League of Women Voters of the United States Board of Directors

Board Meeting

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Renaissance M Street Hotel

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

Diane Wheatley-Gijliotti





Staff Members Present:

Nancy Tate, Zaida Arguedas, Greg Leatherwood,

 MacNamara called the meeting to order at 9.05 a.m.  


 Wilson moved that the minutes of the June 17, 2011 meeting of the LWVUS Board of Directors be accepted as presented.   Seconded.  Passed.

 Wilson moved that the minutes of the June 20, 2011 meeting of the LWVUS Board of Directors be accepted as presented.   Seconded.  Passed.  

 Wilson moved that the minutes of the June 22, 2011 meeting of the LWVUS Board of Directors at the Board Retreat be accepted as presented.   Seconded.  Passed. 

 Wilson moved that the minutes of the July 28, 2011 meeting of the LWVUS Board of Directors Special Meeting be accepted as presented.   Seconded.  Passed. 

 Financial Report:

 Wilson moved that the financial report dated August 31, 2011 of the LWVUS be accepted and placed on file.  Seconded.  Passed.

 Wilson noted that the total operating income through August 31, 2011 was $1,326,141 representing 18% of the annual budgeted income. The total operating expenses for the same period were $1,694,337, representing 17% of the annual budgeted expenses. Total change in net assets from operations was -$9,017. Investments decreased in value by $53,519 for the period.

 Wilson noted that per member payments receivable from state and local Leagues were $68,406 lower than a year ago but that the LWVUS has collected 23% of the PMP billed compared with 19% a year ago.

 President’s Report

 Elisabeth MacNamara reported on her activities:

  • Clean Air: almost all of July was spent with partners working on the Clean Air Promise Campaign. She reviewed the ad that ran in Washington DC and did a telepress conference with various entities;
  • Visited Missouri in August to contact with the League to roll out the Clean Air Promise; the St Louis League did an outstanding job of supporting the LWVUS by submitting an article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch;
  • Met with members of several Leagues in Missouri to check in on the Clean Air Promise effort.
  • Attended the Bar Association meeting focused on merit selection of the judiciary and heard about the participation of the LWV in the discussion;
  • Presented at a judicial diversity conference in Cheyenne Wyoming;
  • Presented on a panel to discuss  in Atlanta Georgia;
  • Participated in the Voters Summit activities;
  • Conference call with young professionals;
  • Calls with state presidents

 Executive Director's Report

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

  • Programmatic activity on Clean Air Promise and EPA regulations; met with William Daly at the White House to discuss ozone/EPA regulations;
  • Activities on health care reform; justice department; voter registration; Election Assistance Commission;
  • Nine major Education Fund projects underway including Campaign Finance, project in El Salvador, PAVP, and others;
  • Activities on privatization study
  • Work on redistricting and voter suppression
  • Working on communications with team, particularly on the website; work with vendor has been slow; now in a soft launch period;
  • Stepped up use of social media
  • Polling summit to help us with messaging
  • Membership and Leadership Development has been working on dues renewal pilot
  • Membership database audit to evaluate key criteria for a membership database;
  • Direct marketing is good; grants are coming in; Nancy worked at hiring the right people for the major donor program; audit visit was completed; we are doing well financially.
  • Several new hires including fund development people; three vacancies/pending vacancies; Cyndie Cota is leaving in November and will be hard to replace.
  • Work on the grants including discussions with funders/potential funders and wrote two grant proposals around the Clean Air Promise; Lloyd and Christina are the two staff working on this project;
  • Attended the Aspen Institute in Colorado
  • Anticipating the website launch (10/19), telephone focus groups on “political but nonpartisan” messaging; dues renewal; membership database audit (December); hire new staff; work on the 2 year budget; researching PMP options; convention planning.

  Executive Committee

 Duffy reported on the Executive Committee meeting:

  • Approved the form for the planned giving accounts to comply with Wells Fargo Bank;
  • Discussed the audit for 2010/11 and the audit will be completed in October;
  • Discussed the lease for our building which expires 9/2014;
  • The Guidance to the Board is completed;
  • The next convention is proposed for Dallas/Ft. Worth and the committee authorized Zaida Arguedas to sign the contract.

 Duffy moved that the 2014 Convention be held in Dallas/Ft. Worth. Seconded. Passed.

 Meetings and Training

 Merrin moved to adopt “Imagine, Commit, Act” as the theme for Convention 2012. Seconded.  

 Wheatley-Gillotti moved to amend the motion to “Power of the Vote/Imagine Commit, Act” as the theme for Convention 2012. Seconded. Passed.

 Motion amended: moved to adopt “Power to the Vote/Imagine, Commit, Act” as the theme for Convention 2012. Seconded. Passed.

 Merrin reported on the committee discussion of Convention:

 Merrin discussed the use of new technology to do straw polls of the group on various topics. There are a few choices of software to use.

  • Merrin discussed possible choices for speakers for Convention and emphasized that we need to start the process as soon as possible. At the very least we need to identify two speakers, one for the Banquet and one for another time in the agenda.
  • Plan to have office hours at tables outside the Plenary sessions;
  • Plan to have wares tables outside the Plenary sessions at no charge to Leagues;
  • Several webinars are planned to engage individuals in Convention.

 Merrins moved to approve the goals of Convention 2012 as follows:

  • Adopt LWVUS program and budget, to consider amendments to the bylaws, elect Officers, Directors, and Nominating Committee;
  • To celebrate League achievements and have fun;
  • To increase League attendance and representation at Convention;
  • To highlight LWVUS commitment to leadership and membership development;
  • To emphasize all levels of League working together with special emphasis on “Power of the Vote”.

 Program Planning:

 McMillan reported on the Program Planning committee discussion:

  • The committee reviewed the Leaders Guide/Response form and made several changes to the form.
  • The committee reviewed the Program Planning Leaders Guide and will make sure that the information appears in the Leaders Update.


 O’Brien moved that the Organizational Services Report describing official actions from July 16 thru Sept. 30, 2011 be accepted as presented. Passed.

 O’Brien noted that there is one new League, that two Leagues in Washington have combined to a new League, and that there have been 4 disbandments. The current number of Leagues is 798.

 Wilson moved the Board appoint the Shur Fellow Selection Committee as follows: Marlene O’Brien, Pat Donath, Dianne Wheatley-Gillotti, Marcia Merrins, Mary Klenz and Carol Reimers. Passed. 

 Klenz reported on a discussion of the roles of the liaisons and the Shur Fellows. She requested input from other board members regarding this issue.

 Klenz noted that there is significant concern about the placement of the “DONATE” button on every page of the Membership Section of the new website. The Committee recommends that the first page of Membership include the DONATE button but that all subsequent Membership pages not include the DONATE button.


 Duffy reported that the committee heard advocacy updates from the staff on voting issues, clean air defense and health care defense.

 The committee continued its “big picture” discussion on advocacy. There are some grant monies for advertising on campaign finance reform in the coming year and the committee’s comfort level with aggressive advertising was discussed. . The biggest issues facing our leagues are “voter suppression” and “voter ID” and these are likely to be highly controversial topics in the coming year. 

 The committee also discussed ways to increase the level and quality of advocacy at the local and state levels, as well as grassroots lobbying federal issues.

 The Board discussed the possibility of holding a rally focused on the Power of the Vote/voter ID in Washington DC during 2012, possibly at Convention 2012. A rally may begin with a short speech by MacNamara and end with visits to legislators. Nancy will work with staff to discuss how a rally might be held and the actual messaging to the public.

 Duffy will be seeking input for advocacy priorities prior to December.  


 Wheatley-Gillotti reported that the Governance Committee was directed to review the LWVUS/LWVEF Conflict of Interest Policy and Disclosure Statement (revised June 2010). The Committee recommends that no revisions are required.

 The Committee was joined by Leatherwood and Wilson to discuss the issue of operating reserves guidelines.

 O’Brien moved that the LWVUSEF will prepare a policy affirming its commitment to maintaining adequate operating reserves. Seconded.  Passed.

 General Accounting Practices indicate that there is a generally accepted practice of 3-6 months of “reserves” in non-profit organizations. Leatherwood provided specific information about how this would look at LWVUS. A committee including Leatherwood, Donath, Arguedas and Wilson was appointed to prepare a draft of a policy. The sub-committee will prepare the draft for review at the January 2012 meeting.

 The Committee is reviewing the resolutions process for Convention 2012. The Parliamentarian will also review all the Convention rules to assure that there is consistency in Convention rules and will report back to the Committee.

 The Committee discussed the expenditures of many of the caucus participants. The Committee recommends that Convention planners suspend sign-ups for caucuses in anticipation of the development of a financial disclosure form.

 MacNamara asked permission from the Board to appoint the Resolutions Committee (January/2012), the Bylaws Committee (December 2011) and the Campaign Oversight Committee (January 2012).


 Turrill chaired the Communications Committee as Wilson was in the Governance Committee.  Turrill reported on the discussions of the Communication Committee on the current status of the website which is tentatively scheduled to be launched on 10/19/2011. The Committee discussed the A/B testing protocols and how that would be used to make decisions about how the website is designed and used. The conversation included a discussion of the DONATE button on the Membership pages. Ceballos suggested that board members use their liaison roles to help gather stories of interest to members for the website, and provided a handout about how to tell a good story. Turrill provided a handout that “describes” the LWVUS as drafted by Nancy Tate for use on the website. 

 The Committee discussed software for managing the current email lists. The Committee is considering the use of Drupal for managing the lists but notes that there would be a learning curve for the membership.

 The Board discussed how members of the Board might contribute to the content on the website, in particular Face Book and the blog. An initial focus might be on the issue of the Power of the Vote. O’Brien suggested an “issue of the week” with solicitation for input through the Leaders Update and/or League Leaders.

 Tate explained how material is included onto the website. The staff has been encouraged to edit their own materials and received training to be able to do this. In addition, there is a need for new materials, particularly for issue pages.  More staff are being trained to enter information on the website. 

 MacNamara appointed a Web Editorial Committee including Wiant (chair), Hill, Davis and Klenz to work on editorial policy. Their work will be informed by Board requests, will develop policy/guidelines and will assist the staff with content on the website.  

 Turrill noted that the Clearinghouse website is moving ahead and may be ready by December 2011.


 Davis requested that Board members please complete the calls listed in their Green Folders distributed at the board meeting. She reminded the board members to provide feedback to Aimee.

 Davis moved to adopt the addition to the Fundraising Policy as outlined in the Board Book:

Management will keep the LWVUS/LWVEF Board apprised of grants and gifts applied for and received. In those instances where an unanticipated major gift or grant is being contemplated and consultation is needed before the next Board meeting. Management will notify by email the LWVUS/LWVEF Board with information regarding purposes, commitments, understandings and details of the proposed gift or grant. If further information is needed or a decision required, any Board member may request that the President call a special Board meeting to discuss the unanticipated major gift or grant. As a guideline, a major guideline, a major gift or grant is one that has a significant impact on the organization requires significant commitment of staff or volunteers, or is a significant proportion of all adopted budget.

 Tate discussed the per-member payment dialogue that has been ongoing for several months. The board has narrowed the options and is now considering how to communicate the ideas for broader comments from the membership. Some of the options will require further research by staff. If there are issues with the bylaws, the Board will need to make some decisions in the January board meeting. Tate proposed that the decisions will need to be made between the January meeting and the April meeting of the Board.

 The LWVUS Board meeting was recessed at 3:00 p.m.

  Submitted by

Susan Morris Wilson


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