Executive Committee

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

PRESENT: Luke Shorty, Jenni Tilton-Flood, Celeste Branham, Ed Barrett, Bill Guindon, Pam Proulx-Curry, Julia Van Steenberghe

Office Concerns. Maryalice let members know that the Maine application for another 3-year VGF grant was not selected for funding. The current VGF is slated to end in a few months and it supports the Program Officer for Volunteer Initiatives. There appear to be enough funds to extend Kelsey through January but, then, the training and technical assistance for the volunteer sector will have to be mothballed again. LD666 would be the only way to continue.

The Commission finally has financial reports thanks to the efforts of DOE’s CFO Nicole Dennis who also trained Nathan on how to extract some of the data. Luke asked about the imbalance between expenses and revenues (smaller). The expense reports are solid but revenue on accounts has to be sorted. The funds show in the account as negative balances and are not always turned into positive numbers when entered. 

Luke urged Exec members to ask questions and offered to walk through the reports in a separate meeting. He prepared a slide deck a few years ago to explain how things work and could use that as an orientation before diving into the reports. Pam asked to be included in the session as a refresher.

Continuing the financial topic, Maryalice informed the group that instructions for applying for the two grants that support the office (Commission Support and Training/technical assistance- aka CIF) were published by CNCS Friday. There are significant changes this time. First, the federal agency wants to move the grants from a calendar year cycle to a July-June cycle. To do this they are going to make year three of the current performance period an 18 month one. In addition, while activities are to be planned and reported on the support grant, the funds will be tacked onto the training grant. The upside is that 6 months will require no match. The concerns are the funds and work are not tied together. In a briefing call, Maryalice asked the federal agency to please be very specific about all the waivers and oddities permitted in the notices of grant award. Those documents are where auditors and others look – not instructions for applications.

This next application for CSG and CIF are due October 5 to CNCS. That means the board needs to consider the budget at the September 15 meeting. Executive Committee members asked that the draft be ready for their review at their September 5 meeting. It was agreed that meeting would be extended by 30 min to let discussion be thorough.

Strategic planning meeting. The officers met with Kaira Esgate, ASC Executive Director, to explore having her lead the strategic planning process. Discussion answered questions on both sides and included agreement on a framework that would use both 3-4 in-person facilitated sessions plus remote convening of community and external partners. Kaira will develop a proposal for Executive Committee consideration but it was noted she is booked for all of September. Officers felt strongly she should be the planning leader and recommend moving the retreat to October.

Annual retreat planning group. Celeste, Pam, and Jenni met to start planning. They were aware of the shift from September to October because Pam was in both meetings. The board poll surfaced some items that could move into a business agenda (impact of legislative actions). Planners posed several questions to the full Exec Committee and there was consensus on these: the retreat should be a full day on Thurs with business meeting on Friday morning; integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion into the topics covered rather than as a stand alone item; hold retreat on October 18; and investigate having retreat at Snow Pond in Sidney. It seems best to dedicate the full afternoon to launching the planning process and use the morning for two very different issues. One is a full exploration and discussion of the transition study process. The second is assessing how to integrate participatory practices into all Commission processes.

Board membership recruitment. Rob Meinders decision left the representative of National Service program seat open. Kelly Day has applied for the seat. If appointed, she would add three perspectives: National Service, faith-based (she works for Catholic Charities Maine), and a manager of volunteers. Catholic Charities is the sponsor for the RSVP program in Kennebec and Somerset counties. Celeste reported she expects to here from the local government person this week and she is still trying to connect with the diversity director for the City of Portland. Maryalice reached out to several people about recommendations for a county official as well as municipal official in areas where there is no geographic representation. She will follow up with the individuals who were suggested. Time is running out to get September appointments lined up. That said, it doesn’t seem as if there is movement on the names submitted so it’s possible they could all go through together.

Other. Luke noted that Exec members should feel free to add items here by emailing before the meeting. Celeste requested discussion/report on two things. 

The Foundation meeting was July 21 and she attended as liaison. The foundation welcomes recommendations for new board members to fill the vacancies. Members also requested training on fundraising. Their annual meeting is September. Shortly after the meeting, representatives of the foundation and commission met to develop the annual workplan for fundraising and actions. Celeste drafted the document and it has been circulated for comment. It seems there will be no changes so it is ready to share with the Executive Committee. She will send it after this meeting. Likely needs to be on full board agenda for September.

General Updates.
USDA application for MSF.
Still waiting to hear final decision. Jenni shared that she had a short conversation with the state director of rural development who sees opportunities for more partnerships between the Commission and her office.

Hiring PIO. Application deadline is in 24 hours then state HR will screen applicants and send a list of people to interview. The interview committee is Diane Lebson, Maryalice, and DOE’s Communication’s Director, Marcus Mrowka. 

Maine Service Fellows. The task force met and approved the background check policy. It is working on some other polices for next meeting.

Public Policy. Outreach related to the bills held over will start after legislators have had time to rest. Likely to begin a the end of August. Meantime, task force members have asked to meet with key people to explore moving some items into the supplemental budget. On federal level, Jenni has other meetings with Congressional staff about her business (dairy) and is adding mention of the funding concerns. Those staff are asking about data and wanting to meet. She will follow up.

Transition. The task force added consideration of getting budget authority and being fully independent to the study. There will be a report at the August 11 meeting.

Grant Selection and Performance. Ed noted that he is leaving the Commission and the task force needs a chair. Luke asked Maryalice to setup a meeting with Ed to discuss this. For many valid reasons, remaining members are not able to take the role. The task force is losing several people: Nate Rudy and Rob Meinders. New appointees need to be directed to this group.

Feedback to improve the Executive Committee work. Luke will send out a feedback request. One suggestion from the last meeting was to have task force updates as emails before the meeting so it’s possible to home in on issues that need group discussion vs updates.

There being no other items to discuss, members dispersed at 4:33 pm.