The American Council of the Blind (ACB) Board of Directors met on Friday and Saturday, October 27 and 28, 2017 at the Union Station Hotel in St. Louis, MO. President Kim Charlson called the Friday portion of the meeting to order at 2:03 p.m. At the call of the roll, the following board members were present: Kim Charlson, Dan Spoone, Ray Campbell, David Trott, Mitch Pomerantz, Jeff Bishop, Denise Colley, Dan Dillon, Katie Frederick, Pat Sheehan and Jeff Thom. ACB Second Vice President John McCann was not present due to a medical emergency. Board members Sara Conrad, George Holliday, Allan Peterson and Doug Powell were not present with excused absences. Board of Publications Chair Ron Brooks was present representing that body. Staff present: Eric Bridges, ACB Executive Director, and Nancy Marks-Becker, ACB Chief Accountant.
President Charlson reviewed the Friday, 10/27 portion of the agenda which consisted of reports and discussion of the 5 Strategic Plan Action teams. Campbell moved and Colley seconded adoption of the agenda as read, the motion carried. Pomerantz moved and Bishop seconded adoption of the August 22, 2017 board meeting minutes as most recently circulated, the motion carried.
Katie Frederick, Chair of the Marketing and Communications team presented their report. Three options for a re-design of the ACB logo were presented by the team, along with an option for ACB’s tagline. Campbell moved and Colley seconded approval of logo design option 1, the motion carried. This logo design features the letters ACB on the left with the corresponding braille dots for each letter below. To the right of the letters is a line that divides the logo. To the right of the line American Council of the Blind is written out on two lines with the tagline “together for a bright future” underneath. The logo is in the Sans-serif Franklin Gothic font and is in the same purple/blue color being used on the new ACB Website.
Pomerantz moved and Frederick seconded adoption of “Together for a bright future” as ACB’s tagline, the motion carried. Campbell moved and Bishop seconded acceptance of the Marketing and Communications team report, the motion carried.
ACB Conference and Convention Coordinator Janet Dickelman presented the Conventions and Meetings team report. The team has been in discussions with the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals (ACVREP) on offering Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) for programs during the ACB Conference and Convention. The team will be encouraging affiliates and committees conducting programming to think about whether or not credit can be offered. The process for applying to offer credit looks pretty straightforward.
The team has started discussions of offering virtual registrations, but this needs more study. They are also discussing how to improve the convention experience for attendees who need a little extra help during convention, as well as for Scholarship winners, Durward K. McDaniel first timer award recipients and leadership fellows.
Campbell moved and Colley seconded acceptance of the Conventions and Meetings report, the motion carried.
ACB Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs Director Tony Stephens joined the meeting by phone to present the Advocacy, Legislation and Policy report. The team has three major areas of focus: traditional civil rights issues such as transportation, service animal, rehabilitation and education issues, technology accessibility and the ACB Currency Case. The team has the flexibility to work on the issues of the day as necessary. The team helps define the work flow for addressing all of the issues out there. The team is still looking for the best way to track its progress. Tony indicated he wants to have the Voter Rights toolkit ready by the beginning of the year, and this toolkit will be discussed during the 2018 ACB Midyear President’s meeting. Tony discussed several pieces of legislation as well as changes being made in regulations which we are being told are housekeeping in nature. Eric indicated that Tony has been working on a number of other areas such as in-flight entertainment accessibility. Thom moved and Frederick seconded acceptance of the Advocacy, Legislation and Policy report, the motion carried.
ACB Executive Director Eric Bridges and ACB Chief Accountant Nancy Marks-Becker presented the development team report. The team would like to see an ACB Endowment fund established. Frederick moved and Pomerantz seconded that ACB use up to $100,000 from the ACB Life Membership Account to establish an endowment fund, the motion carried. The team is also working to map dollars to programs, getting us to think more in that vein about revenue and expenses. Campbell moved and Bishop seconded acceptance of the Development team report, the motion carried.
Mitch Pomerantz presented the Members and Affiliates action team report in Chairperson George Holliday’s absence. The team put together a 3-question mini survey which was sent to affiliates on membership development issues, with 29 affiliates having responded so far. The team also wants to pursue outreach activities to the Hispanic community, and is focusing on no-cost options for doing this. Mitch discussed the feedback received from the focus groups conducted during the Conference and Convention. Additional focus groups are scheduled to be conducted during November, 2017. Finally, the team wants to address coordination of leadership training. Campbell moved and Frederick seconded acceptance of the Membership and Affiliates report, the motion carried.
There being no further items on the Friday afternoon agenda, Frederick moved and Trott seconded that the meeting be recessed. The motion carried, and the meeting recessed at 5:55 p.m.
The board meeting reconvened at 9:02 a.m. on Saturday, October 28. 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, Dan Dillon, Katie Frederick, Pat Sheehan and Jeff Thom. Board members Sara Conrad, George Holliday, Allan Peterson and Doug Powell were not present with excused absences. Board of Publications Chair Ron Brooks was present representing that body. Staff present: Eric Bridges, ACB Executive Director, and Nancy Marks-Becker, ACB Chief Accountant.
President Charlson read the Saturday agenda. Campbell moved and Frederick seconded adoption of the Saturday agenda, the motion carried. Campbell moved and Trott seconded that the ACB Board meeting be recessed to convene an ACB Enterprises and Services membership meeting. The motion carried, and the ACB Board meeting recessed at 9:07 a.m.
The ACB Board meeting reconvened at 9:15 a.m. ACB Conference and Convention Coordinator Janet Dickelman presented her report. Highlights included:
- Regarding the 2017 conference and convention, ACB realized over $200,000 in net profit thanks in large part to successful acquisition of corporate sponsorships and the efforts of the Nugget Hotel and Casino in helping us keep costs down. There was considerable discussion of the 2017 conference and convention as it was the first one conducted under a shortened format. Several suggestions were offered to help streamline things and address congestion at the convention registration office.
Janet discussed highlights for the 2018 conference and convention, including several tours which will be offered. Among these are a Cardinals baseball game vs. the Atlanta Braves on Friday, June 29, and the final Friday, July 6, there will be a tour to Hannibal, MO, the home of Mark Twain.
- Janet presented two potential bids for the 2020 conference and convention, the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center in Schaumburg, Illinois and the Hilton Hotel in Omaha, Nebraska. Spoone moved and Frederick seconded the selection of Schaumburg, Illinois to host the 2020 Conference and Convention, and Omaha, Nebraska to host in 2021, with the Conference and Convention Coordinator having the flexibility to reverse this order if necessary. The motion carried with Pomerantz and Thom voting no.
Thom moved and Campbell seconded acceptance of the Conference and Convention Coordinator’s report, the motion carried. President Charlson presented her report. Highlights included:
- The North American-Caribbean regional meeting of the World Blind Union took place on October 11 at the American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville, KY. Among the items discussed were the Marrakesh Treaty and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, neither of which is moving close to being ratified in the United States. Steps are also being taken to improve participation from the Caribbean nations in WBU. Mr. José Maria Viera has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of WBU, replacing Penny Hartin who is retiring.
- Kim reminded board members to submit their in-kind contribution receipts.
Campbell moved and Trott seconded acceptance of the President’s report, the motion carried.
ACB Executive Director Eric Bridges began presentation of the staff reports. Highlights of his report included:
- Kelly Gasque, ACB Administrative Assistant joined by phone to update the board on the progress redesigning and updating acb.org. She said a group of 17 individuals has been testing the “about us” section of the site and provided valuable feedback which is in the process of being incorporated by Louisville Web Group. Further testing will take place with the goal of launching the new acb.org in 2018. One item of note, the new website will have archives so that if someone is looking for information or a document from more than a couple years in the past, they’ll be able to find it there. Pages will be archived automatically. The Resources section is next for testing. More graphics and photos will be added to the new website, as well as job listings which will be kept up to date. A new contact us form will be implemented that will have categories those seeking to make contact can choose from so that their inquiry can be forwarded not only to the general ACB mailbox but also to the appropriate staff person.
- Kelly also discussed ACB’s annual report which she has finished putting together and which is available on acb.org. This document is made available to foundations that we are considering applying for grants from and high level donors as well as being on the website. It was suggested to email a link to the report far and wide.
- Eric indicated that Kelly has also taken over designing the layouts of both Inside ACB as well as some of our direct mail pieces.
- Eric updated the board on the Accessible currency case, which has been around for 15 years. The oral arguments held before the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on October 19 went well. Eric indicated we should get a decision from the court in January or February, 2018.
- Eric indicated he has several more trips planned to close out the year, in all, he will have logged over 60,000 miles traveling on behalf of ACB.
- Eric discussed with the board the need for ACB to have more physical space in our office, particular as a result of some of the things identified during the strategic planning exercises. We are currently housed in 60% of a larger suite, and Eric has received a proposal for us to acquire the remainder of the suite which would give us much needed work space for the same price per square foot we’re paying now, about $2,000 additional in lease expense per month. Thom moved and Bishop seconded that we move forward with acquisition of the remaining 40% of the Alexandria office suite with the proposal Eric has received, the motion carried.
- Eric asked Dan Spoone to update the board on our collaboration with the University of Hawaii and Google to provide audio description in several national parks, starting in California. The university has perfected a tool that will allow users to download a description of a park’s visitor’s brochure to any smart device. This further expands ACB’s work in audio description. Grants are being sought per park for this project. People with vested interest in each park go through intensive training to perfect their description. Our members will be involved in quality control as well as a kickoff event at each park.
Campbell moved and McCann seconded that the board go into Executive Session to discuss affiliate, legal and personnel issues following election of the Executive Committee, the motion carried, and the board meeting recessed at 12:22 p.m.
The board reconvened in open session at 2:15 p.m. President Charlson announced that during executive session, the board received updates on legal, affiliate and personnel issues and that no motions were adopted. She also announced the Executive Committee: Kim Charlson, Dan Spoone, David Trott, Pat Sheehan and Jeff Thom.
ACB Executive Director Eric Bridges concluded his report by letting the board know that as of January, 2018, the audio version of the ACB Braille Forum will be produced on digital cartridge. Those who receive the forum on cartridge will need to return the cartridge, and if they have more than two issues out, they won’t receive more until the cartridges are returned. He also indicated that there will be a new ACB Braille Forum cover design that readers will see starting in January. Eric, ACB Braille Forum Editor Sharon Lovering and BOP Chair Ron Brooks are meeting monthly prior to each BOP meeting to discuss agenda issues and other items.
ACB Chief Accountant Nancy Marks-Becker presented the development report, summarizing much of the information contained in the written report sent prior to this meeting to all board members. Of note, in addition to the nine ACB Angels honored during the 2017 Conference and Convention, two more individuals were added as ACB Angels following it.
Jeff Bishop presented the ACB Radio and ACB Link report. Regarding ACB Link, he
Announced that it will be fully compatible with iOS 11 and 11.1. The Android version is taking longer than we had hoped to launch because everything in Android needs to be built from scratch, including many of the amenities built into iOS. With regard to ACB Radio, there will be a change coming such that anyone wishing to stream content on ACB Radio must be an ACB member. We had 850 listeners to the coverage of the Solar Eclipse on the stream and 9,000 listeners who called in by phone. Efforts are underway to stream the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Efforts are also moving ahead with establishing a Spanish language channel on ACB Radio. With the affiliate conventions going on during the Fall, our listener counts are improving.
President Charlson discussed a recommendation from the ACB Radio team to do away with the Candidates Forum during the ACB Conference and Convention. At the Reno convention, while we did not have high attendance on-site, we had over 100 listeners to the forum on ACB Radio. Frederick moved and Pomerantz seconded that the ACB Board of Directors recommends that the ACB Board of Publications discontinue the physical candidates form during the ACB Conference and Convention and identify other ways to provide ACB members opportunities to hear from and interact with candidates for office.
The motion carried with Colley voting no.
ACB Chief Accountant Nancy Marks-Becker presented the Minneapolis area office report. Highlights included:
- She and the staff are gearing up for the annual Membership Certification process through the Affiliate Member Management System (AMMS). She indicated there will be a change in the back-end process for AMMS such that Sharon Lovering will be able to access the AMMS updates all at the same time without receiving an email for each one and make the necessary changes. Also, the time period for affiliates to make changes to their member information in AMMS will run from January 1 to March 15, 2018.
- The ACB Disaster Relief Fund has received almost $2,300 in donations of cash and gift cards. Nine individuals in Texas lost almost everything and will be receiving $200 Visa gift cards from this fund.
- Nancy indicated that the office is becoming comfortable with Dynamic GP, and they are able to close out each month’s financials faster. Nancy also has remote access to the financial data as needed.
- 2018 ACB Budget: The Budget Committee will review and prepare the budget for board consideration on or about November 12, 2017. Campbell moved and McCann seconded that the board budget calls take place at 8 p.m. Eastern time on November 27 to review and approve the revenue side and November 30, 2017 to review and approve the expense side. The motion carried. We will also review and approve the conference and convention budget during these calls.
Campbell moved and Pomerantz seconded acceptance of the staff reports, the motion carried.
Chairperson Jeff Thom presented the Voting Task Force report. He indicated that it’s pretty close to time that we need to move forward with some ideas on implementing remote voting, to see if there is the political will to do it. Pomerantz moved and McCann seconded that the ACB Board direct the voting task force to prepare a report providing the findings and input from participants in the mock election, that report to include possible voting models and/or directions for further action, including cost considerations, that this report be distributed through all communications media including ACB Radio and the ACB Braille Forum, and that this report be disseminated by no later than the 2018 midyear meetings. The motion carried.
ACB Treasurer David Trott presented the Treasurer’s report. Year to date total revenue is $843,796.63, and total expenses are $932,410.69. We also read through the program categories and how revenue and expenses are allocated to them. Pomerantz moved and Frederick seconded acceptance of the Treasurer’s report, the motion carried.
ACB BOP Chairperson Ron Brooks presented the BOP report. Highlights included:
- The large print reader’s survey has been completed, and the data gathered has been analyzed. Recommendations are being developed based on the survey results.
- The BOP is putting together a spreadsheet to show how people are accessing information in ACB through various media channels. We have 10,000 individuals who receive the ACB Braille Forum.
- Finally, the BOP is working with both the Marketing and Communications team and the Public Relations committee on ACB Braille Forum and EForum content.
Campbell moved and Thom seconded acceptance of the BOP report, the motion carried.
President Charlson led a discussion of possible topics for the ACB Midyear President’s meeting. Ideas shared included:
- Training for affiliates on assistive listening devices, how they work, where they can be obtained and how they can benefit those attending their events.
- Free or low cost ways that affiliates can market themselves, including using such services as Skype In for meetings.
- Roll-out of the ACB Accessible Voting toolkit.
- Discussion of the results of the Membership and Affiliates mini survey.
- Ways to distribute information by telephone.
- Membership development and recruitment ideas.
- Preliminary recommendations for reforming ACB’s committee structure.
President Charlson announced that the theme for the 2018 ACB Conference and Convention is: “ACB, Gateway to Success.”
There being no further business, Campbell moved and Frederick seconded that the meeting be adjourned. The motion carried, and the meeting was adjourned at 5:10 p.m.
Date submitted: 11/19/2017
Date approved: 11/30/2017