Call to Order
The American Council of the Blind (ACB) Board of Directors conference call on January 16, 2022 was called to order at 8:00 PM by President Dan Spoone.
Roll Call and Introduction of Guests
At the call of the roll, the following Board members were present: Dan Spoone, Deb Cook Lewis, Ray Campbell, Denise Colley, David Trott, Kim Charlson, Chris Bell, Jeff Bishop, Donna Brown, Jim Kracht, Doug Powell, Kenneth Semien, Pat Sheehan, Koni Sims, Michael Talley and Jeff Thom. Board of Publications Member Penny Reeder was present representing that body.
Staff present: Eric Bridges, ACB Executive Director; Clark Rachfal, ACB Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs; Tony Stephens, Director of Development and Communications; Jennifer Flatt, Manager of Communications; Nancy Marks-Becker, ACB Chief Financial Officer; Cindy Hollis, Manager of Membership Engagement; Kelly Gasque, Communications Specialist; and Jo Lynn Bailey-Page, ADP Coordinator and Grant Writer.
Contractors: Rick Morin, Technical Director of ACB Media
Review and Approval of Agenda - Dan Spoone, President
President Spoone reviewed the agenda. Powell moved and Charlson seconded adoption of the agenda. The motion carried.
Review and Approval of the November 29, 2021 and December 6, 2021 Board of Directors Budget Meeting Minutes - Denise Colley, Secretary
There was a misspelling of Koni Sim’s last name in the December 6 minutes. The correction was made.
Campbell moved and Trott seconded a motion to approve the minutes as corrected. The motion carried.
Mission Moment - Eric Bridges and Dan Spoone
The inaugural AD Awards Gala: President Spoone acknowledged and thanked all the staff members, ADP Committee co-chairs, ADP subcommittee members and the many other volunteers who worked so hard to put together the Awards Gala. This was something new for ACB and was truly a historical event. Financially, after all expenses the event netted $35,000 for our organization to support the Audio Description Project.
Eric said the idea for the Gala came out of an EOS session in winter 2020, and is the first time ACB has targeted an event to an audience that is broader than just the blind community. Not only was it huge in November, but even bigger for ACB moving into the future. An event like this provides the opportunity to help the broader community to understand more about ACB and what we do, and our unquestioned leadership in the area of audio description. Because of our connection with Comcast NBC Universal, we were able to have the Gala carried on the Peacock streaming service.
ACB President’s Update – Dan Spoone
Name Change for Environmental Access Committee
Board member Chris Bell brought to the Board a proposal from the ACB Environmental Access Committee on an official name change request. They are proposing adding the word Pedestrian to the beginning of their name, which would then change it to the ACB Pedestrian Environment Access Committee. The Committee believes this change better reflects what their focus is for potential new members. It was moved by Bell and seconded by Sheehan to change the name of the Environmental Access Committee to the Pedestrian Environment Access Committee. The motion passed unanimously.
Budget Proposal for the Get Up and Get Moving Campaign
As a follow-up to the ACB Board budget calls, the Get Up and Get Moving Campaign Committee met and Koni Sims brought forward a budget request of $1,000 to be used for affiliate engagement. It was moved by Sims and seconded by Colley to approve the $1,000 budget request to be added to the expense side of the approved 2022 ACB budget. Trott proposed a friendly amendment to increase the requested amount to $1500. This was considered friendly, and the motion passed unanimously.
Convention Auction Committee Request
The Convention Auction Committee is requesting that the ACB Board of Directors consider allowing the Committee to designate the money received to ACB Membership Services and to the ACB Community for all of the work and costs involved in putting on ACB Community events. The moneys raised from the Holiday Auction are specifically designated for ACB Media. It was moved by Trott and seconded by Thom that the designation of funds from the ACB Convention Auction be designated to ACB Membership Services and to the ACB Community and that it be renamed the ACB Community Auction.
A friendly amendment was offered to state that the funds raised from the convention auction be used to support community and membership engagement. The motion passed unanimously.
Because this had been part of the overall discussion, Bishop requested that the Director of Development look at a vehicle for highlighting and fundraising for membership development and growth as being its own entity, and this was agreed to.
Affiliate Board Liaison Assignments
Dan reported that he sent out the Affiliate Board Liaison assignments for 2022, and if anyone has concerns about their particular assignments, they should let him know. Once confirmed, assignments will then be shared with affiliate presidents. Cindy was asked to share the document she had put together describing the liaisons and their responsibilities with both the board and affiliate presidents.
Dan reported that our ACB Task Forces are all working diligently. The Voting Task Force 2.0 is chaired by Pat Sheehan with Jeff Thom as vice-chair. The Resolutions Task Force 2.0 is chaired by Ray Campbell with Deb Cook Lewis as vice-chair along with Gabe Griffith. The Executive Committee Task Force is chaired by Kim Charlson, and the Constitution and Bylaws Committee is chaired by John McCann. Reports are expected from all of these committees at the DC Leadership Conference Board Meeting, and they all have time on the agenda to address our leadership at the President’s Meeting. It was moved by Trott and seconded by Brown to approve the President’s report. The motion passed unanimously.
ACB Staff Update – Eric Bridges, ACB Executive Director
Kaitlyn Herrera has been hired as the new Administrative Assistant in the Alexandria Office. She is starting on her master’s degree in Social Work at Catholic University in DC. The hiring announcement for the ACB Media and IT Manager went out on January 7th, and the hiring announcement for the ACB Media Coordinator position went out on the same day. This position will be a one-year contract position. It is expected that these two positions will be filled and on board by March 1, for them to be able to help support staff with the DC Leadership Conference.
Another position announcement for a Manager of Thrift Store Operations will be distributed in February. This person will manage the day-to-day operations of our two thrift stores.
Cindy Hollis provided an update reporting that 2021 was the second year that the Community-a-thon was held. The event raised over $10,800 in 2020 and over $12,200 in 2021. There were twelve hours of content including entertainment, with various facilitators and hosts each hour. Eight of the hours were topic driven. It was moved by Campbell and seconded by Bell to approve the staff report. The motion passed unanimously.
Review and Approval of Changes to the Reasonable Accommodations Policy – Clark Rachfal, ACB ADA Coordinator
This most recent draft of the Reasonable Accommodation Policy was worked on solely by Chris Bell. What he proposed was to reframe the discussions to make clear that ACB has, even before the ADA, been providing accessible events for people who are blind, have low vision, or are deaf-blind, and that ACB builds such accessibility into the infrastructure of all of its events. However, we have a planning process that anticipates the needs of our members for effective communication. It was moved by Bell and seconded by Sheehan that the Accessible Events and Accommodation Policy be adopted by the ACB Board. The motion passed unanimously.
Decision On DC Leadership Conference (Virtual Only versus Hybrid)
President Spoone shared that, given that we are a membership driven organization, he felt it was appropriate that ACB reach out to the membership and listen to what they had to say about an in-person or virtual DC Leadership Conference. In response to questions about our hotel contract for the DC Leadership Conference Eric said that we have no funding that is committed at this stage.
This issue was also discussed by the Advocacy Steering Committee. Advocacy Committee Chair Thom reported that, with the caveat that if the board voted differently, their motion would be withdrawn. Thom reported that the Steering Committee voted unanimously to recommend to the full Board that ACB should make the DC Leadership Conference a totally remote event, and not have any in-person component in 2022.
In addition to the Advocacy Steering Committee recommendation, and pursuant to information learned about the permit process that is now in effect for engaging in demonstrations in Washington, DC, ACB missed the 180-day permit application deadline to hold an event at the Department of the Treasury. According to ACB staff, many legislative staff are working remotely, and conducting constituent meetings via Zoom.
All Officers and Directors shared their thoughts and were unanimous that the DC Leadership Conference should be held virtually. Dan also shared that, in all of the various events held to listen to membership input, at least 95 to 98% of the comments supported a virtual Conference.
It was moved by Campbell and seconded by Semien that the 2022 DC Leadership Conference be held as a virtual-only event. The motion passed unanimously.
Many moved and seconded the motion to adjourn. The meeting was adjourned at 9:52 PM Eastern time.
Denise Colley, Secretary