September 28, 2013 Meeting of the ACB Board of Directors Minutes

A meeting of the Board of Directors of the American Council of the Blind (ACB) was held on Saturday, September 28, 2013 at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The meeting was called to order by President Kim Charlson at 9:11 a.m.  At the call of the roll, the following board members were present:  Kim Charlson, Jeff Thom, Marlaina Lieberg, Ray Campbell, Carla Ruschival, Mitch Pomerantz, Berl Colley, Sara Conrad, Janet Dickelman, Michael Garrett, John McCann, Allan Peterson, Patrick Sheehan, Dan Spoone, and David Trott.  George Holliday was absent.  Denise Colley was present representing the ACB Board of Publications.  Staff present:  Melanie Brunson, Executive Director; and Lane Waters, Controller.
Following roll call, several guests introduced themselves.  Next, President Charlson reviewed the agenda.  Lieberg moved and Conrad seconded adoption of the agenda as presented, the motion carried.
The minutes of the August 21 Board of Directors meeting were discussed.  Pomerantz moved and McCann seconded adoption of the minutes with one correction, the striking of a sentence under the discussion of IRI.  The motion carried.
The President’s Report was next given by Kim Charlson.  The following are the items covered:

  • Kim met in mid July with Kathy Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy concerning issues surrounding the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and employment of people with disabilities.
  • Kim co-hosted a very successful conference call with Paul Schroeder from the American Foundation for the Blind on July 24 on the topic of Audio Description on television.  There were 115 participants on this call, many of whom found out about the call via social media.  On the heels of that, she has been discussing other areas where ACB and AFB can partner.
  • Kim has a meeting scheduled with Roxanne Myros, Executive Director of Vision Serv Alliance near the end of October to discuss ways in which ACB can collaborate with them on advocacy efforts.
  • Kim will be meeting with staff from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to discuss where things are with accessible currency on October 11.  She will also attend a Gala event that evening culminating the celebration of the 75th anniversary of National Industries for the Blind.
  • Kim indicated that the National Council on Disability (NCD) is beginning outreach and marketing efforts on implementation of access to prescription drug information best practices.
  • Finally, Kim indicated she is finalizing officer, board and staff liaison roles for ACB’s committees and will soon be getting list servs updated and sending out welcome messages to individuals serving on committees.

Campbell moved and Lieberg seconded acceptance of the President’s report, the motion carried.
Staff reports:  Melanie Brunson gave the report on activities in the Washington area office.  Highlights include:

  • The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is moving ahead with accessible currency, identifying what tactile features will be used and what equipment is needed.  The first accessible bills could be produced by 2019 for distribution by 2020.  Scanners for current bills will be rolled out by 2015, with a new roll-out of the Bureau’s app in 2014.  Melanie indicated if we have comments on accessible currency, we should address them to:
  • There was a recent server crash in the ACB office.  As a result, some new hardware is needed.
  • Four grant applications have been submitted since the August 21 board meeting, with 16 more to be submitted by the end of the year.
  • The Back to School Direct Mailing has been sent out, with responses starting to be received.
  • Tom Tobin, ACB’s Development Director, will be working with the Goal 2 Group on two items, one for developing and sending a quarterly newsletter to major, non-member donors, and another to establish giving societies for ACB.
  • Audio Description Project Director Joel Snyder recently received his PH.D. from the University of Barcelona.  His PH.D. Dissertation will be published soon under ACB’s name.  The Audio Description Project website,, gets an average of 171 hits per day.  People are drawn to the website to learn about audio described television shows and movies, as well as podcasts of trainings.
  • ACB, NFB and 22 organizations joined together in a letter to the FCC opposing a petition by a coalition of E-Reader manufacturers to exempt their devices from compliance with the CVAA.
  • If the legislation re-authorizing the Rehabilitation Act, S.1356 starts to move, ACB wants to insert language in it to help Federal employees deal with some of the issues around Section 508 compliance.
  • Finally, Melanie asked the board if we want to take a position on Senator Harkin’s proposed language in Section 511 of S.1356 which creates a number of disincentives for rehabilitation counselors placing people into programs operating under Section 14C of the Fair Labor Standards Act which are exempted from paying minimum wage.  Senator Harkin’s language also places additional monitoring and other requirements both on counselors and on employers operating under these programs.  In late of Resolution 2013-13, adopted during the 2013 ACB Conference and Convention to support repeal of Section 14C with adequate safeguards for individuals working in 14C programs, the board agreed to support Senator Harkin’s language as it’s taking a step in the direction contemplated by this resolution.

Lane indicated that the Minneapolis area office continues with its work.  They have completed all of the conference and convention reports which should be in the hands of affiliates and committees.  Regarding the Affiliate Member Management System (AMMS) database, Lane indicated that the sync with Donor Perfect has been re-programmed to run much faster.  He will be meeting with the database task force to determine what changes will be made in AMMS this year, keeping them to a minimum.  They will also discuss how to get more affiliates involved using AMMS and will probably need help training new affiliates.
Campbell moved and Thom seconded acceptance of the staff reports, the motion carried.
Carla Ruschival next gave the ACB Treasurer’s Report.  As of 8/31/2013, total revenue was $569,314, with total expenses of $755,857.  As part of her report, Carla brought forward a proposal from the ACB Walk Committee, to allow teams to designate a percentage of their walk contributions to go to an affiliate of their choice.  Ruschival moved and Thom seconded approval of the Walk Committee proposal with one change allowing a team to designate up to 50% of their contributions to go to an affiliate, the motion passed.  Finally, Carla gave a brief report on the ACB Mini Mall, which continues moving forward.  Thom moved and Lieberg seconded acceptance of the Treasurer’s report, the motion carried.
Pomerantz moved and McCann seconded ratification of a change in job title from Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs to the Director of External Relations and Policy.  The motion carried.
Campbell moved and Lieberg seconded that the board go into Executive Session to discuss financial and affiliate matters.  The motion carried, and the board adjourned into executive session at 12:34 p.m.
Pomerantz moved and Campbell seconded that the board return to open session.  The motion carried and the board returned to open session at 2:34 p.m.  President Charlson announced that during executive session, financial and affiliate matters were discussed, and that one motion was passed, to allow the ACB Store Committee and its chair to negotiate terms of an agreement with a company.
Campbell moved and McCann seconded to recess the ACB Board of Directors meeting and convene in an ACB Enterprises and Services Membership meeting.  The motion carried, and the ACB Board meeting recessed at 2:52 p.m.  The board reconvened at 3:02 p.m.
IRI Report:  Per discussion from the August 21 Board meeting, Melanie and Lane presented documents on calling data from Integral Resources Incorporated (IRI).  The reports show that ACB had a very good year acquiring new donors in 2008, and that 2010 was a strong year for donations through IRI due to very good messaging.  It was noted that IRI’s reports are monthly reports, not weekly as mentioned during the August 21 Board meeting.  Thom moved and McCan seconded that in conjunction with delaying our decision to enter into a contract with Associated Donor Services, IRI’s Western Affiliate, we not take our IRI account draw for October.  Ruschival offered an amendment which was accepted as friendly that ACB withdraw funds from the IRI account each month only when revenues exceed expenses through the end of 2013.  That motion as amended carried.
We next discussed a request from Odin Mobile for ACB to offer an endorsement of and enter into a cooperative marketing agreement for their cell phone products and services.  Ruschival moved and Lieberg seconded referral of this item to the ACB Store Committee for possible action, the motion carried.
We next discussed a possible new logo for ACB.  The board looked at one proposed logo design, and heard several comments regarding it.  By consensus, it was decided to form an ad-hoc committee of relevant stakeholders from Strategic Plan Goal Groups 1 and 2, CCLVI, the ACB Board of Publications, the Public Relations committee and others to conduct further study into possible logo redesigns.
Janet Dickelman next gave the convention committee report.  She first thanked Margarine Beaman, Advertising and Sponsorships coordinator since because of her work, ACB realized a profit of over $57,000 on the 2013 Conference and Convention.  Planning meetings have begun with the 2014 Conference and Convention Committee and Host Committee to put together the 2014 Conference and Convention, July 11-19, 2014 at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Janet presented several possible convention bids for 2016.  Ruschival moved and Conrad seconded that we accept the 2016 conference and convention bid from the Hyatt Hotel in Minneapolis, MN, dates of July 1-July 9, 2016.  Room rates would be $89 for single or double, $99 triple or quad per night.  The motion carried.
We next received reports on the Strategic Plan Goal groups.  Highlights include:

  • Goal group 1: ACB has 507 twitter followers, 196 likes on Facebook.  The group is looking to be helpful where they can on ACB Radio and other issues.
  • Goal Group 2:  Has been focused on board fundraising workshop, held on September 27 prior to this meeting.
  • Goal group 3: has identified work needed on the employee handbook.

Campbell moved and Pomerantz seconded acceptance of the Goal group reports, the motion carried.
The board next discussed possible program items for the 2014 Midyear President’s meeting.  Suggestions include:

  • Discussion of things you need to know when officers change, and how to work with your bank.
  • Re-visit the issue of insurance which affiliates need to have.
  • Discuss how affiliates can improve communication.
  • Discuss recruiting and retaining younger members, and current leaders’ responsibility to mentor them.  Sara Conrad agreed to take the lead on this item.
  • How to implement Accessible Prescription Drug best practices.
  • Partnerships with ACB that can benefit affiliates.
  • Promote upcoming opportunities for leadership training.
  • Marketing of ACB, from chapters to national, taking ownership, promoting what we do.  David Trott agreed to take this as an action item.
  • Provide step by step instructions for affiliates on how to take AMMS database information and get it into their mailings, including using templates in Excel.
  • Promote affiliate streaming of events.
  • Discuss how structured negotiations work.
  • Discuss how we can help members access video description.
  • Report on activities which have taken place since the fundraising brainstorming session held during the 2012 midyear meetings.
  • Discuss what should go on affiliate pages on the ACB website.

As a reminder, the ACB Midyear meetings will take place from February 21-25, 2014 at the Holiday Inn National Airport in Arlington, Virginia.  The Board of Directors will meet on February 21; the President’s meeting will take place February 22 and 23; and the Legislative Seminar will take place from the afternoon of February 23 through February 25.
We next discussed how we can work with affiliates to encourage more of them to send representatives to the ACB Midyear meetings.  Between Melanie, Carla and others, it is felt we have pretty good data on which affiliates have not had representatives at recent midyear meetings.  It was agreed to share that data with the board and have discussion at a future board meeting on what we can do to encourage affiliates to send representatives to these meetings.  Also, Melanie indicated that Jo Steigerwald, ACB’s Grant Writer is looking for funding opportunities to help affiliates send representatives to these meetings.
We next discussed assigning each board member to serve as a liaison to several of ACB’s affiliates.  It was agreed that Strategic Plan Goal Group 4 would take on the task of assigning board members to work with affiliates.
Our last topic was a reminder from the ACB Auction Committee of the upcoming ACB Holiday Auction, probably on December 8.
McCann moved and Conrad seconded that the meeting be adjourned.  The motion carried, and the meeting adjourned at 5:40 p.m.
Ray Campbell,
Date submitted: November 26, 2013
Date approved: December 17, 2013