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Board Minutes

June 10-11, 2012 

ACE Summer Board meeting, June 10-11, 2012, Annapolis, MD

Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 8:30 a.m. EDT on Sunday, June 10.

Present: President Elaine Edwards, SIG Director Suzanne Steel, Vice President-elect Joanne Littlefield, Northeast Director Edwin Remsberg, Vice President Becky Koch, Western Director Jennifer Alexander, Marketing Director-elect Keith Smith, SIG Director-elect Julie Douglas, Retiree Director-elect Marci Hilt, Northeast Director-elect Tracey Nelson, Research Director-elect Tracy Irani, President-elect Faith Peppers, Southern Director Emily Eubanks, Retiree Director Tom Knecht, Past President Robert Casler, Interim Executive Director Holly Young

President’s Opening Remarks and Welcome

Elaine welcomed the board to its summer meeting, and everyone introduced themselves.

Elaine presented Robert with his president’s gift from last year, a Cross pen and pencil set. She noted that the board accomplished many tasks in the past year, about half of what the strategic planning committee recommended. Accomplishments included rebuilding the ACE website, voting to approve the revised ACE constitution, and updating the bylaws. One thing the board will need to do at this meeting is determine how we’re going to implement these changes so all members will benefit as well as understand and feel part of the new structure.

Action item: Holly will give Becky a copy of the current bylaws with changes approved in February to post on the website.

ACE member Dennis Thomas came into the meeting to introduce himself. He thanked the board for the Development Fund grant that will ensure some videotaping of members and events during the conference.

The board thanked Joanne and Edwin for all their work organizing the ACE 2012 conference in Annapolis.

Review of Meeting Minutes

Minutes of the May 2012 board meeting were approved with two corrections:

Fix typo under “Suggested Items for Summer Board Meeting”: “bout” should be “about” Under “Suggested Meeting Locations”: Correct name of association is “National Agricultural Alumni Development Association (NAADA)”

Interim Executive Director Report

Current status of the Interim Executive Director position: We have hired 25% of Holly’s time for around $30,000/year. The contract is for one more year as interim executive director. Then we’ll need to do an RFP. A 3-year term would be ideal for this position.

Holly summarized her written report to the board, and the board discussed each item in the report as it came up.


A major challenge (and time-consuming activity) was getting our bank accounts set up with the correct names. Robert, speaking as treasurer, said that accounting operated smoothly this year, and we filed a much more detailed tax return.

Our current accountant, Karen Cholewinski from Oregon, was selected by Steve Dodrill when he was going to serve as treasurer. Working with Karen has been a positive experience, but she understands if we need to hire someone else who is closer to Holly and New Hampshire.

Action item: Holly will look into hiring a local (New Hampshire) part-time accountant.


Holly described the rewards and challenges of the new C&A system (FastTrack). Many emails sent from the system to entrants were never received, and she resent about 80 of them.

Action item: Faith and Holly maintained a list of suggested C&A improvements and will share that with George Chronis (website) and Becky. This group will give an update at the fall board meeting.


Holly has a previous membership list from 2009 (approx. 400 names) and a list of paid 2012 members created by the accountant (235 names), and a list of 100 life/retiree members. The first priority of the coming year is to provide a searchable membership database on the ACE website. Jennifer asked whether we could save the list of 400 names for reference but then “purge” that list so our listserv and membership directory include only current, paid members. Others agreed that this makes sense.

Julie asked if we have a membership renewal process. Once the membership list is cleaned up, we will then look at how we’re going to handle renewals, including mid-year renewals. Edwin suggested rolling the membership fee into the conference fee. Faith added that it also could be set up that if you’re not a member and attending the ACE conference, you would add in $100 for ACE membership for the coming year.

The board agreed that we should have the membership list/directory and renewal process/form in place before any type of big membership push. All agreed the membership directory needs to be searchable and include additional member information (e.g., contact info, SIG membership, ACE membership history, etc.).


Suzanne reported on SIG efforts of the past year, noting that some SIG leaders participated in website trainings. She asked for written standard operating procedures on how to post content to the website, so we don’t have to keep returning to CyberSense for more training. One idea might be to have someone in a SIG write these instructions. She also wondered how easy it would be for ACE to move from Joomla to something else (e.g., Drupal or another system that ACE members have experience with). Could we still have CyberSense host us with a different system?

Robert suggested that we may want to call George for questions during this meeting if we need to. Tom thought tip sheets would be helpful. Marci also asked for the ability to load photographs.

Holly noted that there were a lot of “hits” on the job postings on the ACE website, and it’s free to post open positions.

The board will discuss the current state of the website, current fees/services, concerns, and next steps later in the board meeting.

Update on C&A/ACE Awards

Faith reported that, all things considered, the C&A program went OK this year. There were a few challenges, but nothing like the past year. She said there was only one disappointed entrant, and their concern was about a hard copy entry. Jennifer shared one comment from an entrant, who thought it was redundant to have to fill out the “entry form” Word document and then have to enter their name and contact information again in the FastTrack system.

Faith suggested that Becky work with the SIGs to revise (maybe reduce) classes and score sheets. For example, publishing has many classes because of last year’s Publishing SIG/Graphic Design SIG merger. Suzanne also thought the Publishing SIG has more classes to handle than is fair and appropriate. Another suggestion is that score sheets with a long list of points for scoring be updated to reflect the five-item, 20-point scoring sheets. It would be ideal if the FastTrack system could total scores, to assist in identifying winners.

Action item: Holly will provide a financial analysis of C&A at the fall board meeting. At that time, the board will discuss the possibility updating the current $35 entry fee.

Those responsible for handing out awards reviewed the order in which they will be presented.

Centennial Committee Report

Robert and Joanne co-chair the centennial committee. Members are Bob Ratliff, Holly, Jason, Janet Rodekohr, Bob Furbee, Elaine, and Faith. Emily asked to be included.

The real centennial push starts with this meeting in Annapolis. The committee has been following up on a lot of ideas and tracking down the status of the ACE oral history projects that were funded with ACE Development Fund grants. Holly and Robert are tracking down addresses of past presidents in case we want to contact them as part of a fundraising activity and thinking about how we might be able to use some Development Fund monies to support centennial activities.

The committee asked SIG members to submit an idea for a theme. Janet Byron submitted: “ACEntennial, 100 Years of Growing and Showing.” The board vote to approve the first part of Janet Byron’s submitted theme, ACEntennial, and allow the centennial committee to make the final decision on any tagline or other slogans to be used with the main theme. Byron will receive a half-price ACE 2013 conference registration.

The University of Minnesota had a state ACE account, and they turned that money over to ACE to use for the centennial.

Website Discussion

At one time, Jeanne Gleason knew who owned the “ace.org” domain and was going to check with them to see if we could purchase it. Action item: Holly will follow up with Jeanne.


Our current annual fees paid to CyberSense are:

$2,000 for the website (includes maintenance, operating system upgrades, backups, phone/email support, and setup/maintenance of the forum system software) $2,000 for C&A FastTrack


There is a big learning curve with Joomla, and it is not intuitive. George is helpful, but it’s difficult for the board (also SIG leaders) to post/maintain content in this CMS, especially when they post infrequently. The big question: This Joomla-based website was a necessary and helpful stopgap measure when we transitioned from Third Eye, but is it our long-term solution?

The board notes that FastTrack works well for C&A. Our concern is the main ACE website and forums.


Do we have someone in ACE who would be interested in working on the website? Could the IT SIG become a liaison? Would a university want to host/maintain the site, perhaps for a fee for a percentage of someone’s time? If a member is to work on the website, we should pay them so it is a priority. One reason to stay with CyberSense is that our website won’t be affected by personnel changes at a particular university.

Joomla does not seem intuitive or user-friendly. Various board members have had positive experiences with other CMS (content management system). Rhonda said we should be able to transfer our data to any other CMS with few problems. Holly emailed George during the board meeting and asked him about our options for moving away from Joomla.

Becky noted we have IT members we should discuss this with. A “web advisory committee” (with representation from membership, marketing, and IT) might be a good idea. Faith noted that people are quick to criticize, but won’t do anything about it. She was also very cautious about moving away from CyberSense, or changing to another content management system.


In the existing forum system, people have to self-select what forum(s) to follow, and this is not happening. SIGs are still using their listservs to communicate, but these lists are not accurate. For example, new members don’t know that they should ask to be added to a SIG. The existing listservs are Google listservs set up by Third Eye. Holly has access to add/remove people, but the lists contain only email addresses, not actual names. You have to me a member of a list to send to it.

Jennifer suggested stopping the forums immediately, cleaning up the listservs, and rebuilding them correctly. Suzanne agreed that the forums weren’t a substitute for listservs. Once we have an accurate membership list, the listservs will be easier to clean up. The board did not want to stop using forums now but agreed that cleaning up the listservs is a priority.

The bottom line: Whatever communication tool we use (listservs, forums, etc.) needs to be integrated with our membership list/membership renewal process.

George’s response

George responded to Holly’s email with the following information:

CyberSense can also host WordPress and Drupal websites in addition to Joomla sites. They do not provide support for Drupal, but might be able to provide some support for WordPress. A move to a new CMS would require a redesign (done by CyberSense or ACE) This would require transferring all of our existing content. George can provide a quote for developing our ACE site in WordPress, and this might be able to address some of our concerns. A quote was requested, and the cost is $5,000.

Action items:

Rhonda and Holly will look at the listservs to see if there’s a way for people to subscribe/unsubscribe themselves. Rhonda and Holly (with input from the officers) will develop a Google form that asks members what SIG they want to be in and which committees they might be interested in serving on. Holly can send that form to members, and then use the results to update listservs and then notify SIG leaders that updated lists are available. The board noted that this is not an ideal solution (because it’s still a self-selection process not tied to membership) but agreed that this should happen as soon as possible, even before we decide how to proceed with the website. Suzanne will lead a small task force (including Rhonda, an IT person, Holly, and Becky) to draft a list of website requirements, and then this group will meet with George to see what is possible and recommend how ACE should move forward with website changes. They will report on their work at the July 23 board meeting.

2012 Conference Update

Conference planner Debbie Hagenmaier reported on the current conference. There are a total of 191 registrations. What is unique is the number of other, single-day, and multiple-day registrations. Fifty registered for the crab feast, with 72 breakout sessions. We met our hotel commitment, which means our meeting rooms are free. The breakeven point for the conference was 180 registrants. We won’t go in the hole because we reduced the number of motor coaches for tours.

Maryland’s state extension director is coming to the welcoming reception.

RFP for Conference Planner

The conference planner RFP committee (Faith, Robert, Jennifer, and Holly) summarized their written report to the board. The committee received 11 applications and selected three for further consideration. The committee will hold phone conferences with those three and then make a recommendation to the board.

The board voted to approve the committee’s report.

Goals for 2012-2013, Membership Efforts, Committee Assignments/Definitions

Elaine noted the board didn’t really work much with committees this year, and it was time to start rejuvenating them.

The director should be the board liaison to the committee. Committees can also select a chair if needed; each director and committee can determine what will work best.

Committee terms are generally 3 years, and begin and end at the summer ACE conference. We need to ask those already serving on committees if they’re willing to continue, and expand from there.

Standing committees and liaisons are:

Membership – Membership Director Development Fund – Marketing Director Journal of Applied Communications – Research Director Professional Development – Professional Development Director Finance – Treasurer and Vice President

Ad hoc committees:

The website committee was an ad hoc committee; is it still needed? Tom noted there are two components to the website: communications and technology. They do need to work together, but it appears to be two separate jobs. We need to have someone look at the technology aspect, but maybe have someone else focus on the communications component.

Suzanne wondered in the role of communications, is there a director to work on that role? Two of our big issues are communications with each other, and letting the membership know what we’re doing at the board level, an internal communication piece. Our internal membership is as important.

Committee Charges

Tom suggested reviewing past president Judy Winn’s work on committee charges. Jennifer noted she wanted to leave this meeting with a clear understanding of how she’s going to work with her committee. The board agreed the charges to the committees needed to be broad enough so the committees could come up with workable action steps. These charges could and maybe should change each year. The descriptions of director responsibilities in the ACE constitution (Section 4, page 4) function as broad committee charges. Do these resonate with the new directors?

The board brainstormed ideas for directors/committees and clarified that setting priorities and determining how to accomplish things is up to each director/committee:

Membership Director/Membership Committee:
Update membership list; Update list of state reps (an important contact for each state); New membership campaign; Member/New member services; International membership; Update state rep handbook Professional Development Director/Professional Development Committee:
Conferences and workshops; Online learning; Leadership development; Annual meeting; Work with SIGs Research Director/Journal of Applied Communications:
Continue working with JAC board; Work to integrate research into ACE Marketing Director/Development Fund Committee:
Development fund; Long-term funding; Internal communications; Sponsorship development (investigate possibilities, retirees might have ideas and connections, database of who knows who); Promotion (centennial and new recruitment video); Market ACE to administrators; Membership campaign (if identified as a goal by membership director)

There could be a lot of overlap among directors, and directors will often work together. In some ways, it will be an open slate for directors. Are there things ACE can do to bring people back into the fold?

Marci also wondered how to find the members who are retiring to ensure they continue as life members, write letters congratulating them, and essentially follow up with them. Right now, there’s no way to capture that, but that’s where state representatives would become important. That could be part of the membership director’s charge.

Elaine would like us to identify potential members are in each state, and Faith noted we should look closely at ACE members who aren’t affiliated with a land-grant institution.

Tom said one of the things we have to sell is our professional development. We also need to market the organization to administrators so they will value the organization enough to put resources into sending their staff.

Action items:

The upcoming form/questionnaire about SIG membership will also ask members what committees they are interested in serving on. Holly will share the results with directors. Each director will determine what to prioritize this year and start forming/reforming their respective committees. Each committee should develop a plan of work by the fall board meeting.

The meeting was adjourned for the day and resumed at 8:45 a.m. EDT on Monday, June 11.

SIG Director and SIG Reports

Suzanne said she really enjoyed working with the board the past three years and was impressed with what’s been accomplished. We have a good core group of SIG leaders who’ve been very involved, with good professional development and participation in monthly meetings.

We’ve really focused on what SIG leaders needed to accomplish and their deadlines. Talked about issues they were facing and they shared ideas, so the topics helped them get their job done. We also provided updates on C&A and whatever else was going on at the time, which were helpful.

A few SIGs are at risk. The Distance Education SIG hasn’t had a leader for the past couple of years. Suzanne plans to attend their business meeting and see who shows up and if anyone steps forward. If not, she will suggest that SIG discontinue until someone comes forward. The Social Media SIG was a disappointment. They had a meeting and three people volunteered to be leaders, and for whatever reason, it didn’t work. Could the Social Media SIG become a “Convergence/Emerging Media” SIG? The Electronic Media/Photography SIG has an active leader, but no one to take her place. Either Suzanne or Julie will try to attend that business meeting to determine more.

No one has signed up for the Diversity SIG business meeting. Julie has been talking with this SIG about their scope and that maybe it should serve more in an advisory capacity to ensure that diversity criteria are included in C&A judging. Suzanne could send a note to Tom Merrill and Ariel Ginsburg and see what they think about becoming more of a committee than a SIG. Tom suggested there might be a need for a Diversity SIG for professional development and a committee to provide advice for the organization. Should there be a “diversity rep” on all other committees? Jennifer noted that diversity and inclusiveness should be everyone’s responsibility.

Do we need a SIG to have a C&A category? Right now we need a SIG to identify judges and set criteria.

It might be time to look at restructuring SIGs, which may fall into line with how we’re restructuring ACE.

Suzanne said the survey Julie did reflected SIG leaders’ frustration with the former management company. They felt stymied in their attempts to communicate and by a lack of involvement from their own members, and the SIG leaders felt they should play a role in recruitment themselves.

SIGs need up-to-date listservs or a forum that allows them to push out information. They want to know when someone joins their SIG so they can welcome them. Robert noted that when anyone joins eXtension in Arizona, he gets notified. Rhonda thinks that’s something that eXtension may have written into their system, and it works in an effective way. It would be a great model for our system. It would be good to look at that when we talk with George.

Suzanne recommended spreading SIG meetings throughout the annual conference because many ACE members belong to more than one SIG.

As noted earlier, the Publications/Graphics SIG has too many C&A classes to manage.

Julie said it’s important to empowering the SIG directors and make sure they have the correct tools to engage their members. Those leadership and development opportunities are important. She is excited about the new board structure, which she thinks will provide a lot more cross-collaboration.

Action items:

Holly will send Julie a breakdown of how many entered in each C&A class. Until we have a membership renewal process/form in place: As members join or renew, Holly will (1) ask them what SIGs they want to join and (2) send the member’s information to Tracey and relevant SIG leaders.

Emily reported on the Marketing SIG: Pretty inactive this year. Found judges, etc. We’re going to start fresh this year. And Bob Ratliff could use some help.

Jason reported on the Research SIG: Received a development fund grant. Figuring out how to integrate research into the annual conference, instead of having only pre-conference research paper presentations. Board members echoed that they, too, would like to attend the research presentations, and they should be spread out throughout the conference.

Director Reports

Southern: No report

Northeastern: No report

Western: Jennifer noted not much activity and referred the board to the submitted written report. In that report, her name should be changed from Jennifer Douglas to Jennifer Alexander.

North Central: Jason reported it was hit and miss in terms of activity.

Retirees: Tom reported progress in several areas. They formed a “teamlet” to discuss issues of interest. The retiree section of the ACE website is now populated with basic content that retirees find useful. They also developed subpages so folks could post items. We figured out how to post photos, and the narratives have been well received. There are 100 names on the retiree listserv. The highlight of this year is the ACE Retiree Award of Excellence. Tom also noted how important the stipend is to the Retirees Director. We know that ACE can’t completely pay for retirees, but at least the stipend pays for a portion of it. The organization needs a necrologist to keep track of member passings.

Joanne figuring out how to update our archives at the national agricultural archives.

There are four retirees in attendance at this conference.

Marci sent retirees an informal survey because we felt we needed to know more about what retirees wanted. The response rate was 23/100. The survey asked about attitudes toward ACE, the value of ACE, what activities retirees find of value, and what other events/activities ACE could do to draw them in more. Marci referred the board to the submitted written report and survey responses. One key membership benefit was networking. A current activity retirees find of value is communication with members. They like to hear general news about the organization. Many retirees’ top priority now is spending more time with family. Tom thought we should mine this data a little more and identify niche interest areas to find retirees who could help with certain activities or initiatives.

Marci wants to keep the “teamlet” going. We have to realize a number of these retirees don’t drive. We also might have to communicate via phone or surface mail, rather than email.

We need a way to share member news and announcements (births, deaths, promotions, etc.). For now, Holly will continue to email this information the membership list as she receives it. It would be good to have an automatic way to do this on the “new” website (e.g., a form people can submit). Also, the front page of the website could be more blog-like. Marci thought it would be helpful to send an update message to members soon after the conference.

Committee Reports

JAC: Ricky Telg has organized the editorial board. JAC publishing is on schedule. Dwayne Cartmell’s graduate student has begun scanning past issues. Dwayne is getting the settings/nomenclature figured out so they can start using FastTrack to review JAC submissions. Elaine has some boxes of JAC stuff in her office that can go somewhere. Action item: Becky will request that George Chronis disable the out of date information (e.g., editorial board) on the old JAC site.

Development Fund: Holly reviewed the three grants awarded this past year. Robert indicated an interest in becoming a member of the Development Committee. We might want to consider increasing the amounts we award because the fund is doing well. We need to rebuild this committee (Marketing Director’s responsibility).

Journal of Extension: No report

2013 Conference Report

Faith reported that the program committee is well on its way, and a hotel has been selected. Doug Edlund is doing a great job as program committee chair. We are still doing this conference “with” NETC. One day with ACE and NETC focus separate, and one day combined. Future decisions about whether to host joint ACE/NETC meetings will depend on how the 2013 conference goes.

2014 Conference Report

Becky felt ACE needed to go to the western part of the country in 2014. There’s already talk about going to San Diego. Without a conference planner, things are on hold. Ask Terry if eXtension might be willing to host. Talk with Bob Sams as well.

We could also add a question to the upcoming SIG listserv/committee interest form/questionnaire asking for people to serve on the 2014 program committee.

Side discussion: We need to locate the old meeting planning guide and update it. This is a useful tool for letting local groups know what’s involved in being a conference “host.”

Action item: Joanne, Edwin, Elaine, Doug, and Emily will update the workshops/meetings guide and report on their progress at the fall board meeting.

Budget Review

The board reviewed the budget spreadsheet provided by Holly and Robert.


The checking account is used for day-to-day expenses. The money market account is the workshops and conferences account. Any income from the 2012 conference will go into that account. We have a policy for meeting loans. The Vanguard investments are healthy.

The Hermance fund (Vanguard) is used to pay for the Hermance speaker. We are not limited to using only the interest from that account. On some occasions, these funds are used to pay other conference speaker expenses.


Our income from C&A and memberships is below estimates. Holly will prepare a financial analysis of C&A for the fall board meeting.

We need to find out if the JAC graduate student will be continuing this year.

Holly and the treasurer will soon work on the 2013 budget.

There was confusion over the word “conference” in the budget, when conferences have a separate budget. This category in the budget should really be “board-related expenses.”

Jennifer said she’d really like to see a thorough list of what comes in and what goes out. She requested a line in the budget (even if no amount is budgeted for it) to record any money we give out as a result of requests. For example, a request from a state. The board was reminded that the budget is a planning guide.

We have not seen any income yet from EBSCO (JAC indexing).

Requesting ACE funds

The board reviewed the policy for requesting ACE funds, as outlined in the bylaws. Any member can request funds. The board will evaluate requests and decide. Other funds are also available for specific purposes (e.g., Development Fund grants, meeting/workshops loans).

Elaine said we need to be thinking of ways to raise money for professional development. It’s part of the strategic plan. We need to look at strategic priorities as we build our budget.

New Business

Elaine volunteered for and was appointed to a 3-year term as treasurer, following Robert’s one-year term as interim treasurer.

Elaine reminded the board that the conference schedule includes a session to review the changes to the organization at the end of the business meeting.

The board set the agenda for the business meeting:

Opening remarks and report from board meeting – Elaine Interim Executive Director report - Holly 2013 Conference – Doug Edlund Recognition of incoming and outgoing directors and officers Passing of the gavel Comments from the new president – Faith

Faith said the fall board meeting will be held in Roswell, Georgia. She will send details (hotel, transportation, etc.) to the board when final arrangements are made.

The board recognized Elaine’s efforts this past year. Elaine noted we made a lot of progress, and the stage has been set.

The meeting was adjourned before noon.

Respectfully submitted,

Holly Young, Interim Executive Director

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