2008-06-14 minutes

Friends of Tuckerman Ravine
Minutes of the Board of Directors Meeting
June 14, 2008 at Androscoggin District Office
9:03-11:37 AM

Directors present:  Dave Esty, Rich Brauel, Al Risch, Bruce Doten, Don Bishop, Ed Holmes, Brad Ray, Roger Damon, Matt Serge, Bob Ackland, Tom Eastman, John Gorman, John Egan, Ellen Chandler (via conference call), Jack Risch (via conference call)

Forest Service liaison present: Chris Joosen, Dave Neely.

Prospective Board member: Bill Downey

With 15 members present, a quorum was in place (9 are required).

1. President's Report: Dave Esty

*Dave and Al met last night and put together a plan for the coming year. It is essential that we dig in and face realities. We have to take the next year and do better, and we will do better.

*Dave will step down as president in one year. He is 76, is a survivor of Merkel cell cancer, and feels it is time to step aside. He would like to be on the board or advisory committee. Dave will contact individual directors and report back who might be willing to undertake the presidency. Any director who wishes to be president, please contact Dave.

*The board needs to face up to the reality that our business model could be much better. We have an executive director and his son who loan us money each year. This is not a sign of a successful business model.

*Dave requested a long moment of silence to remember Steve Eastman who passed away recently.

*"Ubuntu" is a South African phrase meaning "I am what I am because of what we all are." Right here, right now, we need to come together and do what we do best.

*Our mission is noble but our execution has to change. Good non-profit organizations are member-driven, and FOTR needs to validate its current membership, get them to renew, and make sure they benefit from membership.

*Dave has spent a lot of time talking with potential partners and sponsors; there are good opportunities to partner with corporate America. There is great potential for getting our members benefits based on corporate partnerships with footwear, snowboard and gear manufacturers, for example. Vince Tully will help us with automotive sponsorship. Dave realizes we need the oversight of our Forest Service liaison on this.

*Dave has three objectives for the next year: find the new president; define membership benefits; and make sure FOTR is the paradigm friends group for the Forest Service.

2. Secretary's Report: Jeff Leich:

*Jeff read a letter of congratulation from the board of New England Ski Museum to Al Risch recognizing his acceptance of the Bill Whitney Award.

*The minutes were not circulated by e-mail or posted on the website after the last meeting, so they were reviewed and copies passed out.

*Jeff suggested a change to the Articles and Bylaws at the next meeting to reflect the fact that the annual meeting does not occur in the spring. This item should go on the agenda sent to directors before the next meeting.

* John Gorman motioned to accept the minutes as written. Rich Brauel seconded the motion, which was voted unanimously.

3. Treasurer's Report: Rich Brauel

*The 2008 budget shows a deficit of $5 to $6,000. This will be partly funded by surplus funds left over from last year, but any fundraising efforts will be very helpful.

*Bob asked if the 2008 budget taken into account any proposed changes in the business model. Rich: No, not at the moment.

*In response to a comment by Dave N regarding the lack of insurance coverage for the race, when an insurance certificate was on file with the Forest Service for previous events stating that coverage was provided, Rich commented that it was an insurance agency error, pointing to a lack of professionalism in the agency.

*Bob moved to accept the Treasurer's Report. Matt seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

4. Nominating Committee: Bob Ackland

*At Dave E's request, the report of the Nominating Committee was moved up in the agenda.

*Bob reported that a nomination has been placed before the committee a week ago. Bob was away, and not all the information came in to him. This sparked some e-mail exchanges among the committee, with the result that the committee presented two proposals for guidelines for nominations before the board with different levels of formality.

*Both proposals include the provision that new board members be elected only at the Annual Meeting, except for very unusual circumstances. One proposal would retain a Nominating Committee, and the other would have the President and Executive Director recruit new nominees.

*A lengthy discussion on the merits of the proposals, the optimal size of the board, and exit from the board took place. For the next meeting, the Nominating Committee will refine the points brought up in discussion into one proposal and bring it before the board.

*The Forest Service liaison contacts will be listed as Assistant District Ranger and Lead Snow Ranger, with the personal information of the current people, Chris and Dave N, included on the board list.

*Rich made a motion to nominate Bill Downey and Jean Eastman Ryan to the board. Roger seconded the motion, which passed with Tom Eastman, Bob Ackland, Dave Esty and Jeff Leich abstaining.

*Bruce remarked on a large non-profit that he has been involved with that was so concerned with board participation that it had the effect of disenfranchising its best volunteers, and that this is not a road FOTR should go down. Before people are proposed for the board there needs to be a reasonable expectation that they will be contributors.

5. Fundraising: Dave Esty

*The organization has to become more financially viable. Al took the operation into his home to save money. He is doing all the work of the organization himself and has no help. Eventually we will need a capital campaign to raise funds, but first we must have help for Al. Dave will be contacting each board member individually and asking each to contribute funds so that a part-time office assistant can be hired around Labor Day for the following nine months. Dave anticipates this will cost $9,000.

*Dave wants 100% board participation in this fund effort. We cannot have a capital campaign until we show that 100% of the board supports the organization financially to the extent they are able.

*Bruce and Stu have been working on corporate sponsorships and have contacted the following companies:

          -Ocean Spray, which is not interested.

          -Adidas, not accepting proposals.

          -Nestle/Poland Spring, proposal in abeyance.

          -Timberland is already a $3500 sponsor.

          -Vitamin Water, which said yes; Bruce needs guidance from the Forest Service about what might be done regarding setting up a Vitamin Water station at events.

*Bruce asked each director to give him two names of companies that might be worthwhile for him to approach about sponsorship.

*Dave E stressed that individual membership is also important, and benefits need to be developed for them.

6. Executive Director's Report, Al Risch:

*Al suggested having more committees working between meetings so that the length of meetings can be cut down.

*Ellen will be meeting with the Currier Museum regarding a possible visibility event in Manchester. This will not be an overt fundraising event, but recognition that our missions overlap in that both organizations seek to preserve NH heritage in different ways.

*The question was asked, is there an update on whether we retain any rights to the Isaac Sprague prints that we sold to the Currier. Matt reported that if we wanted to reproduce them now, we would need the permission of the Currier to do so. Matt will attend the meeting with Ellen about the potential event.

*Tom noted that he and Ellen can use a better press list for their releases. Ellen said that the race got good coverage in the Valley News and a photo was run in a Middlebury paper, both on the basis of local people placing well in the race. Obtaining hometown media information from contestants at registration might pay off in similar stories.

*Bob reminded the group that we have three great ski area PR people on the advisory board, and they will have excellent press lists.

*Al will have a new brochure going to press at the end of the summer, and he would like Ellen to proof the language. Dave E remarked on the need to have contemporary photos in the brochure. Dave N requested that when Tom and Ellen discuss a public relations strategy at some point in the future he would like to be involved in discussing how FOTR could help disseminate some of the broader stewardship and safety messages the Forest Service tries to get out to various media outlets.

Al is all in favor of Dave N and Chris signing off on the brochure.

*Tom suggested that Jean Eastman Ryan would be an asset to the marketing committee, given her extensive background in the field.

*Matt and Ted will set dates for trail maintenance weekends, with one possibly scheduled before the next meeting.

7. New Business:

*Steve Eastman Trophy

-Al proposed developing a trophy named in honor of Steve Eastman. This idea was well received. A committee of Tom Eastman, Jean Ryan, John Gorman and Dave Esty was appointed to study the idea, create the award, and schedule the presentation for an appropriate time. Tom remarked that he and his family will be pleased and honored.


-Jake and Al met with the Forest Service after the event and discussed certain safety concerns. Jake and Al are working on new proposals to address these issues, and will have a report at the September meeting.

-Jake noted that one concern was at the bike-hike transition, where bikers had to cross the road on a blind corner. The new plan will be to move the transition north a short distance toward the DOT garage, to a straightaway where there is a trailhead that connects to the Old Jackson Road.

-Al noted that another change would be to have a non-elite division of skiers who would ski race on Wildcat rather than in the ravine. The race organizers could then be selective about how many racers go into the ravine.

-Dave noted that the net effect of these two proposals would be to take all event activity out of the AMC parking lot. While we rightfully deserve the safety comments made by the Forest Service this year, it should be remembered that racers and supporters for the event make up a tiny fraction of the thousands in the ravine on race day, and moving all event functions out of the parking lot will make this point in the future. We do an excellent job of crowd control in the ravine itself, and moving away from the AMC lot will make it clear that we are doing the same at the trailhead.

8. Next Meeting:

*The next meeting is scheduled for September 13, 2008 at AMC Pinkham Notch Camp.

9. Adjournment

*John G made a motion to adjourn.  Bruce seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.

Respectfully submitted,
Jeff Leich



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