renewal; the formal change in the rule related to this will go into effect in the upcoming months once the BOP gives it final approval.
As part of the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis, Public Dissemination $2,500 grant that was awarded to MTABA in June 2020, the MTABA’s Dissemination Committee members have collected a video footage of interviews with behavior analysts, families, educators, and school administrators to produce a dissemination video that could be shared with large audiences of relevant stakeholders, including teachers, families, and state legislators. The video was professionally generated and disseminated on social media as well as on the MTABA website in August 2021. The video continues to be available for usage in various dissemination contexts, including communication with families, school districts, and other stakeholders.
The executive members of MTABA Policy Committee followed and were highly involved in developing legislation related to ABA services in the latest Montana 2021 legislative year. The committee carefully considered bills proposed by legislators that related to provision of ABA services in settings including public schools. The committee worked extensively with one of the legislators to draft a bill (LC 1527) that called for an act requiring the superintendent of public instruction to develop model policies regarding the provision of ABA services to students with Individualized Education Plans or Section 504 Plans. The committee did eventually decide to hold off on moving the bill forward as it appeared prudent to gather more information, especially from ABA providers and advocates in other states and to study precedents set forth by bills passed in other states.
The 2021 year has not been free of challenges related to the global pandemic; however, it has been a very successful year. The members of the executive board enthusiastically look forward to their service to the behavior analytic community and to other ABA stakeholders in the months to come.