February 27, 2016 Meeting of the ACB Board of Directors

The American Council of the Blind (ACB) Board of Directors met on Saturday, February 27, 2016 at the Crowne Plaza Old town hotel in Alexandria, Virginia.  President Kim Charlson called the meeting to order at 9:13 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, Sara Conrad, Berl Colley, Katie Frederick, Michael Garrett, George Holliday, Allan Peterson, Patrick Sheehan, Dan Spoone, and David Trott.  Board of Publications Representative Doug Powell was also present.  Staff present:  Eric Bridges, ACB Executive Director, Kelly Gasque, ACB Administrative Assistant, Tony Stephens, ACB Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs,  Lane Waters, ACB Controller, Nancy Becker, Chief Accountant, Tom Tobin, ACB Director of Development, and Jo Lynn Bailey-Page, Grant Writer.  Following roll call, several guests introduced themselves.
President Charlson reviewed the agenda.  Trott moved and McCann seconded adoption of the agenda as circulated, the motion carried.
ACB Secretary Ray Campbell presented the minutes of the ACB Board Meeting held December 3 and 10, 2015.  Spoone moved and Holliday seconded adoption of the minutes as circulated, the motion carried.
The ACB President’s Report was presented by Kim Charlson.  Highlights included:

  • She met with representatives of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) on January 11, 2016.  They are doing another round of testing of possible tactile currency markings as the last round was not successful for logistical reasons outside of the blindness community.  Also, BEP is seeking a two-year extension for production of the new $10 bill due to anti-counterfeiting techniques being proposed.
  • President Charlson also met with Karen Keninger, Director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped to, among other things, urge that the libraries do more to distribute currency readers to patrons.  Ms. Kenninger will be attending the 2016 ACB Conference and Convention to deliver the NLS update.
  • There is also legislation, H.R.4093 which deals with various aspects of the Library of Congress.  Section 2 authorizes NLS to distribute “reproducers,” and needs to be adopted so NLS can distribute a refreshable Braille Display at a very reasonable price point.
  • President Charlson and others met with representatives of the Governmental Accountability Office on February 16 to discuss efforts to implement best practices for accessible prescription drug labeling.  The GAO team had a lot of questions, and ACB had a lot to say to them.
  • ACB Radio will broadcast sessions from the World Blind Union General Assembly in August, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.
  • WBU North American-Caribbean Region Chairperson Charles Mossop will be our ACB Conference and Convention International guest in 2016.

Campbell moved and McCann seconded acceptance of the President’s report, the motion carried.
ACB Executive Director Eric Bridges began presentation of the staff reports.  Highlights included:

  • Eric announced that we have three mid-year meeting sponsors.  Vanda Pharmaceuticals (Presidential, $10,000), and Time Werner Cable and Deque Systems (Congressional, $5,000) with Time Werner and Deque being new mid-year sponsors.  Deque has committed to an emerald level convention sponsorship as well.
  • Thanks to both the preparation and willingness to assist from all staff, ACB’s office move from Arlington to Alexandria went quite well.
  • Eric indicated that the ACB staff have spent time working with the Crowne Plaza Old Town hotel, preparing them for the ACB midyear meetings.
  • Eric has spent time getting to know ACB’s Minnesota staff and discussing how the organization’s financial and accounting work will get done moving forward after Lane Waters’ impending retirement.  He also wants to take an active role in ACB’s development work.

Development Director Tom Tobin presented the development report.  After fielding questions or comments on the written report previously circulated to the board, he presented information from several areas, including:

  • Our year-end direct mail appeal, some 11,000 packages which were dropped in November, 2015 has grossed $13,379 from 253 gifts, average gift amount of about $38 with a 3.2% response rate.  Subtracting expenses of $6,315, net revenue is just over $7,000.
  • Tom discussed a three-year analysis of ACB’s direct mail efforts which shows sustained growth, both in packets sent out and net revenue.
  • Tom and Lane walked the board through an analysis of trends in ACB ‘s cumulative Giving Societies from 2014 to 2015.  We are seeing donors moving up the pyramid, particularly from the Leaders Society to the Advocates society.  ACB also realized about a $4,000 growth in revenue through our giving societies.
  • Tom also indicated we are seeing steady growth in other areas as well, including the Angels Memorial tribute program and Legacy Society.

Our ACB Grant Writer, Jo Lynn Bailey-Page presented her report.  Highlights included:

  • Jo Lynn recently received information that ACB has been awarded a $2,000 grant from the Delta Gamma foundation for the ACB Braille Forum.
  • ACB received $48,000 in grants during 2015.
  • We have $127,500 in grant requests pending.  Of these, $53,000 will be decided between March and July, 2016.
  • There are $172,000 in grants to be written.
  • Several of our grant sources are in year three of our 3-year cycle without funding us or giving us a response to our requests.  They will roll off, meaning we will need to bring new sources into the pipeline.

Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs Tony Stephens presented his report.  He indicated we are in the second half of the 114th Congress.  ACB has an opportunity to be involved in conversations around smart Government reform.  He also briefly discussed the four imperatives ACB would be taking to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, March 1 – Medicare Coverage for Low Vision Devices, Cogswell-Macy Special Education Act, Marrakesh Treaty and Web Accessibility rulemaking.
Controller Lane Waters delivered his report.  Highlights included:

  • The Minneapolis office is preparing for the 2015 audit.  We are working with a new auditing firm this year.
  • They were able to get a new server installed by the end of the year.  All software except our accounting package has been moved; our accounting software will not run on the new server.
  • We have 22 committees reporting volunteer hours, need to get the other 16 to report.  Total hours reported in 2015 were 9,006 with a value of $207,768.

Lane presented an opportunity for ACB to re-establish a working relationship with John Learned, the individual who has worked with ACB and our affiliates in the past on vehicle donation fundraising.  Among other things, Mr. Learned is proposing a different advertising approach for vehicle donation, utilizing social media.  Thom moved and Spoone seconded that the authority be given to the ACB President and staff to determine whether or not we want to have an exclusive agreement with the Car Donation Center (Mr. John Learned’s Company), or a joint agreement with them and our current vendor.  The motion carried.
ACB Audio Description Project Director Joel Snyder presented his report.  He is working with the Audio Description Committee to update the mission, goals and objectives of the project.  He reported that the project has four subcommittees: Performing arts, Media, Conference and Awards.  They are looking at creating three subcommittees dealing with certification, Section 508 and the Young Described Film Critic contest.  Joel also indicated the Audio Described Whitehouse tour has been updated and re-recorded, and there are new audio players available for taking the tour.  The project is working on a described tour of the Washington Holocaust museum.  Finally, he indicated that an Audio Description Institute is taking place during these mid-year meetings.  He is training 10 potential describers from 6 or 7 states and two countries.
Lane Waters resumed his report.  He had three items to cover.  First, the 2016 ACB Brenda Dillon Memorial Walk website is ready on donorpages.com.  Second, we have changed companies for the website registration and sign-up process for the ACB Conference and Convention.  Among other things, we will be able to create a secure login procedure that will help people keep track of donations they have made.  Finally, Lane discussed the Affiliate Member Management System database, which seems to be working pretty well this year.
Campbell moved and McCann seconded acceptance of the staff reports, the motion carried.
Campbell moved and McCann seconded that the board move into Executive Session for discussion of issues as outlined on the agenda, the motion carried and the board moved to executive session at 12:37 p.m.
 The board returned to open session at 2:57 p.m.  President Charlson announced that one motion was approved during Executive Session.  Secretary Campbell read this motion as follows:  Bishop moved and Conrad seconded that the Board of Directors authorizes ACB Leadership and the Information Technology Infrastructure Committee to move forward with digital re-design of acb.org and associated properties.
ACB Treasurer Carla Ruschival presented the Treasurer’s report.  She reviewed five recommendations brought forward by the ACB Budget Committee for 2016 budget changes in the areas of audio description, Office rent expense and publicity.  Spoone moved and Frederick seconded adoption of these recommendations, the motion carried, revising the 2016 ACB Budget deficit figure to $-145,290.
Carla also reported that she has 2016 Mini Mall catalogs which she will pass out at the President’s meeting, and that they hope to have Minnesota items available in the Mini Mall by May.
Campbell moved and Bishop seconded acceptance of the Treasurer’s report, the motion carried.
Resource Development Committee Co-chair Dan Spoone gave a brief RDC report.  Among other things, he urged all board members to talk up the Monthly Monetary Support program as we are only $6,000 away from an annualized giving rate of $100,000 for that program.
The board discussed a resolution being brought forward for dissolution of the National Education and Legal Defense Service (NELDS), with that organization’s financial assets being turned over to ACB to be used pursuant to specific conditions outlined in this resolution.  The funds can only be expended for those things that they would have been spent for if NELDS continued to exist, that being litigation-related expenses.  The resolution further stipulates how much of the NELDS assets can be expended annually.  A copy of the resolution as well as the minutes of the February 7, 2016 meeting of the NELDS board of Directors will be attached to these minutes.  Trott moved and Peterson seconded adoption of the resolution for dissolution from NELDS to ACB, the motion carried.
Board of Publications representative Doug Powell presented the BOP report.  He indicated that the BOP has approved an updated Editorial Policy Manual, a copy of which was circulated to the ACB Board.  He also indicated that the BOP has met with Dan Spoone as Co-Chair of RDC and Jo Lynn Bailey-Page to discuss the role of the BOP and financial needs for the ACB Braille Forum.  Thom moved and McCann seconded acceptance of the BOP report, the motion carried.
Jeff Bishop gave an update on ACB Radio.  Highlights included:

  • The new Affiliates in Action show is designed to highlight what is going on in our state and special interest affiliates; they want to hear from affiliates, particularly about their conventions and other special events.
  • The ACB Radio team has put together a new ACB Public Service Announcement that will be heard on Google Play music.  It will be played during the ACB President’s meeting.
  • Version 1.1 of ACB Link is under development.

Campbell moved and McCann seconded acceptance of the ACB Radio report, the motion carried.
ACB Convention Coordinator Janet Dickelman gave the convention report.  Highlights included:

  • The 2017 ACB Conference and Convention will take place at the Nugget in Reno, Nevada from June 30-July 7, 2017.
  • The 2018 ACB Conference and Convention will take place in St. Louis, Missouri, June 28-July 5, 2018.
  • Things are not finalized for 2019 as of yet.
  • For the 2016 Conference and Convention, registration will open on Friday, July 1.  Friday through Sunday, between 8 and 11 a.m. will be for pre-registration pickup only.
  • Janet discussed some changes that the convention committee wants to make this year, to get more into videography.  The husband of one of our ACB staff members does professional videography work and the committee wants to engage him for this.  Spoone moved and Trott seconded approval of the convention committee’s plans related to videography, the motion carried.

Campbell moved and Conrad seconded acceptance of the convention report, the motion carried.
The Strategic Plan Goal group reports were presented.  Goal Group 3 needs to meet soon regarding board self-assessment.  Goal Group 4 needs to meet soon to discuss any Constitution and Bylaws revisions they might want to submit.
The final reports presented were from officer and board liaisons.  There being no other business once this was completed, McCann moved and Campbell seconded that the meeting be adjourned.  The motion carried, and the meeting adjourned at 4:30 p.m.
Ray Campbell,
Date submitted: 5/02/2016
Date approved: 7/2/2016
Attachments: Final NELDS Dissolution Resolution, NELDS Board Minutes
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NELDS Dissolution Resolution

WHEREAS: the board of the National Education and Legal Defense Service, (NELDS),  has deemed it prudent to cease operations as a separate corporate entity, and;
WHEREAS: the NELDS board remains committed to the pursuit of those objectives for which NELDS was formed, and;
WHEREAS: the NELDS board considers that the continued pursuit of those objectives would best be served by relinquishing its assets to the American Council of the Blind, (ACB), should ACB accept the conditions hereinafter set forth:
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the board of directors of the National Education and Legal Defense Service, subject to acceptance of the following conditions by the board of directors of the American Council of the Blind:

  1. that all NELDS funds be placed in a separate "legal services" fund, such fund to be maintained as a separate and distinct portion of ACB's reserve fund, and;
  2. that no more than ten (10) percent of the NELDS principle plus any accrued income within the previous fiscal year may be expended by ACB in its current fiscal year; “Principal here being defined as including any accrued interest that has not been expended in ACB’s previous fiscal year, except that this definition shall apply only beginning five years after the creation of the special fund required by clause 1 above, and;
  3. that neither the NELDS principle nor interest accrued therefrom may be used for the employment of staff or interns, and;
  4. that NELDS funds may only be used for litigation, or for activities that may result in litigation, or for adjudicative administrative proceedings, either for individuals or worthy groups of individuals who are blind or vision impaired, and;
  5. that ACB commits to undertake good faith efforts to grow the "legal services" fund envisioned in resolve clause 1 above, e.g., by  soliciting grants, individual contributions, etc;

that the National Education and Legal Defense Service be dissolved as a separate corporate entity and that all remaining corporate assets be disbursed to the American Council of the Blind.