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Newsroom: Organization Updates

AOBTA Year In Review - 2019

Thursday, February 13, 2020   (0 Comments)
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By Deborah Valentine Smith, AOBTA® President

2019 was a busy and productive year for the AOBTA®, with some great leaps forward and some really challenging struggles to protect and support our ABT practitioners, schools and the ABT image.

The AOBTA® Board of Directors has been very active this year. You will see that reflected in the projects below. Meet them at

Consultant Staff Expansion

We increased our consultant staff to assist with on-going projects and daily maintenance. The joint efforts of all our consultants has garnered encouraging results and we look forward to continuing and refining their contribution in 2020.

Wayne Mylin – Managing Director, celebrating his sixth year keeping the organization going and thriving on a day to day basis.
Yolanda Asher – Legislative Consultant, celebrating her 2rd year
Brian Skow – Communications Consultant, joined us in 2019.
Jessica Van Antwerp – Secretary to the Board, worked with us for 3 years and did an amazing job with the board records. She resigned this month to give more time to her own work.
Sarah West – Secretary to the Board, joined us in 2019 to replace Jessica and will also be performing some of the tasks of the recently added Member Relations Consultant position while we work on clarifying its role.

Launch of the new Association Membership System through YourMembership

Thanks to Wayne Mylin, our managing director, for mountains of work getting this powerful new system up and running and teaching the rest of us how to navigate it. You can make an acquaintance with it through Wayne’s Lunch & Learn presentation on our AOBTA® website HERE

Launch of the “Lunch & Learn” Webinars

2nd Wednesday of Each Month | See the recordings on the AOBTA® Website.

“Bodymind Skills that Assist Clients to Discover Themselves in the Moment: The Wisdom in Patterns of Tension, the Resource in Patterns of Expansion," with Kamala Quale, AOBTA®-CI, The techniques Kamala shares help clients become more embodied, learning about themselves in order to change. Have a look, see what you might like to bring into your practice of Asian medicine!” Kamala will also be presenting at the AOBTA® convention in 2021. View video HERE

“Nourishing Yin at its Deepest Level with the Extraordinary Vessels” with Suzanne Yates, AOBTA® Honorary Member and author of Wellmother: Exploring our Extraordinary Potential with Shiatsu and Massage. Suzanne will also be presenting a special post-convention workshop in 2021. View video HERE

“Navigating the AOBTA Website” at with Wayne Mylin, AOBTA® Managing Director. There's a good chance you'll see things you haven't seen before and find a few treasures along the way. View video HERE

“The Full Practice Formula: Applying the Wisdom of the Three Treasures and Five Elements to Your Practice Success,” with Diane Przymus, AOBTA®-CP and intuitive business coach. View video HERE

Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice Meditations with Matthew Swiegart, AOBTA®-CI

Education: Monthly Production of the AOBTA® Pulse Newsletter.

See the latest issue here: January 2020 Pulse Newsletter
You can access a list past issues in the Newsroom - Pulse Issues

Legislation: Protecting our Members’ Right to Practice

The legislative committee, including the board Treasurer/Secretary, Lauren Paap and our legislative consultant, Yolanda Asher, assisted the members in Illinois, Massachusetts and Minnesota, who have been working tirelessly to protect Asian Bodywork Therapists’ right to practice and, where possible, to develop legislation friendly to ABT. There were also important activities in other states, including California, Texas and Georgia. For details, see Yolanda’s December “Advocacy Update,” now a regular feature in the Pulse Newsletter. See past issues of Advocacy Articles in the Newsroom.

Legislation: Collaboration with other Professions

Lauren Paap, then AOBTA® President, attended the annual meeting of the Federation-MBS, or the Federation of Therapeutic Massage, Bodywork and Somatic Practice Organizations. The Federation has been a crucial source of strength over many years as a platform to bring together smaller somatic practice organizations like AOBTA®, Reflexology, Polarity Therapy, to name a few, to form larger coalitions and to be heard in the wider massage and bodywork field.

Education: Developing Competency Standards for Teaching

Several AOBTA® members represented AOBTA® at the biannual Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFTME) 2019 Educational Conference in Philadelphia. The AOBTA® has been working with the alliance to develop competency standards for massage and bodywork teachers. Read about the Teacher Education Standards Project in this article from Pulse “Even After 35 Years, There’s more to Learn".

Education: ABT Competencies

Thanks to Cari Johnson Pelava, AOBTA® COSP Director, our AOBTA® required curriculum has been translated into educational competencies, which is the emerging educational standard that replaces simple classroom hours and will be useful to us moving forward. This description of competencies is intended to serve as an elaboration and clarification of the AOBTA®’s long standing 500 hour curriculum. This information should be useful for helping schools and programs refine their existing curriculum or as a reference tool for the evaluation of either students or practitioners of Asian Bodywork Therapy.

2021 Convention

The planning committee for the 2021 convention was launched in October. The theme is the AOBTA® 30th anniversary and our Three Treasures: Jing, Qi & Shen. We have many exceptional presenters lined up and plans for fun and inspirational events. Details coming in February/March. The committee meets on the 3rd Friday of the month at 11am EST. To participate in this lively group, go to, log into the member side, click on “Groups” in the top tool bar, then click “request to join group” under “Convention Committee.” While you’re there, check out other groups you might be interested in.

Two New Certified AOBTA® Instructors

Congratulations to Margie Pivar and Nini Melvin, our new AOBTA® Certified Instructors.
Read about them here in the article, “Introducing our New Certified Instructors,” under Education Spotlight in the website newsroom.

AOBTA® on Social Media

Thanks primarily to the great work of our Communications Consultant, Brian Skow, AOBTA® has maintained a consistent & effective presence on social media.

Facebook – Followers on the AOBTA® Facebook page climbed from just above 400 at the beginning of 2019 to 626 today. The statistics on people reached and engaged have increased an amazing 600% in the last year. 

LinkedInAOBTA®’s LinkedIn Page has been updated and revitalized.

Instagram - AOBTA® has an Instagram account.

Twitter – AOBTA®’s Twitter Account is re-activated and we are learning how to use it! Stay tuned.

YouTube – AOBTA® now has its own You Tube channel. Look for the Solstice Meditations and other public postings here. Subscribe!

For the moment, the posts to these social media channels look very similar. We plan to have the posts differentiate, however, as more content becomes available over time. In particular, we hope to receive more photos to share the beauty of Asian Bodywork Therapy with the world!

Council of Schools and Programs

Cindy Banker, Director of Education, and Cari Johnson Pelava, COSP Director, have continued to work with our existing COSP members and aspiring candidates. In 2019, COMTA, (Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation) which has included standards to accredit ABT schools, has instituted a process to award “Endorsed Curriculum” standing to eligible schools. Full COMTA accreditation is a highly valued, but lengthy and expensive endeavor (upwards of $10,000). At $1,000, the new endorsed standing is a welcome step forward for our ABT Schools. AOBTA® is encouraging COSP Schools to apply and offering some financial assistance.

Member Marketplace
We’ve added several partners to provide services and products at a discount to AOBTA® Members. Take a look at AOBTA Marketplace.

2020 Meeting Schedule

Board - 2nd Friday of every month, 11:00a-1:00p EST.
Legislative Committee - 1st Friday of the month, every other month, or every 3 months, watch for announcement.
Conference Committee - 3rd Friday of every month, 11:00a - 1:00p EST.
Communications Committee - as needed, watch for announcement.
Membership Committee - as needed, watch for announcement.

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