By Deb Cook Lewis
The ACB board of directors met prior to the annual leadership conference and legislative seminar at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Alexandria, Va. on Feb. 23, 2019. All officers and board members were present, including Mitch Pomerantz, who participated by phone.
Kim Charlson summarized a very positive meeting held the previous day with several board members and Suman Kanuganti, CEO of Aira, in which they discussed ways ACB and Aira could collaborate more closely to increase availability of Aira. The board amended the 2019 budget to contribute $500 to assist poor nations who cannot afford to participate in the World Blind Union meetings held every four years. Leslie Spoone invited board members to each contribute a $50 item to the summer auction; this year’s theme is Picture Perfect.
Next, the board reviewed the proposed Code of Conduct policy. There was lively discussion with consensus that a policy is needed because of potential liability issues. Concern was raised regarding disciplinary action and current constitutional authority for enforcement as well as lack of appeal procedures. Pomerantz moved and Sheehan seconded that the policy be approved as an interim Code of Conduct policy; the motion passed. A committee composed of experts in current law, the chair of ACB’s constitution and bylaws committee, and others will be established to draft the policy in final form, and will put in place a structure to implement the policy including proposing appropriate changes to ACB’s governing documents, to be presented to the board by June 1, 2019.
Eric Bridges reported that recent travel and meetings included the San Francisco Lighthouse, Aira, Uber engineers, and the upcoming CSUN conference. Sponsorship for the D.C. leadership meetings includes Cisco Systems, and full sponsorship of 10 Next Generation members by JPMorgan Chase. An anonymous donor has funded an interior design project to update the Alexandria office, including new accessible Cisco phones. Finally, Eric acknowledged Kelly and Sharon for their work to organize the leadership conference.
Eric introduced Clark Rachfal, the new director of advocacy and governmental affairs, who began employment on Feb. 11. Clark comes to ACB from NIB, and also worked for Verizon. Claire Stanley emphasized the podcast, activities with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee, research on experience with absentee ballots by blind and low-vision people, work on the diabetes imperative, working with the environmental access committee on pedestrians and sidewalks, the CCD Transportation Committee, and autonomous vehicles. And there are always calls from members to respond to as well.
Kelly Gasque said that in addition to website updates for committees, she is updating the affiliate pages and assisting affiliates with their logos and Facebook pages if requested. There are now 4,044 Facebook likes and 2,619 Twitter followers.
Tom Tobin and Jo Lynn Bailey-Page reported a steady increase in grant awards, including an increase from Delta Gamma. The focus continues to be on building a funding infrastructure for ACB.
Jeff Bishop said updates are forthcoming for the iOS and Android versions of ACB Link, and an Echo skill for ACB Radio is in the works.
Nancy Becker explained that a new tab to report chapters has been added to the membership database. Depreciation of fixed assets is current and accurate. Work on the annual audit has gone well. The board approved a proposed investment policy. David Trott presented the financial report and budget update.
Dan Dillon said the walk goal is $100,000, and he introduced this year’s walk song. Dan Spoone said we have 9 potential angels, a goal of 321 MMS members, the Holiday Auction was successful, and the Mini Mall is doing well.
Janet Dickelman said the paper version of the convention registration will have program listing and no descriptions. Attendees must register online or by phone this year. There will be a pre-registration period exclusively for ACB members. The 2020 convention will be July 23-30 in Schaumburg, Ill., with 2021 in Phoenix.
Deb Lewis mentioned the new themed issues of “The ACB E-Forum” and the expanded editions of both magazines. Work continues to modernize the BOP editorial policy. Effort is being made in collaboration with CCLVI to address concerns from readers of the large print version of the convention program. The BOP is announcing the annual awards and preparing for the candidates’ web page and Candidates’ Forum.
Dan Spoone reported on the audio description conference, ACB’s efforts in structured negotiations with HBO, settlement with Hulu, and ACVREP accreditation for describers, and the UniDescription program to describe national park brochures. Committee liaisons gave brief updates, and Eric reported on the strategic goals.