Sierra Club Board of Directors Meeting

Oakland, CA

May 18 – 19, 2018

Our recent May face to face meeting I found to be rather routine.  I do not mean in any way to diminish its importance whatsoever.  I only mean that I didn’t find that there was anything that occurred that would qualify as something that would change the Club’s direction or cause significant alteration of what is currently transpiring at the Club.  We reviewed several of our priority work items to insure that they were progressing as expected.  We also received the recommendations of task forces and made decisions on their recommendations along with other work as described.  Here’s my brief summary followed by the one that President Loren Blackford wrote as well.

1.  We heard an excellent presentation on the Beyond Coal Campaign summarizing the success so far, current status and future goals.  In the process we also were exposed to some of the most important processes that we are using to accomplish our objectives.  Obviously, we are achieving results that were considered by many to be impossible at all much less in the timeframe that has actually occurred.  Furthermore, success builds on success and the pace of achievement continues to accelerate regardless of the Trump Administration’s actions to stop this.

2.   There was a review of our crisis management preparedness and avoidance program.  A more comprehensive risk assessment will be conducted and presented to the Board later in the year.

3.   The recommendation of the Task Force regarding term limits for groups and Campaigns was discussed.  The recommendation was accepted.  I suggested that the results be reviewed in three years to determine if the desired results were being achieved.  There’s a link to the text later on in this report.

4.  An opportunity has been proposed for a business partnership with a company that makes and installs residential solar panels that would provide discounts for Sierra Club members and income to the Club.  It is a very attractive deal.  The dilemma is that the solar company is owned by Total, SA, a very large French oil company on par with Shell, BP and ExxonMobil.  As it currently stands this partnership would violate our current policy.  There are valid arguments both in favor and against modifying our policy to allow this partnership.  A  Task Force has been established (on which I sit) to further evaluate this.

5.   A discussion pursued about the outings waiver and it was decided to take a step back and reevaluate how to address the variety of various concerns and needs.

6.  Loren’s President’s Report acknowledged that regardless of the transition of leadership in the Beyond Coal Campaign it continues to thrive under new leadership in the person of Mary Anne Hitt.  She also reiterated our commitment to our Equity work not only as the moral thing to do but also to create new and strong partnerships.

7.  Mike’s Executive Director’s report was categorized as the good, bad and ugly.   Making good progress in our primary campaigns despite the Trump Administration’s attempts to undermine all of our values.  Staff training is vibrant.  Number of activists are at an all time high.  Bad is that now the open Administration positions are being filled and these appointees are bringing a sledgehammer to all the regulations and agencies that we rely on for our work.  Ugly, level of stress and anxiety throughout the Club and society as a whole.  Conclusion is that we are in a moment in the country and movement where people are worried about so many items.  Great anguish abounds about where we are in the country today.  We must find ways to use the dissatisfaction to improve ourselves.

8.  Liz Walsh gave the Treasurer’s report.   As usual this early in the year, there are many variances to the budget leading to a projection with a deficit.  Some of that is allocating excess funds received late in 2017 which were added to the reserves then and are now being distributed.  There is plenty of time for the Club to balance the budget by year end.

9.  Council of Club Leaders (CCL) report noted some changes in their ExComm.

10.  Grassroots Network 2018: $187,000 was allotted and funded 34 grants which were only half of the requests.  $63,000 additional was requested and funded and 9 additional have been approved.  We were informed of some of the 2018 highlights.

11. Appreciations for outgoing directors Spenser Black (, Liz Walsh, Allison Chin ( You can read these by clicking going to the links provided.

12. We received the results of the election from the Nominating Committee as follows.

Ross Macfarlane

Chad Hanson

Tony Fuller

Margrete Strand-Rangnes

Debbie Hanson

13.  The new Board members were seated and the new slate of officers approved:

President.                                     Loren Blackford

Vice President.                            Susana Reyes

Treasurer.                                     David Scott

Secretary.                                      Margrete Strand-Rangnes

Fifth Officer.                                 Ramon Cruz

14.  Committee Chairs were approved as follows:

Finance and Risk Management:                                                    David Scott

VLAC (Volunteer Leadership and Activism Committee):    Debbie Heaton

Conservation Policy:                                                                      Robin Mann

                                                                                          and Anne Woiwode

Planning and Evaluation:                                                                  Peter Sargent

15.  The results of the Term Limits Task Force was presented and passed as follows.

Here’s the link to the entire report:

We recommend the Board adopt these recommendations, as well as the following additional requirements:

Best practices for assuring new member engagement and pathways to leadership already exist in the organization and should be disseminated broadly;

Team leadership succession and team recruitment plans should be posted on the Campfire website and accessible;

Dates for annual progress reviews should be posted on the Campfire website calendar and accessible — responsibility for seeing this happens might be assigned to the Board’s Fifth Officer or the Planning & Evaluation Committee;

While team chairs should have primary responsibility for seeing that plans are written and visible, some volunteer leader or volunteer entity must have responsibility for overall accountability; and

Charges (or other enabling documents) for each of the teams/programs/campaigns should be updated to formalize these requirements and shared on the Campfire website.

16.  Chapter Windfall task force recommendation was presented and approved.

 Total funds available through 12/31/17, $1,124,160 of c(3) funding and $1,207,565 of c(4) funding.

May 28, 2018

Hello Friends –

We recently returned from the Board’s annual retreat and meeting and I wanted to share some of the highlights with you. (Unfortunately, I had to leave early due to a family emergency so very much appreciate Vice President Reyes running the meeting and Secretary Strand Rangnes helping with this write-up.)

The May retreat is always special. This year we met in beautiful Mill Valley which is an hour outside of Oakland. It’s breathtakingly beautiful with lots of trails through redwoods and streams and gave us all some time to rejuvenate and recharge. And it is also bittersweet, since we not only welcomed the newly elected board members (Ross MacFarlane, Debbie Heaton, Chad Hanson, Tony Fuller and Margrete Strand Rangnes who was re-elected), but also said goodbye to the outgoing Directors (Liz Walsh, Allison Chin and Spencer Black).

As a board, we are working to align our meetings to focus on the Sierra Club’s highest priorities and initiatives and we spent a fair amount of time talking through our overarching goals and the processes  we’ve put in place to reach them. The executive team joined the board for the majority of the first day of our retreat to provide updates on our change management processes, what was working and what wasn’t and the board got a chance to give feedback and direction.  We are doing a lot as an organization – from resistance to the damaging policies coming from the White House, to promoting a Clean Energy For All future and reorganizing how we have traditionally structured our campaigns, to bringing equity and justice into all aspects of our work, to transforming our activism in the digital space, to how the Sierra Club is branded, to supporting and holding our staff and managers accountable in new ways. And that only scratches the surface of all that’s happening!

It was informative and important to dive deeper into some of these areas. In some places we realized that we need to do better in aligning the national work with what’s happening at the chapter and group level – especially as new initiatives are rolled out. We also identified the need to continue the work to clearly define our vision. What is the Sierra Club and what do we stand for are key questions and we still have work to do to answer this.

We kicked off the second day with a session on equity and inclusion. The Board went through the Growing for Change workshop in February and it was a powerful experience for all of us. We see it as paramount for the board to continue our learning and growth – both as a board and individually – and we talked about how to make this happen in the coming year. Among the things we agreed to were to set aside time at each gathering for equity learning and conversations, and we are also starting to plan an equity “book club” where we will be reading articles about various topics and getting together by conference call to talk through and discuss.  As we develop our reading lists  we hope to share them with you since we are all on this journey together!

In the afternoon the group left the bliss of Mill Valley and went back to the Oakland headquarters (which are also quite nice!) where we held the remainder of the meeting.

We got an update from the Beyond Coal team on overall developments and strategies, as well as on some of the amazing work done in California through the My Generation campaign, and we also worked through board issues related to term limits, chapter windfall allocations , business partnerships and the waiver policy. On this last matter, the Board ExCom is overseeing a process to consider how the concerns raised by a number of you can be best addressed. We appreciate that a number of chapters have successfully transitioned to the new policy. For those that have not yet done so, it is OK to continue following the existing policy consistent with your current practice until the review is complete.

The last day was the formal board meeting and it was a jam packed day. I provided my Presidents’ remarks by phone, followed by Mike Brune’s remarks, a financial update from our outgoing Treasurer Liz Walsh, as well as remarks by Sarah Willey, the chair of the Council of Club Leaders (CCL) and Norm Sharp the new chair of the Grassroots Network.

The outgoing Directors and outgoing Grassroots Network Chair, Clayton Daughenbaugh were appreciated and celebrated before we had report from the election inspectors. After that the incoming Directors were seated and the new executive committee was formed. I am deeply grateful to have been re-elected President, and am very much looking forward to working with a strong ExCom Team: Susana Reyes (Vice President), Margrete Strand Rangnes (Secretary), Dave Scott (Treasurer), and Ramon Cruz (Fifth Officer).

In the afternoon we got a terrific presentation on our fundraising efforts, and spoke with Dan Ritzman about our work on the Arctic refuge.  The political committee was also holding their meeting in Oakland and we got an update from them on their 2018 plans and priorities. And finally the Dirty Fuels team presented on their work

We are now headed into the budget and priority setting season for 2019. The board will meet again in September in Denver and much work will happen between now and then to get us ready to develop a strategic and solid budget.

I hope to stay connected and engaged with you as we move this work forward and hope you will reach out to let me know if you have thoughts and suggestions for priorities that are important to you. Thanks for all you do!


Loren Blackford

Sierra Club President

Twitter: @loren_blackford

Sierra Club President’s Blog: Power to Change

“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.”  – Albert Einstein

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