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OWAA Board of Directors winter meeting

Jan. 10, 2009, Indianapolis

Roll call

President Phil Bloom called the meeting to order at 8:09 a.m.

Secretary John McCoy called the roll. Present were Bloom, John Beath, Tony Dolle, Mike Walker, Kris Thoemke, McCoy, Paula Del Giudice, Bill Graham, Ann Hirsch, Wayne van Zwoll, Mark Freeman, Pat Stockdill, Lisa Densmore, Bill Hilts Jr., Mark Taylor, Legal Counsel Bill Powell, Executive Director Kevin Rhoades and Robin Giner, director of membership and conference services. Absent were Jim Foster and Jim Smith.

Moved (Hilts/seconded Dolle) to excuse the absentees. Motion carried.

Approval of executive committee actions

Moved (McCoy/Dolle) to approve actions of the OWAA Executive Committee since the June 2008 board meetings. Motion carried.

Approval of June meeting minutes

Moved (McCoy/Hilts) to approve the minutes of the June 20 and June 24 board meetings. Motion carried.

President’s report

Bloom made his president’s report. He stated that the preceding evening’s executive committee meeting had gone extremely well.

Executive director’s report

Rhoades reported upgrades to the OWAA Web site and announced progress toward the potential sale of the OWAA headquarters condominium in Missoula. He asked for the board’s help in helping to plan future annual conference agendas.

♦ STANDING COMMITTEE REPORTS

Development Committee

Moved (Beath/Hilts) to act on a suggestion of the Development Committee and hire a grant writer who would work on a commission basis. A major concern of the board was that up-front fees be avoided. Motion carried.

Finance Committee

Thoemke reported on the creation process behind the 2009 budget. He gave a brief overview of the projected expenses and revenue sources, and said the projected budget would show a modest surplus. He said the potential sale of the OWAA condominium would significantly improve the organization’s bottom line.

Moved (Dolle/Del Giudice) to approve the approved budget. Because a proposal to move OWAA’s Outdoors Unlimited newsletter to a solely online publication would dramatically affect the budget, the board switched to a discussion about the proposed transition to online publication. Several board members voiced concern that a change away from hard-copy publication might cause some members to feel as if they had lost a major membership benefit. Others expressed convictions that OWAA needed to move forward and embrace online technology. Thoemke pointed out that other outdoor writers organizations had already gone to online publication of their newsletters. A lengthy discussion of the merits and demerits of the proposed online publication ensued. Call to question. Motion carried.

Thoemke then reported on the Finance Committee’s work on an OWAA Operating Fund Investment Policy Statement. Moved (Del Giudice/Hirsch) to approve the investment policy as proposed. Motion carried.

(Bloom called for a 10-minute break at 9:25 a.m. The meeting reconvened at 9:41 a.m.)

Web site improvement

Rhoades reported on a new format for the OWAA Web site. Some of the improvements included hyperlinks to members’ Web sites, audio and video streaming and online bookstores where members could market their books. He said the first few months would be scary as OWAA adapted to the new technology, but the overall upside would be significant.

Contest review

Bloom said he received more feednack on his president’s column on Excellence in Craft contest revision than all his other columns combined. He said all the comments suggested changes in the contest format. Contest chair van Zwoll added that his committee had suggested a reduction in the number of contests. He said the number of contests would need to be winnowed down, but added that attention would have to be paid to contest sponsors. He urged prompt action to get the changes made in advance of the next contest year. Bloom said the Executive Committee had discussed a two-tiered system with media-based categories on one side and topic-based categories on another side, provided that sponsors would be available. Bloom reported that of 19 contest categories, only eight were still sponsored. He said the executive committee had suggested appointment of John McCoy to research and develop a framework for future contests.

Moved (Beath/Hilts) to authorize McCoy to arrive at a framework for future contests, with a proviso that entries be made digital where appropriate, and have the board reconvene electronically within 30 to 45 days to finalize any suggested actions. Discussion ensued, with a developing board consensus toward a two-tiered contest format.

Call to question. Motion carried.

OLD BUSINESS

OWAA Headquarters

Bloom reminded the board that a decision had been made at the Bismarck meeting to have Rhoades explore options for selling the headquarters condominium.

Rhoades reported he had found three residential homes that had been zoned for commercial use. He added that the headquarters condominium had been valued at roughly $400,000, and that the three potential properties were available to buy. He reported that one of those properties would be ready to move into without appreciable improvements.

Moved (Beath/van Zwoll) to authorize Rhoades and OWAA’s officers to proceed with the sale of the existing headquarters condominium and purchase a replacement headquarters in Missoula County, Mont., and to sign contracts and deeds to accomplish same. Several members asked Rhoades for details about prospective buyers as well as potential new properties. Call to question. Motion carried unanimously.

Writing Workshop

Moved (Thoemke/Del Giudice) to proceed with holding a Writers Workshop at the University of Montana in 2010, provided the organization could break even or turn a profit. A discussion of the merits and demerits ensued, with a consensus building toward proceeding with the workshop if a sponsor or set of sponsors could be secured. Del Giudice suggested the organization might consider a “Webinar” format. Several other members asked questions and voiced concerns. Motion tabled.

NEW BUSINESS

Endowment Trust report

Thoemke reported that all of OWAA’s endowment trusts had suffered investment losses between 17 and 25 percent over the preceding year. He said the trustees had voted not to grant scholarships from the funds during 2009. He also reported that the trustees had recommended simplification of the formulas used to allocate scholarships, and that the OWAA bylaws be changed to allow the simplification. Moved (Beath/Taylor) to accept the committee’s recommendation. Motion carried unanimously.

(Bloom called for a 15-minute break at 11:08 a.m. The meeting reconvened at 11:35 a.m.)

2012 Conference Site Selection

Giner reported that the organization would solicit proposals from cities closer to the geographic center of OWAA’s membership. Rhoades reported that OWAA needed to hold more of its conferences near the membership’s geographic center, with triennial forays into more outlying sites.

Conference Planning Coordination Proposal

Bloom reported an ad hoc committee recommendation that a standard template be created for annual conference content. Dolle, the current conference planner, said a template would make the process a great deal easier. Bloom suggested that incoming president Beath pick an ongoing standing committee that would enjoy continuity in succeeding years. Rhoades suggested the board create a committee, and set a timeline for execution of the board’s charge.

Bloom agreed to create an ad hoc committee to accomplish that.

Good of the Order

• Taylor reiterated the need for OWAA members to make personal efforts to recruit new members and supporters. He challenged each board member to recruit two new members before the Grand Rapids conference.

• Freeman cautioned that new members would need to be qualified, both in terms of experience and expertise.

(Bloom called a lunch break at 11:59 a.m. The meeting reconvened at 1:11 p.m.)

• Bloom reported the results of a meeting with Craig Cox of the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Bureau concerning a potential conference bid.

• Stockdill reported a telephone conversation during the lunch break with Joel Vance regarding the previously discussed writers workshop. Vance recommended a five-day conference with three to four instructors. He also indicated he would serve as the conference’s academic director if asked. Moved (Hirsch/Hilts) to remove the writers’ workshop agenda item from tabled status. Motion carried. Call to question on proceeding with an OWAA Writers’ Workshop in Missoula. Motion carried.

• Beath commented that the board had accomplished more than in any previous board meeting he had attended.

• Graham commented that OWAA should try to balance conference sites that are convenient for members to reach with sites that have attractive outdoor activities.

Moved (Thoemke/Freeman) to adjourn. Meeting adjourned at 1:25 p.m. ◊

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