Gaining a Deeper Knowledge of the Standards: A Q&A With NCCA Commissioner Lindsey Durham
Throughout her career, Lindsey Durham has been drawn to helping organizations that are driven by their mission and the people they serve. As Chief Financial Officer of the National Registry of EMTs, Durham leads the organization’s finance function and helps lead its compliance and accreditation efforts.
It was this aspect of her job where she became familiar with the NCCA — but it was the desire to deepen her knowledge as a subject matter expert that motivated her to join the NCCA Commission as an administrative reviewer. We spoke with Durham to learn more about her career and what she’s gained from this role.
Tell us about your career. Why did you enter your profession and how did you get to where you are today?
I started my career as an auditor for a mid-sized accounting firm where I quickly specialized in providing auditing and accounting services for not-for-profit organizations. I was drawn to helping organizations whose leaders had a passion for their mission and the people they served. My experiences there exposed me to many different types of organizations and the common issues faced by those organizations. I also spent most of my career working in various teams and learning how to leverage my teammates to creatively solve complex problems.
I joined the National Registry of EMTs, my current employer, in 2014 where I was hired to lead the finance function for the organization. Like many others who work for certification organizations, my role quickly expanded to other areas to help fulfill the needs of the team. Among other assumed roles, I helped lead our compliance and accreditation efforts to ensure that we were prepared for our NCCA renewal application. This is where I became familiar with the NCCA and wanted to learn as much as I could to help my organization. Working at the National Registry has allowed me to continue to work with many passionate colleagues who all believe in the mission of the organization and genuinely want to make a difference every day.
What does the role of an NCCA administrative reviewer role look like? What made you want to become one?
Administrative reviewers on the NCCA Commission evaluate NCCA submissions from an organizational leadership perspective. We verify that policies comply with the standards and are implemented as written. We also make sure that programs maintain good organizational governance and take appropriate ownership of key certification activities. We focus primarily on standards 1 through 14 (in addition to 18, 22 and 23), all of which connect to provide a high-level understanding of a program’s operations. Our administrative reviewers have diverse experience in credentialing, program management and organizational leadership, which brings rich discussions every meeting about the interpretation of the standards and the practical application of those standards.
In 2016, I responded to an ICE call for leadership email with an interest to grow and expand my career as a credentialing professional. Prior to 2016, I thought I had exhausted all my resources to learn about the certification industry. I gained my Credentialing Specialist certificate, attended workshops, webinars and conferences, and read as much as I could find on the ICE website. I hoped that volunteering with the NCCA would expand my resource network with colleagues equally passionate about their mission and the credentialing industry. While I became the go-to person in my organization on the NCCA standards, I knew that I had much to learn from others in the credentialing industry to be a true subject matter expert.
What interests you most in working on the NCCA?
I continue to be impressed with the discussions that occur at each of our commission meetings. This group is filled with true experts in their field. Every commissioner is enthusiastic about learning from peers and dedicated to ensuring consistent application of the standards. I have learned so much just from participating in the commission discussions and look forward to the lively conversations every meeting.
Has this role helped your professional development and growth? If so, how?
Absolutely! I have gained so much knowledge and understanding about the credentialing profession through my participation with the commission. I now know the “why” behind all of the standards, which was a huge knowledge gap for me four years ago. Prior to joining the commission, I implemented policy referenced by the standards because the standards said so. Now I understand the meaning behind the standards and the connection to industry best practices application. This knowledge has allowed me to make more effective decisions for my organization when implementing or adjusting organizational policies.
In addition, I have expanded my network with many amazing people that I would have never met otherwise. These individuals have challenged my opinions and broadened my perspectives, while also supporting me professionally and personally. I also have grown professionally within the credentialing industry. I even presented at the annual ICE Exchange (something I never expected to do)!
Why should someone in the ICE community consider becoming an administrative reviewer?
Becoming a Commissioner has been one of the most gratifying and challenging roles I’ve ever assumed. This position will help someone learn a lot, grow professionally and meet some amazing people along the way. I’ve realized that you don’t have to know everything about the NCCA standards or even certification to be a good commissioner. You just need to have enthusiasm for the NCCA mission and eagerness to learn. Being a commissioner is hard work, but it’s definitely worth it!