League of Women Voters of the United States Board of Directors Board Meeting

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Renaissance Washington

Washington DC 

Board Present:

 

Elisabeth MacNamara

Patricia Donath

Marcia Merrins

Judy Duffy

Peggy Hawkins Hill

Marlene O’Brien

Judy Davis

Mary Klenz

Norman Turrill

Susan Morris Wilson

Janis McMillen

Elaine Wiant

Staff Members Present:

Nancy Tate, Zaida Arguedas, Greg Leatherwood, Pamla Sterner Budget Chair: Sandra Powell

MacNamara called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m.

 

Minutes:

Susan Wilson moved that the minutes of the January 28, 2012 meeting of the LWVUS Board of Directors be accepted as presented. Seconded. Passed.

Susan Wilson moved that the minutes of the January 29, 2012 meeting of the LWVUS Board of Directors be accepted as presented. Seconded. Passed.

 

Financial Report:

Susan Wilson moved that the Financial Report of the LWVUS dated February 29, 2012 be accepted and placed on file. Seconded. Passed.

Susan Wilson noted that LWVUS is doing quite well this year – with income at 70% of annual budget and expenses at 54%. Convention expenses will not show up until later. We have collected 75% of PMP billed, and more will come before Convention since Leagues want to make sure that they are able to vote. We have $983,427 in our reserve account. We have developed an operating reserves policy.

 

President’s Report

  • Elisabeth MacNamara attended a meeting with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other organizations on various topics. After she informed the group that the League was not prepared to endorse the idea of a constitutional amendment to deal with Citizens United until we had studied the implications, other organizations told her privately that they felt the same.
  • Elisabeth has continued to talk with reporters about voter ID and related voter suppression laws.
  • She participated in sessions with the ABA’s Civics and Law Academy.
  • Elisabeth and Zaida attended OxFam’s International Women’s Day in DC. We have worked closely with OxFam in prior years on climate change issues. However, she declined to speak for the League on the new OxFam priority of “Food Security” since this is not a League issue.

 

 Executive Director's Report

Nancy Tate gave an overview of the activities of the national office since the last Board meeting: 

  • Advocacy: We were able to get 25,000 signatures on a petition on the White House "We the People" website that asks President Obama to appoint new commissioners to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). We are waiting for the President to act.
    • Ed Fund:  We have received a major new grant from the Department of State to bring together civic organizations from North Africa and the Middle East. We were asked to explain voter suppression issues to the MacArthur Foundation. The description of League activities that Jeanette Senecal, Tim O’Brien, and Lloyd Leonard gave was very impressive. Board members suggested that such a good summary should be included in Convention, and perhaps put on the website. On VOTE411, a growing number of Leagues are using the voter guide portion, and Amazon is replacing Yahoo as the pro bono server support.
    • Communications: The staff has been working on website enhancements that League members want.  We are also pulling in more local League stories.
    • Membership: There will be a regional training for new states in the MLD program in Texas. Webinars for all members are planned on various topics.
    • Finances: Our direct marketing donations are unprecedented. People are really upset about the issues right now and are donating to the League.
    • We have been served in a lawsuit along with the LWV of Southwest Indiana for not allowing a Libertarian candidate in a 2012 debate. The television station that aired the debate has also been sued. Lawyers for all of us defendants have filed for dismissal.

 

Executive Committee

Judy Duffy spoke about the Convention and would like Board members to bring her issues that they think might come up.

 

Advocacy Committee

Judy Duffy reported that a Campaign Finance Task Force will be established. The members will research issues related to Citizens United, including possible constitutional amendments. There was discussion about possible task force members. The goal is to have one or more papers ready by Convention.

We had a problem with a group calling themselves “Women against GOP” stating on their Facebook page that the League endorses them. We told them to take it down and they complied.

Elaine Wiant moved that the Coalitions and Membership List for LWVUS be accepted as presented. Seconded. Passed.

 

Communications Committee

Norman Turrill shared information from the committee:

  • Social media: We need to have all League members “friend” the LWVUS Facebook page.  We are increasing our use of Twitter. Perhaps there should be a webinar to teach League members how to use Twitter.
  • Website: The “Donate” button on the lwv.org website has been tested and so far the big button gets the most traffic. We hope to expand a PT position to FT, in order to find and create more web content, especially from state and local Leagues.
  • LEW (League Easy Web): LWVUS has been working with CA on this in 2 ways: encouraging all Leagues to use it, and discussing upgrades. We are almost done in creating a template for them that will update the look to be more like the LWVUS website. The MOU with them expires in July, but next steps are unclear since our planned “affiliate website” system will not be operational for over a year, even if funded in the proposed budget, and the LEW functionality is already outdated. It was agreed that we need to make sure LWVC knows our timeline.

Judy Davis moved that we develop a letter setting out the proper legal use of the League logo and name. Seconded. Passed.

Some Leagues are manipulating the logo in ways that compromise our trademark and others are altering our name (for example, “Education Network”).  If the League doesn’t defend its brand and allows its Leagues to change the logo or name, then the League gives up its ability to defend the logo/name in the future. Such changes need to go through LWVUS. We should consult our lawyer, and develop a letter explaining this issue to the Leagues.

 

Membership and League Support Committee

Marlene O’Brien moved that the Organizational Service report January 30, 2012 – March 23, 2012 be accepted as amended.  Seconded. Passed.

There has been increasingly good coordination between the Board liaisons and the MLD state coaches.

The Board also discussed possible ways to reduce the workload on staff related to preparing the extensive Board book materials.

 

Development Committee

Mary Klenz moved that we rebrand our “Leaders for Leadership Fund” as the “Fund for Local League Growth,” to be launched at Convention 2012. Seconded. Passed.

 

Meetings and Training Committee

Susan Wilson moved that the hardship request by the LWV Georgia for the Convention 2012 be granted. Seconded. Passed.

The Board discussed a number of other Convention items:

  • There will be a new approach to the Monday workshops in order to better help Leagues develop election plans. The same “360” presentations on what to consider will run concurrently in 3 large rooms. This will allow the delegates to get training in all of the areas presented.
  • It was emphasized that advocacy – and how to do it - needs to be explicitly addressed. It was suggested that there be an LWVUS advocacy report, as well as a panel describing all the LWVUS and state work in the elections area.
  • There were 56 submissions for the various League awards. The top five from each category will be on the website. Members will be able to vote for the one they like best in each category.
  • The Board will provide office hours from 8 to 9 a.m. Sunday and Monday.

Susan Wilson moved that the all-inclusive registration fee (excluding airfare) for Council 2013 be established at $725. Seconded. Passed.

 

Governance Committee

Pat Donath moved that the resolution concerning Dianne Wheatley-Giliotti be adopted. Seconded. Passed.

Pat Donath moved that the Resolutions Rule as amended by the Governance Committee be adopted. Seconded. Passed.

Janis McMillen moved that the Convention 2012 Rules as amended be adopted. Seconded. Passed.

 

Bylaws Committee

Norman Turrill moved that the LWVUS Board recommend Bylaw Proposal 2

(concerning number of delegates per League). Seconded. Passed.

Elaine Wiant moved that the Board not recommend Bylaws Proposal 1 in favor of Bylaws Proposal 2. Seconded. Passed.

Elaine Wiant moved that the Board recommend Bylaws Proposal 4 (concerning budget timing) as proposed. Seconded. Passed.

There was additional discussion on clarifications to the Board policy on managing the 2 year budget.

Elaine Wiant moved that the Board recommend Bylaws Proposal 5 (concerning the Nominating Committee) as proposed. Seconded. Passed.

Discussion of Bylaws Proposal #3 (concerning Concurrences) was deferred until Sunday.

 

Program Planning Committee

240 Leagues offered suggestions.

Janis McMillen moved that, based on League responses, the Board recommend a proposed program that retains all current LWVUS positions in the areas of Representative Government, International Relations, Natural Resources, and Social Policy. Seconded. Passed.

Janis McMillen moved that, based on League responses, the Board recommend a concurrence on the convention floor with the sentencing policy of the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia as follows: “Sentencing Policy: The LWVUS believes alternatives to imprisonment should be explored and utilized, taking into consideration the circumstances and nature of the crime. The LWVUS opposes mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses.” Seconded. Passed.

Janis McMillen moved that the Board recommend a comprehensive program to educate members and communities on the issue of campaign finance in order to inform our education and legislative efforts. This effort will build on the work of Leagues and the LWVUS Campaign Finance Task Force. Seconded. Passed.

 

Budget

Wilson moved that the Board approve the budget as proposed. Seconded. Passed.

Budget Chair Sandy Powell gave an overview of the proposed budget, explaining the approach taken by the Budget Committee and how they addressed Board priorities.

  • The budget is for two fiscal years, as required by the Bylaws, not 2 separate one year budgets as in the past. Taking the Board’s priorities and staff needs into consideration, we developed a budget that includes several new approaches to strengthening the League’s capacity to fulfill our mission – both by providing direct assistance to state and local Leagues and by strengthening LWVUS’ capacity to do our own work and to better help Leagues in performing their functions.
  • We are recommending some significant investments from reserves in technology

– particularly in the planning and initial implementation of a much needed new member/donor database. Not only are we at risk with an outdated system, but a newer system would enable us to do much more and with less effort.

  • We need to slightly increase the number of staff, particularly in the area of communications and technology support. We are recommending that a part-time communication position be made full-time, and that a new Online Technology Support position be added.  We have not added staff in eight years yet the number of products and technology that we offer our members has increased. The increase in staff is necessary in order to respond to members’ needs which can’t be done with the existing staff. We are also recommending that a temporary staffer be added for elections work for 6 months.
  • We have raised the goal for direct marketing net income in the first year by

$255,375 to reflect the strong performance in the previous and current fiscal years. We project that direct marketing net income will increase by an additional

$160,992 during the second year of the biennium.

  • We are proposing a PMP increase of $1 for both years. (The discussion and vote was deferred to Sunday.)

The Board discussed the proposed budget. The point was made about the importance of having a plan for replenishing reserves, in light of the proposed drawdowns, particularly the expense of moving to a new member/donor database.  It was agreed that next year the Budget Committee will review actual revenue.  If revenue appears to be exceeding budgeted levels, they may recommend that some of the excess be used to pay back the reserves.

Wilson moved that the Board approve the budget as proposed. Seconded. Passed.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 5:30 p.m.