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Commission Minutes

September 20, 2018

Present: Commissioners John Portela, Celeste Branham, Deborah Johnson, Ed Barrett, Dave Burns, Nicole (Nicki) Pellenz, Peter Doak, Jenifer Tilton-Flood, Anita Stewart McCafferty, Luke Shorty, Doug Horner, Joe Schmidt, Libby Hite

Commission Staff: Maryalice Crofton, Michael Ashmore, Laurel Bernier

Public Comment: Kaira Esgate, America’s Service Commissions’ Executive Director, who is participating in this week’s Commission retreat.

Call to Order: Commission Chair John Portela called the meeting to order at 10:10am.

Quiz Answer: The Blaine House Conference is built around expressed needs of leaders of volunteers, that usually has about 300 of them in attendance. Maryalice has a discount code for conference enrollment that she will send to Commissioners. The commissioner quiz was answered correctly this month by Ed Barrett, Luke Shorty, and Maria Staples.

Announcements and Appreciations: 
New Commissioners Jenifer Tilton-Flood, Anita Stewart McCafferty, Luke Shorty, and Doug Horner are now sworn in.

There is a new representative of the Dept. of Education. Joe Schmidt was welcomed. He succeeds Beth Lambert.

Commissioners Brianna Tibbetts, Joe Young, and Beth Lambert are not continuing on the after their terms ended this year. Melik Khoury resigned from the Commission.

Focus on Mission/Responsibilities
A. Election of Commission Officers  
Chair Portela indicated the slate recommended by Executive Committee is Celeste Branham for Commission Chair, Nicki Pellenz for Chair-elect, and Ed Barrett for Vice-Chair. In order to provide the opportunity for other nominations, each position will be considered independently.

For chair, Celeste Branham is recommended. The call for other nominations did not yield any additions. Moved by Nicole Pellenz to elect Celeste Barnham as Commission Chair. Second by Luke Shorty. Vote: In favor – 11; Opposed – 0; Abstain – 1 (Branham).

For chair-elect, Nicole Pellenz is recommended. The call for additional nominees did not yield other candidates. Moved by Celeste Branham to elect Nicole Pellenz as chair-elect. Second by Luke Shorty. Vote: In favor – 11; Opposed – 0; Abstain – 1 (Pellenz).

For vice-chair, Ed Barrett is recommended. The call for other nominations did not result in additional candidates. Moved by Celeste Branham to elect Ed Barrett as vice-chair. Second by Nicole Pellenz. Vote: In favor – 11; Opposed – 0; Abstain – 1 (Barrett)

1. Transition of Leadership  
On behalf of the Commission, Celeste offered collective gratitude for John Portela’s contributions as Chair, demonstrating leadership with commission, conscientiousness, and caring. John will continue on the Commission, and looks forward to seeing the new Commissioners carry on this important work.

Planning and Future Initiatives
A. Annual Organizational Tasks: Meeting Calendar  
Meetings will be held at Commission offices, 19 Elkins Lane Room 110, except for November 16th and that will likely be in the Cross Office Building next to the Capitol Building in Augusta.

If February 15th meeting is snowed out, the meeting will be postponed to March 15th, otherwise no regular business meeting in March. Commission business meetings and Task Force meetings are posted on the Commission website under “Calendar.”

Moved by Portela to adopt the calendar presented. Second by Shorty. Vote: In favor -- unanimous. 

Business Reports
A. June Minutes
Moved by Pellenz to approve the minutes as posted. Second by Shorty. Vote: In favor – 10; Opposed – 0; Abstain – 2 (Shorty and Tilton-Flood)

B. Executive Committee(Branham)
Call for volunteers to serve on an ad hoc committee to recognize the 25th anniversary of the Commission. Luke Shorty and John Portela offered to join.

C. Grant Selection and Performance (Barrett)  
1. Healthy Acadia is an AmeriCorps grantee working on opioid recovery, that notified the Commission that they will expand to Piscataquis and Kennebec counties

2. Competitive and formula AmeriCorps grant selection process will take place this fall.

3. RSU 14 recently completed 6 years of AmeriCorps grants, and was awarded another 3-year grant this spring that was supposed to start this August. The Task Force had reservations during the selection process, and approved the grant with corrective actions to for program staff to complete in the spring and summer. The program also experienced a change in key staff during this time.

During annual program and file monitoring, multiple compliance issues were encountered and not resolved. Commission staff cancelled the new grant award before the grant was executed and subsequently completed monitoring reports. RSU14 has not drawn funds on the new award. Since the grant was cancelled so close to its start date, the funds remain awarded to Maine. The funds need to be committed and expended within the AmeriCorps grant year (August 2018 to August 2019).

Moved by Barrett to ratify the Commission staff action that rescinded the 2018-2021 grant award to RSU #14. Second by Portela. Vote: In favor - unanimous.

D. Excellence and Expertise 
No report; Task Force members were unable to meet.

E. America’s Service Commissions (ASC) Public Policy Committee update (Crofton, Esgate)  
Crofton is representing the Commission on the national public policy committee until another Commissioner steps in. Ron Holmes had the seat until his resignation. Top agenda items right now are the federal budget which is in the final phase of approval. If it passes as expected, CNCS will have a $19 million increase that is in the lines for Senior Corps and AmeriCorps. A multi-year chart showing enacted amounts and the proposed amount for federal fiscal 2019 was distributed. Enactment would mean a federal budget and appropriation were in place before fiscal year start for the first time in over 20 years. 

States for Service is the advocacy arm of ASC, not a lobbying organization, but does advocate and educate political individuals on national service programs & public policies. Goal to have representatives from each state trained by ASC. Federal funding does not go toward this initiative. Two people self-nominated to represent Maine in States for Service are Steve Niles of Goodwill Industries of Northern New England, and Tess Scannell, both of whom reside in Maine. Decision of Commission’s involvement will be discussed at a later meeting.

F. Public Information and Education  
No report; Task Force members were unable to meet.

G. CNCS update (Hite)  
1. Online public comment period on the transformation plan has ended, and the final report is being prepared for the CEO.  

2. Notice of Funding Opportunity opened this week to operate RSVP program in Kennebec & Somerset counties, about $100,000 to support volunteer activities. Applications are due November 7.

3. UMaine Senior Companion grant received an evidence-based augmentation to train their volunteers on mental health first aid. Also funded to support up to 17 more Volunteer Service Years, covering 14 Maine counties. 

4. AmeriCorps VISTA new member orientation is this week, in partnership with Goodwill Industries of Northern New England. Libby will send a list of sites and programs to the Commission. 

H. Staff Reports  
1. Partnership opportunity: Tri-State Learning Collaborative on Aging and the Maine Council on Aging have expressed interest in working with the Commission on engaging and retaining volunteers they recruit. The organization is facing challenges with retention (state-wide, about 40% of volunteers do not stay long-term) and incorporating former clients into their volunteer base. The Commission could assist by providing training, possibly including Service Enterprise to assist organizations with planning and implementing a stronger volunteer program. 

2. CNCS annual meeting with states was in Arlington Virginia last week, attended by Mike Ashmore. The conference was cut short because of the hurricane, but topics included fixed amount grants, criminal history checks, social media presence, and “rural” AmeriCorps grants, that enroll fewer members than typical AmeriCorps programs. Maine’s rural AmeriCorps grant model was featured as a promising practice. 

3. Maine Volunteer Foundation established in 2015 to raise funds for the Commission. Joel Russ has been serving as volunteer Executive Director, and recently decided to step down. Currently there are 2 seats open on the foundation board.

4. Blaine House Conference being re-branded to “Maine Volunteer Leadership Conference” as part of an update.

5. CNCS did just release the documents outlining application requirements and performance measures for AmeriCorps grants. For the sixth year in a row, there are significant changes. The constant shifting makes it difficult to coach community agencies regarding how to express their goals and design.

Next business meeting is October 19, 2018

Meeting adjourned at 11:45am.