Minutes of the SPJ D.C. Pro Chapter Board Meeting
Wednesday, December 15, 2016
The Conference Room
Warren Communications Offices
2115 Ward Court, NW
Present: President Kathleen Burns; Vice President Jonathan Make; Immediate Past President Julie Asher; Treasurer Amy Fickling; Recording Secretary Kathryn Foxhall; and board members Al Leeds, Elizabeth Grisham, Eric Falquero and Alice Ollstein
Excused absences: Corresponding Secretary Joe Starrs
Vice President Jonathan Make called the meeting to order at 7:10 p.m. due to President Kathleen Burns being delayed.
Treasurer Amy Fickling had circulated the Treasurer’s Report earlier by email. She reported she would meet with a financial adviser shortly and will be looking at a new investment vehicle.
In light of a recent, apparently bogus, email Fickling received through the email address for the treasurer associated with the spjdc.org website, director Eric Falquero wondered if the board should all have email addresses associated with the website that forward to our regular email addresses.
Julie Asher moved that the board accept the Treasurer’s Report; Make seconded; all voted in favor.
Burns joined the meeting at about 7:15 p.m.
The board went over four sets of minutes, some of which had been circulated earlier in the year, but never voted on.
Immediate Past President Julie Asher moved that the board approve the May minutes and Burns seconded. Fickling said she noticed that a few corrections in overstrike mode that had been made to the first draft were not removed in the final draft we were voting on. She said she would send those to Foxhall. The board approved the motion.
Vice President Jonathan Make moved and director Alice Ollstein seconded that the board approve the June minutes. There was no discussion. The board approved the motion.
Asher moved and Make seconded that the board accept the October minutes. The board approved the motion.
During discussion of the draft November minutes, it was agreed that two items that were in dispute about wording should simply be left out of the minutes, as they were not significant enough to the business of the meeting to need to be included. Burns and Make suggested that the minutes could be more concise in the future.
Asher moved and Make seconded that the board accept the November minutes as amended. The board approved the motion.
UPDATE ON PIO ISSUE
Foxhall reported to the board that work on the PIO obstruction issue was continuing with a new blog post on the SPJ site and private conversations with prominent individuals in journalism.
She noted she had contacted the incoming president of the National Press Club, Jeffrey Ballou, to indicate SPJ would want to be part of any meeting on freedom of the press, in light of concerns about the Trump administration, and that we would want the PIO issue to be part of the discussion. She noted the issue had been part of the discussion at a National Press Foundation meeting on free press issues in the last few days.
Asher moved and Make seconded that there be a sense of the board that the chapter will support activities by the National Press Club to bring news organizations and outlets together to be united against current threats to a free press. The board approved the motion.
Foxhall reported that letters had gone to 187 former members of the chapter and former members of the national SPJ, asking them to renew their membership. She said she hoped we could track the response. The mailing had cost $300.
Make indicated in the future it would be good for the entire board to see the mailing before it goes out.
EMAIL VOTING BY BOARD
The board discussed the matter of whether the email vote of the board taken on making a contribution toward the October NFOIC conference had resulted in a positive or negative vote. Foxhall indicated she had found there was insufficient documentation on the vote and she took responsibility. She suggested the board move on past this issue since it had taken up time in three meetings.
Particularly in light of that issue, Burns asked for a committee to look into creating guidelines for email votes. Fickling and Falquero volunteered to be the committee and report back to the board.
Foxhall also reported that the chapter had received the media list of contacts from national SPJ’s subscription to Meltwater at no cost to the chapter and it has 3,000 D.C. area journalists’ contacts.
Director Elizabeth Grisham said she had already sent out notices for the Jan. 30 program to 800 names with no problems through Eventbrite.
She said the mailing had gone out without a hitch so the mailing problem we have had with bounce backs from our Hudson’s list is apparently related to Mailchimp.
Grishman said on Eventbrite we can send out notices to 2000 people a day without charge and we can track the response.
Foxhall also noted that the Meltwater list and our previous Hudson’s list may not have too much overlap, so we may be able to use both of them.
Burns asked we also consider putting our events on the daybook listings of Reuters and AP.
The board discussed starting an informal handbook with suggestions and memos on activities like publicizing events, doing the renewal mailings, and the status of our media lists.
The board discussed having Fickling keep a list of the people who renewed their membership in response to the renewal mailing, as she will have access to the replies first in order to process any checks.
Burns reported Jim Asendio and April Bethea agreed to become board members, taking seats that are vacant, and they will be sworn in at our Jan. 7 New Year’s party.
Burns requested and Asher moved that the board approve Burns to spend up to $10 to have a certificate made for each of two members, one who has been a member for 45 years and the other for 55 years, if they agree to show up to receive them at the Jan. 7 party. Make seconded. The board approved the motion.
JANUARY 7 EVENT
After discussion of the cost of the January 7 event at Clyde’s in Alexandria, Make said that the understanding of the board was that no matter how many people attended the event, the maximum the chapter itself will pay will be $650. Burns said, however, that the costs will likely be covered by the fees paid by attendees when they register on Eventbrite. She said she will send Fickling and Make the contract tomorrow.
Director Alice Ollstein asked that we have a game at the party, perhaps a bingo sheet, and ask people to match other guests to certain characteristics. She will take care of doing that.
Make said the time allowed for the board to read the draft of the newsletter had not been sufficient in November. He asked in the future the entire board have a chance and ample time to do so.
Asher asked that we have a couple of core people actually committed to proofing and editing the newsletter, but that the whole board have a chance to look at it.
Grisham suggested we put the material in a dropbox before it goes into a template, where we can each make corrections in our own name. Other board members suggested that then, after the material is in the template, the board members have 24 hours to look at it. This will be the copy, but not graphics.
The consensus was that board members would have material for the newsletter to Grisham by December 26.
Make suggested that at the January board meeting the board discuss possible board candidates to fill, for the rest of the term, two other board vacancies. Ollstein suggested the newsletter announcement about these vacancies also call for people to become candidates for the seats.
Make asked that when the board does a Doodle poll to choose a meeting date the board receive notice of the chosen date as soon as possible.
Board members expressed their regret to Al Leeds that this would be his last board meeting, as he is moving to Florida.
Foxhall moved that the board approve plans to have the June 13, 2017, annual awards banquet at the National Press Club, including price increases as laid out in the Treasurer’s report. Asher seconded. The board approved the motion.
Asher will sign the contract, as she is the dinner chair. Fickling stated she will be making a deposit of about $2800 for that shortly.
The meeting adjourned at about 9:08 p.m.