Summary of the Fall 2013 ACB Board Meeting, by Denise Colley

The 2013 fall meeting of the ACB board of directors was held on Sept. 28, 2013 at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev.  The meeting was called to order at 9:11 a.m. by President Charlson, and the roll call verified that all board members were present except George Holliday, who was excused. Staff present were Melanie Brunson, executive director, and Lane Waters, controller.
 
The agenda was reviewed and adopted, and the minutes of the Aug. 21, 2013 minutes were adopted with one correction, the striking of a sentence under the discussion of IRI (Integral Resources, Inc.).
 
In President Charlson's report, she shared that she had a meeting in mid-July with Kathy Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy concerning issues surrounding the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and employment of people with disabilities.  On July 24th she co-hosted a very successful conference call with Paul Schroeder from the American Foundation for the Blind on the topic of audio description on television.  There were 115 participants on this call, many of whom found out about the call via social media.  She said she would be having a meeting with Roxann Mayros, executive director of VisionServe Alliance, near the end of October to discuss ways in which ACB can collaborate with them on advocacy efforts.
 
On Oct. 11th Kim was to meet with staff from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to discuss where things are with accessible currency.  She would also attend a gala event that evening culminating the celebration of the 75th anniversary of National Industries for the Blind.  National Council on Disability (NCD) is beginning outreach and marketing efforts on implementation of best practices for access to prescription drug information.  Finally, Kim indicated she was finalizing officer, board and staff liaison roles for ACB's committees and would soon be getting listservs updated and sending out welcome messages to individuals serving on committees.

Staff Reports

Melanie Brunson gave the report on activities in the Washington area office.  Highlights included:

  • The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is moving ahead with accessible currency, identifying what tactile features will be used and what equipment is needed.  The first accessible bills could be produced by 2019 for distribution by 2020.  Scanners for current bills will be rolled out by 2015, with a new roll-out of the Bureau's app in 2014.  Melanie indicated if we have comments on accessible currency, we should address them to meaningfulaccess@bep.gov.
  • Four grant applications had been submitted since the Aug. 21 board meeting, with 16 more to be submitted by the end of the year.
  • The back-to-school direct mailing has been sent out, with responses starting to come in.  Tom Tobin, ACB's development director, will be working with the Goal 2 group on two items, one for developing and sending a quarterly newsletter to major non-member donors, and another to establish giving societies for ACB.
  • Audio Description Project director Joel Snyder recently received his Ph.D. from the University of Barcelona.  His Ph.D. dissertation will be published soon under ACB's name. The Audio Description Project web site gets an average of 171 hits per day.  People are drawn to the site to learn about audio-described television shows and movies, as well as podcasts of trainings.
  • ACB, NFB and 22 organizations joined together in a letter to the FCC opposing a petition by a coalition of e-reader manufacturers to exempt their devices from compliance with the CVAA.
  • If the legislation re-authorizing the Rehabilitation Act, S. 1356, starts to move, ACB wants to insert language in it to help federal employees deal with some of the issues around Section 508 compliance.

Melanie ended her report by asking the board if it wanted to take a position on Sen. Harkin's proposed language in Section 511 of S. 1356 which creates a number of disincentives for rehabilitation counselors placing people into programs operating under Section 14(c)  of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which are exempted from paying minimum wage.  Harkin's language also places additional monitoring and other requirements both on counselors and on employers operating under these programs.  In light of Resolution 2013-13, which supports the repeal of Section 14(c) with adequate safeguards for individuals working in such programs, the board agreed to support Harkin's language.
 
Lane reported that the Minneapolis area office continues with its work. They have completed all of the conference and convention reports, which should be in the hands of affiliates and committees.  Regarding the Affiliate Member Management System (AMMS) database, Lane indicated that the sync with Donor Perfect has been re-programmed to run much faster.  He will be meeting with the database task force to determine what changes will be made in AMMS this year, keeping them to a minimum.  They will also discuss how to get more affiliates using AMMS and will probably need help training new affiliates.

Treasurer's Report

Carla Ruschival next gave her report.  As of Aug. 31, 2013, total revenue was $569,314, with total expenses of $755,857.  As part of her report, Carla brought forward a proposal from the ACB Walk Committee which would allow teams to designate a percentage of their walk contributions to go to an affiliate of their choice.  Carla made the motion, which Jeff Thom seconded, to approve the proposal with one change, allowing a team to designate up to 50 percent of their contributions to go to an affiliate. The motion passed.

Job Title Change

Mitch Pomerantz made the motion to approve, and John McCann seconded it, ratification of a change in job title for Eric Bridges from director of advocacy and governmental affairs to the director of external relations and policy.  The motion carried.
 
The board then went into executive session to discuss financial and affiliate matters.  The board began its executive session at 12:34 p.m. and returned to open session at 2:34 p.m.  At that time President Charlson announced that during executive session, financial and affiliate matters were discussed, and that one motion was passed to allow the ACB Store Committee and its chair to negotiate terms of an agreement with a company.

IRI and Other Agreements

Resulting from discussion during the Aug. 21 board meeting, Melanie and Lane presented documents on calling data from Integral Resources, Inc. (IRI).  The reports show that ACB had a very good year acquiring new donors in 2008, and that 2010 was a strong year for donations through IRI due to very good messaging.  Jeff Thom moved and John McCann seconded that in conjunction with delaying our decision to enter into a contract with Associated Donor Services, IRI's western affiliate, we not take our IRI account draw for October.  Carla Ruschival offered an amendment, which was accepted as friendly, that ACB withdraw funds from the IRI account each month only when revenues exceed expenses through the end of 2013.  That motion as amended carried.
 
Next up was a request from Odin Mobile for ACB to offer an endorsement of and enter into a cooperative marketing agreement for their cell phone products and services.  Carla Ruschival moved and Marlaina Lieberg seconded referral of this item to the ACB Store Committee for possible action; the motion carried.
 
The board also discussed the possibility of designing a new logo for ACB.  The board looked at one proposed logo design, and heard several comments regarding it.  By consensus, it was decided to form an ad-hoc committee of relevant stakeholders from goal groups 1 and 2, CCLVI, the board of publications, the public relations committee and others to conduct further study into possible logo redesigns.

Convention Committee Report

Janet Dickelman next gave the convention committee report.  She thanked Margarine Beaman, advertising and sponsorships coordinator, since because of her work, ACB realized a profit of over $57,000 on the 2013 conference and convention.  The committee has already held several meetings with the host committee to begin putting together the 2014 conference and convention, July 11-19 at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev.
 
Janet presented several possible convention bids for 2016.  Carla Ruschival moved and Sara Conrad seconded that we accept the 2016 conference and convention bid from the Hyatt Hotel in Minneapolis, Minn., dates of July 1-9, 2016.  Room rates would be $89 for single or double, $99 triple or quad per night.  The motion carried.

Goal Group Reports

Strategic goal groups reports:  Reports on the strategic plan goal groups were given and highlights at the time of this meeting included:

  • Goal group 1: ACB has 507 Twitter followers, 196 likes on Facebook.  The group is looking to be helpful where it can on ACB Radio and other issues.
  • Goal group 2:  Has been focused on board fundraising workshop, held on Sept. 27 prior to this meeting.
  • Goal group 3: has identified work needed on the employee handbook.

2014 Midyear Meetings

Possible program items for the 2014 midyear presidents' meeting were identified and included:

  • Discussion of things you need to know when officers change, and how to work with your bank;
  • Revisiting the issue of insurance that affiliates need to have;
  • How affiliates can improve communication;
  • Recruiting and retaining younger members, and current leaders' responsibility to mentor them;
  • How to implement accessible prescription drug best practices;
  • Partnerships with ACB that can benefit affiliates;
  • Promoting upcoming opportunities for leadership training;
  • Marketing of ACB, from chapters to national, taking ownership, promoting what we do;
  • Providing step-by-step instructions for affiliates on how to take AMMS database information and get it into their mailings, including using templates in Excel; and
  • Promoting affiliate streaming of events.

There was discussion on how the board can work with affiliates to encourage more of them to send representatives to the ACB midyear meetings.  Between Melanie, Carla and others, it is felt that we have good data on which affiliates have not had representatives at recent midyear meetings.  That data will be shared with the board, and it will be a topic of discussion at a future board meeting.  Also, Melanie indicated that Jo Steigerwald, ACB's grant writer, is looking for funding opportunities to help affiliates send representatives to these meetings.
 
John McCann moved that the meeting be adjourned; Sara Conrad seconded.  The motion carried, and the meeting adjourned at 5:40 p.m.