President John Tomandl’s Letter – November 2020

A Year Unimagined

My dear friends and colleagues, 2020 has been a year of grace, challenge, opportunity, change and new beginnings.  The tradition of a “President’s Letter” to the membership a couple of times a year is just one more tradition that, for now, has been sidetracked by the pandemic.  I am writing today to provide some firsthand information about the ACCA, our goals in the light of the times, why and where we have been this past year, plans for the future of our Association and our affiliation with the American Correctional Association (ACA), of which we are the first affiliate organization dating back to the 19th century.

First, and from a practical standpoint, and most importantly – the dues and fees structure of the ACCA has changed.  The annual dues and renewals of same are $50.00 for professional membership; retired, volunteer, part-time, student or contributing memberships are $25.00.  For ACCA Certification, the fee is $60.00 for the first-time applicant, and $25.00 to renew every five (5) years (this is NOT in lieu of regular, professional membership, but in addition to).  Lifetime professional membership is still an option for $500.00.  For this year only (2020/2021), the dues are being adjusted to bring everyone’s dues into a single cycle.  Full dues will be payable as of April 1st each year rather than on an anniversary date of joining.  Those joining more than six months into the membership year would be charged $25 through the remainder of that year.  All inquiries, payments or questions about fees should be directed to the Treasurer/Membership Chair.

Qualifications for becoming an ACCA officer have been revised for the practical reason that attending annual national conferences is a near impossibility for many, given funding reductions and travel bans. Therefore, serving as an officer in the Association will require only that you have attended at least one regional conference or national conference at any time as a member prior to running for office.  Regional conferences are held annually and in proximity to the majority of members in a given region.  Members will receive information via electronic notification and on the web site –

Annual Conference will still be held in conjunction with the ACA Summer Congress (coming on August 13-17, 2021, in Nashville, TN).  I highly recommend that when these annual events are held proximate to your location, that you try to attend – the workshops and networking opportunities are invaluable!  (Note: membership in the ACA is required to attend but at only $35.00 a year—truly a bargain!—AND, includes weekly electronic updates from around the country, Corrections Today magazine, and timely information on national and regional news as it relates to corrections across all agencies.)

I have served as your President now for almost three years – elections which should have been held this year (2020) having to be postponed due to the pandemic and related challenges to communications, travel and time.  Your Executive Council suggested, and the Executive Committee approved, the suspension of the rules for one year and held the current officers in place.  The one exception was our Treasurer, Rev. Charles Williams (Connecticut), who, since he was elected Treasurer was promoted to Director of Religious Services for the Connecticut Department of Correction, and, simply put, ran out of time for the commitment.  Fortunately for all, Dale Hale (Illinois) was inspired by the Holy Spirit to step forward and assume the mantle.   Chuck did a great  job of setting and integrating the membership software and Dale is doing a fantastic job coming up to speed and has already made some great streamlining changes—those dues and date guidelines I previously referred to.

The ACA Winter Conference was to be held in California in February but has been significantly altered in scope and schedule.  It will be held in Orlando with all but a few major components being held virtually. Details are available (or will be shortly) from the ACA (

I pray that all of you are staying safe and able to function effectively in your ministry of bringing hope and healing to those who are incarcerated.  Don’t forget your colleagues in security and civilian positions who are every bit as much, or more, in harm’s way and are working Heroes – not just now but always!  Please know that you are all in my prayers as I wish you and your families Happy Holidays and a Healthy New Year.

Peace and blessings,

Rev. Deacon John D. Tomandl

President, American Correctional Chaplains Association