October 1, 2011 Meeting of the Board of Directors of the American Council of the Blind
Galthouse Hotel, Louisville, KY
President Mitch Pomerantz called the meeting to order at 9:20 AM. All Board members were present; they were: Mitch Pomerantz, Kim Charlson, Brenda Dillon, Marlaina Lieberg, Carla Ruschival, Chris Gray, Ray Campbell, Berl Colley, Janet Dickelman, Marsha Farrow, Michael Garrett, George Holliday, Billie Jean Keith, Alan Peterson, Jeff Thom, David Trott, Janine Stanley (BOP) and staff present were Melanie Brunson and Lane Waters.
Pomerantz reviewed the agenda; Lieberg moved and Campbell seconded acceptance, and the motion carried.
Peterson moved and Dickelman seconded approval of the minutes from July 9 and July 16, 2011 pre and post convention Board meetings, and that motion carried.
President's Report, Mitch Pomerantz.
• Nearly all committees have been fully appointed. The Social Security Task Force and a Constitution and Bylaws rep to the Credentials Committee have yet to be set but that will happen soon.
• Language has been drafted for consideration by the Constitution and Bylaws Committee to propose the establishment of a corporate advisory board, whose responsibility will be to help identify potential donors to ACB.
• Pomerantz reviewed the duties inherent in presiding over the American Council of the Blind, and offered his assistance to those candidates considering running for this office.
• A coalition of organizations interested in provision of medicare-related services, including vendors and agencies, has been established; more than twenty organizations responded.
Lieberg moved and Charlson seconded acceptance of the report and that motion carried.
Staff Reports, Melanie Brunson.
• The Arlington, VA office will be purchasing a new embosser and Brunson is interested in having input regarding suggestions for embossers.
• The November/December issue of the Braille Forum will be going to press next week. There are over 11,000 subscribers.
• Staff have been meeting with the FCC regarding regulations to implement the Telecom Bill; these meetings have included the Commissioner of the FCC.
• Several issues, including accessible rights of way, will require submission of comments from ACB. Brunson will keep us informed.
• The work of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) is moving along; it is expected that if consensus can be reached on language for the treaty dealing with the visually impaired, that language can be added to the treaty of the diplomatic conference.
• Two grants have been received from the Department of Education; the latest is a 5-year grant for the creation of standardized vocabulary for use in video description of educational materials which are STEM-related, science, technology, engineering and math. This grant will net ACB $20,000 each year. The other DOE grant, on which we are working with Smith Kettlewell, will net $80,000 each year of its 2-year duration. This grant involves the creation of an audio description resource center.
• Joel Snyder has completed the script for the described tour of the White House, and it is being reviewed by staff at the White House. it is hoped this will be available by the end of the year.
• Brunson is working on strategies for helping affiliates enhance and maintain their legal status, including 501-C3, bonding of officers, duties of officers, etc. She is seeking proposals from interested law firms and attorneys who may be interested in assisting with this endeavor.
• Kindle Fire, an Android-based device, was released by Amazon this week with no accessibility features. The Board discussed various steps ACB could and should take regarding this issue. Brunson will contact the Reading Rights Coalition, develop a press release regarding this issue, and report back to the Board with respect to what action, if any, the Coalition plans.
• Committees have financial reports from convention.
• Budgets are being developed, and the first will be for the Convention Committee.
• Waters recommended we continue to use Eide-Bailly as our auditors; they have been cost-effective and work well with us. Lieberg moved and Keith seconded this recommendation and that motion carried.
• Disbursement of bequests. Ruschival moved that $16,000 be placed in a short term reserve account until the end of the year, when we will know better what our cash needs may be; Lieberg seconded and the motion carried. Campbell moved acceptance of staff reports; Lieberg seconded and that motion carried.
Development Director's Report, Steve Obremski.
• An informational/fundraising brochure has been developed for dissemination to the general public.
• All our information has been updated on Guide Star.
• Information has been sent to update the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Program guidelines.
• The Annual Report is on the website.
• Officer liaisons will be informed as to who is seeking sponsorships relevant to their committees.
• Direct mail lists should be exchanged with like-minded organizations, such as the American Diabetes Association and Lighthouse International; purchasing lists is extremely costly. Obremski is working on this exchange concept.
• The 2012 application for the Combined Federal Campaign has been completed.
• Proposals to fund a national information hotline have been submitted; we will use the current toll-free number. Five proposals will be sent, which total about $60,000.
• Various Board members have presented at CFC events; Dillon suggested a panel be established to discuss this at the Mid Year President's meeting.
• The RDC Committee requests that proceeds from the 2012 raffle go towards cost of the Braille Forum; Gray moved, Campbell seconded and the motion carried.
• After much discussion of when and how the toll-free number should be answered and tracked, Brunson agreed to get more information from Cisco Systems as to the capabilities of our system. Trott moved and Holliday seconded acceptance of this report, and the motion carried.
Second Long-Range Plan, Steve Obremski.
• Long-Range plans are important because they establish a sense of direction for staff, as well as demonstrate that the organization has solid direction.
• Don Wells Consulting is a company with whom Obremski is familiar and has worked with in the past. Obremski proposes a one-day session with Wells and the Board to develop the long-range plan.
• Pomerantz advised that if we proceed with the Don Wells proposal, the training would occur on the Thursday of the Mid Year Board meeting weekend. Ruschival moved that we proceed with the Don Wells proposal; Farrow seconded, and that motion carried.
Request for ACB Endorsement of the Diabetic Care Club of America, Chris Gray. Gray reviewed the issues many blind diabetics face with respect to durable medical equipment, and accessibility to such equipment. The above-named organization is interested in partnering with a blindness organization, and is very interested in ACB. In return, they would like information about their services to be publicized by ACB. Pomerantz requested Gray pursue this further, and that Obremski, in consultation with Gray, develop a counter proposal including a diamond sponsorship. Because Gray owns a small business which sells diabetic-related durable medical equipment, Brunson proposed the Board move to Executive Session to address whether there is a conflict of interest and if so, if that conflict is significant enough to prevent ACB from pursuing this issue. Pomerantz recessed the meeting for a lunch break at 12:30 PM.
At 2:06 PM, the Board reconvened and immediately recessed to Executive Session to discuss any potential conflict of interest involving Chris Gray and the Diabetes Health Care Club of America.
Campbell moved adjournment from Executive Session and return to open session; Lieberg seconded and the motion carried.
At 2:31 PM, Pomerantz reported to the general session that a motion was made, seconded and carried stating that Chris gray has a conflict of interest in potential dealings with the Diabetes Care Club of America and the American Council of the Blind. A second motion, stating that the conflict was not sufficient to preclude Gray's participation in discussions regarding the development of a relationship with the Diabetes care club of America, but that the conflict is sufficiently serious to preclude Gray from voting on any proposal relative to ACB and the Diabetes Care Club of America.
Convention Committee Report, Carla Ruschival and Janet Dickelman.
• ACB had a positive net of over $67,000 from this convention which includes reimbursement to ACB and ACBES for staff time.
• Because ACB has a grant of $4,000 to purchase a new high-speed braille embosser for the Arlington office, and because ACB is doing much of the hotel-related convention brailling in-house rather than sending it out to more costly brailling services, Ruschival moved that upto $8,000 be moved from the convention account to supplement the $4,000 already earmarked for a high-speed brailler Gray seconded and the motion carried.
• Ruschival moved that an amount, not to exceed $800, be taken from the convention account to enable ACB to purchase a portable public address system for the purpose of testing the feasibility of using similar systems at convention venues where such systems are not available in smaller breakout rooms. ; Lieberg seconded, and the motion carried.
• Over 1,500 persons attended the 2011 conference.
• Janet Dickelman, Convention Coordinator, reported that Cyndee Vega from Utah will coordinate the convention information desk for 2012.
• The Convention Committee has been working in Louisville over the past several days to deal with issues such as decorating, security and tours.
• There will be a marketplace, open an hour before each general session and an hour and a half before the Sunday night session, offering 5 tables each day at $25 per table for sales of non food items by small businesses or affiliates.
• The ACB Cafe will be open at 7:30 each morning.
• The format of the convention day will remain as it was in 2011.
• Dickelman will check on details for wheelchair accessible transportation from the airport to the hotel, and report back to the Board. Farrow moved and Dillon seconded acceptance of this report, and that motion carried.
Treasurer's Report, Carla Ruschival.
The following information is relevant as of August 31, 2011:
Total Assets including investments and cash on hand: $2,755,883
At 3:46 PM, Dickelman moved and Farrow seconded that the ACB Board recess and the ACBES Board of Directors convene its meeting, and that motion carried.
At 4:18 PM, Garrett moved and Campbell seconded that the ACBES Board of Directors adjourn, and the ACB Board of Directors reconvene; that motion carried.
Election of the 2012 Executive Board, Mitch Pomerantz. Charlson, Dillon, Holliday and Thom were elected to serve on the Executive Board for 2012.
Board of Publications, Jenine Stanley.
• The BOP is considering changing the name of the Braille Forum and will be discussing that issue at its next meeting on October 3, 2011. Pomerantz reminded the BOP that this name change will require a constitutional amendment.
• Enhancements to improve access for persons with low vision are being made to the new ACB website.
• The ACB Store site will soon be moved to ACB's own website.
• Stanley asked that Board members provide her with information for Twitter, such as affiliate news, other updates, etc. Campbell moved and Charlson seconded acceptance of this report, and that motion carried.
Update on ACB Database Management Program, Chris Gray.
• Things are on target, though progress has been slow.
• The database is stable, and only one affiliate has had issues and Gray suspects it is due to the large size of that affiliate. Campbell moved and Lieberg seconded acceptance of this report, and that motion carried.
Pre Convention Leadership Training Update, Berl Colley.
• The training will occur on July 6, 2012.
• Rather than 2 persons from each affiliate being invited to attend, applications will be solicited from interested persons and 50 to 60 applicants will be chosen.
• The Committee has submitted a budget request to cover costs, and hopes to solicit other funds from affiliate donations as well as potential sponsorships.
• Two sub committees have been appointed, one to develop the program agenda and the other to explore funding options.
• Campbell reported briefly on the Midwest Leadership Training Seminar held in August. This was a very successful event which included participation from seven states as well as the President and Vice President of ACB Students. Lieberg moved and several seconded acceptance of this report, and that motion carried.
2012 President's Meeting Program Content, Mitch Pomerantz.
• tips and guidelines for affiliate streaming
• discussion of confidentiality issues regarding what should and should not be placed on the internet
• obligations of non profit organization regarding responsibilities of officers
• indemnification and bonding of treasury and treasurers, as well as insurance regarding members of boards of directors
• training on 501-C3
Officer Liaison Reports.
All committees are gearing up for their 2012 work; most have met and are beginning their budget submission process.
Ruschival moved that the Board allow the MMS Committee to share donor information with affiliate presidents so they can better promote the program. Farrow seconded this motion. After discussion, Ruschival withdrew the motion, and will go back to the MMS Committee for additional guidelines on implementation of this request.
The meeting adjourned by motion at 5:53 PM.
Submitted: October 3, 2011
Approved: December 14, 2011