BYLAWS of the GULF COAST MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELORS ASSOCIATION, INC. A CHAPTER of the FLORIDA MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELOR’S ASSOCIATION
ARTICLE I: NAME AND PURPOSE
Section 1. Name
This Association will be known as the “Gulf Coast Mental Health Counselors Association Inc.” hereafter referred to as GMHC.
Section 2. Affiliation
This Association is a District Affiliate of the Florida Mental Health Counselor’s Association (FMHCA) which is a State Affiliate of the American Mental Health Counselor’s Association (AMHCA) and is recognized by (FMHCA) as the association to represent mental health counselors in the designated District of Florida consistent with the Purposes as set forth in Article I, Section 3. GMHC, AMHCA, and FMHCA are all independent and autonomous professional associations.
Section 3. Purposes
GMHC is organized exclusively for educational and charitable purposes under section 501(c ) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or corresponding section of any future federal tax code. No part of the net earnings of the corporation shall inure to the benefit of, or be distributable to the members, trustees, officers, or other private persons, except that the corporation shall be authorized and empowered to pay reasonable compensation for services rendered and to make payments and distributions in furtherance of the purposes described in section 501 (c ) (3).No substantial part of the activities of the corporation, shall be the carrying on of propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation, and the corporation shall not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distribution of statements) any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. Notwithstanding any other provision of these articles, the corporation shall not carry on any other activities not permitted to be carried on (a) by a corporation exempt from federal income tax under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code, or (b) by a corporation, contributions to which are deductible under section 170(c) (2) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code.
The organization’s purpose is to educate and promote the profession of mental health counseling:
- By the exchange of professional information among mental health counselors through newsletters, journals or other scientific, educational and/or professional materials;
- By providing professional development programs for mental health counselors to update and enhance clinical competencies;
- By promoting legislation that recognizes counseling through disseminating information and posting links to the legislation on the GMHC website for members to comment on the pending legislation;
- By providing a public forum through posting information on the GMHC website for mental health counselors to advocate for the social and emotional welfare of clients;
- By promoting positive relations with mental health counselors and other mental health practitioners in all work settings to enhance the profession of mental health counseling;
- By contributing to the establishment and maintenance of basic training and education standards for mental health counselors through the promotion and maintenance of the Student/Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern Scholarship Program for GMHC members who are students or interns in the mental health field;
- By promoting scientific research and inquiry into mental health concerns;
- By providing liaison on the District and State level with other professional organizations to promote the advancement of the mental health profession;
- By providing the public with information concerning the competencies and professional services of mental health counselors;
- By promoting equitable licensure standards for mental health counselors through the State Legislature.
ARTICLE II: MEMBERSHIP
Section 1. Types of Membership
There will be two types of membership: Clinical and Student.
Section 2. Requirements of Membership
To qualify for membership an individual must meet specific requirements for the category of membership sought, as follows:
- CLINICAL MEMBER:Eligibility: Applicants for clinical membership must document that they meet entry level standards for professional recognition as a mental health counselor by 1) holding a license in Florida as a mental health counselor. 2) hold approved status as an applicant for licensure examination, or 3) be a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern. Anyone who qualifies for Clinical Membership must apply for membership in that category.
- Procedure: A person becomes a clinical member of GMHC upon demonstration that professional requirements have been met and their dues have been paid. More specific procedures for implementing this section will be specified in policy adopted by the GMHC Board of Directors.
- Obligations and Privileges: A clinical member must pay annual dues, and must adhere to the referenced professional Code of Ethics. A clinical member in good standing will be entitled to vote, to attend meetings of GMHC, to hold office in GMHC and to enjoy other such rights and privileges as may from time to time be offered to members.
- STUDENT MEMBER:
- Academic Requirements: Any student enrolled in a graduate program (as defined by
the college or university) in mental health counseling or a closely related field in a
regionally accredited college or university will be eligible to become a Student Member
of GMHC. A member must be certified by his/ her major professor as meeting this
Section 3. Dues
Annual GMHC dues will be established by action of the Board of Directors in accordance with these Bylaws. Membership renewals will be automatic through the GMHC website. Depending on the financial needs of the Association, Board members who are Officers are not required to pay dues. Committee members on the Board are required to pay dues. An evaluation of financial needs is done yearly.
Section 4. Severance of Membership
A member will be dropped from membership for:
- Nonpayment of dues,
- Falsely documenting that membership qualification have been met, or
- By action of the Board of Directors.
ARTICLE III: OFFICERS OF THE CHAPTER
Section 1. Officers
The officers of this chapter will be President, President Elect/Vice President, Past President, Secretary, Treasurer, Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern Representative, one Graduate Student Representative Member-at-Large, Professional Development Chair, Membership Chair, Legislative Chair, Marketing/Public Relations Chair, Graduate Student Chair, four (4) Members-at-Large, and a Webmaster. These officers will comprise the voting members of the Board of Directors of the chapter in good standing with GMHC.
- Officers of the chapter will be elected at large from among individual members of
The officers will be elected for two year terms and may serve a maximum of two terms in the same office. All officers will assume their elected office on January 1 of each calendar year.
- Upon the conclusion of the President’s term of office, he or she will continue as a voting member of the Board of Directors in the office of Past President for a term of two years. In the event that the President should die, resign or be otherwise unable to continue in the office until the end of their term the President Elect will assume all duties of the office of the President.
- If a member leaves the Board of Directors during his/her term of office, or an officer elect should be unable or unwilling for any reason to assume the office for which they have been elected, the President will recommend to the Board of Directors the name or names of replacements. The President will appoint the replacement from these recommendations with approval from the board to serve for the remainder of the unexpired term.
- If a Board Member is absent from 3 required meetings that member will be considered for dismissal from their position by the Board of Directors, for not fulfilling their duties and responsibilities. Dismissal or retention may occur with a two thirds majority vote of the Board.
Section 2. Nomination and Election of Officers
The President will appoint, no later than SEPTEMBER 1, bi-annually an Ad Hoc Elections Committee.
- The Ad Hoc Elections Committee will determine the eligibility of all names submitted and will select for placement on the Election Ballot the names of at least two but not more than four candidates for each of the offices. Should an insufficient number of member nominations be submitted from members to fill the ballot, the Nominations and Elections Committee will select members willing to have their names placed on the Election Ballot. The Nominations and Elections Committee, at its discretion, may include names for inclusion on the Elections Ballot that were not submitted by members up to the specified limited number of nominations for each office.
- Should a member of the chapter find cause to contest the eligibility of any nominee, written notices will be given to the Chairperson of the Ad Hoc Elections Committee within fifteen (15) days after the publication of the slate of candidates. Without a contest being entered, the slate becomes incontestable fifteen (15) days after publication. Should a contest of eligibility be entered, the Nominations and Elections Committee will, within fifteen (15) days, determine the validity of the contested nomination and take appropriate action to remedy the situation.
- The Ad Hoc Elections Committee will complete the slate of officers published on the official website of the chapter no later than NOVEMBER 1. Ballots must be returned to the Secretary no later than DECEMBER 1. The Nominations and Elections Committee will ensure that only ballots returned by current GMHC members will be counted.
- The Secretary will determine the winners from the returned ballots, and will certify the election results to the Board of Directors. The actual ballots will be retained for independent verification and in case there should be any challenge to the election results.
- The person receiving the largest number of votes for any office will be declared elected to the office. In case of a tie for first place, the winner will be chosen by the President.
- The Nominations and Elections Committee, with the approval of the Board of Directors will establish any additional policies necessary to implement this election procedure.
Section 3. Powers and Duties of Officers
- The President will serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors and will be the presiding officer of GMHC. The President will, with the approval of the Board of Directors, appoint all Ad Hoc committees. The President will have the power to act on behalf of GMHC in legislative and regulatory matters requiring immediate action. These actions will be consistent with the established legislative platform and purposes of GMHC. They will be reported to the President Elect by telephone or in writing within three (3) working days and be reported to the Board of Directors at the next scheduled Board meeting. The President will serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors, will perform such other duties as are incidental to the office, or as may be properly required by vote of the Board of Directors and/or specified by policy.
- The President Elect/Vice President will serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors, will coordinate the Committees and will perform such duties as may be directed by the Board. He/she will succeed the President at the end of the President’s term.
- The Past President will serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors. He/she will perform duties as may be directed by the President, the Board of Directors and/or by policy.
- The Secretary will serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors and will maintain membership records and communicate upcoming events and announcement, and newsworthy items to members and contacts of GMHC. In addition, he/she will be responsible for recording of minutes at all official meetings of the Board Of directors and the timely distribution of these minutes to all member of the Board.
- The Treasurer will serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors. The Treasurer will perform other duties as may be directed by the President, the Board of Directors and/or by policy.
- The Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern Representative will serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors and will be responsible for promoting the purposes and goals of GMHC among registered interns throughout the area and district and will perform other duties as may be directed by the President, the Board of Directors and/or by policy.
- The Graduate Student Member-at-Large will serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors and will be responsible for promoting the purposes and goals of GMHC in college and university programs statewide that are educating and training future mental health counselors.
- The Professional Development Chair will serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors and will be responsible for leading and coordinating the responsibilities and activities of the Professional Development Committee.
- The Membership Chair will serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors and will be responsible for recruiting new members and implementing actions for increasing membership.
- The Legislative Chair will serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors and will be responsible for providing members with updates on legislature and advocacy opportunities in the field.
- The Marketing/Public Relations Chair will serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors and will be responsible for promoting GMHC and securing sponsors for GMHC events.
- The Graduate Student Chair will serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors and will be responsible for recruiting new graduate student members and for developing a quarterly newsletter.
- The Member- at- Large of which there will be four (4) positions will serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors and will perform duties as may be directed by the President, the Board of Directors and/or by policy.
- Webmaster will serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors and will be responsible for maintaining and modifying the website as needed.
- From time to time the President may appoint, with Board approval an additional Board Member to serve what remains of a two year term cycle.
Section 4. Removal From Office
A simple majority of the GMHC Board of Directors will be required to remove an elected member from the position.
A. Reasons for removal from office are:
- Violation of professional, legal, or ethical codes.
- Failure to carry out duties/responsibilities of office, or
- Failure to act in accordance with the established legislative platform or purpose of GMHC.
- The process of removal from office must be initiated in writing by a member of the
chapter. Two additional letters from members supporting removal from office must
accompany the initial charge. Ethical violations must be dealt with according procedures
detailed in policy relating to such matters as set forth by the Ethics Committee. The
following steps will apply in sequence when the charge relates to failure to carry out the
duties and responsibilities of one’s office:
- Written documentation of charges must be presented to the GMHCA President. In
cases when the President is being charged, the Past President will receive the written documentation of the charges.
- Notification of the charges must be provided to the officer in question and to the GMHC Board of Directors.
- Consideration of the issue, in closed executive session, by the GMHC Board of Directors.
- Attempts will be made to resolve the issues through appropriate communication channels with the intent of keeping the person in office if at all possible.
- Removal from office can occur by a two thirds majority vote of the remaining voting members of the GMHC Board of Directors and District Representative(s).
- There will be an opportunity for the accused to respond to charges, either in person or in written form to the GMHC Board of Directors and District Representative(s).
- Removal from office will not be official until ninety (90) days from the date of action taken regarding charges by the GMHC Board of Directors and District Representative(s).
- An appeal process will be available within ninety (90) days from the date of action taken regarding charges by the GMHC Board of Directors.
- During the ninety (90) day appeal period, the officer will take no official action without the expressed written approval of the President. If the officer in question is the President, the Past President will act on behalf of GMHC as President during the ninety (90) day appeal period.
- The accused member of the Board of Directors will be required to abstain from voting on the issue; the accused officer may also be asked to leave the session in which the issue is considered by the remainder of the Board of Directors.
- If removal from office results, written notice to this effect will be provided to the person charged by the GMHC President. Removal will also be duly recorded in the minutes of the Board of Directors meeting, along with the effective date of removal.
ARTICLE IV: BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Section 1. Composition
All officers and committee members are Board of Directors of GMHC. Only the officers are voting members.
Section 2. Duties and Responsibilities
- The Board of Directors will be the agency through which the general administrative
policy and executive function of the chapter are affected. The Board will be responsible for developing and implementing policies in accordance with these bylaws and with respect to FMHCA policy.
- The Board of Directors will conduct, manage and control the business of the chapter in
accordance with these bylaws. The Board of Directors may, at its discretion, contract with an outside organization for administrative services to be determined. No policy decisions may be delegated to any other entity
Section 3. Meetings
The Board of Directors meets at least quarterly. Additional meetings may be called by the President or a majority of the Board of Directors. Each member of the Board of Directors has one vote. A simple majority of the voting members of the Board of Directors constitutes a quorum.
ARTICLE V: BUSINESS AFFAIRS OF THE ASSOCIATI0N
Section 1. Fiscal Year
The fiscal year will be from JANUARY 1 to DECEMBER 31.
Section 2. Dissolution of the Association.
Upon the dissolution of this organization, assets shall be distributed for one or more exempt purposes within the meaning of section 501 (c ) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code or corresponding section of any future federal tax code, or shall be distributed to the federal government, or to a state or local government for a public purpose.
Section 3. Meetings
The Annual Meeting of the Members will be held in January.
Section 4. Standing Committees
Standing Committees are established in these bylaws. Committee chairpersons will be appointed by the GMHC President with approval of the Board of Directors. Each Committee will report to the Board of Directors, in writing, the salient activities, financial information and progress of the committee.
The following will be Standing Committees of GMHC:
- The Bylaws Committee will receive and review proposals for amending the bylaws and all resolutions submitted by various components of the Association.
- The Professional Development Committee will monitor the professional development needs of the Association’s members and provide resources to meet those needs.
- Membership Committee will focus on increasing membership.
- Legislative Committee will keep GMHC informed about legislative issues.
- Past President’s Council consists of former GMHC presidents in good standing and assists the Association in maintaining organizational continuity while supporting positive growth. The Council will meet quarterly and minutes of the meeting will be submitted to the President for record. The Council will also review applications, select applicants and award funds for the Student/Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern Scholarship Program.
Section 2. Ad Hoc Committees
- The committees of the Association will include Special Committees as may from time to
time be established by the Board of Directors with members appointed by the President. A Special Committee will exist until, in the judgment of the Board, the purpose of said committee has been accomplished. Special Committee Chairpersons, if non Board members will be non-voting.
- The Ad Hoc Elections Committee will be responsible for carrying out nominations and elections procedures. The committee members will be appointed by the President and consist of two Board of Directors Members and one member (non-Board member) who must be a member of GMHC in good standing
ARTICLE VI: ADOPTION AND AMENDMENT OF BYLAWS
Section 1. Adoption and Amendment
- These bylaws are adopted by the Board of Directors effective November 1, 2019 and are subject to ratification by the membership at the first Annual Meeting of the Membership.
- These bylaws may be amended by simple majority vote of the Board of Directors subject to ratification by the members at the first Annual Meeting of the Membership.
Section 2. Publication
The bylaws of the Association will be published on their official website.
ARTICLE VII: ETHICS
The Ethical Standards published by the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA), as they may from time to time be revised, are adopted as the ethical standards of GMHC. In any instance where Florida state and/or federal law and the referenced ethical standards of AMHCA conflict, the higher or more stringent standard will apply. AMHCA’s Standards of Ethics are the minimum standards of professional conduct and behavior for practicing counselors and therapists. All members are expected to familiarize themselves with these standards.