Minutes -- December 21 Meeting

Discover Life in America
Board Meeting
December 21, 2000

The Winter Board Meeting of Discover Life in America was called to order by Chairman Frank Harris at 8:30am in the Highlander Room of the Glenstone Lodge, Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Present were: Charles Maynard, Mary Johnson Williams, Meryl G. Rose, Phil Francis, Becky Nichols, Elizabeth Skillen, Chuck Parker, John Morse, George Ivey, Luciana Musett, Norman Johnson, Peter White, Keith Langdon, Karen Ballentine, Frank Harris, Larry Hartmann, Michael Sharkey, John Pickering, and Jeanie Hilten. (9 Board Members present. Not a quorum.)

Summary--Action Items:

  • Jeanie will re-send the May, 2000 minutes to Board Members.
  • Charles will send the final annual Treasurer's report after the first of the year.
  • A note or form for ways to support the ATBI (including donations to DLIA) will be included in the winter issue of the ATBI quarterly and an insert will be printed for optional use with the brochure.
  • The hiring of a professional fundraiser to work in coordination with Friends of the Smokies in raising more monies for ATBI/DLIA efforts has been approved.
  • Fundraising committee to work with George Ivey and Jeanie: Mary Johnson Williams and Peter White. Also, John Pickering and John Morse will help Charles Maynard with the job description and recruiting of the fundraiser.
  • Jeanie will pursue obtaining a state tax exemption, once the federal IRS tax exempt letter is received.
  • Place the DLIA mission statement prominently on the home page, newsletter, brochure, stationery, etc.
  • Charles Maynard, Jeanie Hilten and others will meet January 11, 2001 at 10am to put together the 2001 budget specifics.
  • All Board Members will contribute names to Mike Sharkey to be placed in nomination (both new and re-nominations) and these names will be presented by the nominating committee and voted on at the May Board meeting.
  • The Spring Board Meeting is set for Friday, May 18, 2001 at 12:00pm at Pak Headquarters.
  • Jeanie will check with Glenstone Lodge about possible dates for the ATBI 2001 Annual Conference.


    Charles Maynard, Treasurer reported that $169,936 was received by DLIA through the Friends of the Smokies. This includes funds from Friends, the Natural History Association, and the National Park Service. Over $84,000 came from NHA. Friends is matching the funds contributed by the National Park Service for the Vertebrate Study.
    Jeanie Hilten reported that the IRS non-profit tax exempt status is in the works and DLIA will have the records and tax exempt number in a couple of months. Charles mentioned that this is needed for fundraising and we should also get state tax exemption. Jeanie will pursue.
    Discussion was generated on the subject of a "membership" appeal, an annual appeal, and fundraising in general. Should there be a fundraising letter perhaps in the spring, with a cover letter sent out with the updated brochure? It was agreed that a note can be included with the winter ATBI quarterly. George Ivey, Jeanie Hilten, and Ruthanne Mitchell will arrange.
    George Ivey answered questions about fundraising methods, including direct mail, grantsmanship, and other ideas. Peter White and Phil Francis emphasized the need for a larger, overall strategy of fundraising. Frank Harris noted the need for capacity building grants.
    It was agreed to develop an insert or insertable envelope to use with the brochure or other mailings. John Pickering expressed concern that the brochure not automatically be seen as an appeal for money. In addition, other ways to support DLIA will be mentioned in the insert, including volunteering. Thank you's for major gifts and contributions will be put into the newsletter and other printed matter.
    Mary Johnson Williams will work to procure grants from Fuji film, King pharmaceutical, and perhaps Tennessee Eastman.
    Peter White raised the question of how to establish the process and procedures for finding financial support and "courting" the givers. John Morse and Keith Langdon expressed the need for professional fundraising help. Phil Francis said that the Park would like to see DLIA invest in raising more money. There are many pressing needs in the Smokies and more matching efforts from DLIA is important.
    John Morse moved that DLIA hire a full time fundraiser. John Pickering seconded. Peter White urged full discussion:
    Charles noted that with the Friends, their only job is to raise money, but with DLIA, the organization has a wider effort-to run a project, ATBI.
    So there should not be confusion between the duties of a fund raiser and the running of DLIA.
    Phil Francis mentioned that at a recent Partners meeting the matter of fundraising using the Friends as the primary tool would make for good coordination of efforts. Should the fundraiser be Friends staff or DLIA staff? Pros and Cons of each were discussed.
    Pick stated that a DLIA staff fundraiser helps with credibility at the national and wider levels. Pick suggested a better definition of DLIA's mission, role of the Board, and the need for the Board to be fundraisers as well.
    This led to discussion on the duties and make-up of the Board.
    Mary Johnson Williams reminded that besides fundraising, another element of DLIA is to get science into the hands of the world through education and publicity programs.
    Frank Harris stated the idea of a "triad" Board with three prongs of ATBI and Science, Education and Outreach, and Fundraising.
    John Morse said it was important to have a varied Board-involvement of science, education, and fundraising working together.
    Phil mentioned the model of the new Tremont Board, developed after an assessment of the mission, filling in gaps where needed to accomplish the mission.
    Keith Langdon drew upon the fact that DLIA has an unusual project as it's focus and needs an integrated, varied Board. But there is a definite need for more fundraising.
    John Morse at this point re-stated his motion: To hire a fundraiser to work in coordination with Friends of the Smokies. Charles added that it would need the approval of the Friends Board, too. The motion was seconded and passed.
    Jeanie mentioned from the point of view of a DLIA staff person, that another important role of the Board is to give direction to staff so that priorities are kept in order and work can be done.
    Another fundraising element, planned giving through wills, was brought up by John Morse. George Ivey said this is in the works for the Friends and can be applied to DLIA as well. It is done through memberships and might be included in the list of ways to support in the newsletter:"Please send information of planned giving". Jeanie Hilten, George Ivey, Mary Johnson Williams, and Peter White will work on fundraising planning.
    John Pickering, John Morse, and Charles Maynard will develop a job description and recruitment for the fundraiser position.
    Budget issues and mini-grant funding were discussed:
    Pick said that it would be nice to have more than the $35,000 allocated for the 2001 mini-grants. Perhaps raise this to $40,000 and allocate $70,000 for the fundraiser. Phil Francis wanted more discussion on the budget process with better information.
    John Morse needs to know ASAP what is to be allocated in order to proceed in a timely way with the mini-grant program.
    Pick suggested the Board come to meetings better prepared on funding and budget information.
    Frank proposed that there be a provisional budget for now to work from.
    Peter White suggested a budget committee of Charles and Jeanie. They will meet Jan 11, at 10am to prepare the 2001 budget.
    Discussion proceeded on the composition of the Board and on re-nominations and new nominations. Mike Sharkey reported that these people are rotating off the Board: Tom Kiernan, Boyd Evison, Charles Maynard, Susan Reichert, Elizabeth Skillen, and Mary Johnson Williams. This is a time to ask how the Board is composed and to request nominations to expand its capabilities.
    Peter White expressed the need for varied talents and the importance of taking advantage of different skills, filling in gaps where needed and still placing high on the list.
    Mike Sharkey suggested members come to the meeting in May with the names of 2 individuals who could do the job better than they do themselves!
    Peter said that there can be 30 members total, so there could be at least 10 new members to vote in at the May meeting.
    Discussion proceeded on whether "big name" Board members would be able to really participate in DLIA matters and stay engaged in what is happening.
    It was noted that DLIA is an example to other organizations of how to do an ATBI. Methods chosen and steps taken to accomplish the work are being observed and will be followed by others.
    Mike Sharkey moved that all Board members send names to him (nominating committee) for inclusion in the Board. These will be approved by the nominating committee and presented at the May meeting. Seconded by Frank Harris. Elizabeth Skillen suggested a good look at the issue of diversity and the importance of a well balanced Board.
    Chuck Parker said that the 3 year terms of new and re-nominated members should be staggered.
    The motion was amended to deal with positions rotating off the Board to deal with new and re-nominations. Seconded. More discussion about terms.
    Jeanie passed the by-laws to Mary and Charles and it was found that members can be elected for 6 month terms. It was moved, seconded, and passes that Tom, Charles, Susan, Elizabeth, and Mary continue on the Board through the upcoming period until the May meeting. There is a need to translate some of the gobbledygook from the by-laws concerning the Board selection process. Frank will contact non-participating members of the Board, tell them thank you, and let them know they have rotated off.
    Board member names and terms will be on the web page.
    The next Board Meeting is set for Friday, May 18 at 12:00pn at Park Headquarters.
    The December 21, 2000 Board meeting adjourned at 12:30pm.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Jeanie Hilten
    Administrative Officer
    Discover Life in America

    Jeanie Hilten
    1314 Cherokee Orchard Rd.
    Gatlinburg, TN 37738