Pre convention Board of Directors Meeting, American Council of the Blind
July 9, 2011
John Ascuaga Nugget Hotel and Resort, Sparks, NV
The meeting was called to order at 9:00 AM, PST; all board members were present as follows: Mitch Pomerantz, Kim Charlson, Brenda Dillon, Marlaina Lieberg, Mike Godino, Chris Gray, Ray Campbell, Berl Colley, Janet Dickelman, Marsha Farrow, Michael Garrett, George Holliday, Billie Jean Keith, Alan Peterson, Jeff Thom, David Trott and Paul Edwards. Staff present were Melanie Brunson, Lane Waters, Eric Bridges, Steven obremski and Dione Matthews.
Pomerantz reviewed the agenda; campbell moved approval, lieberg seconded and the motion carried.
Holliday moved acceptance of minutes for the February and May Board meetings as distributed Trott seconded and the motion carried.
President's Report, Mitch Pomerantz.
•Pomerantz is serving on the Mississippi State University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center Advisory Council on Employment Outcomes for Individuals who are Blind or visually impaired. One aspect of this is studying the impact mentors may have on employment of college age students. Garrett will serve as ACB's representative to the group studying this.
•In addition to the National Traffic Safety Administration, a private sector group of engineers has come together to develop guidelines and standards for quiet cars. These engineers represent major US based manufacturers. Pomerantz attended a meeting with GM staff and O & M staff from Western Michigan University, where updates were provided on appropriate sounds. Pomerantz reports that many of the sounds really do replicate the sound of actual cars.
•Pomerantz chairs the world blind union's Mobility and Transport Group. This group addresses issues regarding hybrid vehicles and shared spaces.
•Pomerantz next introduced Peter Bras from the German Federation of the Blind and partially sighted. Mr. Bras explained the Federation has 36,000 members; the Federation works with the government to improve services for the blind. Hybrid cars are also an issue on which the Federation is working. Additionally, the Federation is working on the world intellectual copyright issue. He hopes to establish a fruitful working relationship with ACB, and congratulated ACB on 50 years of service to the blind.
•Charlson moved and Campbell Seconded approval of this report, and the motion carried.
Staff Reports: Melanie Brunson.
•Brunson attended a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) meeting ten days before convention; WIPO has begun to develop text for consideration as an international instrument related to the creation of copyright exceptions that would enable the transfer of copyrighted books across borders. The organization will meet again in November, and it is hoped that the text for this instrument will be finalized at that time.
•Two outstanding grant applications have been funded. The first was a grant submitted to the US Department of Education by the Smith Kettlewell Institute to establish an audio description research center. That grant was funded, and ACB will serve as a prime contractor to Smith Kettlewell. The second is a grant from Washington Aid Association for the Blind, which will fund the purchase of a braille embosser for the DC Area Office, provision of information regarding services and activities available to the blind in the DC area and audio description for an area theater.
•ACB has an outstanding grant application submitted in collaboration with the Captioned Media Project regarding audio description. This grant was submitted to the US Department of Education.
•Two direct mail solicitations have been conducted with a positive impact. Changes approved by the Board last year have lowered overhead costs of fundraising in this manner.
•Steve Obremski, Director of Development, reported that among his goals is one to improve ACB's outreach efforts to the general public. This includes development of informational brochures, ensuring that contributions can be made via the web, and meeting Better Business Bureau standards for non profits.
•Eric Bridges, Director of Governmental Affairs, has been doing outstanding work on Capital Hill as well as working with major technology and communications providers.
•Brunson is a member of a working group which is looking at the nibs usually found on the #5 on remote control devices to see if the current styles are effective and useful.
•Brunson is assisting a number of affiliates with the procurement and maintaining of 501-C3 non profit status classification.
•ACB has 5 representatives on the FCC advisory committee established pursuant to the passage of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act.
•Businesses are beginning to reach out to ACB hoping to develop working relationships with ACB.
•Eric Bridges, Director of Governmental Affairs, reported on the progress of resolutions adopted at the 2010 convention. In conjunction with various resolutions, ACB has established relationships with Google, Sprint, Microsoft and Facebook with the end result of making products developed by those entities more accessible to and useable by people with vision loss. In conjunction with the passage of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, ACB has provided comment on several areas such as the deaf-blind equipment distribution program. Additionally, comments have been submitted regarding how the FCC should implement accessibility of smart phones under the law. ACB has commented on aspects of provision of video description as well. Bridges further described ACB's efforts with Google, Sprint, Microsoft and Facebook.
•Editor's report: The Braille Forum has been approved for distribution on the NLS BARD web site. We are now entertaining bids for production of BARD-ready copy. This copy will also appear on the ACB website, and will include ACB reports. As of the opening of this year's convention, 331 individuals have migrated their subscriptions to email. Due to this and other distribution changes, we are producing 55% fewer hard copies which creates quite a savings to ACB.
•The motion made by many and seconded by many to accept the report of the DC area office staff carried.
Minneapolis area Office, Lane Waters.
•The audit went well this year.
•All staff are working hard and are working well together.
•The Investment Committee previously recommended, and the Board approved, an investment strategy which would create a third tier of investment that is not cash or long term stocks and bonds, but rather laddered CD's. Waters has investigated various options, and is prepared to open a series of accounts with Metropolitan Life. In order to do this, a Board resolution approving the recommendations of the Investment Committee to create those accounts is required. Colley moved approval of the Investment Committee recommendation to create an account with Metropolitan Life to hold these CD's. Campbell seconded, and the motion carried. Campbell moved and Godino seconded acceptance of this report, and that motion carried.
Review and Approval of Draft Assessment Policy required for Certification by the Better Business Bureau, Steve Obremski.
This document is a requirement of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Charity Guidelines. Peterson moved approval of the draft as distributed; Dillon seconded and the motion carried.
Treasurer's Report, Mike Godino
Monthly Financial Report, May 31, 2011:
Holliday moved and Tom seconded acceptance of this report and that motion carried. Second Distribution from Patrick Estate, Mitch Pomerantz.
ACB received $750,000 from the second and final distribution of the Patrick estate. The policy has been to place the first $75,000 into reserves. Godino moved and Gray seconded that $75,000 be allocated to general revenue, and the remainder be allocated to Board designated reserves. During discussion of this motion, Dillon and Farrow expressed the desire to reinstitute some form of stipends to Board members for attendance at face-to-face meetings. Their concern was that a lack of such stipend may keep qualified persons from running for Board positions. Pomerantz recommended that anyone wishing to amend the budget to reinstitute stipends should come to the Post Convention Board meeting or a subsequent meeting thereafter with a precise motion and dollar amount. Dillon moved to postpone action on the current motion until the Post Convention Board meeting; the motion, seconded by Keith, passed after a record vote. Board members voted as follows: Charlson, yes; Dillon, Yes; Lieberg, no; Godino, no; Gray, no; Campbell, no; Colley, yes; Dickelman, yes; Farrow, yes; Garrett, no; Holliday, yes; Keith, yes; Peterson, no; Thom, yes; Trott, yes.
The meeting recessed at 12:15 PM, and reconvened at 1:30 PM.
Review and approval of ACBCorporate Policy, Michael Garrett.
Trott moved acceptance of the policy as distributed with some minor grammatical changes as pointed out by Gray and Pomerantz; Gray seconded and the motion carried.
Convention Committee Report, Carla Ruschival
The hotel has been very eager to work with our convention. Ruschival reported that this year, our sponsorship levels exceed $100,000. Lieberg moved acceptance of this report; godino seconded, and that motion carried.
Increasing and Expanding Revenues through ACBES, Michael Garrett
Garrett posed two scenarios for Board consideration. One would maintain the profitable ACB thrift stores and look to open new stores in areas where other thrift stores do not exist, while continuing to investigate other business pursuits. Scenario 2 would remove ACBES from the thrift store business and move to other ventures. Pomerantz requested rough cost estimates to pursue scenario number one, along with time tables for goals and actions. Godino moved acceptance Campbell seconded and the motion carried.
Proposal to grant an ACB Membership Charter to the Idaho Council of the Blind, Berl Colley, Jeff Thom and Marlaina Lieberg. Brunson has reviewed the constitution and bylaws which were submitted and concluded they do comply with all ACB requirements and recommends approval of the charter. Godino moved such charter be granted; Lieberg seconded and the motion carried. The ad hoc committee to develop an Idaho affiliate has been disbanded.
Convention-based leadership training, Berl Colley.
The committee proposes holding training on the Friday before the 2012 convention in Louisville. Affiliates will be invited to send 2 persons. The committee is seeking donations to cover costs. Lieberg moved and Holliday seconded acceptance of the report and that motion carried.
AWards Committee recommendation regarding administration of the ACB Legislative Award, Brenda Dillon.
The Awards Committee recommends that this award be established and administered by the Executive Director, and the Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs Lieberg moved that the Board accept the recommendation of the Awards Committee, and so establish the ACB Legislative Award, to be given from time-to-time to federal legislators for outstanding service, and be administered by the ACB Executive Director, the Director of Advocacy and Governmental affairs along with input from the ACB president. There were several seconds, and that motion carried.
The Pre Convention Board meeting adjourned at 3:10 based on a motion made and seconded by many.
Submitted September 3, 2011
Approved: October 1, 2011