October 17 and 18, 2014 ACB Board of Directors Meeting Minutes

The American Council of the Blind (ACB) Board of Directors met on Friday and Saturday, October 17 and 18, 2014 at the Sheraton Hotel in Dallas, Texas.  President Kim Charlson called the Friday portion of the meeting to order at 2:10 p.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, Katie Frederick, Michael Garret, John McCann, Allan Peterson, Patrick Sheehan, Dan Spoone and David Trott.  Board member George Holliday was absent.  Board of Publications Representative Denise Colley was present.  Staff present: Melanie Brunson, ACB Executive Director, and Lane Waters, ACB Controller.  After roll call, several guests introduced themselves.
President Charlson reviewed the agenda for the Friday afternoon session.  Campbell moved and McCann seconded adoption of the Friday afternoon agenda, the motion carried.
The board then began discussing several items including ACB’s mission statement, vision statement, membership benefits, and organizational culture.  Highlights and questions raised included:

  • ACB’s mission statement currently reads: “The American Council of the Blind strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity and quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people.”
  • ACB has many constituents, from members, to fund raisers, to politicians and the media and others we’re impacting in some way.
  • ACB currently does not have a vision statement, this is needed.
  • ACB provides a number of programs and services to our members, the larger blindness community and the general public.  Do we provide all of them as well as we’d like?
  • Will we need to offer a different service mix in the future to recruit and retain members?
  • We need to better publicize what we’re doing, to reach people where they are who need and want information.
  • Promote what we do to younger people, tell them how what we do will affect their lives.

The top three strengths of ACB which were identified were advocacy, conference and convention, and democratic principles.  The three top weaknesses identified were fundraising, lack of communication at all levels, and growing lack of commitment.
Frederick moved and Lieberg seconded that the board recess into Executive Session to discuss financial and operational issues.  The motion carried, and the board went into Executive Session at 3:51 p.m.
The board returned to open session at 5:51 p.m.  President Charlson reported that the board discussed financial and operational issues, and that no actions were taken.
The meeting recessed at 5:56 p.m.
The board reconvened on Saturday, October 18 at 9:08 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, Katie Frederick, Michael Garret, John McCann, Allan Peterson, Patrick Sheehan, Dan Spoone and David Trott.  Board member George Holliday was absent.  Board of Publications Representative Denise Colley was present.  Staff present: Melanie Brunson, ACB Executive Director, and Lane Waters, ACB Controller.  After roll call, several guests introduced themselves.
President Charlson reviewed the Saturday agenda.  Lieberg moved and Frederick seconded that the Saturday agenda be adopted, the motion carried.
The minutes of the July 12, 2014 pre-convention board meeting and the July 19, post-convention board meeting were presented.  McCann moved and Garrett seconded adoption of both sets of minutes, the motion carried.
President Charlson next gave her report.  Campbell moved and Lieberg seconded ratification of the vote adopting the Affiliate Liaison policy, the motion carried.  The policy is included at the end of these minutes.  President Charlson shared that she has received very positive feedback from affiliate presidents on the liaison program.
Pomerantz moved and Trott seconded ratification of the vote to use matching funds for IRI donor acquisition, the motion carried.
Thom moved and McCann seconded ratification of the vote taken by email regarding Netflix, the motion carried.
President Charlson indicated to the board that ACB has been approached by the Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) for a contribution to a tribute fund which will be used to honor retiring United States Senator Tom Harkin with a contribution to the Tom Harkin Institute for Government at Drake University.  McCann moved and Campbell seconded that ACB contribute $250 to this effort.  The motion carried.
Campbell moved and Lieberg seconded acceptance of the President’s report, the motion carried.
Melanie Brunson presented the DC Area Office report.  Highlights included:

  • In the area of accessible currency, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released its report on how the government is progressing implementing the court order to make currency accessible.  Among other things, this report indicated that the Federal Reserve is not in favor of the tactile marking scheme which the Bureau of Engraving and Printing proposed using and has told them they need to start over.  This was not reflected in the most recent status report filed with the court, and ACB is seeking an order for a supplemental status report.  Other work is taking place behind the scenes to put pressure on the Obama administration to take a stand in favor of accessible currency.  Melanie will post the GAO report to the board list.
  • Progress is being made on the 2015 draft ACB budget, and Melanie hopes to have it to the budget committee soon.
  • Preparations are underway for the 2015 ACB midyear meetings.  Registrations should be out soon, and contact is being made with entities which have sponsored these meetings in the past.
  • In the area of development, Melanie reported that Tom Tobin is working on the next direct mail appeal.  The year end membership appeal is ready to go out and will appear in the ACB Braille Forum.  And, Tom is working on the next issue of “Inside ACB.”
  • Melanie and Eric met with Eve Hill from the Department of Justice.  They discussed accessible currency, ACB’s Section 504 case against the General Services Administration, and the DC taxi issues ACB has been working on among other things.
  • Melanie will represent ACB at the International Association of Audio Information Services board meeting November 7-8 in Lexington, Kentucky.
  • Melanie will be working to acquire the proceeds due to ACB for several cruises which have been put together by David Kronk.

Lane Waters gave the Minneapolis area office report.  He indicated that the convention accounting, 2013 990 and much of the expense side of the draft budget is done.  This office is also working a number of ACBES issues.
Lieberg moved and McCann seconded acceptance of the staff reports, the motion carried.
Lane and Carla gave an update on the Affiliate Member Management System (AMMS).  We’re going to simplify AMMS, making its main role to allow for membership tracking and certification for ACB affiliates, with the contacts side going away.  Some new fields will be added on the membership side which will allow affiliates to better track who is and who is not certified.  Also, there will be “how-to” documents created helping users get more out of AMMS.  There was much discussion on, eventually, getting all affiliates to use the AMMS tool.
ACB Treasurer Carla Ruschival presented the Treasurer’s report.  As of August 31, 2014, total support and revenue was $953,200 with total expenses of $774,423.
Carla also went over the details of the ACB Conference and Convention report, which provided an in-depth view of where revenue comes from for the conference and convention, and where we spend money to put it on.  This report compared our conference and convention revenue and expenses between 2014 and 2013.    McCann moved and Lieberg seconded acceptance of the Treasurer’s report, the motion carried.
Campbell moved and Lieberg seconded that the board recess into Executive Session to discuss affiliate, legal and personnel issues.  The motion carried and the board recessed into Executive Session at 12:04 p.m.
The board returned to open session at 1:51 p.m.  President Charlson reported that one motion was adopted during Executive Session.  Lieberg moved and Pomerantz seconded that a committee be appointed pursuant to Article VII of the ACB Constitution and Bylaws to research the issues presented by the Executive Director pertaining to the Virginia Association of the Blind as requested by members of said affiliate and that such

committee report its findings and recommendations to the entire ACB Board within 30 days of the adoption of this motion.
Carla Ruschival presented a report on the ACB Mini Mall.  The new mini mall site, which includes a shopping cart, is very very close to going live.  Carla indicated that our mini mall is going to be, virtually, like any mall, with various shops visitors can purchase items from.  Carla will be asking individuals to try out the new site once it’s ready to make sure everything works as it should.
The Resource Development Committee report was given by Dan Spoone and Carla Ruschival.  RDC brought forward a proposal to establish a legacy giving society for ACB, to honor those who have chosen to include ACB in their last will in testament or through another long term planned gift.  These individuals would be acknowledged and included in the Donor Perfect database, so ACB can track how many people have chosen to recognize ACB through long term planned giving.  As a way of documenting the planned gift, ACB will ask who should be contacted when the document in which ACB is included for a gift takes effect.  Peterson moved and McCann seconded approval of the concept of a legacy giving society for ACB, the motion carried.
RDC also continues discussing ways to improve other fundraising programs.  As part of this discussion, President Charlson indicated she wants to identify professionals in the fields of web design or development who would donate their time to advise ACB on how to improve our web presence.  A committee consisting of Kim Charlson, Ray Campbell, Katie Frederick and Dan Spoone was appointed and will put together a job description to help ACB recruit such professionals.
Melanie brought up the issue of ACB taking a fresh look at the issues and policies for accessible, independent voting.  Since ACB last put together a position statement on these issues, many things in the election world have changed.  Campbell moved and Frederick seconded that a task force be established to re-examine voting issues, policies and procedures and develop position statements on them, and that said task force report on its work to the ACB Conference and Convention.  The motion carried.
The board moved onto elections.  Lieberg moved and Campbell seconded election of Katie Frederick by acclamation as Board Representative to the ACB Public Relations committee, the motion carried.  Pomerantz moved and Spoone seconded election of John McCann by acclamation as Board Representative to the ACB Credentials Committee, the motion carried.  Finally, the 2014-15 ACB Executive Committee was elected.  Members chosen to serve with President Charlson on this committee are First Vice President Jeff Thom, Second Vice President Marlaina Lieberg, and Directors Katie Frederick and Pat Sheehan.
The conference and convention report was presented by ACB Conference and Convention Coordinator Janet Dickelman.  She indicated while she has bids on the table for 2017, she hasn’t engaged in any contract negotiations yet since there could be changes in convention format.  She indicated we need to decide what we’re going to do by the 2015 mid-year meetings so she can negotiate a contract and announce where the 2017 conference and convention will be held during the 2015 event.
After Janet discussed several issues and answered questions about the 2015 convention and the Sheraton Hotel, Jeff Thom discussed the convention voting procedures.  Individuals who have questions about their voting status will have until close of registration the day before ACB elections to resolve them.  This will be announced several times during convention week.  Issues with voting go beyond the number of dots individuals had on their badge which was a problem in 2014 and will go away in 2015.
Janet led the board in a discussion of ways to shorten the conference and convention.  A working group of individuals representing affiliates, committees and others involved with the conference and convention has put forth several ideas.  The board provided a number of ideas and thoughts as well.  Plans will be flushed out and presented at the 2015 President’s meeting.
The strategic plan goal groups reported on their progress.  Carla Ruschival indicated that Goal group 1 has not met for a couple of months and will be working to get back on schedule.  They did report that we have 845 Twitter followers, and 641 “likes” on Facebook.  Also, we have over 4,000 ACB Radio listeners a month since the telephone option was added.
Jeff Thom reported for Goal group 3.  He indicated that the board handbook has been completed, and that they are looking into some staff training issues.  John McCann reported that Goal group 4 is going to be working on changes to the convention standing rules, and some constitution and bylaws amendments in lite of the DC non-profit code requirements.
Dan Spoone reported for Goal group 2.  They are getting close to publishing the next generation fundraising brochure for ACB.  They are also continuing to evaluate each of ACB’s 12 fundraising programs on a quarterly basis.  Dan emphasized that we need to get committees to track their volunteer hours online so we can show how much time folks in ACB are putting into our organization’s work.  President Charlson reminded the board to get names and contact information for people we think may be good to add to our direct mail database to her.
Denise Colley, Chair, presented the Board of Publications report.  The BOP has put together guidelines for candidate postings on ACB’s Leadership List, and has also put together guidelines for general leadership list posting.  These will be sent out and made available along with other list posting guidelines.  The BOP has gotten the ACB Braille Forum surveys back and they are being analyzed.  They were disappointed in the limited response they got to the survey from younger members.
Finally, the BOP is proposing that the Candidates Forum be part of conference and convention general session, and that it be held the day after the report of the nominating committee.  They are extremely opposed to eliminating the forum altogether.  Campbell moved and Frederick seconded acceptance of the board of publications report, the motion carried.
The board discussed several program ideas for the 2015 ACB President’s meeting.  They included:

  • AMMS Demonstration – Ray Campbell
  • Discussion of the importance of state affiliates not only maintaining 501C3 status, but also state status as a non-profit or charity.
  • RDC Discussion – Dan Spoone.  Could include how to use ACB’s annual giving societies in addition to MMS.
  • Conversation on the role of affiliate liaisons.
  • Discussion of sustaining ACB affiliates into the future.
  • Discuss with Presidents ideas for shortening the conference and convention.
  • Discussion of DC Nonprofit Code issues and their impact on special interest affiliates.
  • Discuss collaboration with other organizations.

There being no further business, McCann moved and Conrad seconded that the meeting be adjourned.  The motion carried, and the meeting was adjourned at 5:40 p.m.
Ray Campbell,
Date submitted: 11/08/2014
Date approved: 11/13/2014

Adopted by the ACB Board of Directors, October 18, 2014
The American Council of the Blind would not be the premier consumer advocacy organization of persons who are blind or have low vision without its network of strong state and special interest affiliates. The membership of the American Council of the Blind, including leaders at the state and special interest affiliate and national levels, have long recognized the need to implement mechanisms that will enhance collaborative and cooperative relationships that will benefit both ACB affiliates and the national organization and a methodology for enabling affiliates, at their discretion, to obtain advice and assistance from the national organization.
In order to help achieve this goal, the president shall designate a member of the board of directors as a liaison for each state and special interest affiliate of the American Council of the Blind. No director shall serve as liaison to the state affiliate in which he/she resides, nor shall a director serve as liaison to a special interest affiliate in which he/she serves as a board member.
This Affiliate Liaison Policy shall be implemented in accordance with the following procedures:

  • Upon the assignment of affiliate liaisons, the ACB President shall communicate to each affiliate president the substance of this policy along with the name of their affiliate liaison.
  • The liaison shall communicate to the president of each designated affiliate that it is the liaison’s function to offer advice and assistance to the affiliate through communication with the president, to the extent requested by the affiliate president.
  • An affiliate president may designate another member of the affiliate to act on his or her behalf with respect to subsequent communications with the liaison, and subsequent references to the affiliate president shall also refer to any designee so made by that president.
  • After the initial communication between an affiliate president and the liaison, the liaison shall, if mutually agreed upon, continue to communicate with the president on a quarterly basis for the purpose of ascertaining whether there are any affiliate issues that the president would like to discuss with the liaison. The affiliate president may, however, contact the liaison at any time and may authorize the liaison to contact other members of the affiliate. However, the liaison should not contact any other member of the affiliate on official affiliate business without the consent of the president except as set forth below.
  • All communications between an affiliate president and a liaison shall be confidential, except to the extent required and permitted by the affiliate president.
  • Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions, whenever the Board of Directors of the American Council of the Blind elects to examine an issue involving an affiliate pursuant to Article VII of the ACB Constitution, the liaison may discuss, if instructed by the ACB Board, the issue with the affiliate president or any other member of that affiliate without the consent of the affiliate president, and the confidentiality requirements of this policy shall not apply.