The Name Change Task Force: The Journey

Academy News,

By Mikki Townshend, PT, DPT, OCS

Two years ago I was asked to join the Name Change Task Force for the Section on Women’s Health as a representative of members-at-large. Jill Boissonnault, Rebecca Stephenson, Dan Kirages, Tamra Wroblesky, Secili DeStefano, and Chair Carrie Pagliano have served alongside me.

Re-branding and, in particular, possible name changes are immensely complex issues, and the task force has undertaken this effort with great thought and care. We have discussed this issue from every angle we could think of in order to develop a comprehensive overview, including researching historical perspectives and international viewpoints, and identifying stakeholders within and outside of the Section.

In an effort to gain more guidance, we launched a member survey at the 2015 APTA Combined Sections Meeting and received positive responses from a statistically small sample.

By that summer we realized we needed professional help to move forward. With the support of the SOWH board, we developed a request for proposals to hire a consultant. After interviewing three groups, we hired Navigate Strategies (, a women-owned business that brought expertise and a clear framework to the process.

CSM 2016 was a busy time for us. Finally, we all got to meet face to face as a group, working with consultant Susan Iris directly to articulate our strategies. We also held a town hall meeting facilitated by Susan and the task force to obtain direct feedback and ideas from SOWH members.

After CSM, we sent a membership survey with follow-up questions about who we are as a Section and received more than 300 responses! Navigate Strategies is compiling that information and will use it to move forward with a potential rebranding/name change initiative.

So where do we go from here?

The ABPTS Description of Specialty Practice Revalidation Pilot Survey has been distributed, and we are waiting to look at the practice pattern data to see if it reflects the perception of change. We will use initial survey data to continue on the path toward identifying a potential name that is representative of all of our members. The possible new name then will be put to a membership vote and, if passed, be submitted for a required vote by both the APTA Board of Directors and other Sections.

If the name change is approved by those entities, SOWH would begin extensive rebranding work to change logos, websites, letterheads, legal paperwork, and potentially our journal title.

When we asked our consultant how long this process could take, Susan answered six months to six years! At this point, though, no decisions have been made, and we are proceeding cautiously with great respect to all of our members. We will do our best to keep the membership updated as we have more information to share. Please continue to share your thoughts–we welcome them and are listening!

Author: Mikki Townshend, PT, DTP, OCS, is a member of the SOWH Name Change Task Force. She can be reached at