The assemblies within APTA’s House of Delegates came about as a means of affording physical therapist assistants — who since 1973 had been granted affiliate membership in the association —- a structure within the organization. In 1983 several affiliate members, including Virginia May, Cheryl Carpenter, and Tricia Garrison, petitioned the House for recognition as a nonvoting component, hoping to gain the chance to participate in debates in the same way that sections did. When section status for affiliate members proved incompatible with the association’s bylaws, the Affiliate Special Interest Group — ASIG was developed.
Over the next few years, the ASIG grew, but it still lacked a formal mechanism for representation within the House of Delegates. In 1989, as one result of a House-mandated study of the association’s organizational structure, the bylaws were amended to allow the creation of “assemblies” as a third type of component. As a result, the House approved the formation of the Affiliate Assembly to succeed the ASIG. Like APTA’s sections, membership in the Affiliate Assembly was optional and additional dues were required to join. The Affiliate Assembly later was succeeded by the National Assembly, which itself eventually was replaced with the PTA Caucus, both efforts to further unify and strengthen the voice of the PTA. Even with its limitations, however, the amendment that enabled the Affiliate Assembly is regarded by PTAs as a turning point in their history: It gave them a formal way to come together and discuss issues that directly concern them.