Sierra Club Board Meeting Notes

September 10 – 12, 2015

San Francisco

It has been a very busy several months for both the Sierra Club and me personally. This spring and fall I spent a large amount of time with my family mostly traveling and enjoying the summer outdoors. The Georgia coast, Martha’s Vineyard, fishing in the Ontario wilderness, backpacking in Idaho and enjoying the Lake Michigan Beach with my grandson.

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Chuck and Adam at Wilderness Boundry Sign

In so doing I failed to send a summary of our May Board meeting and it was an historic one at that. We seated two new Board members, Steve Ma and Margrete Strand-Rangnes, and welcomed back former President and Board member Allison Chin. Also reelected for second terms were Spencer Black and Liz Walsh. We held what became an historic election of officers that included Aaron Mair becoming the first African American to become the President of Sierra Club and, in fact, any major environmental group. This is a major step forward in realizing our objective of becoming a more inclusive and equitable organization and embrace a broader constituency truly representative and reflective of our citizen population.


During the May meeting we also approved and formally adopted a DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) plan and now swing into high gear of implementation. In addition, we also approved, for the first time in the Club’s 123 year history, a strategic plan.  Click on the links below to see them.

1042 BOD Strategic Plan 03_web

Executive Summary DEI Multiyear plan 2015 

Multi Year DEI Org Plan 2015

So you can see that the May meeting was truly historic. We followed this up by experimenting with a new budgeting process. We have started much earlier this year to get the Board input in the process by working together during the just concluded Board working sessions doing exercises with staff.  And now that we have a strategic plan, we can align our budget priorities to that.

I want to recognize that we all clearly hear the demand by volunteers for greater resources and training and recognize this need to make our Club a high performing organization that empowers and leverages our greatest asset, our grassroots volunteer strength.  That said, we are also charged with funding the needs and demands of maintaining our infrastructure and campaigns as well as supporting our volunteers in a world of limited resources. We’re doing our best to find an effective balance. And I appreciate any and all input and feedback.

Here is my summary of the major substantive items from the meeting just concluded.

1. Aaron Mair gave an impassioned President’s report recognizing the fabulous and impactful work that has been going on all over the country which is connecting environmental issues with those of social justice.  This is creating new and binding ties and elevating our work and alliances.

2. CCL Chair John Sphar introduced the new Executive Committee. They are:

Roberta Brashear-Kaulfers – Chair – Hawaii –
Tony Fuller – Vice Chair – Illinois –
Yvonne Cather – Secretary – Kansas –
Jonathan Bond – Budget Officer – Vermont –
Sarah Willey – Conservation – Missouri –
David Griggs – Resolutions – Lone Star (Texas) –
John Spahr – Fifth Officer (temp) – Wyoming –

3. Mike Brune’s ED report outlined the enormous progress the Club has achieved and is coming down the line. He also described the huge obstacles still to overcome most notably to move beyond oil and confront the power of the oil industry. Developing and executing a strategy that will move our energy sector and economy to a fossil free energy grid and transportation sector will necessarily involve the virtual end to the oil industry: the largest, wealthiest and most powerful industry in the history of the world. This is a huge lift that will require our Club to reach deep and find strengths beyond what we can imagine.

4. Loren Blackford provided the Treasurer’s report. There are always areas that are better or worse than planned but overall, there is no crisis. Membership units and income are within reasonable expectations and major gift fundraising is running well ahead of plan. Most of the major gift revenue is restricted. That will allow many of our campaigns to expand their work. While a prescribed percentage of these funds go toward general overhead, raising and allocating unrestricted C3 and C4 funding is an ongoing major challenge.

5.  Sierra Club Foundation Peter Martin described how the Forward Fund is supporting projects that are pushing demand for clean energy. He also discussed the Foundation’s mission aligned investments, especially its early commitment to the Divest-invest Initiative. This summer The Foundation was featured by the White House as a leader in the clean energy investment space. As an example of The Foundation’s leadership here, TSCF recently committed $4 million from its endowment to invest in climate solutions strategies.

6. Director Spencer Black read the tribute to LD “Red” Rockwell. Per the link below.

A12 Resolution in Memory of LD Rockwell (2)

7. There then occurred an extended session with the Council of Club Leaders (CCL) relating to the 2014 and 2015 resolutions. The Board accepted the following list of 2015 Resolutions and pledged to respond after due consideration.

2015 CCL passed resolutions

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