BOD meeting- Convention, Thursday 2/23/06


Members Present-  Existing Board:  Stagg Newman, Nick Warhol, Jan Jeffers, Robert Ribley, Vonita Bowers, Jerry Fruth, Stan Eichelberger, Patti Pizzo, Dina Rojek, Susan Kasemeyer, Duane Barnett, Howard Kent, Bob Morris, Randy Eiland, Roger Taylor, Mike Tomlinson, Gail Williams, Terry Woolley Howe, Laura Hayes, Mike Jaffe, Connie Caudill, Roberta Harms, Mike Maul, John Parke, Kathleen Henkel. 


Teresa Cross was seated and sworn in as Barney Fleming’s DAL replacement.  Sue Taylor and Jim Baldwin were in attendance as observers. 


New BOD members elect:   

Joyce Mocilan- MW Region

Barry Waitte- West Region

Jennifer Nice- CT Region

Joe Schoech- SE Region

Jeff Trinkle- SW Region

Susan Horne- MT Region

Tom Dean- NW Region


Introductions were done- Each Director said who they were, what region they represented (or DAL) and a little about themselves.  Since there were no other nominations for the 2006 officers, the following people were mentioned as being the new Officers pending the formal vote at the general session on Saturday:

            President- Stagg Newman

            Vice President- Mike Maul

            Secretary- Nick Warhol

            Treasurer- Patti Pizzo


John Parke led a short discussion on what the BOD does and might expect from its officers:


 The President- Chairs BOD meetings.  A question was raised and some discussion followed if the president should or not be neutral when it comes to policy?  It was asked how much time should being President require to do an effective job?  Stagg reports that it takes much more time than he anticipated, especially the operational aspects.  It was also apparent that too much time is being spent on legal and protest issues, both from Stagg as well as John Parke.  Some discussion took place about maybe hiring some additional management manpower?  The President should always have some responsibility to do some direct communication with the membership.  It was also mentioned that too much time is spent on issues that only affect a small percentage of the membership.


The Vice President- Acts in place of the President in the event the President cannot fulfill his or her duties.  The President can use the VP to do certain tasks and help with the workload, as well as split up the management work load.  The VP also sits in on committee meetings as often as possible.


The Secretary- Records and publishes meeting minutes.  Responsible for keeping the records of the corporation organized.  Sits on the executive committee as a voting member.   The secretary should keep notes and recorded information as clear as possible, including recording the exact motions in writing for the minutes and historical archiving.  Clarity in the minutes is critical- why things passed or happened should be emphasized with brief statements and descriptions.


The Treasurer - Oversees the receipt and custody of all funds and securities of the Conference; shall assure that adequate and correct accounts of the Conference’s properties and business transactions are kept; and shall perform such other duties as may be required by the Board or by the President. This is different from the responsibilities of the Finance committee.  The finance committee is responsible for things like recommending investments strategies.   It is important to understand how the convention did in terms of revenues as quickly as possible, and it would be a good idea to have a member of the finance committee on the convention committee.


Randy Eiland led a brief discussion regarding the responsibilities of the president in previous years of the AERC.  Kathleen brought up the fact that there is too much work to do when the convention is

away from Reno, and that some changes are needed on how the convention gets put on.  John Parke asked again if maybe we need to look at hiring some additional manpower for the convention?


Kathleen gave a membership update- renewals are just about exactly what they were last year this time, sanctioning fees are up a bit. 

            On Feb 21: 4967 members, 250 in office to enter.


Mike Maul led a discussion on a new policy to deal with the flagging and notification to riders when an underage horse is ridden in an event.  Mike will bring it back up on Sunday after doing some word-smithing.


The BOD went in to executive session regarding an outstanding protest issue and a new item that has been brought up.


Committee reports: 


MMM Committee- Nick W gave an overview of the MMM (Membership, Marketing, and Media) committee progress form last year and plans for next year. Highlights: Mike M has done great work on the web site for beginners.  Several email blasts have been sent out looking for renewals. Looking at ways to expand coverage to more media avenues.  Next Year: more email contact with members, look closely at why members are not renewing, expand in the marketing areas, initiatives to create alliances with other orgs.


Trail Grants committee- Roger T and Bob M.  Jerry gave a quick summary on the fact that they need budget approval in advance to go out and look for grant opportunities. 


Trails- Jerry F talked about the trail master class and some results.  He is also working with some ride managers to get back trails that have been lost in some areas. 


Technical committee report- Mike M went over the upgrades they made in 05.  Mike also produces great metrics that compare all ride and rider stats by region year to year to show significant trends.  He compared the AERC web site from 1999 and present- the comparison shows an incredible contrast and the quality of the present web site.  It had 5.3 million hits last year.


Limited Distance committee- Terry WH spoke about two items, both to be deferred to Sunday for vote.  The New LD ride regional awards program, and the listing of completion times for LD rides in EN and on the web site.


Mike maul brought up a motion for discussion to increase the number of awards in the west region to 5%, instead of the current 5% or top ten, which ever is lower.  This is based on the fact that there are more lightweight riders in the West region than all the riders in the SW region.  This will be discussed by BOD members and brought up on Sunday.


Stagg reported on the situation regarding the AHA program to possibly pay sweepstakes money on LD rides.  The decision was to remove LD rides from the program, since they are not classified as endurance rides.  This will be communicated to the AHA.


Finance committee - The group has done a huge amount of work last and this year working on the budget and procedures.  They have presented a discussion paper that outlines some recommendations on:

1-      How to manage the fund balance accounts on the balance sheet.

2-      Appropriate allocation of net income at the end of the year.

3-      Clarify the difference between cash and equity balances.

4-      A summary of a three year plan and what we might expect to be available over the next five years.

5-      A recommendation for funding.


The document was passed out to be read by the BOD in preparation for a vote on Sunday.  


Melissa Ribley (Head of vet committee) brought up the issue of the current drug testing program and what we need to do to fix it.  There are 3 choices for thought- abandon the program, improve the program, or outsource the program.  All three were discussed in preparation for a more detailed discussion on Sunday.


Stagg asked long time retiring BOD members Vonita Bowers and Randy Eiland to give a little summary of their experiences to the new Board.  It was a very nice presentation by both that really displayed how much these two people know, have seen, and have done for the AERC.  They will be missed.



Sunday Morning BOD Meeting- Feb 26th, 2006


The slate of 2006 officers was announced - only one change. 


President- Stagg N

VP- Mike M

Treasurer- Patti P

Secretary- Nick W (new)


Stagg addressed the Board with a presentation on his expectations for the next year.  His five major points: 

1-      Honesty and openness is required.  We need to have open and honest discussions.

2-      Don’t take things personally.  Take the position and discuss it, even if it is something you are not in favor of.

3-      Be realistic on what you can contribute to the BOD- time is our main resource and is so hard to find.

4-      Be fact based when creating motions and leading discussions.  Avoid conveying opinions.

5-      Use discipline- make disciplined choices when it comes to spending time and money.


A quick convention update was held- many people reported it seemed very positive.  The finance group will try and come up with a quick financial picture as soon as it can.  Kathleen reported it is so much more work when it is away from Reno- we need to look at how to make it easier- maybe just more help?


P&G committee- John led a short discussion on the whole P&G process.  It is universally agreed that there are problems with the process and it should be completely redone.  It takes way too long for these issues to get resolved.  Mike Marino will be taking the lead on the group; John P will continue to work with him.  All suggestions for rule or process changes should be forwarded to Vonita.


Convention committee-  Robert Ribley reported on the dates and locations for the next 3 conventions.  In 07 it will be in Reno at the nugget, in 08 Reno again at the Silver legacy.  There was some discussion to change the 3 year at Reno and 1 away to something else.   A motion was put forward to continue as is for the next two years, since there is work to be done now, and talk about changes later.  Motion passed unanimously.


Motion: “The committee recommends the board accept the Silver Legacy’s Reno, Nv, bid for the 2008 AERC convention site.”


Mike Maul brought up the issue to find and deal with underage horses at rides.  His proposal would be a policy, rather than a rule, to flag the event, contact the rider within 2 days, rider has 10 days to respond.  The threshold for “accidental” underage situations is 30 days or less before the horse is of age.  Motion passed unanimously.


Motion: “A number of under age horses continue to compete in AERC rides.  By sept 30, 2005, 9 members had competed 15 times with underage horses. In order to simplify the process by which these are handled, the following will become the office procedure:

For violations of less than 30 days: 

1)      Upon being flagged in TC- the office will send a letter within 2 days to the rider stating the violation and the DOB in our records. The rider will be allowed to provide a paper proof of a correct age by return mail or fax if the horses age is incorrect within 10 days.

2)      If they cannot provide proof of an age which meets our minimum requirement- then the record of their entry will be changed to a DQ.

3)      The office will send a letter to the rider that states if there is another entry of the underage horse competing- there will be an official protest filed which will be acted on by the P&G committee and published in EN.

4)      The office will keep a list of violations and use that to check if 3. is needed.  For violations of 31 days or more – 1 and 2 above will be followed and in addition- the office will notify the P&G Committee and a protest will be initiated.


Gail W gave an update on the proposed 100-mile medallion recognition program.  After discussion she will reword it and present it again after lunch.


Terry WH brought up the proposal to change the minimum mileage for the regional LD awards from 150 to 200 miles, 150 for Juniors.   Motion passed unanimously.


Motion: “ Change the minimum miles required for the new LD regional awards from 150 to 200 miles for seniors, Juniors will remain at 150 miles.  This will start immediately in the 06 ride year.  There will also be a clarification on a mistake made regarding the number of awards given- the correct number of awards given is 7 seniors, (regardless of ties)  not 7 placings.”    (transcribed from notes)


The motion to have all LD ride results listed by completion time was deferred to the May phone meeting to give the committee some time to contact some ride managers for their feedback.  The committee asked for special permission to have the motion brought up for a vote on the conf call in this case only, it was approved by a voice vote.


Melissa Ribley brought up the proposal for revising the drug testing process.  Abandon, Modify, or Outsource.  The vet committee is in favor of Outsource.  Some of the membership seems mixed, based on the member’s forum.  It was determined that there is more info still needed before a decision could be made, so an informal straw man vote was taken to get the board’s sense of opinion- the feeling is to go forward looking at the outsourcing option.  The Vet committee will gather more information for a future presentation.


Melissa also brought up the proposal to have a qualification program for ride vets by having them take an open book test.  There are mixed feelings on this issue and there was much discussion.  The idea will be put in place on a trial basis for a year, as opposed to making it a requirement.   (no rule change)  The results will be evaluated after 12 months to determine if it makes sense to go forward.


Stagg presented the new organization structure he is putting in place.  In summary- there will be a new layer of committee management put in place, since there are so many committees.  The new groups are as follows:


Marketing: membership, media, marketing, rider programs, education, convention, sponsorships.

Events and competitions:  Junior, LD, ride mgrs, sanctioning, awards (new), endurance rides (new), National championships, international.

Trails/research:  Trails and research grants

Finance:  Finance, treasury/investment, insurance

Technical Committee & P & G Committee

Legal: legal and governance, elections, horse welfare, bylaws and rules

Vet committee


The Board went into Executive session to discuss a new issue that has come up.


Competitions committee report:  Gail W discussed the medallion proposal and maybe not linking it to mileage.  It was discussed and agreed that the motion presented will be held and re-submitted after rewording it.  (Motion not voted on)  They are/will be calling ride managers to ask about 100 mile rides.  Carol Giles will be the new interface to the international committee.


Finance committee report:  Patti P gave an overview on the financial situation.  The motion was brought forward to approve the new finance document- motion passed unanimously.    Patti then brought up an old issue about allocating some funds per day entry to trails.  It was done in the 1989/90 timeframe.  John P suggests that by non-use it seems to be invalid, and to use the general fund as has been done.  He brought up a motion to ignore the old policy, second by Nick, passed unanimously.


Patti discussed the 2007 year and what we need to watch for. She made some high level projections of how the revenue and expenses might look.  06 and 07 should be okay, but we will need to look at 08 closely.  Things to consider- rider dues structure, ride fees, we need more members, sponsors, a better convention, more advertising.  Stagg challenges the board- can we do this without raising fees?


Patti discussed the current investment strategy – it is to protect our principal. Insured, low risk laddered CDs with different maturity dates.


After discussion during the weekend, Mike M declined to submit the motion to modify the percentage of awards given in the West.


New Business:


National Championship- Robert talked about the 06 ride on the OD trail.  Robert brought up ways to improve the NC rides, there was good discussion on the ideas.  An approval was needed today for the site and general date for the 07 ride.  Motion passed unanimously.  More to come on the actual details from the committee.


Motion:  “The 2007 National Championship will be held at Fort Stanton, with Roger Taylor as ride manager, in mid to late September 07, and will consist of a 100, a 50, and a 3 day multiday championship ride.”  (transcribed from notes)


Robert also brought up a proposal to not bring the regional awards to the convention and to award a certificate.  (awards would be mailed before the convention)  This will save a lot of money and hassle.  Robert and Kathleen will look at costs and make a recommendation.


The modified motion was resubmitted on the head vet qualification program.  It will be a program for the next year based on a trial period, not a rule change.  Motion passed unanimously.


Trails- Jerry F requested Mike M help with a place on the web site to track hours people work on trails.  He is also looking for a more permanent location for the trail masters course.  The trail master course attendees will be AERC members.  He also submitted a proposal for a sense of the boards opinion of the purchase of an enclosed trailer to hold and store trail tools.  Total cost $6K, $3K to AERC.   Proposal approved in principle, Jerry will continue to gather info.


A motion from the sanctioning committee was deferred until the April conference call.


Wrap up:


Stagg discussed how our time is the most important thing to manage.  There was some discussion on funding research grants.  Bob Morris may stay on as part of this group.  Bob reports funding needs to be approved in advance.  Maybe fund through different means- sponsorships, “pay to play”. 


Stagg’s Key Issues:

1-      The election process- how to elect officers a little earlier than the convention general session.

2-      The need to better promote 100 mile rides.

3-      The drug testing issue and policy- needs fixing, but has to keep running now.

4-      Think about high profile rides/ races/ completion only rides.  The future may depend on some of these.

5-      The NC has to be our premier event and needs to be promoted as such.

6-      We need to improve our relationship with the AHA- Joyce M to take the lead on this.

7-      Special sanctioning process- we need to automate a lot of this process.

8-      We need to look at office staff and resources.  Maybe add surge or flex manpower when required.

9-      We need to further clarify the roles and responsibilities between the office, the exec mgmt, and the committees.

10-  We need to look at more consistency across the board when we get new members, especially when there as many new members as this year.

11-  Be sure to send Kathleen updates to the ongoing action item list.

12-  Possibly adjust the conf call schedules- full BOD every other month, new mgmt group the alternating months.

13-  The BOD email list- does it work really well?  Maybe get some moderation. Nick W to take on this role.

14-  The midyear BOD meeting- when and where?

15-  Mike M to modify several email lists and permissions.

16-  Stagg to finish up the new org structure and will present to BOD on April call.


Wrap up by Stagg.


Motion to adjourn- Jan S.  Second Stan E.