Sierra Club Board of Directors Meeting, Santa Fe, New Mexico

February 26 – 28, 2015

Sierra Club BOD Meeting in Santa Fe February 2015

Chuck Frank making a point at the working session.  Board Secretary Lane Boldman
and Sierra Club Chief of Staff Jesse Simons in background.  Photo by Dean Wallraff

Introduction: It is an exciting time to be on the Sierra Club Board of Directors. We are working closely with the staff to transition into an effective “21st Century Organization”. It would be ideal to do this quickly but this being a big and diffuse organization it takes time to insure that we not only get it right but that we incorporate and consider a broad range of input. Process is important so we’re working hard to consider a wide array of ideas.

We are looking towards 2050 to create a vision we can all work together to achieve. We are developing flexible on line tools to reach and engage society in a way more in tune with current trends. In addition, we are finalizing internal on line programs to make our own organization much more proficient and effective. We also continue to develop and execute our diversity initiative that will make the Club reflective of the general U.S. population. This is necessary to achieve our goal of building a larger and more inclusive movement that has the power and influence to confront the forces that would like to subvert our objectives.

1.  We began with a presentation of our digital, state of the art, online advocacy tool, AddUp;  which is beginning to be rolled out and is very exciting.  There is strong reason to believe that this will have a significant impact on the Club and our movement. Implementing this program will boost the strength of our organization by giving volunteers a much greater capability for taking action on issues of personal importance to them and giving them a superior tool to do so.  It is exciting to contemplate all of the ways we can use AddUp and the types of improvements we can instigate as we learn how people interact with this program.  I encourage you to log on at  Play around with it and let me know about your experience. We need your feedback.

2.  We also received an update on the rollout of CORE.  This is a program for management and sharing of data. CORE is transforming the way the Club functions. It provides tools for staff and volunteers to function in a greatly enhanced fashion in a myriad of ways.  One important issue is the access to data and security.  This is an ongoing discussion about who and how to grant access to data that may be confidential. CORE is the engine for AddUp so we expect to see exponential expansion and impact as both of these programs continue to develop, grow and come on line conjointly.

3.  We reviewed the work plans for the Visibility and Outreach Advisory Committee. Priorities include: Launch of AddUp and Core; Migration of Chapter-level websites; Developing increased Chapter and Grassroots level of managing communications; Greater unity and amplification of messaging throughout the Club; Monitor and enhance the Club’s branding; Raise the visibility of our volunteers.

4.   We reviewed the final 2014 budget results.  As reported before, 2014 turned out pretty well. We were able to increase membership and also raise the average income per membership. This has a significantly positive impact our C4 revenue. The gain on our investments was also favorable to budget. Our C3 major gift income was above projection as well. This allowed us to spend a bit more on some of our campaigns than budgeted. Our treasurer gave a review of the upcoming budget process for the 2016 budget. The Club’s finances are at a reasonably balanced level.

5.  We spent a great deal of time working on our strategic plan. The sessions were facilitated by an outside professional. We are having weekly phone calls to continue refining the plan. The goal is to approve the plan during the April Board Conference Call. It is not the intention to have every detail of the plan worked out by then. But it should be well enough developed that the future direction and overarching goals of the Club will be set for the foreseeable future.

 6.  We considered a proposal to update the Club logo. This instigated a great deal of discussion and opinion. There are several reasons for considering an update. Primary among them is how the logo appears in the digital world. An updated logo is part of the process of becoming a 21st Century organization. We decided that more thought and consideration is needed. This is an issue that creates strong opinions and emotions. Clearly, whatever decision is made will not please everybody. That said, I do believe that an update will occur in due time.

 7.  We were presented with modifications of the Food and Agriculture Policy.   This is one area of Sierra Club policy on which I am a neophyte. However I am learning little by little. Thankfully, we have some members of the Board that are well versed on this topic. Although not always in agreement, we did succeed in making many meaningful changes. Having differing perspectives is a healthy thing for a Board so as to flush out and consider alternatives. To see the new policy, please go here:*

8.  Unfortunately, I had to leave a bit early to catch a flight home. I missed the last item or two which were reports on our political program and Board evaluation. Since the meeting, a questionnaire has gone out for each Director to complete. Results to follow.

*The following email summarizes the changes to the Agriculture and Food Policy.
To: Club leaders
From: Vice President for Conservation Spencer Black
In February 2015 the Board of Directors adopted an new and expanded Agriculture and Food policy. It is now posted on our public website and available at
The new policy replaces the old 1976 Agriculture policy. It incorporates and references some elements from other existing related policies such as water, public lands grazing, pest management and farm workers, but it does not replace them.
The policy was adopted after an extensive volunteer review process and set of revisions. It is designed to govern and guide all Club positions in this broad area.
There are some parts of this policy that are new:
The Climate Change and Agriculture policy section is all new.
Some of the points under Land Use are new, including language about cultural access rights and indigenous land use; tax policies; urban and suburban agriculture; no no-till agriculture.
There is some new language concerning reducing or eliminating the impacts of agriculture on water resources.
There is new language about using and regulating grazing on private lands to improve environmental quality.
In the section on genetically engineered crops the Club has moved from a position of calling for a moratorium on GMOs to advocating a ban.
The last three sections on Food Policy, Avoiding Food Waste, and Research and Education are all new.
A call was recently held with Council delegates to introduce them to the new policy and to answer questions. If there are additional questions please contact Task Force chair Victoria Brandon at
We hope this helps you in your vital work to protect the environment.

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