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Northern Virginia Coalition for Refugee Wellness
Northern Virginia Coalition for Refugee Wellness

charter and bylwas


Article I – Name

The name of the organization is the Northern Virginia Coalition for Refugee Wellness (hereinafter referred to as the Coalition or NVCRW). The Coalition was established in August 2016, pursuant to the Virginia Healing Partnership initiative.

Article II - Mission

Section II. A: Vision 

An accessible behavioral health system of care for refugees and their families.

Section II. B: Mission 

We promote health and recovery among refugees and their families through awareness, accessibility, and coordination of behavioral health services.

Section II. C: Values

Our system of care is:

1. Respectful of the inherent dignity of all individuals;

2. Trauma-informed;

3. Culturally and linguistically competent;

4. Compassionate and supportive;

5. Dynamic, informative, and responsive; and

6. Committed to community engagement and advocacy.

Article III – Objectives of the Coalition

Section III. A: Background

The Coalition is an affiliate of the Virginia Healing Partnership, a statewide initiative to identify refugee mental health risks and increase community mental health partnerships. The Virginia Healing Partnership is supported by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, the Virginia Department of Health, and regional refugee mental health councils. Regional refugee mental health councils include local agencies, community organizations, volunteers, individuals, and refugee community leaders.

Section III. B: Objectives

The Northern Virginia Coalition for Refugee Wellness (NVCRW) oversees the Virginia Healing Partnership in Northern Virginia, which includes Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William; and the Cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park. The objectives of the Virginia Healing Partnership include strategic planning to promote refugee behavioral health activities, cultural adjustment in resettlement, provider and refugee community partnerships, trauma- and culture-informed education. 

The NVCRW has two focus areas: 

1. Enhance the mental health screening and referral process between local health departments and behavioral health providers

2. Develop and implement culturally-informed mental health interventions which target refugee service gaps

Section III. C: Purpose

The scope of work of the Coalition includes, but is not limited to:

1. Strategic programming to optimize refugee behavioral health services

2. Recommend policy for state and local services

Article IV – Membership

The Coalition is a coalition of individual and organizational members who have an interest in the health and well-being of refugees and their families in Northern Virginia. Members will act in accordance with the purpose and vision of the Coalition. Membership includes all those who are involved in the Coalition, or any of its groups, teams, and/or committees. Members may provide input or feedback on Coalition deliverables or initiatives; distribute information throughout its members’ networks; conduct outreach; advocate for policy, systems, environmental, or programmatic changes; or perform other activities as needed. 

Membership is open to interested individuals and diverse representatives from across all sectors of the community, including, but in no way limited to:

  1. Boards, authorities, and commissions (e.g., citizen      advisory groups)
  2. Businesses and employers (e.g., companies, chambers of      commerce)
  3. Community and nonprofit organizations (e.g., private      agencies, foundations)
  4. Community members (e.g., adult and youth residents,      student advisory councils, civic associations)
  5. Faith-based organizations (e.g., places of worship,      interfaith organizations)
  6. Healthcare systems, insurers, and clinicians (e.g., practitioners,      hospitals, providers, insurance companies)
  7. Refugee-serving organizations (e.g., resettlement      agencies)
  8. Schools and universities (e.g., public schools, private      institutions, colleges, technical schools, preschools, school board      members)
  9. State and local government (e.g., government agencies,      elected officials)

Article V - Committees

Section V. A: Steering Committee

The Steering Committee shall be the decision-making body of the Coalition. Steering Committee members shall retain voting rights to provide leadership, direction, integration, and oversight of Coalition’s efforts. The Steering Committee shall consist of representatives from Coalition members who may also serve on the Executive Committee. The Steering Committee shall include the Coalition co-chairs, Coalition Standing Committee chairs, and other members as voted on by the Steering Committee.

Representatives of the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services shall serve on the Steering Committee as non-voting members.

Each May or June, the Steering Committee will vote to approve the following year’s Steering Committee membership, which will be listed in the annual revision of the Operational Plan. 

Responsibilities of the Steering Committee:

1. Leadership, direction, integration, and oversight for the work of the Coalition

2. Supervision and direction of Coalition affairs, within the limits of the Charter and the Bylaws, and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations

3. Review, amend, and oversee the work of Coalition committees and teams.

4. Assist key staff in setting agendas and developing programs for Coalition meetings

Section V. B: Executive Committee

The Executive Committee shall consist the two Co-Chairs and the Committee Chairs. The Executive Committee will address urgent issues that may arise between regular Steering Committee meetings and may exercise the powers and duties of the Steering Committee on such issues. A report of the Executive Committee's action must be presented to the full Steering Committee at its next regularly scheduled meeting.

Section V. C: Standing Committees

Standing committees shall be formed to complete a set of tasks or objectives with a specific area of focus (e.g., assessments, policy, communications, membership/outreach, advocacy, professional development). These groups meet as needed to carry out their work. Ad hoc committees may be established for short-term projects (e.g., special events); chairs of these committees do not automatically join the Executive Committee.

The Coalition strives to have a chair for each committee and to include diversity of sector and membership representation among its leadership. All committees except for the Executive Committee will be comprised of volunteer members. The committee will self-elect its own chair and report recommendations to the Steering Committee as necessary.

Article VI – Officers

The Coalition accomplishes its work through its members, individually and through groups, teams, and committees. The Coalition also strives to include broad community input by incorporating mechanisms of public participation into its work such as surveys, focus groups, and community dialogues, when appropriate.

Section VII. A: Officers

Officers of the Coalition shall consist of two co-chairs

Section VII. B: Terms

Co-chairs shall serve on staggered three-year terms.

Section VII. C: Duties of Co-Chairs. 

1. Preside at general, Steering, and Executive Coalition meetings.

2. Act as, or delegate the responsibility for acting as, the spokespersons for the Coalition.

3. Work with designated staff to coordinate the work of Coalition committees.

Article VII – Elections

A. Co-chairs shall be elected from members of the Steering Committee.

B. The Co-Chairs will be elected by a majority vote of the Steering Committee. Elections should occur each May or June for the following year. (For the purposes of membership and all Coalition activities, the year is defined as September 1 through August 31). The newly elected co-chair(s) may assume duties beginning July 1 for leadership transition.

C. The officers shall assume their official duties beginning September 1 after they are elected and shall serve for a term of three years or until their successors are nominated and elected.

D. Any vacancy occurring in a Co-Chair position may be filled, until the expiration of the term by a majority vote of the Steering Committee.

E. Officers will be elected by a majority vote. If there is only one candidate for office, the election may be by voice vote. Absentee or proxy voting shall not be permitted. 

Article XIII – Voting

A. Voting members shall consist of Steering Committee members, excluding representatives from the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and the Virginia Health Department.

1. Steering Committee Actions: 

i. Act in furtherance of the interests of the Coalition and in accordance with the Coalition’s mission.

ii. Proposals for Steering Committee action on behalf of the Coalition must be submitted in writing to all the members of the Steering Committee at least one week prior to the Steering Committee meeting at which the proposal will be considered and voted upon. 

iii. A quorum and majority vote is required for Steering Committee actions

B. The Executive Committee Actions:

1. Vote on urgent issues that may arise between regular Steering Committee meetings.

2. A majority vote of the full Executive Committee is required for Executive Committee actions

3. Exercise the powers and duties of the Steering Committee on urgent issues.

4. Report all Executive Committee actions to the Steering Committee at its next regularly scheduled meeting.

C. A quorum is defined as 60% of the Steering Committee members, who are defined by the current Operational Plan.

D. Unless otherwise explicitly addressed in the Bylaws, decisions shall be made by a majority of voting members. 

E. Proxy voting is not permitted

Article IX – Meetings

A. Steering Committee Meeting Frequency

The Steering Committee shall meet according to a set schedule determined at its first meeting of the year, at least quarterly, except as agreed.

B. Special Meetings

Special meetings may be called at such times and places as necessary, upon approval of the Steering Committee. Notice of at least two weeks shall be provided and the business to be attended shall be included with notice.

C. Coalition Meeting Frequency

At least one meeting for the full Coalition membership shall be held annually.

D. Open Meetings

The meetings of the Coalition shall be open, unless the work of the Coalition would be of a confidential nature at law, which would preclude an open session. Members of the public shall have a reasonable opportunity to address the Coalition. 

Article X – Amendments

The Coalition Charter and Bylaws may be amended at any regular Steering Committee meeting. Written notice of the proposed amendment or revisions must be provided to all Coalition members at least 30 days in advance of the Steering Committee meeting where the vote on the proposed amendments is to occur. A quorum and majority vote is required to amend the Charter and Bylaws.

Article XI - Disclaimer

All written materials stating a position taken by the Coalition will include the following statement: “The NVCRW’s position represents the opinion of the majority of participating groups and individuals, but does not necessarily reflect the position of any particular member organization or individual.”

Note: These bylaws were originally approved on November 3, 2017, by the Coalition Steering Committee. The charter will periodically be reviewed and updated to further define the purpose and scope of work of the various bodies of the Coalition.