Minutes from the quarterly GMC Board of Directors meeting will be published here.
Green Mountain Club Board Meeting Minutes – March 17, 2022
Present: Howard VanBenthuysen, Amy Kelsey, Nancy Thomas, Caitlin Miller, Andy Hood, Millie Mugica, Kip Potter, Mike Peckar, Bob Fish, Collier Shutter, Susan Tobin, Nancy McClellan, Cathi Brooks, Tom Kahl, Tom Candon, David Hartman, Bob Paquin, Stephen Klein, Matt Wels, Elisabeth Fenn, Jeff Wehrwein, Beth Eliason, Michelle Goodell, Andrew Nuquist, Martha Stitelman, Ram Moennsad, Anne Hauser, Mariah Keagy, Larry Walter, Becca Washburn (VT Dept. of Forests Parks & Rec)
Staff present: Mike DeBonis (Executive Director), Jason Buss (Director of Finance), Keegan Tierney (Director of Field Programs), Lorne Currier (Volunteer & Education Coordinator),
Howard VanBenthuysen, President, called the meeting to order at 9:01 am with introductions.
Howard introduced the meeting minutes from the January 8, 2022 meeting. There is a correction to the attendance: Dick Andrews name is listed twice and should be only listed once. Nancy Thomas moved to approve the minutes. Bob Paquin seconded. The minutes were approved unanimously.
Howard introduced Nancy Thomas, Treasurer, to give an overview of Club finances. Nancy thanked staff for their hard work throughout the pandemic. Nancy noted that membership continues to be strong and expenses are up due to the many field projects in 2022, but are in line with the budget. For the first time in two years the GMC will rely on its line of credit until payments for fee for service work is received later this year. Nancy reminded board members to look at the Club’s financial dashboard, which is linked in the financial reports.
The Club is planning to hold the 2022 Annual Meeting in person under a tent at headquarters, subject to COVID-19 guidance. This will be the first in-person Annual Meeting in two years. Howard thanked the staff and board members for their hard work.
Howard introduced Mike DeBonis who highlighted a few items from his Executive Director report in the board materials. Mike is excited for an in-person Annual Meeting and that the Club is slowly transitioning back to in-person events.
Howard introduced Jason Buss to discuss the Club’s finances for FY22. Supporting materials were shared in the board packet. Jason led the directors through a slide presentation. Field season expenses are significantly up from FY21 since the field programs did not run fully the first year of the pandemic. Personnel expenses are also up. Jason projects $2.1 million in expenses at the end of FY21, reflecting the Club’s growth, and anticipates ending the fiscal year with a small surplus. The Club added $1.4 million to the endowment in January and the endowment currently sits at $7.2 million. The Capital Campaign is at just over $3.9 million. The Herrick Building rebuild has cost about $50,000 so far for planning and design. Discussion about the fiscal year focused on the budget effects of ending the Capital Campaign.
Jason then gave a slide presentation on the proposed FY23 budget. Areas of risk include continued impact from COVID-19 and inflation, as well as running more trail crews this season. This budget reflects the Club’s continued growth. Donations and grant/fee for service work make up the largest areas of revenue growth. The proposed budget reflects a larger pull from the endowment than in the past. However, since the overall budget is larger than in past years, the amount pulled from the endowment will be a smaller overall percentage of the budget. Total operational expenses are expected to increase to $2.7 million (which does not include the Herrick project or Bromley Tower). Personnel costs are the largest expense increase due a larger field season cohort, staff time from the Capital Campaign being reintegrated into operations, and added year-round project lead staff. The Club has also increased the seasonal staff base and lead pay to be competitive in the hiring market.
Discussion about the proposed budget focused on the number of field crews and seasonal staff minimum wage increasing, how much of grant funding is in hand vs. due later, and the plan for additional office staff moving forward.
Nancy Thomas moved to approve the FY23 budget, Tom Candon seconded. The FY23 budget was approved unanimously.
Howard asked Jason to review the proposed endowment policy changes shared in the board materials. Jeff Wehrwein moved to approve the changes. Millie Mugica seconded. The endowment policy changes were approved unanimously.
Jason then shared a slide regarding the proposed line of credit increase authorization for short term cash flow purposes. This is the first time in two years that the Club will use its line of credit due to the large slate of field projects, some of for which payment is reimbursable as opposed to paid upfront. Jason does not anticipate any issues paying back the larger amount. Andrew Nuquist moved to approve the line of credit increase. Elisabeth Fenn seconded. The increase was approved unanimously.
There was a question regarding the rising cost of building materials for the Herrick building project and how that has impacted the budget.
Howard introduced Keegan Tierney to give an overview of the 2022 field season. Keegan gave a slide presentation. Reflections from the past year illuminate challenges related to field staff turnover and burn out. There has been a struggle finding qualified trail crew leads. Plans for the future include a focus on supporting staff year-over-year retention, potentially a small internship program to develop leaders, and looking at benefits for seasonal staff. Long-time Stratton Mountain caretakers Hugh and Jeanne Joudry will not be returning this year. Field programs will also continue leveraging volunteer support through shelter and section adopters, including sawyer certification and relaunching the Volunteer Long Trail Patrol for the first time since 2019. Keegan highlighted the Burrows Trail project as a rare opportunity to have so much funding dedicated to a single project.
Discussion about the field season focused on questions about specific projects, how the Club coordinated with agency partners, field staff support and housing, and building the skills of potential crew leaders.
Howard called a break at 10:27 am. Howard called folks back at 10:34 am.
Howard introduced Caitlin Miller, Secretary, to give an overview on the Land Acknowledgement Statement. Discussion about the statement included wording around the second sentence. A change was suggested to add (addition in bold): “home to and site of meeting and exchange” to the second sentence of the statement. Nancy McClellan moved to approve that change to the language. Kip Potter Seconded.
Andy Hood moved to approve the statement with that change. Anne Hauser seconded. The land acknowledgement statement was approved unanimously.
Caitlin then introduced the small group discussion topics and the board went into discussion groups.
The directors returned from small group discussions and Mike introduced the draft naming policy. Mike gave some background on the naming policy and answered questions about how the policy was developed. Discussion about the naming policy focused on the rigor for renaming structures vs. the repugnancy of the named individual’s actions, whether the Club should continue to name structures after individuals, consideration for partner naming policies and incorporating indigenous names, whether this policy addresses current concerns around names of structures, and what within this policy moves the Club toward greater inclusion.
Howard then transitioned the discussion to the Nominating Committee’s work on identifying the recipients of honorary life membership at the Annual Meeting and the proposed slate of officers. Amy Kelsey is stepping down as Vice President and Howard thanked her for her service over the last year. Nancy McClellan has been nominated to serve as Vice President.
The Nominating Committee motion for 2022 Honorary Life Memberships was presented. The motion was approved unanimously.
Howard asked directors to send recommendations for the President’s Award and other awards by May.
The Annual Meeting is planned for June 11 at GMC headquarters. The next board meeting will be during the Annual Meeting and after that, on September 17 and December 17, 2022 and March 18, 2023. Mike asked the group whether the winter 2022 meeting would be best held in December or January. The consensus was that a December remote meeting would work best.
There was no new business for the board. Cathi Brooks moved to adjourn. Elisabeth Fenn seconded. The motion to adjourn was approved unanimously. The meeting adjourned at 11:43 am.
Green Mountain Club Board Meeting Minutes – January 8, 2022
Present: Caitlin Miller, Howard VanBenthuysen, Andy Hood, Larry Walter, Mick Peckar, Bob Fish, Nancy McClellan, Dick Andrews, Bob Paquin, Ramchandra Moennsad, Dick Andrews, Cathi Brooks, Elisabeth Fenn, Bret Hodgdon (auditor, Davis & Hodgdon Associates), Lee Allen, Tom Candon, Tom Kahl, Andrew Nuquist, Nancy Thomas, Amy Kelsey, Jeff Wehrwein, Michelle Goodell, Kip Potter, Becca Washburn, Alexis Peters, Ira Sollace, Mariah Keagy, Millie Mugica, Bruce Yelton
Staff: Mike DeBonis (Executive Director), Matt Krebs (Director of Operations), Keegan Tierney (Director of Field Programs), Alicia DiCocco (Director of Development and Communications), Jason Buss (Director of Finance)
Howard VanBenthuysen, President, called the meeting to order at 9:02 am with introductions.
Tom Candon moved to approve the September board meeting’s minutes. Nancy Thomas seconded. The minutes were approved unanimously.
The Treasurer, President, and Executive Director reports were presented.
Bret Hodgdon from Davis and Hodgdon presented the club’s audited financials from the past fiscal year. Some highlights from the audit include increased income from investments, net income is up, expenses are down due largely to canceled projects/programs because of Covid-19, and the Club’s PPP loan was forgiven. The Club has 394 days cash on hand and the Club’s ratios (both current and quick) reflect a very healthy organization with a good measure of liquidity. The Club’s program expense percent is down slightly due to programming interruptions because of Covid-19, but money raised for programs will be spent on those programs in the future. There were no significant deficiencies or material weaknesses found in the audit process.
There was a brief discussion about the audit to clarify the fundraising expense percent and to discuss cyber security. Bob Paquin moved to approve the audit. Tom Candon, Jeff, and Michelle seconded. The FY21 audit was approved unanimously.
Director of Finance Jason Buss presented the FY22 financials. End of year giving looks good, but is still being tallied. Giving and membership is slightly down from last year, but up from two years ago. Overall, personnel expenses and program expenses are up due to a bigger field season in 2021. Projections show that the Club should meet the budget at the end of year.
Jason read a motion to distribute $350,000 in received funds from the capital campaign to the endowment: $250,000 to the Caretaker Endowment and $100,000 to the general endowment. The remainder of cash on hand will be kept for upcoming field season projects, including caretaker operations. Both the Budget & Finance Committee and Executive Committee have recommended this motion to the board. Michelle moved to approve the motion. Elisabeth and Millie seconded. The motion was approved unanimously.
Jason then gave an overview of the FY23 budget process, which will be largely influenced by continued pressures and uncertainties due to Covid, a large slate of field programs vs. workforce shortages, and large projects such as Bromley Tower and the Herrick Building rebuild. There was brief discussion about staff wages, particularly for field staff, and the projects slated for the northern Long Trail in 2022.
Howard introduced Mike and Matt Krebs to discuss the upcoming Herrick Building rebuild. Matt gave an overview of the Herrick building’s history and the rebuild project. Matt discussed how the space will change with the rebuild, focusing on staff offices, field staff space, and spaces for education programming. The Club hopes to have final building plans by the end of the month. The biggest challenge will be finding contractors and sourcing materials in a timely way. There was brief discussion about staff work spaces, costs of materials, and flow of public access to the new space.
Keegan Tierney provided a field programs update including a discussion on naming a new shelter at the Stratton View site after former longtime Director of Field Programs Dave Hardy.
Howard introduced Caitlin Miller to lead the discussion on the draft Land Acknowledgement Statement. The board broke into small discussion groups and then came back together to share discussion takeaways.
The Club will collect board and committee feedback on the statement and finalize it for a vote at the March 2022 board meeting.
Howard then invited Mike to lead a discussion on the upcoming 2022 strategic planning process. The board broke out into small discussion groups and takeaways from each group should be shared with Mike.
Howard reviewed the results of the survey regarding board materials.
Caitlin moved to adjourn the meeting. Nancy McClellan seconded. The meeting adjourned at 11:46 am.
Green Mountain Club Board Meeting Minutes – September 18, 2021
Present: Howard Van Benthuysen, Caitlin Miller, Andrew Nuquist, Cathi Brooks, Nancy McClellan, Bob Fish, Dick Andrews, Nancy Robert Paquin, Tom Kahl, Andrew Hood, Anne Houser, Becca Washburn, Bruce Yelton, Dick Andrews, Don Taylor, Ira Sollace, Jeff Wehrwien, Kip Potter, Lee Allen, Michelle Connor, Mike Peckar, Millie Mugica, Stephen Klein, Tom Candon, Mariah Keagy, Martha Stitelman, Nancy Thomas, Larry Walter, Alexis Peters, Becca Washburn
Staff: Mike DeBonis, Alicia DiCocco, Jason Buss, Keegan Tierney, Lorne Currier, Matt Krebs, Liz Palmer
Howard Van Benthuysen, President, called the meeting to order at 9:03 am and began with introductions.
Caitlin Miller, Secretary, presented the minutes from the June meeting. Tom Candon moved to approve the minutes. Millie Mugica seconded. The minutes were approved unanimously.
Nancy Thomas, Treasurer, provided a report on the club’s finances, details of which were shared in the board packet. Nancy noted that, typically, the board would review the FY21 audit at the September meeting. However, this has been delayed due to our audit firm’s workload. The audit will be reviewed at the January meeting.
Howard thanked all board members for serving on the board and expressed gratitude for the GMC staff. Howard noted the strong position the club is in, despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Howard gave an overview of major projects completed or underway at the club.
Mike DeBonis, Executive Director, provided a club update, focused primarily on Covid-19 impacts on the staff and trail resource, and the cautious approach the club has taken in response (namely, moving events remote or cancelling those events). The staff reports in the board packet give an overview of progress made this quarter.
Jason Buss, Director of Finance, shared slides to go over this quarter of the club’s finances. Overall, the club is in a very strong position financially and continues to track as expected against the budget.
Alicia DiCocco, Director of Development, gave an update on membership, development and the Capital Campaign. We have crossed over the $2.5 million mark for the capital campaign. Long Trail Day was incredibly successful due to the level of participation we had from individuals. Michelle Connor, chair of the Development Committee, gave an update on the work of the committee which has mainly been responding to a board survey regarding board fundraising. Shana Trombley from CPG Enterprises, the consulting firm supporting the campaign, gave an overview on the campaign progress. Development Committee members Anne Houser and Don Taylor shared what they have been working on as part of the campaign, namely an outdoor retailer collaborative (which now has 5 businesses) and individual thank you calls to donors, especially new donors.
The group split into break-out rooms at 10:07 am to discuss and brainstorm ways to thank donors for their gifts and how to deepen relationships with new doors. Representatives from each group shared the major themes from their discussions, including:
- Connecting with sections through thank you calls and notes
- Personal outreach through thank yous and invitations to events
- A patch/badge for donors to help them act as an ambassador for the club
- Having board members do thank you calls and the important of authentic thank yous
- Getting donors on the trail to see the impact of their gifts
- Making things feel local
- Show appreciation for business donors
Board fundraising guidelines were presented and outlined in the board packet. Michelle Connor moved to adopt the guidelines. Robert Paquin seconded. The guidelines were adopted unanimously.
Howard called a break at 10:34 am. Howard called everyone back at 10:43 am. Caitlin Miller gave an overview of the DEI discussion sessions, which will be held in break-out groups. The break-out groups came back at 11:40 am.
Howard introduced the committee membership for this year and invited discussion. Nancy Thomas moved to adopt the slate of proposed committee chairs. Howard noted that this is an ongoing discussion and committee membership and chairs can change throughout the year. Keegan noted that Steve Pitlick is the Green Mountain National Forest representative. Anne Houser seconded. The committee slate was adopted unanimously.
Mike led an overview and update on the strategic planning process. Mike outlined the progress on the current strategic plan in the board packet. Mike also screen shared a diagram showing the success of each initiative overlaid with the effort put into each initiative. Our next five-year strategic planning process will begin between now and the next annual meeting, mostly with information gathering and process planning. We will likely need to hire a consultant to gather information to inform the plan and help draft the plan. We aim to have a draft plan available to review at the June 2022 Annual Meeting.
Howard then asked if there was any new business. Alicia gave the update that Derick Lugo is off-trail right now due to illness. He is resting near Manchester and will hopefully be back soon. There was also a question regarding Cooper Lodge, which is on the list of agenda topics for the Trail Management Committee this winter.
Andrew Nuquist moved to adjourn. Martha Stitelman seconded. The meeting adjourned at 11:56 am.