by Penny Reeder
Editor’s Note: To read the minutes of these meetings, visit https://www.acb.org/2022-acb-board-directors-minutes, or listen to the board meeting podcasts at acbmedia.org.
ACB president Dan Spoone called the August 31st meeting of the board of directors to order at 8:02 p.m. Eastern. All board members, several ACB staffers, and guests Mitch Pomerantz, chair of the newly formed disciplinary committee, and Gabe Griffith, resolutions committee chair, were present.
Following the roll call, the board discussed ACB’s Vote Now process. To give all members the opportunity to vote, ACB distributed 2,500 braille and large print voter codes to members who have not shared e-mail addresses with the organization. Chief Financial Officer Nancy Marks-Becker stated the total cost for Vote Now was $12,600. Of that, $5,400 created unique voter codes; $1,000 sent e-mail reminders, and $6,400 mailed 2,450 paper voter packets.
Spoone indicated the fall board meeting would take place Oct. 21-22. He announced Pam Shaw’s appointment as chair of the newly formed ACB Mental Health and Wellness Committee, noting an email invitation seeking participation was distributed.
ACB Media Manager Rick Morin and convention coordinator Janet Dickelman provided a snapshot of the survey responses and feedback gathered from ACB community calls. Out of 560 people who responded to the survey, approximately 450 completed it, and 82% shared demographic information. Totally blind respondents represented 60.5%; people with low vision represented 28.6%; and fully sighted respondents represented 8.4%. 59% attended virtually; and of those, 89% attended via Zoom. Respondents 44 and younger represented 13.9%, and the 45-64 age bracket represented 33% of attendees. ACB community participants represented 62.5% of survey respondents. Cost, location, ease of transportation and special-interest affiliate programming were motivating factors for attending the convention.
Respondents who thought the convention was too long nearly equaled the number who thought that the length of the convention was appropriate, given the amount of work accomplished. The convention voting process received the highest approval rating. Preliminary analysis treated all respondents as a single group. Rick will perform more in-depth data analyses, and he and Janet will share more during the fall board meeting.
In his report, executive director Eric Bridges stated planning for the Audio Description Gala, scheduled for Nov. 29 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern, is under way. He celebrated a convention survey completion rate of 80% from more than 500 responses.
Bridges described his participation at a conference sponsored by Netflix in conjunction with Global Accessibility Awareness Day. He was honored to represent ACB and the blindness community on a panel, focusing on normalizing audio description, authentic casting, and other accessibility considerations. He noted it was especially thrilling to experience open audio descriptions, which were seamlessly integrated into the soundtrack of a film screening.
Eric Bridges and Clark Rachfal attended the Disability:In conference — meeting with corporate leadership from CVS Health, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Google, Hilton, MGM Resorts, Walmart, Nike, Union Pacific Railroads, and others. “Working with corporations, in the spirit of collaboration, is worthwhile work.”
Following Eric’s report, board member Terry Pacheco brought an item to the board’s attention. She noticed ACB’s website easily allows one to join as a member at large or friend of ACB, but finding a link to join state or special-interest affiliates is challenging. Eric asked Terry to reach out to Kelly Gasque in the national office — she will make sure a link for joining state/special-interest affiliates is placed on the site.
In her financial report, Nancy Marks-Becker explained since ACB is midway through the financial year, she and treasurer David Trott can project where the organization will be financially at year’s end. At this time, it appears that ACB will have a deficit of approximately $135,500 at the end of the year. The board unanimously adopted a motion to move up to $250,000 from board reserves to prevent any shortage in ACB’s cash flow. Nancy shared that, since hiring a general thrift stores manager, revenue from ACB’s thrift stores has significantly exceeded expectations.
The next item of business was the board’s approval of priorities for resolutions adopted at the 2022 convention. Resolutions chair Gabe Griffith, and vice chair Mark Richert, worked with committee members, ACB’s advocacy staff and members of the advocacy steering committee, considering which resolutions should be addressed immediately, which would require staff to collaborate with ACB affiliates, committees, and partner organizations, and which would need ongoing attention to accomplish their stated intent. Their work culminated in a resolutions prioritization spreadsheet which outlined their collaborative plans and established timelines and goals for each resolution. The proposed prioritization was unanimously approved.
These resolutions received Priority 1 attention and will be addressed immediately: 2022-03, 2022-07, 2022-12, 2022-18, and 2022-25. Priority 2 resolutions are: 2022-06, 2022-09, 2022-13, 2022-14 and 2022-26, 2022-15, 2022-19, 2022-24, and 2022-27. Priority 3 resolutions include: 2022-08, 2022-16, and 2022-17. To view the list of resolutions adopted at the convention, visit https://www.acb.org/2022-resolutions.
Spoone announced he put together an ad hoc disciplinary committee, chaired by Mitch Pomerantz. The committee’s first task has been to identify a grievance process for handling complaints that might not rise to the seriousness of code violations but which need to be addressed and resolved. Committee members recommended a process for sharing the proposed grievance process with ACB members and receiving their feedback. A long discussion followed.
When the meeting reconvened on Sept. 13, the board addressed the remaining agenda items from the previous meeting, and held an executive session, during which no formal motions were made.
Following the executive session, the board approved a motion to authorize hiring two staff members — a full-time grant writer and a resource development assistant. In addition, ACB will hire a full-time Audio Description Project coordinator. Filling these positions represents no additional costs for ACB.
The board selected the three members of the 2023 budget committee who will serve along with Nancy Becker and president Spoone; they are David Trott, Deb Cook Lewis, and Jeff Bishop.
The board also unanimously approved a second term of service for Deb Cook Lewis as ACB’s public relations committee chair.
Rachel Schroeder will chair the newly created ACB Media Support Committee. Other committee members include Deb Cook Lewis, Jeff Bishop, Mikey Wiseman, Cheryl Cumings, and Cecily Laney Nipper.
As the board revisited issues associated with the code of conduct, they focused on two documents. The board unanimously voted to post the document outlining the process for handling Code of Conduct complaints on the ACB web site. They also voted to distribute the second document, which outlines a proposed policy for resolving interpersonal disputes, to the membership. A team comprised of Mitch Pomerantz, Deb Cook Lewis, Chris Bell, David Trott, Jeff Thom, and Dan Spoone will host calls to discuss the proposed policies and get feedback from members. They will share written and audio copies of the proposed policy statement via regular ACB communications channels and report to the board in advance of the Oct. 22 board meeting.
The meeting concluded at 11:30 p.m. Eastern.