A Brief History of NARA

By NICHOLAS R. SCALERA, Charter Member of NARA, former NARA President, Treasurer and Board of Directors Member At-Large

The National Association for Regulatory Administration (NARA) was established in the spring of 1976 as the Association for Regulatory Administration (ARA), with 378 charter members from 46 states, the District OF Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam. The idea a national organization of human care licensors and related fields grew out of a series of licensing institutes sponsored by Tulane University's School of Social Work in the early 1970s.

The institutes were led by University of Southern California Professor Norris E. Class, who is generally regarded as the "father" of human care licensing in the United States, and Edna H. Hughes, who worked for the federal Children's Bureau. At one of the Tulane institutes, Class and Hughes gathered a group of leaders in the human care licensing field from throughout the nation to discuss pertinent issues. One of the ideas generated in these sessions was the pressing need to create a national organization of individuals involved in human care licensing and regulation. Class, Hughes, and seven other members of this initial group later became the founders of the association.

Margaret Delaney Miller became the first president of the association on June 4, 1976, when Hughes asked "three regular participants' in the Tulane licensing institutes "to act as interim officers, " according to the association's First newsletter (April 1977). The other two officers were George M, Robinson, vice-president and Anne L. Leatherman, secretary and treasurer. Hughes volunteered to serve as staff and editor. Later, the association was incorporated in North Dakota thanks to the efforts of Robinson who later prepared the association's first bylaws.

Anne L. Leatherman was the first elected president of the association in 1978 as a result of a vote of the association's Executive Committee. In the early 1980s, the association experienced a period of inactivity and faced an imminent risk of dissolution. David J. Beard grew concerned and contacted association founders, former and current officers, and other charter members. They scheduled an association business meeting to address the association's problems and assure its future. The meeting, held in Norfolk, Virginia, on September 28, 1983, revived the ARA. At the meeting the ARA governing board was created as the National Council, with four officers and nine at-large members. The officers and at-large members of the governing board were elected by the members present at the meeting. Beard was elected as the third president of ARA.

In 1986 the name of the association was changed to the Association for Regulatory Administration in Human Services (ARAHS). Three years later, the name was changed once again to the National Association for Regulatory Administration (NARA). NARA was incorporated in the Commonwealth of Virginia on September 11, 1989.

In the years that followed, NARA slowly grew and matured into a stable association. It produced a national licensing curriculum to train licensing staffs, initiated series of annual licensing seminars, offered consultation and training services to the licensing staffs of government agencies, conducted various research projects, established a web site and solidified its standing as the only membership organization for human care licensing and regulatory staff and allied professions in the world.