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2014 NIA Election Results

Thursday, December 03, 2015 11:27 AM | Dave Durant (Administrator)

With 2015's election underway, it's interesting to look back on last year's results.  While the current President and Board has been posted here since the beginning of the year, this is the first time we've made the answers to the poll items on the ballot public.  The questions asked were:


"What do you think the NIA's priority should be for the upcoming term?" and 

"Anything else you'd like to say to your NIA representatives?"


Scroll down to read the results.  It's clear that while some things have been resolved in the past year (International Pay Scales come to mind), other issues, such as travel reimbursement and Instructor involvement in school-wide decision making, seem to be perennial.


President and Board of Directors

Board Member Sean Williams was elected NIA President, term ending December 2016.  Fabio Raimo de Oliveira, Aaron Divine, and Jon Kempsey were re-elected to the Board, term ending December 2016.  Branch Representatives Andy Clifford (New Zealand) and Summers Eatmon (Rocky Mountain) were elected to the Board, term ending December 2016.  Instructors Tim Dorsey and Abbie Wehner tied.  Abbie volunteered to fill a vacancy on the Board for the term ending December 2015, and was appointed by the Board to do so, paving the way for Tim to become the first WMI-only Instructor on the NIA Board of Directors.  His term will expire in December 2016.


"What do you think the NIA's priority should be for the upcoming term?"

Note: respondents were only allowed to make one selection.




The highest number of votes here went to the one option provided that touches on Compensation.  Cleary this is a priority issue for our members.  That said, options two and four above both fall under the broader category of working towards an Instructor Driven School.  In retrospect I wish I had combined these into one line item for a cleaner comparison.  The waters are muddied further when one takes into account the write-in responses.  By my count 9 of these directly address compensation.  Perhaps the most accurate formulation would be: NIA members are equally concerned with representation and compensation.


Here are the "Other" responses:


advocating for staff/faculty compensation of all types

12/27/2014 7:10 AM

review and changes on international pay scale

12/27/2014 6:40 AM

Equal pay and travel reimbursement for Indian and South American instructors (e.g. Work out problems with currencies, pay South Americans more to get to AK

12/24/2014 9:46 AM

Contracts in Dollars or fair exchange from Dolar to CLP...no more Chilean Pay Scale

12/23/2014 7:26 PM 

It seems like getting more instructors involved/active is the foundation which allows the NIA to affect change. Without more substantial participation on our part it seems unlikely we will be able to influence meaningful decisions.

12/23/2014 6:40 PM

Increase membership and participation to solidify our credibility

12/20/2014 11:12 AM

Increasing overall compensation

12/8/2014 3:44 PM

Find ways to reduce turnover and increase staff retention, this includes field staff and NOLS wide positions.

12/5/2014 8:48 PM

advocating for Instructor quality of life by helping to ensure that course cancellations are done in timely manners and instructors are not offered contracts when in all likelihood, the semester will be cancelled and thus having instructors be reassigned with different dates and locations. Perhaps in that case also advocating for a buyout option of contracts when they are cancelled.

12/3/2014 12:30 PM

De-emphasize compensation as the main NIA priority, and celebrate the 7% gain share in 2014 and the creation of the compensation taskforce by the EDT/BOT to address issues of comp. (We all know comp is the #1 issue on everyone's mind, but let's diversify our dialog and become more dynamic.) Community-building, helping NOLS get a more diverse community of instructors, branch improvements from flamingo fund.

12/1/2014 10:54 AM

Pay discrepancies for international instructors

11/30/2014 9:18 PM

Both pay/travel and representation at board meetings

11/28/2014 6:05 PM

Professionalization of the Field Instructor position. This means 1. increased wages (comparable with the industry standard for professional mountain guides), 2. travel reimbursement, and 3. moving towards the NOLS Field Instructor position as a more long term, sustainable position. On that last point, this could mean guaranteeing a minimum number of course contracts (especially after taking a $4000 IC), a defined path to becoming more full time or at least seasonal full time instructor, or any number of routes to becoming a more full time field instructor. Its pretty weak to have a prospective instructor pay $4000 for an interview/IC and then give them 4 weeks or less of work, sometimes for several seasons without a pay bump realistically on the horizon. The entire instructor pool becomes institutionalized to be ok with being "dirtbags" in order to make their lifestyle work for them. NOLS (and the outdoor ed industry as a whole) literally and figuratively operates its program on the backs and at the expense of its instructors. In mainstream, professionalized industries (for profit and non profit alike), this is considered taking major advantage of the employee. Take some notes from the AMGA and professionalize the trade.

11/25/2014 10:03 AM

Sean's two "dreams"

11/24/2014 8:36 PM 

To seek out relevant information and ask informative questions before reacting publicly.

11/24/2014 1:27 PM

advocating the instructors' challenges working for NOLS


"Anything else you'd like to say to your NIA representatives?"

Note: I've omitted answers that we're some variation on the theme: "Thank you, NIA folks, for everything you do," of which there were many. 


It goes, boys! obrigado por represertarnos, velejando por nesses mares turbulentos!

12/27/2014 6:40 AM

Thank you for the work you do. I would like to see NIA local meetings to be about more than just travel reimbursement and increasing pay. While these are important topics, it would also be great to talk about strategies people have developed for living a transient life style, creative ways on budgeting for living this transient lifestyle, how to find great deals on travel & places to stay, curriculum development, how to effectively manage semesters without proctors, how to develop continuity in supervision/mentorship since that is difficult to provide for instructors...for example...

12/25/2014 9:49 AM

We should be a bargaining organization which thoroughly surveys ALL instructors about their interests and then represents those interests (benefits and pay, curriculum, etc.) to NOLS leadership. This wouldn't be hard - a number of instructors have survey research experience and/or advanced degrees and would be happy to help (including myself). The dues are excessive for folks living on poverty wages for membership in a non-union. Lack of union status contributes to the mission and stance of the NIA remaining unclear to many.

12/24/2014 9:46 AM 

We should ensure that the re-allocation of health insurance reimbursement funds via the travel reimbursement scheme is done fairly and with due consideration of how this change will affect instructors expenses differently, depending on whether they are working domestically versus internationally.

12/8/2014 3:44 PM 

I feel that while continuing to have our voice heard, on many different levels including the board and strategic planing committee, I think that increasing overall instructor awareness of NIA and the work we do is of the utmost importance.

11/26/2014 1:30 AM

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