November 6, 2010, Board Meeting Minutes

American Council of the Blind Board of Directors Meeting
November 6, 2010

The Fall, 2010 meeting of the American Council of the Blind Board of Directors held at John Ascuaga’s Golden Nugget Hotel in Reno, NV convened at 8:30 A. M. The following Board members were present: Mitch Pomerantz, Kim Charlson, Brenda Dillon, Marlaina Lieberg, Mike Godino, Chris Gray, Ray Campbell, Berl Colley, Janet Dickelman, Michael Garrett, George Holliday, Allan Peterson, Jeff Thom, David Trott and Paul Edwards. Staff present were Melanie Brunson and Lane Waters.

After introductions of others present, President Pomerantz reviewed the meeting agenda. Godino moved and Lieberg seconded approval, and that motion carried.

Campbell moved and Garrett seconded approval of the minutes from the September 22, 2010, teleconference Board call, and that motion carried with one abstention.

President’s Report, Mitch Pomerantz. Fall fund raising letter. The letter will go out on November 15. It will also be posted to the various ACB lists and the Braille Forum email list. Contributions may also be made online.

Status of Smith Kettlewell grant application. We will not hear anything on this grant until approximately December 1.

ACB Store website. The redesign is nearly complete. Pomerantz again expressed his appreciation to DeQue systems for their tireless efforts on ACB’s behalf.

HumanWare Meeting. Pomerantz was the invited guest of HumanWare, located near Montreal, Canada, to discuss ways in which HumanWare and ACB might develop stronger working relationships. He felt the meeting with HumanWare was very successful. HumanWare will be an active participant in the ACB 2011 convention.

Braille Forum on BARD, and Web Braille. Pomerantz spoke with Mark Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, proposing that the Braille Forum and Braille Monitor be made available on Web Braille, and that NFB join with ACB in this endeavor. He is waiting to hear back from Maurer, who is consulting with his Board of Directors. Pomerantz will pursue this with NLS in any event.

Gray asked if any thought has been given to the ways in which ACB will celebrate its 50th convention. Pomerantz is giving thought to this, and plants to honor founding leaders who are living. Lieberg, Colley and Edwards will ensure that a CD which will be a compilation of the History Committee interviews thus far is available for sale by 2011.

Dillon suggested and all agreed that the ACB quilt and the audio CD be made available as an auction item.

Thom moved and Dickelman seconded acceptance of this report, and that motion carried.

Convention Committee, Carla Ruschival. The National and Host Committees are up and running, and planning is well under way. They will meet jointly each month. Fee schedules such as a/v and other services are lower than in years past. Ruschival proposed that luncheons begin at 12:15 rather than 12:30, since much of the activity will be on the 2nd floor; lunches could run to 2:30 P. M. She further proposed having four sessions in the afternoon, starting at 1:15 rather than 1:30. The first session would end at 2:30. Session 2 would begin at 2:45 and run to 4:00. Session three would begin at 4:15 and run to 5:30, and the fourth session would begin at 5:15 and run to 7:00. This would give the hotel a 15 minute turn around. Some groups may wish to do more than 1 session, and could do two or three. She proposed that the first session be set aside for special interest group meetings. The committees would begin at 2:45 P. M. Edwards moved that the first session of the afternoon be set aside for special interest affiliate meetings only. Lieberg seconded and that motion carried. Edwards moved and Campbell seconded acceptance of the Convention Committee report, and that motion carried.

Staff Reports. D.C. Area Office, Melanie Brunson. Brunson thanked everyone involved in helping to get the telecom bill passed. After a meeting with Eric Bridges and Pratik Patel along with others in the blindness community, Microsoft has agreed to ensure its next release of Windows Mobile will be accessible. Microsoft will also participate in the ACB 2011 convention. Brunson, Bridges and Patel will meet with Sprint on November 17 to discuss the resolution regarding inaccessibility of Sprint phones, passed at the 2010 convention. Staff hopes to get an additional direct mailing sent out by year’s end. The annual ACB raffle will be drawn after convention, due to Nevada gaming regulations. Staff is looking at options for money from foundations. Thom asked for a report by mid year on each year’s direct mail activity; Waters said this could be done.

Brunson explained that the recent copyright agreement extends only to countries with a trusted intermediary such as NLS; countries may share with each other, but only if they have such intermediary. This will not help developing countries who have no such intermediary. Brunson will attend the World Intellectual Property Organization meeting next week in Geneva.

Staff is reviewing issues of accommodation in testing for an individual attempting to enter law school, and will report back to the Board with any relevant proposal. Staff met with the IRS who is working with contractors to ensure more access when e-filing. An article with more information will be printed in the January Braille Forum. Staff are working with relevant affiliates to ensure their incorporation papers are up-to-date.

Pomerantz requested that staff begin the process of exploring how ACB can provide various CEU’s as a part of the conference and convention. This exploration is already ongoing.

Pomerantz requested officer liaisons to remind their committees to submit budgets by November 15.

Minneapolis Area Office, Lane Waters. Waters reported that the convention reporting is complete. The office is now fully staffed. Waters has another staff member trained in ACBES related issues who has taken on much of his travel responsibility.

Thom moved acceptance of the staff report, Garrett seconded and the motion carried.

Treasurer’s Report for the nine months ending September 10, 2010, Mike Godino
Revenue: $778,050
Expenses: $1,003,055
Net excess Deficit: $225,005
Trott moved and Campbell seconded acceptance of this report and that motion carried.

Convention Financial Report, Lane Waters
revenue $253,413.25
Expenses $231,663.39
Net income $21,749.86.
Trott moved and Campbell seconded acceptance of this report, and that motion carried.

Godino moved and Lieberg seconded recess of the ACB Board meeting in-order to convene the ACBES meeting, and that motion carried.

Lieberg moved that the meeting of the ACB Board of Directors reconvene. Garrett seconded that motion, and the motion carried.

ACBES Report, Michael Garrett. Garrett reported that a former store manager has returned to our employment, and his store is doing very well once-again. He reiterated that a good store manager makes all the difference to the success of a store. He is in weekly contact with store managers, and each manager has the opportunity to speak with other managers as well. Garrett asked the Board to begin to give thought to ways in which ACBES might diversify. Campbell moved with many seconds to accept the ACBES report, and that motion carried.

Lieberg moved with many seconds to move to executive session to discuss fiduciary, affiliate and other matters. That motion carried at 11:55 A. M.

Campbell moved adjournment of the Executive Session and to reconvene the general session at 2:32 P.M. with many seconds, the motion carried.

Executive session report, Mitch Pomerantz. Pomerantz reported that during the Executive Session, the Board took five actions:

1. A motion carried regarding the consensus of the Board to engage in discussion with Joel Snyder, Melanie Brunson, Kim Charlson and or Chris Gray regarding the future of the Audio Description Project in light of the current budgetary circumstances in ACB.

2. The Board passed a motion recommending to the Credentials Committee that in view of the failure of the Missouri Council of the Blind to remove that section of their bylaws which is in direct conflict with the ACB Bylaws, that the Missouri Council of the Blind vote be reduced by 10% at the 2011 convention; they currently have 25 votes, and this would give them a total of 22.5 votes.

3. The Board moved to sunset the Fitness Equipment Equity Task Force.

4. The Board voted unanimously to ratify prior transfers from Board-designated reserves of $405,000.00 in-order to cover revenue shortfalls.

5. The Board voted to authorize transfer from Board-designated reserves of $50,000.00 to cover expenses for the remainder of the year.

Idaho task force Berl Colley Colley reported that the Task Force has discovered interest among several key people in Idaho, and plans are moving toward establishing an organizing session. A listserve has been set up under the auspices of the ACB server. ACB will present a technology session the morning of March 26, 2011, with an organizing meeting and election of officers to happen in the afternoon. Colley will prepare a more extensive report and share it on the ACB Board list. Godino moved with many seconds that the report be accepted, and the motion carried.

Convention based leadership training, Berl Colley. The committee recommends holding a leadership training on the Friday before convention in 2012, requesting that each affiliate recommend two persons whom they believe to have potential as future leaders. The committee further recommends the development of additional regional training opportunities, with a similar baseline agenda. Both of these items would be contingent upon grant funds. The committee is requesting time on the President’s meeting agenda for 2011 to promote these concepts. Trott moved and Thom seconded acceptance of this report, and the motion carried.

Elections. 2011 Executive Committee: Charlson, Dillon, Campbell and Farrow. Farrow was re-elected to the Credentials Committee.

Thom moved acceptance of Eide Bailly to conduct the 2010 audit; the motion had numerous seconds and was carried.

Database management, Chris Gray. The project is in its third iteration of testing, and Gray feels confident that most issues have been verified and corrected. Before opening the database for use, more documentation is needed for various screens, and the third iteration of testing needs to be completed. Gray hopes the database can be rolled out in time for the 2011 credentialing process. This means affiliates would be informed by year's end of the availability of the database. While Gray is not bringing this as a recommendation, he assured the Board that the project is very close to rollout. Brunson suggested a limited rollout for the first year, and Gray agreed to take this suggestion under advisement. Gray will bring a proposal for implementation to the teleconference Board call in December. Charlson moved acceptance of this report; Campbell seconded the motion, and the motion carried.

Board of publications report, Paul Edwards. The Board is in the middle of the bid process which may bring in a braille bid that is lower than the one we currently have. The Board is looking at the possibility of separating out bids for various steps involved in the recording and distribution of cassettes. While cassettes seem to be available for at least the next three years, the Board is hopeful that the Braille Forum can be placed on NLS Web Braille and BARD. Additionally, it is likely possible to have a direct link within the ACB Radio tuner to go directly to the current issue. The Board would like time at the 2011 President’s meeting to explore options and seek input from attendees regarding the move away from cassettes.

In response to the resolution deferred in 2010 which would change the name of the Braille Forum to the ACB Forum, the Board suggests this can be discussed on the Friday evening of the President’s Meeting.

The Board is working on its policy manual; one policy will be how requests for alternate formats are handled.

ACB is now on twitter, and it is working well. The Board is looking for someone to moderate a Facebook page as well.

The ACB website is being worked on with new pages being tested.

ACB Radio has added new broadcasters on its interactive stream. The Board is looking at ways to better market ACB Radio, including program-sharing with other internet services. Godino moved acceptance of this report; Lieberg seconded and the motion carried.

Information ACB should gather from its members, Mitch Pomerantz. Funding sources are very interested in demographics such as age, region of the country in which people live, etc. After an extensive discussion, it was decided that the following information should be captured by our database management software: name, address, phone number, e-mail address if applicable, format preference, birth date, ethnicity, income bracket and gender.

Long Range Plan, Kim Charlson Melanie Brunson. Charlson and Brunson are back in touch with Dick Monaco, who gave this Board a presentation on long range planning a year ago in Phoenix. He may have ideas for funding sources to help us complete this plan. It has been fifteen years since ACB did its last strategic plan. He strongly recommends having an outside consultant to guide the process more efficiently, and there are organizations which fund strategic planning for small non profits, and he may be able to help us find the consultant once we find the revenue stream. A copy of the current long-range plan developed in about 1995, is in the current Board Handbook; Pomerantz asked all Board members to review this document. Edwards moved acceptance of this report; Godino seconded, and the motion carried.

Corporate Relationship Strategy, Michael Garrett. Garrett handed out a report recommending the following:

1. Approach blindness related companies for sponsorships, thereby developing relationships in cause marketing, message promotion and grantor/grantee partnerships.

2. Approach non blindness related companies for sponsorships, thereby creating opportunities for various certifications, message promotion, cause marketing and grantor/grantee relationships.

3. Develop a fact sheet geared toward corporations which details how ACB as an organization has served the blindness community.

4. Subscribe to such websites as A copy of this report is attached to these minutes. This task force will meet further to refine and expand its initial report. This task force will report again at the pre-convention Board meeting. Gray moved acceptance of the report, Trott seconded, and the motion carried.

Brunson reported that The Center for Responsible Philanthropy, which is working to educate foundations about funding advocacy organizations, has asked ACB to assist them in educating foundations about the importance of advocacy within various non profits by joining their staff on visits to various foundations. The Center is hoping to visit the top 150 foundations in the United States, and is asking advocacy organizations like ACB to help them educate foundations and remove the belief that funding advocacy is synonymous to funding lobbying efforts. Godino moved that we empower Brunson to move forward and join this organization. With many seconds, the motion carried.

Programming ideas, 2011 President’s meeting, Mitch Pomerantz. Pomerantz asked Board members to share ideas for content for the 2011 Presidents meeting. Ideas shared included: 5 or 10 minutes encouraging MMS participation; how to encourage the right candidate for office then take that office seriously; session on secret ballot issues; presentation from NABS regarding effective ways to appeal to students; time for RDC to promote their current ideas; discussion of new ADA regulations. Pomerantz asked that Board members email any other ideas they may have over the next couple of weeks.

Officer Liaison Reports. All committees are in place and most are meeting regularly. The membership committee has recommended that an additional affiliate growth award be given to the affiliate with the greatest increase in the actual number of members. Godino moved that the Board create an additional membership growth award for the largest increase in membership during the year. Thom seconded, and the motion carried.

Campbell moved and gray seconded acceptance of the officer liaison reports, and that motion carried.

A motion to adjourn carried at 5:25 P. M.

Marlaina Lieberg

Submitted November 16, 2010


The scope of this report may exceed the bounds of the original task we were charged with. However, our discussions led us to, what we believe are, some interesting conclusions and suggestions.


1) It is obvious that ACB must expand its revenue base. How do we get there?

2) ACB must promote its accomplishments and utilize its most valuable resources.

3) Many non profits are partnering with corporate sponsors to further their causes; why not ACB?


There are several types of partnerships which allow nonprofits and corporations to work together. These include: Sponsorships, Certifications, Cause Related Marketing, Message Promotion, Licensing Agreements, Grantor/Grantee relationships, and Advocacy and Lobbying.

1) Approach blindness related companies for Sponsorships, Cause Related Marketing, Message Promotion and Grantor/Grantee relationships. Particular care must be given to specific product endorsements. The Board may want to adopt a policy which prohibits ACB from endorsing one company's product when the organization has a relationship(s) with a competing company(ies) which produces the same product. However, the Board might carefully consider developing a policy with the objective of providing ACB's "seal of approval" to certain products which meet a stringent set of standards in specific product areas, especially in the development of new products.

2) Approach nonblindness related companies for sponsorships, certifications, Cause Related Marketing, Message Promotion, and Grantor/Grantee relationships. Opportunities in this arena are broader, limited only by how ACB chooses to appeal to the general market.

3) Corporations are looking for organizations which can provide evidence of their impact. ACB should develop, (if there is not one) a fact sheet which offers statistics and other pertinent information about how the organization has served the blindness community.

4) Consider subscribing to such websites as: