How the ARRL Operates

ARRLby Jim Weaver, K8JE

How the ARRL operates seems to be a mystery to many members. The confusion probably comes from the fact that many members assume ARRL in organized and operates the same way as their local club. It doesn’t. Somewhat like the U.S. Government, ARRL has three branches of its organization. These are the Board of Directors, the Field Organization and the HQ Staff.

The Board of Directors, including the Vice Directors, are elected by members of the divisions they represent. In the case of the Great Lakes Division (GLD), these members are from Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio. The Board of Directors establish policy for the ARRL and is headed by the ARRL president who, along with the other officers, is elected by the Board.

The Field Organization is the group of volunteers that provide eight crucial services: emergency communications, message traffic, volunteer monitoring, RFI problem-solving, support of affiliated clubs, government liaison, encouragement of technical activities, and dissemination of on-the-air bulletins. The field organization is headed in each section by the section manager (SM).

Section managers are elected by members of the Sections they represent and head activities in their Sections to put League policy into effect at the field level.. The GLD consists of three sections, the Kentucky Section, the Michigan Section, and the Ohio Section. Each section spans the entire state.

The biggest part of the SM’s job is coordinating the activities of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) in his or her section. Each section has hundreds of ARES members, so you can imagine what a gargantuan effort this is. Being an effective SM means a person must be willing to dedicate great effort to the job and must be an excellent, skilled leader.

The ARRL HQ staff support the field organization and provide a variety of other member services. The staff is headed by our Chief Executive Officer, who is hired by the Board and reports to the Board. The CEO is responsible for putting Board policy into action at headquarters and, through the services HQ performs, for the members.

Even though many members believe their SM reports to their Director, this is incorrect. Dale Williams, WA8EFK (MI), Jim Brooks, KY4Z (KY) and Frank Piper, KI8GW (OH) do not report to me. They report to Dave Patton, NN1N at HQ, who heads the ARRL membership services department, which supports the Field Organization.

The three Sections in the Great Lakes Division are extremely fortunate to have members who care enough for Amateur Radio and the ARRL to be willing to devote the extensive amount of time and effort to doing the job and, finally, who have the skills and knowledge to be successful, top-notch SMs.

It is obvious from their success that Dale, WA8EFK; Jim, KY4Z; and Frank, KI8GW are excellent SM. Their past successes are indisputable evidence that they have everything needed to do the job. We in the GLD are indeed fortunate to have such high-quality SMs leading our sections.

NOTE: This article first appeared in Weaver’s Words, an e-mail newsletter sent to members of the Great Lakes Division. It did such a good job of explaining the ARRL organization, I got permission from K8JE to post it here……Dan


  1. Good article. I always kid my Section Mgr that his job is to handle all manner of amateur radio complaints: poor band conditions, decisions the ARRL made 30 years ago, QST being too technical, QST being not technical enough, …

    Bob K0NR

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