The American Council of the Blind (ACB) Board of Directors met on Saturday, February 25, 2017 at the Crowne Plaza Old Town Alexandria Hotel, Alexandria, Virginia. President Kim Charlson called the meeting to order at 9:01 a.m. At the call of the roll, the following board members were present: Kim Charlson, Jeff Thom, John McCann, Ray Campbell, Carla Ruschival, Mitch Pomerantz, Jeff Bishop, Denise Colley, Dan Dillon, Katie Frederick, Allan Peterson, Pat Sheehan, Dan Spoone, and David Trott. Board Members Sara Conrad and George Holliday were not present with excused absences. Board of Publications Representative Ron Brooks was not present. Staff present: Eric Bridges, ACB Executive Director, Nancy Becker, ACB Chief Accountant, Tom Tobin, ACB Director of Development, Jo Lynn Bailey-Page, ACB Grant Writer, Tony Stephens, ACB Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs and Kelly Gasque, ACB Administrative Assistant. Following roll call, several guests introduced themselves.
President Charlson reviewed the agenda. She indicated that since there was no Board of Publications representative present, there would be no BOP report to the board, instead, the BOP would report during the following day’s President’s meeting. President Charlson also indicated that during Executive Session, the board will be discussing advocacy, legal and financial issues. Campbell moved and McCann seconded adoption of the agenda as discussed, the motion carried.
Minutes of the November 17 and 21, 2016 ACB Board of Directors meeting were presented by Secretary Ray Campbell. McCann moved and Bishop seconded adoption of the minutes as most recently circulated, the motion carried.
The President’s report consisted of two items:
- The revised Durward K. McDaniel (DKM) First Timers’ guidelines and Expectations document which was distributed to the board. Ruschival moved and Colley seconded approval of these Guidelines and Expectations as circulated, the motion carried. The guidelines are attached to these minutes.
- Board Self-assessment results and self-assessment policy. ACB Chief Accountant Nancy Becker reviewed the assessment results and the draft self-assessment policy. There was one amendment made to the self-assessment policy that we would not use an outside entity to develop an assessment instrument, but that we could use an outside entity to tabulate the assessment results. McCann moved and Campbell seconded approval of the self-assessment policy as amended, the motion carried. The amended policy is attached to these minutes.
Pomerantz moved and Trott seconded acceptance of the President’s report, the motion carried.
ACB Executive Director Eric Bridges began presentation of the staff reports. Highlights of his comments included:
- Progress continues with ACB’s transition to Office 365. We are now migrating documents to Sharepoint.
- Eric and a team of individuals are Working through maintenance and re-design of www.acb.org. Working with Louisville Web Group, we have gone through a site architecture. WE have some 6,000 pages on acb.org
- And are looking to cut down the number of pages and make the site more functional. Projections are to have the new site up by late spring.
- Eric has been busy traveling on behalf of ACB. He attended the Cavalino Classic car show. The Cavalino Car Club donates annually to ACB and Eric had an opportunity to speak with them at their awards brunch about ACB’s work. He met with officials from Starbucks and Microsoft, and Uber as well as attending an accessibility summit hosted by Google. He also will be traveling to the CSUN conference in San Diego, and will represent ACB at the North American-Caribbean region of the World Blind Union meeting in Toronto.
- ACB obtained $17,500 in midyear meeting sponsorships, $10,000 from Charter Communications, $5,000 from Sprint, and $2,500 from VFO Group.
ACB Director of Development Tom Tobin gave the Development Report. After entertaining questions about his written report disseminated to the board, he addressed several items:
- For the 2016 Year-end direct mail appeal we sent out 15,210 packets, we have grossed $21,022 from 373 gifts, with an average gift of $58.24 on a return of 2.44%. Net revenue was $12,263, making it our best appeal. For our spring appeal, we’ll send out 8,300 packets. Tom is looking for testimonials for our Back to School and Year-end appeals.
- Inside ACB, scheduled for three mailings this year, with the Spring dropping Wednesday, March 1.
- Annual giving societies are growing year over year, with new members and more revenue. We are also seeing growth in the Angels Memorial tribute program.
- Tom is looking to have an initial get-acquainted meeting with folks involved in estate planning to discuss ACB’s Planned Giving program.
- Tom worked with Jo Lyn and Eric on an article which appeared in Philanthropy Journal on ACB’s Structured Negotiations activities.
Jo Lynn Bailey-Page presented the ACB Grants Report. After taking questions on her written report, she discussed:
- how important it is to build relationships with potential funders.
- In 2015, ACB had grant requests of $162,000 and we were funded at $45,000. In 2016, we requested $195,000 and received $47,000.
- Going into 2017, we have many foundations rotating out of our grant pipeline. We have two grant requests per month going out, with a goal of four by the end of the year.
The BOP is developing metrics and performance indicators which will help as we approach family foundations. Some 75% of family foundations want to establish relationships with grantees.
Tony Stephens, ACB Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs presented his report. Highlights included:
- Congress is moving full speed ahead, ACB’s work during Legislative Seminar is focused on short term, low hanging fruit type issues.
- We as an organization, through our work with the Obama Administration had made excellent progress on issues of importance and on improving ACB’s visibility.
- Tony has worked on issues around autonomous vehicles, airlines and other items with the Department of Transportation.
- ACB’s voice has been heard around enforcement of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. Tony is also working on WIOA issues with other disability organizations. We are seen as experts in rehabilitation and employment opportunities.
- Things are moving forward to get a Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) report on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services accessibility issues.
Managing Director of ACB Radio Larry Turnbull presented the ACB Radio Report. Highlights included:
- Larry has been working with Microsoft and the Main Menu team on getting content for Main Menu. People from Microsoft have been on Main Menu and they will be on six more times this year.
- He has been working to put infrastructure in place to allow ACB Radio broadcasters to update their show pages. Larry has also begun training ACB staff to add and update content on acb.org.
- Larry is working on bringing older Main Menu content into Drupal and onto the main ACB radio site. This consists of over 10 years worth of content.
- ACB Radio Treasure Trove still has the highest listenership.
- Work is underway on an Android version of ACB Link. There are updates coming out for the iOS version as well.
- Several state affiliates are planning on streaming their spring conventions.
Campbell moved and McCann seconded that the board go into Executive Session for discussion of issues as outlined on the agenda, the motion carried and the board went into Executive Session at 12:20 p.m. The board returned to open session at 2:10 p.m. President Charlson reported that the board discussed legal and ACBES issues, and that no motions were passed during Executive Session.
ACB Chief Accountant Nancy Becker gave the Minneapolis Area Office report. Highlights included:
- Six of the seven larger affiliates that were not using the Affiliate Member Management System (AMMS) are now using it, along with several smaller affiliates.
- We received 124 applications for ACB scholarships.
- The transition to Dynamic GP as our accounting system is going smoothly. Nancy indicated they are working on both the old and new systems, making sure financial data matches between them.
Campbell moved and Trott seconded acceptance of the staff reports, the motion carried.
ACB Treasurer Carla Ruschival presented the Treasurer’s report. The board went through the 2016 end of year financial report. Total 2016 Support and Revenue: $1,162,248; total expenses: $1,105,860. Carla also discussed the latest from the ACB Mini Mall, including some special promotions that will be offered during the midyear meetings for items that affiliates could partner with the Mini Mall to sell. Campbell moved and McCann seconded acceptance of the Treasurer’s report, the motion carried.
The report from the Resource Development Committee was presented by Committee Co-chair Dan Dillon. Dan went over the fundraising programs under the RDC including the 2017 ACB Brenda Dillon Memorial Walk (Saturday, July 1, 2017), ACB Auction (Monday, July 3) and other programs. Peterson moved and Thom seconded acceptance of the RDC report, the motion carried.
ACB Conference and Convention Coordinator Janet Dickelman presented her report. Highlights included:
- The 2017 Conference and Convention theme is “ACB Sparks Success.”
- Our International guest for 2017 will be Dr. Aubrey Webson, United Nations Ambassador to Antigua and Barbooda.
- Our 2017 Talking Book narrator presentation will be given by Madeline Buzzard. Our banquet speaker will be Norma Jean Wick, part of the Audio Description team for the 2016 Summer Olympic games.
- The 2017 fall board meeting will take place October 27-29, 2017 at the Union Station hotel, St. Louis, Missouri. The 2018 fall board meeting will take place the weekend of October 5, 2018 at the Radisson Hotel, Rochester, New York.
Campbell moved and Spoone seconded acceptance of the Conference and Convention report, the motion carried.
ACB Executive Director Eric Bridges updated the board on ACB’s Strategic Plan activities. He indicated that since the planning meetings held January 23 and 24, 2017 in Alexandria, all five teams have been meeting with FMP Consulting to flush out their action plans. It is expected that the final plan will be completed by end of March, 2017.
The current Strategic Plan goal groups presented reports to the board. Following these presentations, officer and board liaison reports were presented. Under the Membership committee report, it was announced that the next Membership Focus conference call will take place Monday, April 24 at 5:30 p.m. Pacific, 8:30 p.m. Eastern on the topic of ACB Membership Benefits.
There being no further business, McCann moved and Frederick seconded that the meeting be adjourned. The motion carried, and the meeting was adjourned at 4:28 p.m.
Date submitted: March 24, 2017
Date approved: April 22, 2017
Atts. Durward K. McDaniel First Timers Guidelines and Expectations
Board Self Assessment policy
Guidelines and Expectations
Durward K. McDaniel First-Timers Program
The DKM Guidelines and Expectations define the application and selection process of ACB’s oldest, continuous leadership development program and the responsibilities of the recipients of the Durward K. McDaniel First-Timers award.
1 - The annual DKM First-Timers competition will be announced via the ACB Braille Forum, ACB Radio, ACB Leadership list, and other appropriate media.
2 - Two qualifying recipients - one each from opposite sides of the Mississippi River - will be selected annually provided at least one qualifying individual applies from each geographic region.
3 - Qualifying applicants shall meet each of the following: age 18 or older; blind or visually impaired; member in good standing of ACB; never attended a previous ACB national conference and convention either as a member or non-member.
4 - Each applicant must submit a letter to the DKM committee addressing the applicant’s background and experience, involvement in the blindness movement and other activities of benefit to the community and assessing the impact of selection on the applicant’s growth as a leader as well as on his/her affiliate and community.
5 - Each applicant must have his/her ACB state or special interest affiliate president submit a letter of recommendation assessing the applicant’s qualifications for the DKM award and future leadership potential.
6 - All application materials should be submitted in an accessible format to the ACB national office during the announced application period and must be received no later than April 1 or a later date if announced in advance.
7 - The DKM committee will conduct telephone interviews with qualifying applicants as soon as possible after the closing date employing interview teams consisting of committee members.
8 - Upon completion of the selection process and acceptance by the designated recipients, the DKM Committee Chair or committee designee shall notify the remaining qualifying applicants, the ACB president, executive director, convention coordinator, and other key ACB staff.
1 - The primary expectation of each DKM First-Timer is that he/she utilizes the DKM experience as a learning opportunity.
2 - Recipients should be prepared to work with the ACB comptroller, the ACB convention coordinator and other key staff immediately after selection to coordinate travel, hotel and other financial arrangements.
3 - Each DKM recipient will be assigned a mentor and should discuss pre-registration procedures and options, breakout sessions and other related convention activities with the mentor.
4 - Upon arrival at convention, recipients should secure convention materials from the Registration Desk and contact the DKM committee chair to confirm convention details.
5 - Recipients should attend the “Keys to the Convention” seminar for an overview of the week’s activities and suggestions to make the experience more rewarding.
6 - DKM First-Timers will be introduced to the conference and convention during the opening meeting and should be prepared to make brief comments.
7 - Attendance at all general sessions is essential to the educational value of the DKM experience and is expected of each recipient.
8 - Breakout sessions - including the Leadership Institute - are a central element of the convention learning experience. First-Timers are expected to participate in not less than three sessions.
9 - Recipients will attend the DKM reception and the ACB banquet as guests of ACB and the committee.
10 - Recipients should avail themselves of the opportunities to interact with ACB leadership, DKM committee members and other ACB members.
11 - First-Timers are invited to share the DKM experience with their fellow members through the ACB Braille Forum and other media resources.
12 - In support of assisting the committee in improving the First-Timers Program, each recipient should prepare a one-page narrative of their conference and convention experience and submit it to the DKM Chair no later than 30 days following the closing of the conference and convention.
American Council of the Blind
Board of Directors Self Assessment
Board self-evaluation is a process that allows nonprofit boards of directors to examine their own performance and improve the way they go about their work. The Maine Association of Nonprofits has summed up the critical importance of regular self-assessments for boards:
“A strong, vibrant board of directors is a clear indicator of a healthy organization. Yet even the best organizations need a periodic check-up to ensure that they cannot just survive but will really thrive in today’s environment. To check your board’s vital signs, or to put in place practices and strategies for a healthy and energized board, the best place to start is with a board self-assessment.”
The implementation of a board self-assessment policy is a “best practice” standard of both GuideStar and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, the two preeminent charity review councils that evaluate ACB’s management practices.
In our 2015 BBB evaluation, our present lack of a self-assessment policy is the only standard ACB has not met; a situation we should endeavor to correct for our next reporting period. After doing some internet research on this subject, and looking at what some other non-profit boards are doing, staff has developed a board self-assessment policy and procedure for your consideration. The expectation is that the board will discuss, revise and adopt a self-assessment policy at our board meeting on October 31, 2015, conduct the self-assessment by December 31, 2015, and have the results ready for board review at our mid-year board meeting in February.
- Proposed Policy
Below is draft language for a board self-assessment policy:
The board of directors of the American Council of the Blind believe that a properly conducted self-assessment of board performance is a crucial component of good governance and will conduct a board self assessment at least once every two years. The self-assessment will consist of a board approved questionnaire that each individual director will complete and submit to staff. Staff will combine the responses and present a self-assessment report to the president of ACB, who will present the report to the board at the mid-year, convention, or fall board meetings. The board may also elect to employ the services of an outside consulting firm to assist in the preparation of the questionnaire and the tabulation and evaluation of the results.
- Purpose (Goals and Objectives)
- Increase board accountability
- Improve board performance, productivity and problem solving skills
- Promote a better understanding of both full board and individual director roles and responsibilities
- Deliver feedback about board dynamics
- Capture comments that new or more reticent directors may be hesitant to openly express
- Capture ideas crucial for directing the boards focus
- Provide metrics that can guide future board agendas
The ACB Board will approve the questionnaire
- Each individual board member will complete the questionnaire (responses are kept anonymous)
- The completed questionnaire will be submitted by each board member to the Minneapolis office, where the results will be tabulated and a report prepared
- The report will consist of a review of each question in the questionnaire, the answer choices for each question, and the number of times each response was chosen.
- The report will be presented during the first face-to-face board meeting held after the completion of the report.
- The board will establish goal oriented metrics in response to the findings of the report.
There are a variety of styles of board self-assessment tools. The ACB Board of Directors has selected a more general questionnaire, which can be completed by each board member that evaluates the operation of the board as a whole, on key management, communication and governance issues. It does not delve into each board member evaluating other board members.