Sorry that this summary is so late getting to you. There were some extenuating circumstances that caused the delay. But here it is!
Usually I try to summarize the theme of the meeting and reflect on how it all went. But I am thinking of something different this time. So, I’ll be very brief about this past in person Board meeting by saying that Trump’s election has caused us to respond to a greatly altered landscape (pun intended) and adjust how and what we do. While we understand that our agenda is somewhat altered we are not giving up on making progress on our vision. Fortunately, so many others are very concerned as well and have joined the Club and provided substantial additional resources to RESIST the insidious agenda of the new Administration. Much of the meeting revolved around how to use these resources to best advantage.
This is all occurring at a time when our own organization is going through major transformation. We spent a great deal of time and effort coordinating and intertwining these two imperatives (internal and external change). You’ll see my abbreviated notes below.
Actually, though, I am feeling a bit reflective today. At our May Board meeting coming up I will have completed my 5th year on the Board and be heading into my last 12 months before retiring from the role. Much has changed in the world and Club since then. Much for the better.
I had a list of personal priorities for the Club upon which to focus during my term. If you’ll indulge me I’ll give a brief overview that I believe will reflect how much has actually been accomplished during this period.
1. Financial Stability. There is no doubt that we are on a much more solid footing today including creating a new reserves policy and then meeting our goal several years early. I was also very determined to see that our Military Outdoors program achieved increased funding and grew. And it has in a substantial way! Whatever part I had in that I am proud to have played. Also, we constituted a joint Advancement Committee of the Club and Foundation which I have chaired and achieved meaningful progress one goal of which was achieving financial contributions from 100% of the members of both boards which occurred last year.
2. Climate Campaign. I believed that we needed to create a unified compelling vision and get everyone in the Club committed to it’s accomplishment and to which we could tie in all of our diverse campaigns. This has been a major accomplishment as we now have a strategic plan and are constantly updating it along with getting buy-in and coordination from everyone. This work is ongoing and many, many people contributed to this objective. I appreciate having been able to be a part of this.
3. I felt that Sierra Magazine needed to be renationalized. Fortunately, I was not alone in that perspective and this has occurred and I am very pleased with the outcome. I do believe, though, that the magazine should feature a column from the Club President in each issue.
4. I felt that we needed to address the role of National versus Chapters and the grassroots organization. Again, this is an ongoing endeavor but I think we have come a long way these past five years in so many ways. I am VERY excited to see that the CCL resolution to do an annual satisfaction poll of the volunteer leaders is being developed and I am excited to be a part of this process. Keep an eye out as the poll will be coming to many of you in the next few months. I believe that this tool will be very helpful in creating a better more cohesive united Club.
5. Since protecting wildlands is the heart, sole and core of what we do and who we are I have worked hard to support this work and insure that we funnel as many resources as we possible can to this work. We had seen some meaningful progress on this (think Bears Ears) until the Trump Administration took power. And now our work to protect and continuing to expand protections is taking a higher imperative and profile.
6. When I ran the first time 5 years ago, I noted in my online questionnaire that I felt that we had failed to adequately market and communicate our message. I am delighted to be part of the team that is working to clarify our brand and messaging through a rigorous process and believe that we will begin to see the benefits of this in the ongoing future.
7. While our equity work was not on my radar 5 years ago the impact of the training and awareness in which I’ve had the privilege to participate has been transformational for me and our organization.
8. Lastly, as one of the people that started what has become the Coal Campaign I can’t tell you how proud I am that this campaign has become so overwhelmingly successful and changed the world. You never know what can happen when you plant some seeds. Being part of and encouraging this work has been an enormous privilege.
I guess I could find more to crow about but I’ll quit here as by now you’re totally bored if you’ve gotten this far. I recognize that I can be accused of tooting my own horn. There’s some truth to that. But I hope that this summary helps us all to recognize that despite all that has confronted us even before the current Administration, we’ve accomplished so very much together. I, along with 14 other Board members, are working hard along with you, the staff and our partner organizations and funders to create a better world and it is easy when you have your nose to the grindstone to overlook all the progress we have achieved.
I won’t be finished with my Club and environmental advocacy endeavors after this coming year. But as I head into my last months of serving in this capacity I look forward to continuing to achieve bigger and better results of all our efforts and serving and empowering you to be a part of this sacred calling.
Sierra Club Board of Directors Meeting
February 22- 23, 2018
1. Beyond Coal Review. Since Bruce Nilles has moved on we got an update on how the campaign is transitioning under new leadership and what adjustments are required due to new challenges that have occurred since the Trump Administration came into power. 1. How it’s landing. Reassuring volunteers and donors that we are moving forward under new and competent leadership. Plan in motion. 2. What are the next steps. Looking at staffing. How confident are we in achieving our goals. Reviewing targets. 3. Indicators. Funding. Personnel retention. Coal plant retirements. Communications still positive.
2. Update on Resist Campaign. Robust conversation with board not just to talk about how to resist the Trump Administration challenges but also about the underlying elements that led to where we are. Launched in July 2017. How we function in the Trump Administration and how we adjust internally. Campaign is “seizing the moment….” GET THE FULL QUOTE. Major threats at hand. Engaging in our Values. Focus our work on things that matter to people. Building power. Win or lose we exit as a stronger organization with greater long term power. We’ll create more trained leaders and block attacks on bedrock environmental statutes, Strengthen the Club, Build a more powerful movement. Investment into distributed tools and staff. Need to measure success beyond win or loss a specific fight. Shaping the narrative.
3. Capacity Building Fund. We heard about the extensive process that the executive team went through to develop the proposal to allocate the $4 million fund that was put in reserve as part of the 2018 budget that was approved in November with the expectation that we would get a proposal for the expenditure of those funds at this meeting.
4. Invest More in Campaign Work. Due to unexpected receipt of funds that were not known or incorporated in the 2018 budget passed in November, there is a staff proposal to add an additional $4 million to our external campaign work which we reviewed.
5. Loren Blackford’s President Report. Impassioned comments focused on how SC is raising up all people working for a more equitable and welcoming community.
6. Mike Brune’s Executive’s Report. Mike explicated a message of kindness in this world of stress and confrontation. He reminded us that it is our role as Sierra Club to create confrontation to limit alternatives but that we need to provide a way forward for everyone in our work for change which includes those that we oppose.
7. Treasurer’s Report. This report summarized how the “Trump Bump” has increased our financial resources dramatically in every imaginable way which is driving the work of the staff and board to determine how to utilize these funds to do our work and accomplish our goals in these challenging times (as referred to above) in accord with the expectations of all those that provided these resources.
8. CCL Report. Comments about the discord that occurred due to the process of developing the $15 an hour minimum pay for interns and the implications and impact of implementing the policy.
9. Revised Travel Policy. Passed. “The BOD approves the revised SC Travel and Expense Policies for Volunteers Attending National Functions to better align with our equity values and with the staff travel policy.”
10. Land Use/Transportation Policy. Passed. “The Board approves the development of revised policy language related to infill development and instructs the Board ExCom to approve a task force charge and appointments.”
11. Update on Campfire Rollout. Launching to staff in early March. The hope is that the target users try it out and provide feedback for tweaking. Volunteer roll out is targeted to be six to eight months after staff rollout so, sometime in the fall.
12. Branding Project Update. We were updated on this project that has been going on for about two years to clearly identify a unifying and inspiring brand. We have come a long way and the results will be rolling out come this fall.
13. Political Strategy Presentation. There is more that we want to do than we have the capacity for. So we are planning to add a few staff in order to achieve our objectives. It was highlighted that our focus has pivoted from trying to affect outcomes at the national level to a “Bottom Up Approach” in local elections to build long term political power in geographies that matter to the Club’s campaigns and programs. We are starting to work with local chapters and groups.