I.C.E. Public Member Profile: Mark Bertler
When Mark Bertler (left) replied to a solicitation for a public board member of The Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center (HPCC), it set him on an adventure he viewed as giving back to hospice care in return for providing him, his late wife and his children an outstanding experience when most needed. He was appointed as HPCC’s very first public board member, and he completed his final term last year. Bertler is also one of two public members on I.C.E.’s Accreditation Services Council. Reflecting on these experiences, he is quick to say that in return for giving back, he thrives on “the stimulation from working with passionate, intelligent, committed people.”
Uncovering Ways to Make an Impact
A background in trade association management and governmental advocacy equipped Bertler for his role as a public member by sensitizing him to public policy challenges and the importance of organizational accountability. Accountability for pursuit of mission, for measurable performance, for transparency — and for other things the public is entitled to expect from credentialing bodies. (See the public member resource page on the I.C.E. website for information about the role of public members.)
When Bertler began his tenure as public member, not only was he new to the role, but the HPCC was adjusting to having this new position on its board. It evolved from uncertainty about what this NCCA/ABNS-required arrangement was all about to mutual respect and appreciation for the multiple and varied ways public members enrich board deliberations, bolster public accountability, and enhance the credibility of a credential.
Looking back, Bertler acknowledges he could’ve had a better understanding of what was expected of him as a public member when he first began with HPCC. The board member job descriptions and orientation package, while helpful, didn’t distinguish between practitioner members and public members. Having a more clearly defined job description would’ve helped him — and the other board members — recognize the unique role of the public member and establish shared expectations.
Nonetheless, Bertler settled readily into the public member role because of his past experiences with hospice care and management. Recognized as leadership material, he was elected treasurer and helped redesign the board’s financial system. He became known as the guy who did the homework and came to meetings thoroughly prepared. He was also appointed to the search committee for a new CEO.
Bertler raised eyebrows when he announced his plan to earn I.C.E.’s Credentialing Specialist Certificate and asked for the educational reimbursement provided to board members. However, the board president supported his request noting that the certificate was one way to assure that the public member was knowledgeable about the world of certification. HPCC also began sending Bertler to the I.C.E. Exchange, where he networked with and learned from other public members and interacted with the HPCC staff and board members in attendance.
Fulfilling the Role of a Public Member
To Bertler, part of his job as a public member — and, as such, a representative of the public — is to question why things are done a certain way. Such probing has led to the organization clarifying the respective responsibilities of the membership organization (advancing palliative care nursing practice), and the certification arm, (the full breadth of hospice and palliative care delivery by a team of professionals, not exclusively nurses). Bertler supported the HPCC charter change to include all hospice and palliative care professionals. By asking more “why” questions, he launched a conversation that ultimately produced a better understanding of the division of responsibilities between the board (policy) and the staff (administration).
On the Accreditation Services Council, Bertler says he “looks at the industry broadly and strives to address challenges and harmonize similarities.” He is currently interested in promoting discussions to encourage educational institutions to give academic credit for credentials.
Looking Toward the Future
Active in I.C.E.’s Public Member Committee, Bertler appreciates the many resources I.C.E. provides public members and the ways public members come together and reinforce one another. What needs more work, he believes, is cultivating CEO awareness and engagement. Sensitive, aware CEOs help grease the wheels for public members.
Bertler looks forward to his new role as a public member on the I.C.E. Board of Directors and will begin his first term in January 2024. He hopes this profile illustrates, for public members, the multiple opportunities available for them to contribute. “They are there for the full range of their experience and interests and shouldn’t be timid about saying, ‘I can do that!’” he says. Bertler also wants organizations to remember that well-chosen, well supported public members are an invaluable resource, capable of serving the board in any capacity.