Call to Order, Roll Call, Review and Approval of Agenda, and Adoption of Minutes
The American Council of the Blind (ACB) Board of Directors met on Friday and Saturday, October 5 and 6, 2018 at the Riverside Hotel in Rochester, N.Y. President Kim Charlson called the Friday portion of the meeting to order at 2:15 p.m. At the call of the roll, the following board members were present: Kim Charlson, Dan Spoone, John McCann, Ray Campbell, David Trott, Mitch Pomerantz, Jeff Bishop, Denise Colley, Sara Conrad, Katie Frederick, Doug Powell, Pat Sheehan and Jeff Thom. Board members Dan Dillon, Jim Kracht and Michael Talley joined the meeting by phone after the roll call. Board of Publications representative Ron Brooks was present representing that body. Staff present: Eric Bridges, ACB Executive Director, and Nancy Marks-Becker, ACB Chief Financial Officer. Following roll call, several guests introduced themselves.
President Charlson reviewed the Friday portion of the agenda, which consisted largely of reports from and discussion with ACB’s Strategic Plan Action teams. Bishop moved and McCann seconded adoption of the Friday agenda as circulated; the motion carried. McCann moved and Powell seconded adoption of the June 29, 2018 meeting minutes as most recently circulated. The motion carried.
Strategic Plan Action Team Reports
Chair Katie Frederick began our discussions with the marketing and communications action team report. ACB Executive Assistant and Media Design Specialist Kelly Gasque joined the meeting by phone to discuss how the ACB logo is to be used. She explained that while we have the full logo as approved by the board at the fall 2017 meeting, there are simplified versions of the logo that are being used when using the full logo isn’t practical, such as on social media. For example, the ACB polo shirts have the logo without the “Together for a Bright Future” tagline. After much discussion, Powell moved and Spoone seconded that the board approve the simplified, icon version of the ACB logo for use when space and/or design considerations do not allow for the full logo to be used; the motion carried.
Website updates: Kelly informed the board that ACB has signed a new 2-year agreement to continue our relationship with the Louisville Web Group. Among other things planned for the website going forward is a member section where members can log into their accounts and access members-only information. President Charlson will be sending out an announcement to our affiliates, encouraging them to update the current information on our website as well as providing additional information and photos. In this update to the website, phase 2 if you will, there will be the need to do testing to make sure it remains accessible. We also need to make sure we have a legally strong, well-publicized policy. Eric will reach out to legal experts on putting this policy together.
Social media: Continuing to post every week, doing regular Facebook live presentations. Tony and Claire are doing a weekly advocacy podcast that is promoted on social media. We have 3,753 likes on Facebook, an 18% increase year over year; 2,490 followers on Twitter, a 21% increase year over year.
ACB Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs Tony Stephens joined the meeting by phone to give the advocacy action team report. The team is continuing to focus on the areas identified in the strategic plan: civil rights issues, technology access and currency access. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is set to release proposed regulations governing emotional support animals very soon. HUD’s assistant secretary told Tony and Claire, service animals are sacred ground. HUD covers many areas not covered by ADA. Still waiting for a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) from the Department of Transportation (DOT) on service and emotional support animals and air carrier access. A passenger bill of rights for airline travelers with disabilities was included in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill recently passed by Congress. ACB is also focusing on technology access in K-12 education programs and voting rights issues, and will be focusing on accessible absentee voting following the midterm elections.
We are continuing to work on a number of fronts on technology access, including with Microsoft and Cisco. Also working to make educational platforms more accessible. There was a recent affirmation from the Department of Justice that web accessibility is strongly considered to be part of Titles II and III of the ADA. We are still in a waiting pattern on currency access.
Two of ACB’s resolutions regarding access to video programming were recommended to be taken up by the new FCC Disability Advisory Committee which will convene in January. ACB has re-submitted to continue to have representation on this committee. We are in continuing resolution regarding the federal budget until December 7, and we are beginning to watch what fiscal issues we need to be concerned about next year. There is also the possibility of a CVAA 2.0, but that’s very preliminary at this point. Preliminary discussions are taking place on other issues for next Congress. The Marrakesh treaty legislation has passed the House and should be signed by President Trump any day.
American Foundation for the Blind President and Chief Executive Officer Kirk Adams joined the meeting to discuss the recent announcement of their becoming a Central Non-profit Agency under the AbilityOne program. AFB was very involved both in passage of the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act and founding of National Industries for the Blind. Through a strategic planning process, AFB feels they need to focus on areas where they have had success: education of children who are blind or visually impaired, employment of adults who are blind or visually impaired, and support for older individuals who are blind or visually impaired. They also want to focus on systems change such as how employers view people who are blind and how agencies provide services to seniors.
The AbilityOne Commission wants to engender competition within that program with an eye toward improving employment outcomes for people who are blind or visually impaired. One of the commission’s goals is to establish additional CNA agencies. As the third CNA, AFB is mandated to create a model where people who are blind go to work at a non-profit agency with a track to moving into employment in the private or public sector. There have been various levels of interest so far. Planning to bring forward some proposed models and will work with federal agencies involved with AbilityOne to establish contracts under the model that they move forward with.
ACB Development Director Tom Tobin joined the meeting to present both the Development Action Team report and the development director’s report. The Development team is receiving quarterly updates from subcommittees for revenue programs. ACB needs to better market these programs. We also need to establish key performance indicators for these programs which will help us with reporting to grantors and other stakeholders. The team also feels we need to do more to promote the Monthly Monetary Support program. The Advisory Board is coming along, and the team wants to have five to seven members in place by June of 2019.
Moving onto the development director’s report, after fielding questions on his written report previously sent to the board, Tom discussed:
- Direct mail, since 2012, ACB has netted $240,000 from direct mail. Revenue from direct mail is declining. Tom feels we need to do some acquisition to enlarge our data file. He also feels we need to utilize ACB’s website to acquire more donors. Also, we need to monetize our social media presence. This will help ACB capture millennial donors who are active on social media.
- We own our existing donors; we need to find ways to further engage them.
- We need to look at doing more electronic solicitations.
Jo Lynn Bailey-Page presented the ACB grant writer’s report. After fielding questions on her written report previously sent to the board, she discussed:
- We currently have about $435,000 in our grants pipeline and have received $49,000 in funding in 2018 so far. She anticipates we’ll receive continued funding from the Washington Aid Association, Delta Gamma and Dr. Scholl Foundation.
- We have submitted to a very prominent foundation based in Colorado a request of $50,000 for general operating support. Looking to provide leadership opportunities in the 25-40 age demographic.
- The UniDescription project has received $100,000 in funding for 2019, which will allow them to sponsor another descript-a-thon. ACB will receive one-third of this funding.
ACB convention coordinator Janet Dickelman gave the conventions and meetings action team report. Highlights included:
- During the 2018 conference and convention, ACB offered 51 sessions with continuing education credit. There were 26 individuals who signed up for credits. Larry Turnbull is going through the recordings of these programs to see what we can use. The team is hoping that people could take continuing education credits at a slight charge from ACB’s website.
- Our registration team did register our DKM first-timers and JPMorgan Chase Leadership Fellows for some core sessions to help provide a little direction for these individuals. They could add additional events to their registrations if they chose. This was also the approach taken to assist the scholarship winners.
- The team is continuing to look at ways to provide assistance to individuals who may need extra help at conventions. They are looking at ways we could provide the names of organizations that individuals could work with directly to provide the assistance they need. Perhaps we could get some grant funding to help reimburse individuals for these costs.
Rebecca Bridges, the new chair of the affiliates and membership action team, presented their report. Highlights included:
- The team is looking into the viability of offering an ACB membership card which could be used for members to obtain membership benefits. The team is looking for ideas on potential benefits.
- The Next Generation group from Kentucky is very excited about involving individuals in ACB under 40, and may want to become an affiliate. The action team wants to do what it can to support this effort.
- The team is looking at a campaign using sound bites from people in the 25 to 40 demographic telling why they’re involved with ACB.
- The team wants to make a concerted effort to improve membership retention from ACB’s scholarship program.
- The team recognizes we not only need to recruit and retain members, but also discuss fiscal issues which affiliates are dealing with.
As we’re two years into the strategic plan process, some discussion ensued about where we are. There’s a feeling that some of the momentum has been lost, which may be natural. Perhaps it’s time to look at rotating people off teams and doing other things to re-energize and not burn out the core group of people.
There being no further business for the Friday session, Pomerantz moved and Campbell seconded that the meeting recess until 9 a.m. Saturday, October 6. The motion carried, and the meeting recessed at 6:23 p.m.
October 6, 2018
The meeting reconvened at 9:01 a.m. on Saturday, October 6. At the call of the roll, all board members were present: Kim Charlson, Dan Spoone, John McCann, Ray Campbell, David Trott, Mitch Pomerantz, Jeff Bishop, Denise Colley, Sara Conrad, Dan Dillon, Katie Frederick, Jim Kracht, Doug Powell, Pat Sheehan, Michael Talley and Jeff Thom. Board of Publications representative Ron Brooks was present representing that body. Staff present: Eric Bridges, ACB Executive Director and Nancy Marks-Becker, ACB Chief Financial Officer. Following roll call, several guests introduced themselves.
President Charlson reviewed the Saturday portion of the agenda. Campbell moved and Frederick seconded approval of the Saturday agenda as presented; the motion carried.
Convention Coordinator’s Report
ACB conference and convention coordinator Janet Dickelman presented her report. Highlights included:
- Convention survey: was distributed to 850 people for whom we had email addresses. 285 people started the survey, with 227 completing it, 26.7%. 61% of respondents are over age 55. Some 50% of respondents identified themselves as blind. Some 82% felt the convention met or exceeded their expectations, and the most satisfied were those in younger age brackets and those who have attended the fewest conventions. Comments focused around ability to navigate the convention facilities and how Saturday and Sunday were jammed with programming, creating many scheduling conflicts and frustrated people. Some 63% of attendees are likely to come back, with those least likely to return being those who are younger and those who have not attended conventions in the past. Navigation and programming were big factors in people’s reasons for coming to convention. Cost and physical location within the country are other factors. Employment was a program area people feel we need more content. Other areas were health care and financial planning.
- The board provided feedback and discussion concerning various aspects of the 2018 conference and convention. A number of issues including finding microphones and architectural considerations were brought forward, volunteer vetting and audiovisual issues.
- Conference and convention 2019: a number of ideas are being considered dealing with microphone packaging, honoring life members, scaling down paper registration and other things. There are a number of tours already in the works.
- Janet needs to get dates for the fall 2019 board meeting in Schaumburg.
- Janet presented two possible bids for the 2021 conference and convention, the Hyatt Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona and the Hilton in Omaha, Nebraska. Pomerantz moved and Thom seconded that ACB enter into a contract negotiation for the 2021 conference and convention with the Hyatt Hotel in Phoenix, and accept the bid from Omaha for 2022, contingent on Omaha being able to meet our dates. The motion carried. The 2021 convention dates would be July 21-August 2.
- Janet read the 2018 convention financial report. Net profit: about $244,000. Revenue: over $456,000; expenses: about $213,000.
The conference and convention report was accepted by consensus.
ACB Enterprises and Services Meeting
Campbell moved and Trott seconded recessing the ACB board meeting and convening for an ACB Enterprises and Services membership meeting. The motion carried, and the ACB board meeting recessed at 11:08 a.m.
The ACB board reconvened at 11:14 a.m. During the ACBES meeting, ACBES board members Michael Garrett, David Trott and Kim Charlson were elected by acclamation. ACBES board members Dan Spoone and Jeff Thom’s terms will expire in 2019. ACBES officers are: Michael Garrett, chair; Jeff Thom, vice chair; and David Trott, secretary-treasurer.
Campbell moved and Bishop seconded that Mitch Pomerantz, David Trott and Dan Spoone be re-elected to the ACB budget committee. The motion carried. Spoone moved and Bishop seconded re-electing Pat Sheehan as board representative to the credentials committee; the motion carried.
President Charlson presented her report. Highlights included:
- ACB will be hosting two meetings in the near future, the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) from November 1-3 in Salt Lake City, Utah; and the North America-Caribbean Region of the World Blind Union on November 30 at our Alexandria office.
- Board members were reminded to send receipts for in-kind expenses to Nancy Marks-Becker.
- The board discussed the revised ACB Board Stipend policy. Under this policy, ACB board members are eligible to receive up to $500 per board meeting to help cover expenses incurred in attending. If actual expenses for attending any meeting are below $500, the stipend would be for actual expenses. After considerable discussion, Trott moved and Campbell seconded that this policy be adopted. Spoone moved and Colley seconded an amendment increasing the stipend amount per meeting to $600. On a roll call vote, this amendment was defeated. Board members voting in favor were: Spoone, Campbell, Colley, Conrad and Dillon. Board members opposed were: McCann, Trott, Pomerantz, Bishop, Frederick, Kracht, Powell, Sheehan, Talley and Thom. The motion to adopt the policy with a $500 stipend carried. This policy will be attached to these minutes.
- President Charlson presented the proposed Code of Conduct policy. After some discussion, Pomerantz moved and McCann seconded that the proposed code of conduct policy as brought before the board of directors be referred to an attorney with expertise in labor law for re-drafting, that it be brought back to the midyear 2019 board meeting for discussion and approval, and that following approval the board engage the constitution and bylaws committee to assist in policy implementation. The motion carried.
- Kim and Nancy indicated a Dropbox with read-only access for board members will be set up to more easily facilitate the exchange of information.
Campbell moved and Frederick seconded acceptance of the president’s report. The motion carried.
Trott moved and Campbell seconded that the board go into executive session for discussion of financial, advocacy and other issues as outlined on the agenda. The motion carried, and the board went into executive session at 12:43 p.m.
The board returned to open session at 1:34 p.m. President Charlson announced that the board received updates during executive session and that no motions were adopted.
ACB Executive Director Eric Bridges continued presentation of the staff reports. Highlights included:
- Eric has done quite a bit of traveling including to the Disability:IN (formerly U.S. Business Leadership Network) conference in Las Vegas, where he met with several companies to discuss employment, Diversity and Inclusion and Digital Accessibility. He also has met with Cruise Automation, which is the General Motors subsidiary working on autonomous vehicles. He also met with the Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco to discuss initiatives that they can collaborate on with ACB. Eric keynoted Walmart’s Disability Employment Awareness Month event for their employees. Among other things, Walmart wants to better communicate the work they’ve done as far as accessibility and services to customers with disabilities.
- ACB’s 2017 annual report is available, and it is both very visually pleasing as well as being a readable PDF. Eric indicated he is pleased with how it lays out the work ACB did in 2017.
- Eric discussed the ongoing work with Google and the University of Hawaii on the UniDescription project, for which ACB receives 1/3 of the funding.
- He also discussed the AIRA collaboration with ACB’s affiliates where they provide site access at the convention and attend to make conventioneers more aware of what AIRA is all about.
- ACB will be represented at the WBU Accessibility Summit at Microsoft.
- General updates: The office has completed its fall cleaning, and will be engaging with an interior design professional to help redesign our office flow. ACB has been the subject of an organizational profile done by Comcast for their newsmakers program.
- Kim announced that the Hulu case had been settled and the terms will be made public in the next week.
ACB Chief Financial Officer Nancy Marks-Becker presented the Minneapolis area office report. Highlights included:
- The newest member of the Minneapolis area team is Nicole Beito, serving as our Human Resource Payroll assistant.
- An account has been opened for the Legacy Endowment Fund. We’ve received a large bequest of about $800,000, and these funds will be deposited into this account per board-approved policy.
- The office is preparing for the 2019 AMMS certification process. They are working on the administrative side to simplify processes for adding and deleting members.
- The board agreed on the following dates for meetings to review and approve the 2019 ACB Budget: November 27, general revenue and conference and convention revenue sides; December 3, general expense and conference and convention expense sides. Both meetings will begin at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
- There are still some funds in ACB’s disaster relief fund. Please let Nancy know of individuals who need assistance.
Campbell moved and Bishop seconded acceptance of the staff reports; the motion carried. Campbell moved and Powell seconded that the current executive committee consisting of Charlson, Spoone, Trott, Sheehan and Thom be re-elected by acclamation. The motion carried.
ACB treasurer David Trott presented the treasurer’s report to the board. Total revenue: $850,635; total expenses: $945,485. Campbell moved and Conrad seconded acceptance of the treasurer’s report; the motion carried.
Board of Publications Report
ACB Board of Publications chair Ron Brooks presented the BOP report. Highlights included:
- The BOP has been collaborating with several groups within ACB including marketing and communications and the public relations committee. Ron also reported he is in ongoing communications with ACB staff to be sure the BOP is heading in a direction informed by staff concerns.
- The BOP has approved their 2018-2019 work plan. They are supporting digitization efforts being undertaken by ACB, updating ACB’s editorial policy manual to reflect current writing practices, and other activities.
- BOP is implementing a large print style guide and provided reviewer support to the website redesign process.
- BOP is moving to differentiate the ACB Braille Forum from the E-Forum. The E-Forum will be themed issues every other month. Also, we are sending the mini mall catalog out with several issues of the forum.
- The board discussed how to do a better job obtaining email addresses to aid in communicating with members.
Thom moved and Trott seconded acceptance of the Board of Publications report; the motion carried. Bishop agreed to send an electronic report in the next week on ACB Radio and ACB Link.
2019 Leadership Meetings
The board discussed program ideas for the 2019 affiliate presidents meeting. Ideas put forward included:
- Presentations from the affiliate and membership and marketing and communications action teams.
- Leadership training, things affiliates can get their arms around related to strategic planning.
- What do presidents want from the leadership meetings? We should put out some goals for the meeting and see if that is what they want.
- Discussion of the kinds of things ACB does and how our funds are used.
- Keeping the organization healthy financially and legally.
- Presentation on Zoom Cloud, and how your affiliate can use it to improve communication.
- How to deal with “us vs. them” thinking for things like fundraising.
- Reaching out and bringing in members in areas of a state where there isn’t a local chapter.
- Help people feel comfortable making contributions to the organization, getting excited about putting forward their ideas.
- Reach out to affiliates who haven’t sent individuals for the past few years, see if we can find a funding mechanism to help affiliates attend leadership meetings.
- Kim is finishing the master committee list. She has just a few changes to put in place. Nancy has figured out how to set up committee templates to make recording volunteer hours easier.
- Time to remind the board of annual board contributions prior to the end of the year.
There being no other business, Campbell moved and Powell seconded that the meeting be adjourned. The motion carried, and the meeting adjourned at 4:53 p.m.
Adopted December 3, 2018.
Att.: Revised board stipend policy
ACB Board Stipend Policy
A proposal was brought before the June board meeting for ACB to cover board member costs for board meetings. The budget committee was asked to review the proposal and make a recommendation at the fall board meeting.
In preparing their recommendation, the budget committee reviewed the cost analysis and the previously approved resolution.
- An analysis was completed for the next 3 cities where the board meetings will be held. Included in the cost analysis is our confirmed room rate with taxes for 2 nights, airfare for each board member and 2 days per diem for that city. If a current board member lives near the city where the meeting will be held, I included an average airfare rate, so the estimate will be more accurate. This analysis also includes the BOP member.
- The total cost was $38,147 and includes $11,859 for the fall board (Rochester, NY), $13,508 for the February board meeting (Alexandria, VA), and $12,780 for the fall board meeting (Chicago, IL). The cost per board member is $2,244 (hotel - $726; airfare - $1,160; per diem - $358).
- It is also important to review the previous resolution and what ACB has paid for board stipends in the past.
- The June 24, 2008 board resolution states board members can receive a stipend of up to $200 for face-to-face board meetings outside the convention and up to $300 for the board meeting held at the start of the convention. No stipend would be given for the post-convention board meetings. Newly elected board members and those filling parts of a term aren’t eligible for the stipend for the meeting where they were elected.
- From 2015 to today ACB has paid out $3,165 in board stipends.
- ACB paid only $400 in stipends in 2017 and so far, this year only $300.
The budget committee is recommending that board stipends be increased to $500 per board meeting. To receive the board stipend, each officer, director or the Board of Publications member must submit their receipts for travel, lodging and meals to ACB’s Chief Financial Officer. If the actual receipts are below the $500 stipend, reimbursement will be for actual expenses incurred to attend the board meeting.