Executive Committee

PRESENT: Jenni Tilton-Flood, Pam Proulx-Curry, Stacie Haines, Ed Barrett, Luke Shorty, Celeste Branham, Maryalice Crofton

The members convened at 3:30 pm using the virtual meeting technology.

ASC National Leadership Convening. Luke Shorty attended with Maryalice. There were 90 representatives – Executive Directors and Commissioners. It was a mix of policy discussion, priority setting, and learning. Luke gave a summary of highlights that the Commission needs to keep on its radar.

The session on state policy initiatives included 3 ideas we might want to copy from other states: state income tax exemption, increasing state funds to support Commission match and grant matching, establishing a state hiring preference for national service alums (similar to veteran hiring preference). It was noted that the tax exemption is one of the bills that Rep Rielly is waiting to get from the Revisor’s Office.

Federal agency leader, Michael Smith, met with attendees. He was accompanied by Sonali Nijhawan who is Director of AmeriCorps State/National. Mr. Smith acknowledged the ambitious strategic plan that was in place when he was appointed but went on to say he has had to focus on 4 “ruthless priorities”: getting administrative systems in order, filling staff positions and increasing retention, technology modernization, and tackling service member recruitment issues. These issues are the foundation for everything else. He asked Commissions about interest in taking on a greater role with Senior Corps support and he was reminded that role was part of the ASC transition white paper proposal for Commissions to be the single/initial point of contact for all national service in their state. The offer needs to be revisited.

With regard to AmeriCorps member recruitment, Maryalice noted that, after Smith left, there was further conversation. A number of Commissions are declining the additional funding for a recruiter (personnel). The 2 reasons are 1) there is no indication the funding is more than one year and bringing on staff for 9-10 months isn’t practical; and, 2) the recruitment issue isn’t a lack of applicants but selection and living allowance. (Regarding the latter, many states have not required an increase.) Michael Ashmore asked the Maine grantee staff about this at the March 2 meeting after Commission staff noted there were 544 applicants to our programs but only 128 positions have been filled. Grantees reported they lose people in the period between offering the position and finalizing acceptance. Living allowance is part but another issue seems to be communication during the lull. Applicants accept other national service positions.

Developing new Commission strategic plan. The discussion was about the process for orienting the full board because so few were serving when the last plan was developed. Exec members asked that pre-board meeting materials include both a definition of real-time strategic planning and the overview article. Both explain this approach which is not the typical one. There will be time on the agenda for questions, answers, discussion of the timeline. Maryalice will compile the timeline discussed. Commissioners will be asked to help with the search for a consultant/facilitator. The person needs to be identified by May so organizing the board tasks can be done in June.

CDS request discussion. Commission staff have two ideas for Congressionally directed spending (CDS), formerly known as earmarks. Exec members were asked for their thoughts on both the projects and the idea of making a request. It seems best to have the foundation request as a nonprofit but that may seem indirect. There were no objections so staff will pursue.

Commission Liaison/Ambassador program. A draft role description for the position was circulated with this meeting’s agenda. Thank you to Ed for some edits that improved it. The concept of having each Commissioner be the board liaison to a specific program came from the September 2022 retreat. Exec members agreed to ask Excellence and Expertise Task Force to be the manager of the program. It isn’t complex but does need training for board members, pairing up, and managing it so the program doesn’t get lost in all the priorities. Pam agreed it was a good fit and Maryalice will let the staff (Michael and Kelsey) know about the addition.

March agenda items. Several task forces will not meet until the week after the business meeting. Excellence & Expertise, Maine Service Fellows, DEI, and Communications are among them. The following do need time on the agenda: Public Policy, Transition, Grants, Climate Corps (?). Time should be allocated for a report about the new membership of the MSF advisory group. New Commissioner Orientation will occur the hour before the business meeting and the DEI-sponsored exploration of the Racial Healing Handbook will be over lunch after the meeting. The book discussion will be facilitated by Thenera Bailey from SISGI.

There being no other discussion items, the members dispersed at 4:34 pm.