October 2019

    The District Operations Manual has been developed to help YOU, the District Leaders of ISA support the Sections and their Members within your District.  

    Table of Content

    1. Introduction
    2. District Resources and Policies
    3. District Leadership
    4. District Budget
    5. District Leadership Conference
    6. Geographic Assembly
    7. District Reporting  


    This is a great reference tool to quickly identify the information that enables you to function effectively as ISA District Council Members and Leaders.

    This guide outlines the functions and roles of District Leaders, using links to online documents, forms, and web pages to support you.

    Your District Council is made up of experienced volunteer Leaders from the Sections in your District. They are ideally situated to support all the District and Section volunteer leader activities, helping the Section grow and support their members. The District Council is a major part of the ISA Section support system, and the larger the number of active council members the more successful they will be in supporting the activities of ISA Sections.  

    You can use this guide to help volunteer leaders understand the commitment they are making, and the time involved when they become leaders on the Council. This will help you increase the number of leaders and their effectiveness when serving on your District Council.

    The most successful way for a leader to retire is to identify, encourage, train and support their own replacement. The best way for volunteers to get involved is to agree to do a specific minor role or task, allowing them to become more involved and possibly go on to become District Vice Presidents in the future. The most successful leaders develop strong District Councils to generate the replacement leaders over several years.

    This is an evolving document and if you want to suggest improvements please send them to the chair of the Geographic Assembly or District Staff Contact person.


    There are several important ISA resources and detailed policies available for District leadership to fulfill their responsibilities.

    The ISA Leader Resources page has direct access to the Society’s Leadership Structure, information about Leader Meeting, Operating Documents, Administrative Forms, Logos, Templates and Brochures, Leader Training, PowerPoint Presentations, and Video Library.

    • Leadership Structure
      • The Organizational Chart provides a visual overview of ISA’s governing structure. This is a great tool to understand how the Districts align.
      • There are webpages dedicated to the governance groups where you can find descriptions of the different boards and committees, and access agendas, minutes, and other related working documents. Each District has its own governance webpages.
      • Gain an understanding of the Society’s nomination and election process
    • Leader Meetings
      • Engage a cross-section of ISA volunteer leaders in the policy-setting and decision-making process during two to four days of work sessions focused on society business held in a face-to-face setting twice a year.
      • Access leader training presentations that were conducted at recent leader meetings.
    • Operating Documents
      • There are several manuals, guides, and other documents provided for guidance in fulfilling all volunteer responsibilities.
        • Society Leader Operating Documents
          • The Society Bylaws are an integral part to ISA’s governance. District Vice Presidents (DVPs) need to understand the articles outlining where they support, and in some cases oversee. The list below is not exclusive to District operations but provides the DVPs with a quick reference tool for their administrative efforts. 
            • ARTICLE VIII – Chartering of Sections and Student Sections
            • ARTICLE X – Officers
            • ARTICLE XI – Nomination and Election Procedures
            • ARTICLE XII – Council of Society Delegates Meetings
            • ARTICLE XIV – Assembly of District Vice Presidents
          • Key sections of the Manual of Organizations and Procedures (MOP) are outlined to help the District leaders recognize their functions and committee membership opportunities.
            • CSD (Council of Society Delegates)
            • CSD 3.4 outlines the DVP’s roles and responsibilities to the sections, delegates, and members at the annual meeting.
            • GEO (Assembly of District Vice Presidents)
            • The DVP and DVP-elect are both voting members.
            • DIS (Districts)
            • Outlines the basic objective of the District organization to enhance the effectiveness of Section activities
            • SEC (Sections)
            • This will require the DVP to interact/approve and report to the GA for action when required. The DVP should have a complete understanding of this part of the MOP.
          • The Policies and Operational Guidelines (POG) provides resources for ISA leaders and members on the professional and ethical operations of the society.
            • Covers specific policies related to how ISA conducts business and interactions with individuals including members, volunteer leaders, employees, and other organizations.
            • Includes guidelines and information related to typical activities and operations within the Society.
          • District Leader Operating Documents
            • The DVP and District leaders can access information on membership statistics, district boundaries, web meetings, and important dates.
          • Section Leader Operating Documents
            • In support of the Sections, the DVP and District leaders can guide sections to these tools. It is important the DVP has a good understanding of the resources available.

    Administrative Documents

    • Society Leader Administrative Documents contains many downloadable templates to be used for presentations, expense reimbursement requests, agenda and minutes templates, etc.
    • District Leader Administrative Documents
      • The DVP and District leaders can access downloadable forms to be in compliance requirements.
        • Each DVP is required to complete an annual District Leaders Form, a list of District officers submitted at the beginning of the DVPs term. Updates can be submitted as roles are filled.
        • The District Annual Report is submitted annually the second week of December, outlining the DVPs activities, as well as the District and Section activities completed in the year.
    • Section Leader Administrative Documents
      • In support of the Sections, the DVP and District leaders can guide sections to these tools. It is important the DVP has a good understanding of the resources available.

    ISA Logos, Templates, and Brochures

    • ISA provides logo files and templates for you to download to be in adherence to the ISA graphic standards.
    • As a district officer, you will primarily be concerned with proper usage of the logo and the tag line.
      • Review the usage guidelines and download logo files and tagline files, including section logos
      • Downloadable and printable informative brochures and marketing materials are available to help spread the word about ISA

    ISA PowerPoints

    • ISA provides presentations that leaders can deliver during District Leadership Conferences, or during Section and District meetings/events throughout the year

    ISA Video Library

    • Discover an array of informative ISA videos



    A District Council will provide continuity and support for the DVP and the Sections. This section focuses on best practices to help a district succeed.

    DVPs should seek to share best practices when planning and conducting their DLCs. Opportunities may exist to generate revenue to offset the cost of the DLC (i.e. registration fee, and/or sponsorship.) Using a Section to co-ordinate/host the DLC should be considered to alleviate an individual bearing the cost of any upfront expenses, such as hotel conference booking.

    The DVP needs the support of other volunteer leaders in the District Council to effectively run the District from year to year. The District Council will provide knowledge and experience to support the DVP to complete their duties, activities, and responsibilities of their District.

    There are several important positions on the District Council, including the District VP-elect, Nominator, District Secretary, District Membership Chair, and Section Presidents and Delegates. Reference the ISA Manual of Organization and Procedures DIS 3.3 for more information about the different roles within a District Council. Another good reference for a list of District leadership positions is the District Leaders Form.

    District VP-elects should be elected before the end of the current District VP-elect assumes the role of DVP in January.

    Building a District Council is a similar process to building a Section executive board. Reference the Section Operations Manual on building a board for inspiration on growing the Council.

    Supporting Sections is one of the most important roles of any DVP. The DVP should be in frequent communication with each Section President in their District.

    • Section support
      • Visiting Sections
        • The District plan should include visiting every section at least once in a DVP’s two-year term.
        • Visiting Sections should not be a simple check off box. Each visit should have a propose.  Here are some examples of what to do while visiting a Section:
          • Provide input on what works and what doesn’t during an annual Section planning meeting.
          • Present leadership training to section officers. Always having two ready-to-go presentations makes this easy to do.
          • Assist with Section restructuring. Sections sometimes go through challenging times. District leadership can visit them face-to-face or by teleconference with Section leaders to facilitate a path forward to help the regrouped Section succeed.
          • Answer questions about society-level concerns that Sections may have.
          • Represent ISA at a student event.

    • Conference calls
      • One-on-One Calls
        • Meet with Section Presidents via phone at least once per year to keep District Leadership engaged in what they are focusing on and find out if there is anything the District can do to help then.
      • District Council Conference Calls
        • Districts should have a call at least once a quarter to keep everyone on the same page on activities happening throughout the year. This includes engaging Sections for reports, District Leadership Conference preparations, Council of Society Delegates preparations, and any other activities that the Board needs to address throughout the year.
      • Section Leadership Conference Calls
        • Topics: An easy way to forward along information to Sections is by inviting all Section officers to a conference call. Instead of relying on emailed information to be read, discussing the information over the phone can be more retainable.
          • Examples of information to share: Society Strategic Plan, Section opportunities, etc.
          • Sharing best practices amongst the Sections
        • Workshops: Sometimes the best way to get people to accomplish tasks is through a workshop, where the Sections work on activities required to succeed and it ensures all required documentation submitted.
          • Quarterly Reports: Guide the Sections through each part and why reporting activities is important
          • Business Plan and Budget: Demonstrate how the reports are developed and explain/explore the purpose for them.
          • Membership Retention and Recruitment: Help them to set goals and guide them through recruitment and retention strategies.


    The Society budgeting process is of strategic importance to the overall governance of the Society. The Geographic Assembly (GA) budget is one element of the overall process. DVP’s should be conscious to how and where items have been budgeted. Unused funds become unavailable to the Society to further Society goals. Consequently, DVP’s should seek to budget what is realistic and use historical data to reflect and budget actual needs.

    • Roles and Responsibilities
      • District Vice President – Works with DVP-elect to prepare and submit District budget to the GA Budget Committee
      • GA Budget Committee – Ensures timely submission of District budgets and provides guidance to DVP’s on budget preparation. Provides reporting of actual spend versus budget. Committee reports should be issued 1) in advance of the Leader Meeting in the first half of the year, 2) in advance of finalizing the budget in July and 3) in advance of Leader Meeting later in the year.
      • GA Budget Chair: Submits GA Budget to Finance Committee for review
      • Finance Committee: Submits GA Budget to Executive Board for approval
    • Budget Schedule



    January - March

    DVP’s review and update their respective budget proposals


    District budget due to GA Budget Committee


    GA Budget Committee reviews proposal


    GA Budget Committee Chair submits proposed budget to Finance Committee for review                           

    September - October

    Finance Committee submits proposed budget to Executive Board for approval

    • Budget Guidelines
      • The GA budgeting process is owned by the Geographic Assembly members. These guidelines are intended to bring a level of consistency across Districts when developing budgets. They are intended to foster a culture of collective responsibility and provide guidance to DVP’s on what are considered acceptable norms within the context of the overall Society Budget processes.

    It should be noted, once the Geographic Assembly budget is approved by the Executive Board, the Geographic Assembly members can make changes to line items within the budget at their discretion. The GA can consider underspend in one area/District and provide additional funds to another area/District, once the overall approved figure is not exceeded. These adjustments should be made through the GA Budget Committee and agreed by the GA. The budget template consists of the following headings:

    • DVP Travel to Leader Meetings
      • DVP attendance at Leader Meeting in the first half of the year: Typically includes, airfare, hotel, meals, and miscellaneous expenses (e.g. taxis)
      • DVP attendance at Leader Meeting in the second half of the year: Typically includes, airfare, hotel, meals, and miscellaneous expenses (e.g. taxis)
    • DVP-elect Travel to Leader Meetings
      • DVP-Elect attendance at Leader Meeting in the first half of the year is not currently a practice, however in the event the DVP is unable to attend the DVP-elect may use the budgeted funds in place of the DVP. DVP-elects are welcome to attend using their own funds if they choose.
      • DVP-Elect attendance at the Leader Meeting in the second half of the year: Generally, airfare, hotel, meals, and miscellaneous expenses (e.g. taxis) are included
    • DVP and DVP-elect Travel to Sections
      • Usually includes mileage and/or airfare, hotel, meals, and miscellaneous expenses (e.g. taxis)
      • May include travel to a Section hosting a DLC
      • If a DVP cannot exercise their travel commitments to a Section, the DVP-elect may attend in their absence.
    • District Leadership Conference (DLC)
      • Routinely includes hotel, A/V equipment, food and beverage, supplies, etc. (e.g. taxis)
      • Current practice and precedence is for Districts to submit a budget for no more than USD 2500 and is subject to revision at the request of the GA, and with agreement from the Society Executive Board based on inflation or justifiable need


    The District Leadership Conference (DLC) is where the Section and District leaders and potential leaders gather to understand how to be a successful ISA leader, and learn how the Society operates. Furthermore, it provides opportunities to suggest how to enhance section operations. This is also where the District Council meeting usually occurs.

    • Planning
      • Location
        • Most Districts are widespread, and travel expenses for attendees must be considered. Likewise, venue and food costs.
        • Consider rotating the DLC each year between sections that will support the DLC.
        • If air travel is necessary for attendees, try to select a location that offers free shuttle service to/from the local airport.
        • Location contracts can involve a minimum number of room reservations for the duration of the event. Check carefully before signing the contract.
        • ISA Headquarters can assist with negotiations. *Note, if you plan to have Headquarters negotiate, please do not start the process. Based on most hotel and venue policies, once the negotiations have been started Headquarters cannot get involved.
        • While online meetings are useful for smaller conferences, a DLC requires face-to-face contact among attendees.
        • DLCs in conjunction with the Leader Meeting in the second half of year have proven to be effective. *Note, ISA Headquarters will need to know the District’s plan by the start of the year due to hotel contract negotiations
        • If an ISA event is occurring in the District, the DLC can be co-located, but again, ISA Headquarters will need to know the District’s plan by the start of the year due to hotel/venue contract negotiations.
        • Two or more districts may also consider holding a joint DLC.
      • Setting Up Speakers and Activities
        • Once a location is established, remember, all presentations should involve improving leadership skills and providing information about Society plans and activities. Technical presentations should be avoided.
        • Speakers should be a combination of ISA members and outside specialists. Budget considering, ISA Headquarters may be able to send staff or members of the Society’s presidential chain to present. Ample advanced notice is needed.
        • Make sure the presentations encourage audience participation. Attendees learn best from each other.
        • Outside activities will depend on location. Spouses should be considered when planning activities.
        • When a District includes several countries, be sure language differences are considered.
        • Consider having speakers video-conference in when they cannot present in person.
      • Advertising and Section Participation
        • The DVP has access to the rosters of all sections in the District. This information should be used to send email reminders to section members well in advance of the DLC.
        • Section leaders should also be contacted separately. Updating and using the ListServ Leaders List for the District will help.  Emails of all posted Section leaders are available at www.isa.org.
      • Requirements
        • Attendees
          • As a minimum, each Section should have its President and/or Delegate attend.
          • Any other members with leadership potential should also be encouraged to attend.
        • Frequency, Etc.
          • Once per year, at a time convenient to most Sections.
        • All elections, other voting, and discussions should be conducted per MOP requirements.
          • Sections hosting the DLC could use fundraising activities to subsidize the cost of the DLC.  These funds could also be used to assist other section leadership to travel to the event.
      • Issues to be aware of
        • Costs should be kept in line with approved budget.
        • Consider a time of year when weather conditions are mild to moderate.


    The Assembly of District Vice President (Geographic Assembly (GA)) is made up of the District Vice Presidents (DVPs) and District Vice President-elects (DVP-elects) working together for the benefit of membership, the Section, the District, and the Society in general.

    • Geographic Assembly Purpose
      • Promote efficient and effective Section operations and facilitate interchange of best practices among Sections and Districts.
      • Identify resources to facilitate support of volunteer activities at the Section, District, and Region levels.
      • Provide budget oversight for Society level funding supporting Sections and Districts.
    • Geographic Assembly Organization
      • The GA is the ISA governance body that represents the global geographic presence of ISA in the local Sections and Regions. The GA consists of 14 Districts including 29 members, two representatives from each district, including the chair.
    • Geographic Assembly Chair
      • The chair is nominated and elected annually to serve a one-year term beginning 1 January of the year following the election. Past DVPs are eligible for election as chair. The chair may also serve concurrently as a member of the ISA Executive Board.
      • The Assembly Chair purpose is to:
        • Facilitate all meetings and group activities and ensure that all obligations of the Assembly are being met.
        • Report to Executive Board on activities of the Geographic Assembly.
        • Provide the Assembly annual report to the Society President by 31 December.
        • Serve as a mentor, particularly to the VP-elects.
        • Handle such other responsibilities the ISA Executive Board or Geographic Assembly assigns to the chair.
    • Geographic Assembly Responsibilities
      • The GA is responsible for administering and overseeing the activities of the Sections, Districts and Regions. This includes:
        • Approve and revoke Section charters.
        • Establish and review District boundaries. Review the number and boundaries of Districts at least once every five years and annually review any Districts in formation.
        • Coordinate District activities (District Leadership Conferences, etc.).
        • Ensure the DVPs are providing timely input to the Society budget for Society support of District and Section activities.
        • Provide names to the Leadership Search and Oversight Committee to be put forth as nominations for the Executive Board position(s) required for the following year.
        • Establish Assembly standing committees and appoint members as necessary.
    • Geographic Assembly Appointments
      • The GA is responsible for selecting individuals to staff various Society Departments and Committees. Following is a list of appointments to be approved by the GA:
        • Finance Committee
        • Nominating Committee
        • Leadership Search and Oversight Committee
        • Social Media and Website Advisory Committee
        • Strategic Planning Department
        • Image and Membership Department
    • Geographic Assembly Procedures
      • The GA members meet to address the responsibilities listed above and:
        • Share information of District and Society wide interest.
        • Support the Society in the execution of the Strategic and Business Plan objectives.
        • Co-ordinate and explore methods for better intra-District and intra-Society communication.
        • Review and propose new initiatives for the Society related to ISA’s geographic units and recommend action or referral to an appropriate group or individual for action.
        • To address any issues delegated to the Assembly by the Executive Board or raised by other Society groups.
    • Geographic Assembly Standing Committees
      • The GA may create standing and temporary committees, task forces, and other groups as it determines necessary to support its objectives. Chairs of standing committees will be appointed by the GA Chair, and approved by the GA. Committee Chairs and members do not need to be current DVPs or DVP-elects. The following committees are appointed annually and should include several individuals needed to complete the tasks.
        • District Leadership Conference Committee
          • This committee works to coordinate the schedules for the District Leadership Conferences and provides a forum to share and document best practices.
        • District and Section Issues Committee
          • This committee is tasked by the GA with coordinating programs and activities directly in support of Sections. It supports the DVPs and Section Presidents in their roles.
        • Budgeting Committee
          • This committee assists the GA Chair in compiling the budget request information from all the DVPs, in preparation for consideration by the Executive Board in developing the Society budget.


    Each Section within your District are to submit these reports based on specific times outlined in the Society By-laws and MOP.

    • Section Reports
      • Section Leader Form (Word) – Sent to the DVP and ISA Headquarters, the Section Leader Form is how the section leadership is coded into the society and identifies the section’s officers. This is required for a section to remain compliant and to have a vote at the Council of Society Delegates (CSD) prior to the start of the Section’s fiscal year.
      • Section Annual Report - The DVPs will be required to review each respective section annual report.
      • Section Bylaws - Each section is required to submit their most current bylaws in the section annual report.
    • District Reports
      • Each DVP is required to complete the forms below:
        • District Annual Report Form – Sent to the Geographic Assembly (GA) Chair and ISA Headquarters, the annual report is a summary of the District’s previous year’s accomplishments, and it is presented at the CSD.
        • District Leaders Form – Sent to ISA Headquarter, the District Leaders Form is a list of the District Council leaders coded within ISA to gain access to resources to carry out their duties and responsibilities.