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Commission Minutes

March 15, 2019

PRESENT: Celeste Branham, Ed Barrett, David Burns, Elizabeth Hite, Doug Horner, Jamie Logan, Nicole Pellenz, John Portela, Luke Shorty, Maria Staples, Jenifer Tilton-Flood.

The Commission met in Room 110 at 19 Elkins Lane, Augusta (Commission office location). 

Public Comment. During public comment, the Maine Conservation Corps program manager indicated she had eight 450-hour AmeriCorps members in training for their wilderness first responder certificate.  Others in attendance introduced themselves. 

The meeting was called to order at 10:05 am by Commission Chair, Celeste Branham.  After introductions, Commission member, Jamie Logan, was presented with a gift to congratulate her on her impending birth of her child. 

Announcements. First Item was the Quiz that focused on the January 2019 first report from the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service. Congratulations to Commissioner Staples who submitted correct answers.

 The new Commission video is complete. It can be viewed using the link found in the “Background” section of the Reports tab in HQ Happenings. The purpose of the video is to introduce the Commission to organizations undertaking the Service Enterprise certification process. 

Key dates for Commissioners’ calendars.

  • Regional National Service Conference is May 20-21, 2019 in Manchester NH, Saint Anselm College. Planning is a collaborative effort of the Maine/NH/VT commissions. May 21 will be just for National Service and would be the key day for Commissioners. Leadership of CNCS including the CEO and Director of AmeriCorps will attend and meet with state leadership. 
  • Anniversary Celebration target date is October 11th.

Appointments by the chair.  Anita Stewart McCafferty has agreed to head the Task Force Data Research & Evaluation.  New Public Information & Education Chair is Jenifer Tilton Flood.

Two items were circulated so members could read them.

  • Senator Collins’ letter to the Commission Chair acknowledging the Commission’s congratulatory letter on the occasion of Senator Collins receiving the National Service champion award.
  • State of Maine Proclamation acknowledging AmeriCorps week, signed by Governor Mills.

Feedback from evaluations forms at the end of each Commission meeting.  Chair Branham addressed a concern expressed in the last set of evaluations. There was a request that discussion not be stopped to accommodate time. The chair proposed a way to balance time constraints and the need for productive discussions to occur. If an issue leads to in-depth discussion that exceeds the time allotted, the chair will poll the Commissioners present to determine if they want to extend the meeting to accommodate the discussion.

Focus on Mission Responsibilities

Developing candidates to recommend for appointment (Branham) 
If Commission members know strong potential candidates for appointment to the Commission, please refer the person to one of the officers or the Executive Director.  The Commission would like to have preliminary interviews to gauge interest and determine if the perspective member thinks this role will fit with their schedule. The preliminary interview is not a guarantee of appointment; however, the Commission’s recommendation will be presented to the Governor.  Ultimately, the Commission appointments are the Governor’s decision. 

There are currently six seats vacant:

  • Seat 5: An individual age 16 to 25 who is a participant in a service program for youth
  • Seat 8: A representative of the State's volunteer community
  • Seat 10: Expert in the education, training and development needs of youth, particularly disadvantaged youth
  • Seat 12:  Expert in the delivery of human services in communities
  • Seat 17: Expert in the delivery of human services to communities and people
  • Seat 19: A representative of local government 

David Burns asked if there is a list of skills needed on the Commission. There is a list of core skills but an assessment of where there are gaps needs to be updated.

Report from Commissioner-annual convening of state service commissions (Tilton-Flood)  
Jenifer Tilton-Flood represented the Commissioners at the annual convening of state commissions. The first day was spent at the Corporation for National and Community Service. CNCS conducted a training for commissioners and chairs. The focus was on creating dynamic boards and commissioner engagement. She noted that, even after just a brief time on this commission, she concluded MCCS functions very well in comparison to others around the nation. Despite the fact everyone attending is passionate about their work, they struggle due to lack of interest among members.  Engagement is key because it leads to success. A recommendations she offers as a result of her experience at the training: implement consent agenda; build in listening tours as a way to be more in tune with communities; have succession plan for board leadership. 

There was a good deal of discussion about the CNCS “transformation sustainability plan.” CNCS leadership kept emphasizing that states are the labs of innovation.  

The chair asked Commissioners if they would like to institute the use of a consent agenda. Members were in favor. It was noted that there is a succession plan for officers. The chair, chair-elect, and vice-chair positions are the order of succession. 

Other report: (Barnham) The National Service Day at the Capitol was successful. Maria Staples noted program representatives and Legislators appeared to be more engaged this year. National Service staff had a short meeting with Governor Mills and introduced her to the programs.    

Business Reports 
January Minutes (Branham)
The minutes had been posted for review.  Moved by Portela to accept the minutes posted.  Second by Barrett. Vote on the motion: Unanimous in favor. 

Executive Committee Meeting Highlights: (Branham)
It is recommended that two minutes at the beginning of each meeting be taken to assist the Board in strengthening understanding of National Service Programs and to give a quick review of the Board’s identity statement.  Members present support the recommendation. 

Grant Selection and Performance: Ed Barret did a recap of the report posted. He called attention to the decision to return to CNCS, funds previously allocated to grants now cancelled. There isn’t sufficient time before the availability of the monies expire to hold a competition, award the funds, and have programs use them effectively.

Nicole Pellenz asked for a listing of grants awarded by the Commission with expiration dates. The visual would make it easier to follow the conversation. Staff have such a list and a copy was provided to the Commissioners before the end of the meeting. 

National Public Policy issues (Portela)
States for Service is the public policy organization related to America’s Service Commission, our industry group.

Two recent developments:  The White House budget blueprint is out and again proposes defunding/closing CNCS. The plan impacts Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and the Volunteer Generation Fund.  The detailed budget will be released Monday.  Congress has indicated continued support for the programs and is likely to alter a lot in the President’s budget proposal. Still, States for Service is asking supporters to contact federal legislators and urge support for National Service. John will send the link to the plan for doing this. A sign-on letter will be circulated to all commissions as well.  

Maryalice gave a brief overview of the National Service Choice Act. It is not part of CNCS and proposes one year service positions with more streamlined application and matching to site process. It is much like Maine Service Fellows. Typically, new programs like this take at least two rounds in Congress to gain traction. 

Public Information and Education/Public Policy  
Jamie Logan made the first part of the report. The task force reviewed the social media plan for 2019. Jamie then handed off the discussion to Jenifer Tilton-Flood, the new task force chair. Jamie is stepping down due to new family responsibilities. 

Tilton-Flood said the Task Force discussed changing its name and requests the Commission approve a change to Communications Task Force. Barrett moved to approve name change. Second by Pellenz. Vote on motion: unanimous in favor.

The task force also recommends approval of a contract proposal with Pulse marketing  proposal to help the task force carry out the brand revision project.  The task force reviewed the timeline and believes the cost is quite reasonable in light of the fees other firms quoted. Moved by Barrett to approve the contract with Pulse Marketing. Second by Pellenz.

Discussion focused on the source of funds for the contract ($3,000) and some concerns about the low cost. It was pointed out that some of the branding tasks were accomplished within the strategic planning process. That happened because of the planning model used.

Vote on the motion:  Unanimous in favor.

Financial Oversight (Burns) 
The task force has drafted a mission for its work and is asking approval of the Commission. The mission is to review the budget preparation and implementation for the Maine Commission for Community Service (MCCS), as well as to communicate with and educate Commissioners as to the financial status and needs of the MCCS.  Motion to approve (Burns), second (Portela). Vote on the motion: Unanimous in favor.  

Luke Shorty noted the Commission finances are complicated by the fact no funding programs follow the same calendar cycle although all are for three-year periods. The Financial Oversight members propose to create a dashboard that is useful to Commissioners in educating themselves about the finances. Commissioners were asked what data they would want to see and track on a dashboard. The task force will develop a proto-type to present at the May meeting.

Maine Service Fellows (Hite) 
After the discussion of focus areas at the last meeting, the task force edited the language to read:  Communities seeking to host a Maine Service Fellow may propose a project work plan to address any emerging or persistent local need related to one of these issues:  Aging in Place, Poverty (food security, transportation, housing, etc.), Opioid Addiction Prevention or Recovery, Economic Opportunity.

An item in the task force minutes needs Commission action. The task force posted report has a proposed revision to the strategic plan’s timeline for its work. The work is proceeding in order but started later than shown on the original timeline. Motion by Hite to accept the revised timeline for the task force work.  Second by Shorty. Unanimous in favor. 

Request is state budget for general funds 
The Executive Director reported that last Monday was the hearing on the Dept of Education’s budget which has the General Fund request from MCCS in it. There were two requests for more information at the work session. One was from Representative Jorgensen who is familiar with AmeriCorps and questioned the difference between it and Maine Service Fellows.  

The request would fund a Senior Planner position at 40%. The person would coordinate operation of the program aided by a contractor. Other funds cover recruitment of sites, participants, selection, and operating costs. If the funds are approved they would be available in July. Total ask each year of the biennium is $96,000.  

CNCS Update (Hite)  
Two noteworthy pieces of news. The new Senior Corps grantee for RSVP in central Maine has been announced. It is Catholic Charities and their focus will be “aging in place.” The new program staff will be invited to attend the next Commission meeting. April 2nd is the National Commission Service Recognition Day. This year the recognition is a joint resolution in the House and Senate which overcomes any issues with the party of sponsors. No updates on the transition plan.  They did hire the director of regional organization, Erin McGrath, who is a former member, leader, program director, state director, and Senior Corps Director.

Staff Report (Crofton)  
25th Anniversary. Maryalice gave an overview of the plans. The date will be October 11th. Part of the celebration is creating and launching a fundraising album of music related to the theme of people changing or making a difference in their communities. Other elements include the launch of the new emblem and updated name for the Commission; a film looking at 25 years of AmeriCorps in Maine; and awards to outstanding Alums as well as the Champion of Service. 

Commission members were asked to help identify sponsors for the event. The Maine Volunteer Foundation is the fiscal agent for the event. There was clarification that the Commission is a unit of state government and does have gift authority in its statute but some donors or partners have restrictions on who they can make donations to. That was one factor that led to the creation of the foundation. The foundation is not doing the fundraising for this activity because they are focused on creating the resources to launch the Maine Service Fellows and Maine Civic Health Report. Those have longer lasting implications. The anniversary activity is more like the annual conference or volunteer award program.   

Business Wrap-up (Branham)
March 27th AmeriCorps Member Conference in Belfast. 
April 14th is the Youth and Adult Roll of Honor Award Celebration at Messalonskee High School 

Next meeting will be April 19, 2019 in Room 110 at the Maine Commission for Community Service Office.

The meeting adjourned at 12:38 pm.