PRESENT: Celeste Branham, Jenni Tilton-Flood, Pam Proulx-Curry, Luke Shorty, Will Sedlack
The members convened at 3:32 p.m. using the virtual meeting technology.
I. Urgent and timely matters from Volunteer Maine staff
A. Status update with General Govt Service Center. There has been some movement on paying AmeriCorps grantees but payment of expenses on Commission operating grants is still dead in the water. Three grants are closing and there is no way to tell what has been expended on the award or whether the required match for VGF and CSG is met. Staff are keeping “back of the napkin” tallies but its not a basis for reporting. Luke is ready to send the letter to Senator Hickman and Representative Fay (co-chairs of Government Oversight) with a copy to DAFS Commissioner Figueroa. Thanks to Exec members who contributed edits.
B. Status of process for hiring PIO. Maryalice and DOE are still having no luck in prying the list of candidates out of the Service Center HR unit. The consensus was that applicants will have moved on and we’ll have to start over.
C. Impact of new state employee union contract on budget. As reported this week, the state employees’ union negotiated a 9% pay raise over the next year. It is implemented in two phases. On January 1, all got a 3% increase and on July 1 there will be another 6%. Since the commission’s federal funds are the statutory minimum for small population states, we will need to revisit the entire plan for the year. Maryalice was asked to work out the impact and suggest where to cut. The fact the PIO position has been empty could soften the immediate impact but not long term.
D. Report from Exec Director on meeting with Director Pingree and Sarah Curran re implementation of LD1934. Sarah Curran set up a meeting with Director Pingree, Maryalice, and herself. They expect creation of the proposed office will be part of the Governor’s supplemental budget. Although the intent is to have it as a free standing agency, it may start out within GOPIF and legislation to establish it would be introduced in the 132nd Legislature. Not all programs will move immediately. Some will take longer to disengage from their current agency. It’s all very fluid until end of the session. A positive for the commission is that its business is not entangled in DOE operations but has stayed self-contained. Could be easiest to move and early.
II. General updates and planning
A. Consideration and action on final report to legislature for LD1260. The final draft had been emailed to all Commissioners with a notice about today’s meeting and how to weigh in as well as attend. With that public notice, the Executive Committee can formally vote. There were no questions or comments about the report which now references LD1934 and the Commission’s support of that study’s plan to incorporate the commission into a new community assistance office. MOVED by Branham to approve the report final draft and submit to the legislature’s Joint Committee on State and Local Government. SECOND by Proulx-Curry. There was no further discussion. VOTE on the motion: In favor – Sedlack, Tilton-Flood, Branham, Proulx-Curry, Shorty. Opposed – none. Motion passed.
B. Decision on January 19 meeting to closely examine strengths report. The meeting originally was to be in person. After discussion today, it will be virtual. Date is still January 19 at 1:30 pm. Exec members and staff should plan on 90 minutes. To get the most from this review, everyone needs to read through the report before gathering.
C. Commission action to express need on tabled bills in Appropriations. There are two bills that have small fiscal notes and need action in order for Appropriations to report out positively on funding. One is LD1573 which has an $11,000 one time expense for Maine Revenue to alter tax filing site and instructions. This is the bill that would make the education award funds used in a year exempt from state income tax. The second bill is LD666 which would fund the Program Officer for volunteer training and technical assistance. We are not adding head count but, rather, funding a position that has no backing. Celeste will reach back out to Approps chair. Others will connect with members they know. One thing to remember is that each bill needs to be on the list of priorities submitted by its committee to appropriations. LD1573 was heard in Taxation; LD666 was heard in IDEA.
D. Transition Task Force phase 2. The task force can be more internal this time because the focus is on planning for and hiring the next Executive Director. Luke will thank the members from Secretary of State for their participation over the past year and release them from their commitment. There was discussion of new members and agreement that Becky and Janet are needed in this phase. Maryalice suggested Jess Nixon be asked to rejoin because she is the link from Dept of Education to HR. There was discussion of whether or not to have an external facilitator. The members present decided there was no need. Luke will poll members to establish a new time/date for regular meetings with a goal of having a meeting in early February.
E. Plan/progress on recommending labor seat candidate so board complies with law. No movement. Maryalice calls the Boards and Commissions office once a week. The balance of operating funds will not be awarded unless this seat is filled because it is a requirement under federal law.
III. Task Force Updates
A. Chairs' expectations for task force work priorities for January-March. Due to the late time of this meeting (discussion running past announced end time), Luke asked chairs to send him an email with the priorities for their task force.
POST MEETING COMPILATION OF THE ABOVE:
COMMUNICATIONS TASK FORCE
Working in partnership with the Volunteer Maine Foundation, position the Governor's Service Awards as a premier vehicle for elevating voluntarism in the State of Maine.
CLIMATE CORPS TASK FORCE
• Engaging Indigenous representation on the Task Force (per the statute
• Support awareness/marketing/communications efforts vis a vis member
recruitment, recruiting programs to join the Climate Corps Network,
• Feedback/guidance on grantwriting/fund development.
• Ongoing feedback/review of policies/prioritization (equity in reporting
EXCELLENCE AND EXPERTISE
1. Re-energize the Volunteer Leadership Conference –build up engagement and attendance to pre-pandemic levels
2. Survey Volunteer Managers Network – to help determine needs/interests and expand cohort and offerings
3. Develop a Key Partners list to assist in expansion of Volunteer Managers Network, assist with re-energizing of Volunteer Leaders conference, to assist in a variety of other initiatives.
4. Service Enterprise – build at least 1 cohort
GRANT SELECTION AND PERFORMANCE
Revise AmeriCorps Formula grant selection process to make it more equitable. OIpen all Formula Competitions.
MAINE SERVICE FELLOWS
At this time the Maine Service Fellows Task Force is not meeting with any regularity because there are no action items for them to undertake. That does not translate to nothing is happening on the Maine Service Fellows Program front. Quite the contrary, but many of the tasks are administrative in nature and are being handled by Kirsten Brewer, our new coordinator. Celeste will, however, be sending an update to the Task Force this week to ensure that they are kept in the loop.
Some of the tasks Kirsten is involved with that will be reported to the Task Force include:
• Supporting our Maine Service Fellows through April, specifically, administrative tasks (timesheets) and program tasks (mid-year evaluation, training opportunities).
Onboarding and then providing continued support for the new Dover-Foxcroft member, James Fagan, a local resident, who has just accepted as of yesterday.
• Building out systems as much as possible for Fellows, with the assumption that there will be funding for future members. For example, Kirsten is digging into the handbook and making sure we have a new member checklist that lines up with the handbook.
• Conducting an orientation with host site supervisors and the new member, then setting up ongoing check-ins and/or training.
• Working with the Norway site to further develop their position description/plan, in anticipation of future funding.
• Regarding funding, we await word on:
a. Supplemental budget
b. NOAA Climate Workforce Grant (we were included in the Letter of Interest)
c. NOAA Climate Challenge Grant
Task force priorities are recruiting new members, outreach for priority bills, and monitoring Congressional budget actions.
Over the next three months, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force will be concerned with two principal issues.
First, we are interested in continuing the Lunch and Learn Program that we began last year. To that end, we need to confirm the appearance of the Executive Director and the Co-Chairs of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous, and Maine Tribal Populations, which was generally arranged last fall through an invitation extended by our Chair. That needs to be nailed down.
Moreover, we as a Task Force also believe that it would be useful to align the Lunch and Learn programs with our work on Land Acknowledgment. We are working on having a representative from Wabanaki Reach give a presentation as well.
One other idea for the Lunch and Learn Program involves having Pam speak about her work as the Executive Director of the Maine Multicultural Center. She might discuss trends and issues related to integrating New Mainers into the Banger region, as well as programs promoting the rich diversity that already exists in that area. (I await Pam's agreement to conduct such a program for the Commission.)
Second, we will be developing a plan that addresses the continuation of research, begun last year, into the creation of a land acknowledgment statement, and, importantly, what resources will be needed to craft a meaningful statement for the Commission. Land Acknowledgment is a delicate, difficult process that must be greeted meaningfully with sincerity, care, and purpose. Thus far, our investigation has been a two-person effort, but my hope going forward is to get more members of the Task Force involved with enthusiasm.
These then are foci for the DEI Task Force.