by Deb Cook Lewis
The pre-convention meeting of the ACB board of directors was called to order by president Dan Spoone on July 3, 2020 at 10 a.m. Eastern on the Zoom conferencing platform and ACB Radio. He announced the passing of former board member Berl Colley, and that Denise would not be present. Ray Campbell acted as secretary for this meeting. All board members and staff were present except Denise Colley, who was excused. Janet Dickelman, Debbie Hazelton, Jo Lynn Bailey-Page and Rick Morin were also present. The proposed agenda, the minutes for the April 23 meeting, and the written reports were approved.
Mission Moment: Dan Spoone and Eric Bridges thanked the ACB Radio team, the convention committee, ACB staff and countless volunteers who prepared for this virtual convention.
Convention Report: Janet Dickelman said there will be a significant number of attendees who have never attended an ACB convention. Janet reviewed the convention schedule through 2023. Jacksonville is under consideration for 2024. The fall board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 13-14. After discussion, it was voted to make the fall board meeting virtual because of challenges to travel and uncertainty about the status of the virus. Jim Kracht moved and Sara Conrad seconded that the board ask the convention committee to look into the circumstances surrounding a program error which resulted in omission of 3 exhibitors, and to consider appropriate action to assist those exhibitors including possible refund. Discussion was that this is within the scope of the convention committee and does not require board action. The motion was defeated, with Jim casting the only “yes” vote.
Board of Publications: Deb Cook Lewis reported the BOP will record the newspaper to be aired on ACB Radio mainstream each morning. Thanks to everyone who registered for the newspaper to help the students. There will be no BOP meeting, but there is a program session on accessing ACB and a social event prior to the banquet on the 10th. The BOP received helpful feedback from the Forum on the Forum held in June and will continued our themed issues. This would be an election year for the BOP, so next year members will be elected for a one-year term. The BOP will prepare a convention summary, as required, for the Forum.
President’s Report: Dan Spoone explained the EOS organizational methodology training under way with the leadership team, commonly referred to as Traction. There are six elements: visioning and strategic plan; people; data score card; issue resolution; processes; feedback and evaluation. They hope over time to deploy this strategy throughout the organization. Key objectives for this quarter included: preparing for the virtual convention; replatforming the server; management of community calls; financial and development impacts of the coronavirus; establish and launch a communications plan.
ACB released a Statement of Solidarity in response to recent community events. Dan emphasized the need to continually work on inclusion as an integral expectation within ACB and discussed organizational demographics on the board, local leadership and on committees.
Dan appointed Ray Campbell to chair the ad hoc resolutions process committee established by resolution in 2019.
Executive Director’s Report: Eric Bridges reported that server migration is now completed despite many challenges. Thanks to Jeff Bishop and Jason Castonguay for their work with the Louisville Web Group. This reduces the cost for running various cloud services such as web sites and ACB Radio by half and also reduces risk of data loss for the organization.
The Alexandria office build-out was completed in June.
The Advisory Board will meet in October to come on board with the EOS process. Eric noted that they are individually available to consult in addition to the formal meetings.
In May, Eric participated in the Microsoft Ability Summit as a panelist.
Anthony Corona joined ACB as a communications intern funded by New York’s vocational rehab services until September. He is developing the ACB Voices blog, conducted interviews for convention, and is integrally involved in ACB’s communications planning.
Advocacy Services: Clark Rachfal reported that staff interacted with more than 20 states regarding accessible voting, including assistance with filing complaints and legal action. ACB took the lead on a sign-on letter effort with 75 organizations that went to all members of Congress regarding funding for accessible ballots. A Voting Tool Kit with information about laws and resources will be released soon.
ACB is collaborating with Procter and Gamble and with 6 NIB agencies to distribute household cleaning products to blind people identified as being in need during the pandemic.
ACB recently negotiated improved access to Patreon, a platform for online communities and content creators. Technical assistance has also been provided to Peloton Interactive to increase accessibility of their exercise bikes, treadmills and streaming content.
Claire Stanley said an FAQ of 20 most asked questions has been completed. Affiliates are asked to identify a connection point for peer support referrals. Other expertise is also being identified as referral points.
The new resolutions process for 2020 allows draft resolutions to be filed through convention, consideration and ranking by the committee and staff, with final debate, ranking and voting by the board in August.
Web and Social Media: Kelly Gasque reported that ACB established a coronavirus response and resources on the website which are regularly updated. Constant Contact is used to disseminate targeted information by email. ACB is now a partner on the Be My Eyes platform and answers I&R calls for 3 hours each day. The ACB Community group was established on Facebook and a blog called ACB Voices will launch after convention. Facebook Live has also been used via Zoom to stream video content. ACB Link has been updated along with updates to the Alexa ACB Radio skills. A communications consultant is developing a strategic communications plan for ACB.
Resource Development: Tony Stephens noted that ACB has been fortunate to maintain high levels of financial and resource support despite challenging times. It is important that donors continue to see value for their contributions. How we sell our value is therefore important. A major donor campaign will be conducted in November and December. The grant pipeline is being revised to be more in line with our current needs and ACB’s responses to the pandemic. Dan Dillon spoke about some of the specific efforts undertaken by RDC particularly during convention such as the auction, MMS, the Forum raffle, the walk, Mini Mall, etc.
Membership Services: Cindy Hollis talked about the impact of community calls and the teamwork to make it happen. The Community Facebook group is an extension of these calls.
Financial Services: The Minneapolis office will move across the parking lot to a more spacious suite after convention. The 2019 audit was conducted with no findings and the Form 990 was filed. ACB’s investments are down for the year but the decrease is less than the overall market drop. The thrift stores were closed in March and April but reopened in May. Unfortunately, an employee has tested positive for the virus, so the Lubbock store is closed for 14 days. ACB expects the Payroll Protection loan to be forgiven because it was used for employees and related expenses as required.
David Trott followed with the financial narrative year to date.
NELDS Distribution for Florida Council of the Blind: Jeff Thom explained that Florida has actively sought alternatives for accessible independent voting and determined this year that litigation was necessary. Jeff moved and Kim Charlson seconded that the maximum allowable amount of $5,600 be allocated to cover legal expenses associated with the litigation on behalf of the Florida Council of the Blind. The motion passed.
ACB Radio: Debbie Hazelton reported that the production team has grown in both number of people producing materials and in momentum since April and in preparation for the convention. Many community calls are being broadcast over ACB Radio, and a new channel has been designated for community events. Main Menu has returned to live format and Tuesday Topics will become a two-hour program after convention. Alexa skills and ACB Link have been updated.
Audio Description: Kim Charlson reviewed highlights from the annual report and the agenda for ADP at the convention which includes breakout sessions, prime time events, awards, and audio described events.
The meeting adjourned at 4 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 27 via Zoom and ACB Radio.