Summary of the Fall Board of Directors Meeting

by Doug Powell

(Editor’s Note: This article is meant to be a summary. Details of motions passed will be available in the board minutes after their approval.)
President Kim Charlson called the meeting to order at 3:05 p.m. Central Daylight Time on Oct. 30 at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis. All officers and directors were present.
The Friday afternoon session was devoted to hearing from HUGE, Inc., reviewing the Google Analytics for Nonprofits, and discussing next steps.
Eric Bridges, acting executive director at the time, introduced our work with a branding company and their recommendations for ACB. HUGE, Inc. does strategic branding for large corporations.  They have a fellowship program where they give young professionals projects such as ours.  After assimilating lots of materials from us, several interviews from inside and outside the organization, and other research, they gave a presentation on Aug. 7. The board heard a recording of the presentation.
One of the main findings was that only one percent of blind and visually impaired individuals have joined a membership organization.  The other 99 percent are getting their support on an ad hoc basis and they don’t seem to see the value in being a part of a body that works to improve society for all.
ACB’s brand or identity that we can build on is the offer of community we can give blind and visually impaired individuals; the democracy we hold dear, which values every member for who they are and what they bring to us; and our knowledge sharing, which empowers local leaders through nationwide communication and collaboration. Then they suggested several ways we could bring these ideas onto the ACB web site.
There followed over an hour of discussion about how we could use the information above and implement these ideas.
Then Kelly Gasque from the ACB staff gave an update on how she is using the Google analytic tools to help her identify who is coming to the web site, where they are from, and what they are looking at. Google for Nonprofits worked with the staff for three months to suggest improvements to the web site and taught her how to use the tools to strengthen ACB’s Internet presence. Kelly is implementing some of those recommendations.
The board then discussed several action items for moving forward with our Internet presence.  Jeff Bishop suggested a committee be formed to create an IT strategic plan. Charlson concurred and named several others to that committee.
Charlson also suggested that she, Eric, and perhaps one or two others sit down and sift through all of the discussion and develop a plan and priorities for implementing improvements in ACB marketing throughout the organization.
Saturday, October 31
The agenda and minutes from the July 4 meeting were approved.
Charlson gave her report:

  1. It looks like there will be a package coming out of the State Department on the Marrakesh Treaty.  OMB will need to vet it, and then it will go to the Senate. It will be one of our legislative imperatives this February. There are already 11 countries that have ratified it, and several more are very close to having completed the process. Twenty are needed for the treaty to go into effect.
  2. She has been asked to speak at a meeting of the Transportation Research Board in January on the pros and cons of transportation network companies (Uber, Lyft, etc.) on our community. ACB’s transportation committee wrote a white paper on this subject, which she will use in her presentation.
  3. While in Washington, D.C. for the transportation meeting, Kim and Jeff Lovitky will meet with the Bureau of Printing and Engraving to get an update on implementation of tactile currency.
  4. Kim will be scheduling a meeting with Freedom Scientific to explore ways ACB and they can have a closer relationship.

The board also ratified an e-mail poll that occurred since the last meeting: The board voted to empower staff to sign a lease with the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development for ACB’s headquarters office space in Alexandria, Va.
The board also voted to contribute $250 each to tribute funds honoring the retirement of Carl Augusto from the American Foundation for the Blind and Tuck Tinsley from American Printing House for the Blind.
Janet Dickelman gave a convention report. The board empowered her to negotiate contracts with two of the bidders for 2018 and 2019. It also voted to include non-discrimination language in convention contracts starting with 2018.
Eric gave a staff report from the D.C. area office. He mentioned thinning out the office archives in preparation for the move around Feb. 1. The new office is not on Metro, but is accessible by bus routes and shuttles from Metro stations. He also mentioned reintroduction of H.R. 3535, the Cogswell Macy Act, and H.R. 729, the Medicare demonstration bill.  He then talked about the corporations which have shown our BlindAbility video. He encouraged all ACB members to share the video with people they know who hire or have input on who gets hired in their communities and organizations.
Lane gave his report, focusing on the responsibilities of the Minnesota office. Based on last year’s experience, there will be a few changes in the schedule for affiliates to submit their membership rosters and final certification. Please help everyone by renewing your membership early and encouraging your non-member friends to join us. More information will be available to affiliate leaders soon.
The board then went into executive session. One motion passed in executive session authorized staff to continue pursuit of accessibility of Microsoft products. The other vote was to accept the recommendation of the search committee to hire Eric Bridges as executive director.
Tom Tobin gave his report on various fundraising and grant efforts.
Carla Ruschival gave the treasurer’s report. She highlighted that this year’s conference and convention raised the most revenue after expenses ever. This was due to the ever-increasing sponsorships that come out of the relationship-building with corporations this organization does every day.
Dan Spoone updated the board on the work of the resource development committee. He was especially pleased that the ACB Brenda Dillon Memorial Walk was so successful in its first year of splitting proceeds with affiliates.  Now there are two ways — the walk and the Monthly Monetary Support (MMS) program — where ACB and affiliates can work together and share the results.
The RDC and ACB Radio management brought a document to the board outlining policy for affiliates to have auctions conducted on ACB Radio, which was approved.
I reported that the board of publications was in the process of updating the Editorial Policy Manual, and new language on the diversity of representation in ACB materials would be included in this revision.
Kim requested ideas for content of the presidents’ meeting in February.
The SASI committee reported that a survey of last summer’s conference and convention assistive listening device (ALD) users showed only a 44 percent satisfaction rating. The problems were spread between equipment, training, and testing. They requested help from the board to remedy these problems. Funding is available to update some of the ALD equipment to start addressing the issues.
Jeff Thom reported that the voting task force is working on a test of remote voting so everyone understands the ups and downs procedurally. He also mentioned that the other thrust of this exploration would entail a detailed discussion of how remote voting would change the nature of the organization.
The board elected Kim Charlson, John McCann, Katie Frederick, and Patrick Sheehan to the executive committee.
The meeting adjourned at 6:14 p.m.