by Deb Cook Lewis
ACB’s board of directors met in Rochester, N.Y. on July 5, 2019. President Kim Charlson called the meeting to order at 9 a.m. All officers and board members were in attendance. The agenda was adopted, and minutes of the Feb. 23 board meeting were approved.
The president’s report began with a summary by Mitch Pomerantz of the World Blind Union meeting held May 31 in Trinidad. Two Caribbean nations have now joined the WBU. ACB was thanked for contributing funds to support participation of third-world nations.
Dan Spoone and Eric Bridges reported that four members have been confirmed to serve on the advisory board, with an additional member pending. These are external consulting resources who will be focused on marketing and development activities.
Charlson described efforts ACB has made to contact the Virginia Association of the Blind. They have not submitted a membership list for certification since 2016 and have not responded to letters or calls. It has been confirmed that the organization no longer exists and has no bank account. Former members will be encouraged to either join the ACB of Virginia or join as members at large. A motion to revoke the Virginia Association of the Blind charter was passed.
Claire Stanley provided background on the diversity policy under development for ACB. As a member of the National Disability Leadership Alliance, ACB is developing a policy statement to express organizational values related to all aspects of diversity. A draft will be circulated to the board in September for discussion at the October meeting. It was encouraged that a member of the multicultural affairs committee be included in the working group for this policy.
Charlson next reviewed the background leading up to the proposed Code of Conduct policy which was introduced at the February meeting. John Huffman explained that a constitutional amendment is necessary to give the board the authority to adopt a Code of Conduct policy; he then read the proposed amendment. Charlson read the revised proposed policy which has been under development since February, noting that no action can be taken on the policy unless the constitutional amendment passes. After discussion, a motion endorsing the proposed constitutional amendment passed unanimously.
Charlson next introduced the proposed vision and core values statements. There was discussion which resulted in tweaks to the vision statement and reordering of the value statements. Motions to adopt the vision statement and core values as amended passed.
A motion to adopt the president’s report passed. Following the break, Charlson acknowledged the JPMorgan Chase Leadership fellows attending the meeting.
Eric Bridges reported that the office update in Alexandria is completed and helps to create a professional and welcoming environment.
The Smithsonian Natural History Museum has reached out to ACB for technical assistance with their app. Claire Stanley will be featured in an upcoming video series about guide dogs, and Eric was interviewed for a documentary on digital accessibility. Eric also participated in two panels at the M-Enabling Summit and has maintained a hectic and productive travel schedule. Eric completed his report by introducing Cindy Van Winkle, who was hired in June as the new Membership Services Coordinator. Cindy described her preliminary activities, which include a survey for affiliate leaders to determine their needs.
Nancy Becker said that the audit went smoothly this year. Changes in the Affiliate Membership Management System now allow a member’s local chapter to be entered into the database. Members-only convention pre-registration opened 5 days before general registration; 310 registered, and one tour sold out on the first day.
Nancy introduced Nicole and Nancy Christine, and described the contributions they make to the team. She next explained a proposed change to the Legacy Fund Policy which would establish an ACB Budget Spending Policy. A motion to adopt the policy revision was passed. Finally, Nancy reported that ACB has now met all requirements for BBB Wise Giving, which is like getting the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for charitable organizations.
Michael Garrett reported that ACBES is doing well with progress at both thrift stores, which are under new management. Nancy commended Nicole’s work in hiring and supporting the new managers.
In her editor’s report, Sharon Lovering described how she works with various ACB committees and the board of publications. Circulation of ACB’s magazines has remained about the same overall, with email continuing to rise in popularity. Perkins continues to manage the cartridge distribution. People have been contacted if they have not returned cartridges after three issues.
Tom Tobin and Jo Lynn Bailey-Page summarized ACB’s development and grant-writing activities, including: direct mail appeal, ACB Angel Memorial Tribute Program, annual giving societies, and management of foundation relationships. The development team meets on a regular basis and continues to work closely with the marketing and communications team. Eric also acknowledged Jo Lynn’s work with the UniDescription project, which is providing audio description of national park brochures through an app.
Larry Turnbull reported that ACB Radio listener counts continue to increase. ACB Radio hosted the Candidates’ Forum using the Zoom meetings platform again this year. Jeff Bishop explained that the licensing provider for Café and Interactive is no longer in business. It is anticipated that licensing costs will be significantly higher, and Jeff is developing a proposal to combine and refocus ACB Radio Interactive and the Café.
The meeting was recessed for lunch and the board convened in executive session. A motion to defer the request of the Colorado Council of the Visually Impaired and Blind for affiliation with ACB to the October board meeting with provisions for technical assistance passed.
Clark Rachfal updated the board on ACB’s advocacy initiatives, including: autonomous vehicles; accessibility of durable medical equipment; Medicare low-vision device demonstration; service animals on airlines and other transportation issues; definition of competitive employment; technology and web access issues; and absentee voting. Clark and Claire are regularly producing the Advocacy Update podcast to inform members and raise public awareness. The staff reports were accepted by the board.
Treasurer David Trott reviewed the year-to-date financials, investments and budget report in detail; his report was adopted.
Janet Dickelman reported that 721 people were pre-registered for convention, which is higher than pre-registration for St. Louis, Minneapolis and Reno. She has received and confirmed reports that the Hyatt has limited the restaurant menu, and she has advised them that this is unacceptable and discriminatory. The 2020 convention will be in Schaumburg, Ill. from July 3-10. The 2021 convention will be held in Phoenix, AZ from July 23-30. Janet’s report was accepted.
Deb Cook Lewis reported that the Board of Publications Editorial Policy Manual was totally rewritten to reflect the BOP’s collaboration with other committees and groups within ACB as well as modernizing the language to be consistent and readable. The Candidates’ Forum was again held as an online forum prior to convention. There will be an informal town hall meeting at convention. The Writers’ Workshop will feature a panel presentation on how to access ACB and other publications. “The ACB Braille Forum” and E-Forum will continue to have themed issues. Deb thanked Kim Charlson and Sharon Lovering for their ongoing support, and noted the significant contributions of Ron Brooks as chair of the BOP. The BOP report was accepted.
The rest of the meeting was spent acknowledging Kim Charlson for her service as president, along with kudos for Mitch Pomerantz and John McCann, who are leaving the board. Everyone contributed to this conversation with enthusiasm and fervor.
With no further business, the board meeting adjourned at 4:15 p.m.