The American Council of the Blind (ACB) Board of Directors met on Saturday, February 24, 2018 at the Crowne Plaza Old Town hotel in Alexandria, Virginia. President Kim Charlson called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m. At the call of the roll, the following board members were present: Kim Charlson, Dan Spoone, Ray Campbell, David Trott, Mitch Pomerantz, Denise Colley, Dan Dillon, Katie Frederick, George Holliday, Allan Peterson, Doug Powell, Pat Sheehan and Jeff Thom. John McCann, Jeff Bishop and Sara Conrad were not present due to excused absences. Board of Publications Representative Deb Cook Lewis was present representing that body. Staff present: Eric Bridges, ACB Executive Director, Tony Stephens, ACB Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs, Kelly Gasque, ACB Administrative Assistant, and Nancy Marks-Becker, ACB Chief Accountant.
President Charlson reviewed the agenda. Campbell moved and Trott seconded adoption of the agenda as circulated, the motion carried. Trott moved and Frederick seconded ratification of the email vote adopting the November 27 and 30, 2017 Board of Directors Meeting minutes, the motion carried.
President Charlson did not offer a President’s report as the items she would have covered are addressed elsewhere on the agenda. ACB Executive Director Eric Bridges began presentation of the staff reports. Highlights included:
- ACB ended 2017 with a surplus of over $280,000. This compares to four years earlier at the end of 2013 when we had a sizeable deficit. A lot of work goes into achieving these results and it needs to continue for ACB to maintain a strong financial position.
- Work is underway to reconfigure the space in our Alexandria, Virginia national office. When complete, we will be able to host events in our office space and have room to do other things including hiring new staff.
- Claire Stanley has been hired as ACB’s Advocacy Assistant and will be starting on March 14, 2018.
- Eric has been traveling extensively for ACB, including to meetings discussing video description, activities with the U.S. Business Leadership Network, to the Cavalino Classic in Florida and other places.
- ACB and the U.S. Business Leadership Network will soon jointly announce a partnership between our two organizations for 2018. The USBLN will be represented at the ACB Conference and Convention, and we will be represented at their conference as our organizations find ways to work more closely together.
- In response to a question, Eric indicated that our consulting work with Microsoft and other entities is going well, and that unfortunately we can’t take advantage of all the opportunities out there in the consulting arena due to capacity constraints.
ACB Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs Tony Stephens reported to the board. Highlights included:
- AS soon as we secure a Republican Senate sponsor, the Medicare Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act will be introduced in the U.S. Senate. This will be an ask of those visiting Republican Senators on Capitol Hill during the ACB Legislative Seminar.
- The U.S. Department of Transportation is close to releasing accessibility rules governing in-flight entertainment on mobile apps.
- There are several issues being watched by the disability community including the ADA Notification Act, possible entitlement reform and affects on Federal spending as a result of passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. ACB’s imperatives focus on advocacy for programs that people who are blind depend on, and how can Government better spend its money.
- In our work with the FCC, ACB drafted a resolution adopted by the Disability Advisory Committee on emergency crawls, we will be working with the National Association of Broadcasters on webinars discussing best practices for making them accessible.
- We are engaging with the telecommunications industry around 5G which will increase wayfinding capabilities.
- We’ve successfully worked with Delta Airlines to change their recently announced service and emotional support animal policies, removing unnecessary burdens for those who travel with service animals including guide dogs. We are also in a good place with American Airlines, and the DOT is planning to release an announcement of Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to gauge stakeholder impact.
- ACB’s Accessible Currency case continues to work through the courts.
An update on the new acb.org was presented by ACB Administrative Assistant Kelly Gasque. Plans are to launch the new site by late Spring. Kelly reported that testing of the new site with all kinds of assistive technology, laptops, phones and other devices is continuing. We are midway through the testing process, and testers’ feedback is sent to Louisville Web Group and changes are implemented. Input has been gathered from a group of users with low vision concerning visual aspects of the new site.
Kelly also indicated she is updating Inside ACB and other materials with the new ACB logo which will help convey ACB’s message in a visually appealing way. She reported we have 2,218 Twitter followers and 3,327 likes on Facebook. Our facebook posting about testing of audio description at Yosemite National Park reached 117,622 people and got 979 likes, loves and wow reactions.
ACB Director of Development Tom Tobin presented his report. After taking questions on the written report which was sent to the board previously, Tom discussed:
- ACB’s year-end direct mail appeal. It dropped on November 14, 2017. Out of 10,912 packets sent out, we received 276 gifts for gross revenue of $12,714, a 2.54% return, and an average gift of $45.90. After expenses of $6,808, net proceeds were $5,905.
- The 2018 Spring appeal will drop on March 14, featuring a new mom and professional speech pathologist from California.
- Tom is looking for a testimonial for the Summer appeal.
- The year-end appeal will drop in mid-November.
- Annual giving society revenue was down 5.6% in 2017, thanks in large measure to the passing of a long time major donor to ACB.
- We have 31 ACB Angels, and total revenue of $24,500.
Jo Lyn Bailey-Page, ACB Grant Writer presented the grants report. Highlights included:
- Total 2018 grant requests total $318,000. We were funded at $47,000 in 2017, and have added 18 potential new funders to our grants pipeline.
- She shared the recent news that we had received a $4,000 grant from the Delta Gamma foundation. This represents the third year ACB has received funding from this foundation and highlights our efforts to identify, personally cultivate and persistently reach out to potential funders. She also emphasized the importance of being transparent with our funders.
- Relationship building has helped us with other funders such as the Dr. Scholl foundation.
- We are reaching out to the foundation arms of the corporate entities ACB has successfully built relationships with. We are in a good position to be successful with both large and small foundations thanks to our strategic planning work.
Larry Turnbull, Managing Director of ACB Radio presented his report. Highlights included:
- During the 2017 ACB Conference and Convention, we averaged 95 listeners on the ACB Radio server and between 500 and 600 listening on the phone through Audio Now.
- The ACB Radio Holiday Auction generated $12,800 to benefit ACB Radio.
- The ACB Radio team is investigating adding an Alexa skill for ACB Radio.
- On ACB Link, Larry indicated things are moving forward with an Android version.
ACB Chief Accountant Nancy Marks-Becker delivered the accounting office report. Highlights included:
- A search is on to identify and hire a replacement for Dee Thien who has recently retired from ACB employment.
- Almost all affiliates are using the Affiliate Member Management System (AMMS).
- The office is working through transferring ACB’s fixed assets into Dynamic GP.
- Nancy discussed ACB’s income statement, which we’ve looked at by program and our balance sheet. AS a non-profit, ACB’s net assets can be thought of the same as the net worth of a private company. She also explained how sometimes we can spread the expense of an asset out over its expected useful life, and how sometimes we need to recognize things in one year such as bequests that we might not receive until a subsequent year.
Thom moved and Pomerantz seconded acceptance of the staff reports. Prior to voting on this motion, several board members commended the ACB staff for sharing of information they receive with our leadership. The motion to accept the staff reports carried.
Campbell moved and Powell seconded that the board go into Executive Session to discuss ACBES, advocacy, personnel and financial issues, the motion carried, and the board went into Executive Session at 12:00 p.m.
The board returned to open session at 1:49 p.m. President Charlson reported that the board received updates on ACBES, advocacy, personnel and financial issues, and that no motions were adopted.
ACB Treasurer David Trott presented his report, covering the year-end financial position as of December 31, 2017. Total revenue: $1,775,430; total expenses: $1,286,512. Trott also reported that ACB’s endowed portfolio gained 13.6% in 2017 and has grown by 5.2% over five years.
The ACB Endowment policy was discussed. Spoone moved and Peterson seconded that ACB’s Endowment Fund be named the Legacy Endowment, the motion carried. Further discussion of the Legacy Endowment and how bequests should be handled took place. Spoone moved and Sheehan seconded that for bequests which are designated for a specific purpose, those funds be allocated as so designated. For bequests above $25,000, per the Legacy Endowment Policy, that 75% go to the legacy endowment, 25% go to board designated reserves unless these reserves are below 1 year’s operating expenses, in which case, funds will go to bringing the board reserve up to 1 year’s operating expense. At such time as the board designated reserves reach 2 years’ operating expenses, 90% of bequests over $25,000 go to the legacy endowment, and 10% go to board designated reserves. The motion carried. Pomerantz moved and Thom seconded acceptance of the Treasurer’s report, the motion carried.
Co-chairs Dan Dillon and Dan Spoone delivered the Resource Development Committee report. We will have a special song for this year’s 10th anniversary Brenda Dillon Memorial Walk, which over the past nine years has raised over $323,000 for ACB. The MMS goal for contributions to ACB has been raised to $80,000. The committee is putting together a timeline template for each fundraising program, starting with the Braille Forum drawing. IN this exercise, they identify the committee chair, which revenue category the proceeds go to, and the program steps to go through to make it happen. This also includes the program’s financial goals, and what its revenue and expenses were for the previous year.
Campbell moved and Frederick seconded acceptance of the Resource Development Committee report, the motion carried. ACB Conference and Convention Coordinator Janet Dickelman gave her report. Highlights included:
- 2018 Conference and Convention in St. Louis, information for the pre-registration form is due by March 28, with program information being due by April 14. Pre-registration will open May 15, and close on June 17. We will see higher pricing for convention activities in St. Louis, when compared to the pricing we got at the Nugget in Reno. Activities and logistics are coming together.
- ACB 2019 Conference and Convention, Rochester, NY, the fall board meeting for 2018 will take place the weekend of October 5 in Rochester. Convention dates for 2019 are July 5-12.
- 2020 ACB Conference and Convention dates: July 3-10, 2020 in Schaumburg, Illinois.
- Discussion took place surrounding the 2021 ACB Conference and Convention, for which the board had adopted a motion during its October meeting to hold in Omaha, Nebraska. Spoone moved and Pomerantz seconded that bidding for 2021 be re-opened to explore locations in Omaha, Las Vegas, Nevada and Phoenix, Arizona, the motion carried.
Powell moved and Holliday seconded acceptance of the Conference and Convention report, the motion carried.
Deb Cook Lewis delivered the Board of Publications report. The main activities the BOP is working on are a plan to eliminate publication of the Cassette and CD-ROM versions of the ACB Braille Forum, re-writing the BOP editorial policy manual and re-vamping the ACB Candidates forum. Campbell moved and Powell seconded acceptance of the BOP report, the motion carried.
The strategic plan goal groups presented their reports. George Holliday, leader for the Affiliates and Membership group reported that there has been only one focus group conducted since the 2017 convention. They are also sending the mini membership survey out to the leadership list and working on ways to reach individuals in various racial and ethnic groups. Other groups they want to target for membership recruitment are Seniors losing vision, students, and parents of children who are blind or visually impaired. Increased ACB membership is good for affiliates and vice versa.
Katie Frederick reported for the Communications and Marketing team. This team is developing an ACB Communications plan. They are looking at several ACB programs and how they are communicated with the idea being to centralize ACB’s overall communications. They are also working to both copyright protect ACB’s new logo, and they want to work with affiliates on how best to use the logo to promote ACB’s brand identity.
The Meetings and Conventions team report was presented by Janet Dickelman. Through the Academy of Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP), ACB has been certified to be able to offer continuing education credits (CECs) for some of our programming at our Conference and Convention. Affiliates and committees will be encouraged to make this available and get assistance with submitting their programs to get CECs. The team is also looking at adding some structure to the convention experience for ACB first timers and JP Morgan leadership fellows, things such as having mentors available and providing listings of seminars and programs to recommend to these individuals. Campbell moved and Holliday seconded acceptance of the Strategic Plan Action Team reports, the motion carried.
The officer and board liaisons presented their reports. Highlights included:
- We have 16 audio describers in training during our midyear meetings. Also, the Audio Description Project is working with ACVREP on a certification for audio describers.
- The Transportation and Environmental Access Committees are working on a summer program around paratransit and autonomous vehicles.
- Information access is working to schedule a forum of some kind where we come to the membership and ask what they want or need us to be working on. This hopefully will take place during the Spring.
- The Special Education Task Force is working on a summer program on partnerships between schools for the blind and public schools. Also, working with the Rehabilitation Issues task force on program activities as well.
- The Multicultural Affairs committee is holding a conference call on March 29 discussing civic awareness. Their convention program in July will include a panel presentation on what is the message of America.
- The Rehabilitation Issues task force will be working to find out what’s going on around the country with regard to maximum amounts that can be spent for rehabilitation as well as on equipment being state property until case closure and developing some strategy around how to respond to that.
There being no further business, Campbell moved and Powell seconded that the meeting be adjourned. The motion carried, and the meeting adjourned at 5:19 p.m.
Date submitted: 5/02/2018
Date approved: 5/18/2018