Based on research by Past President Vicki Alkire
NGA came into being in 1988 in Chicago, Illinois where more than 200 people gathered for the first national conference designed to meet the needs of this emerging and rapidly growing guardianship profession.
A special session was held prior to the start of that conference to determine if there was sufficient interest and commitment to form a national organization. While the short answer was a resounding “yes,” there was much discussion and debate due to the major differences in state laws and terminology. However, by the end of the first conference, bylaws had been approved, officers and board members elected, and the newly formed National Guardianship Association was founded and named. In January 1989, NGA was formally incorporated as a non-profit corporation.
The early years – Initially, the association concentrated both on defining NGA’s roles, responsibilities, and direction, and in developing services and materials for the members. The Model Code of Ethics (authored by Michael D. Casasanto, Mitchell Simon, and Judith Roman) was adopted by NGA in July 1991 and later NGA went on to create and adopt a baseline of seven Standards of Practice for Guardians.
NGA has always had a heightened interest, not just in training and education for all in the guardianship arena, but in national certification for guardians as well. Positive results of a membership survey about certification were presented at the 1994 NGA conference in Ft. Worth, Texas, and the NGA board moved forward to develop a uniform training and education curriculum, and the corresponding certification examination. The first NGA Registered Guardian training session and exam was held at the 1996 NGA conference in Detroit, Michigan.
With the support of the membership, the NGA board of directors voted in 1997 to create a separate examination and certification body. Originally called the National Guardianship Foundation, it is now known as the Center for Guardianship Certification (CGC). NGA continues to provide education for guardians seeking to obtain and maintain certification, while the CGC administers the certification process. There are currently over one thousand National Certified Guardians (NCGs) and National Master Guardians (NMGs) in the United States.
Standards – The original seven Standards of Practice were expanded to 23 Standards of Practice between 1998 and 2000. Later, additions were made in 2002, 2007, 2013, and 2022 to comprise NGA’s current 25 Standards of Practice. In 2007, expanding its focus from individual guardians to agencies, NGA developed the Standards for Agencies and Programs Providing Guardianship Services.
With so many varied and essential activities in which NGA has engaged over the years, it is next to impossible to review all of them. However, guardianship education and benefits to members have always been a priority for NGA. The annual conference has grown and has been held in locations in more than half of the states since 1988. Focused educational activities include the development of educational webinars, self-study courses and publications, including Fundamentals of Guardianship, published by the American Bar Association in 2017, with a second edition in 2023. There are now more than 1000 NGA members with 25 state guardianship associations accepted as affiliates or networks.
To the future – The board of directors has always made quality guardianship the driving force in navigating NGA’s direction. An annually updated strategic plan plots NGA’s direction – and a work plan to make it happen – ensures that activities are on target, timely, and relevant.