AEU Board Updates
Karen Elliott, AEU Board Member
Northern Virginia Ethical Society
Here are highlights from the May and June American Ethical Union Board meetings:
- The Board hired our new Executive Director, Bart Worden. [See Letter from AEU President, Richard Koral
and Letter from AEU Executive Director
- The Board approved two new Officiants: Barry Galef and Laura Stark Steele, both from the Washington Ethical Society. Congratulations to Barry and Laura (an AEU Board member), and to WES!
- The 9th Lay Leadership Summer School will be held July 14-21, 2012 in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Jan Broughton reported that we have a full house, with some attendees' tuitions covered in part or in full by funds available for leadership training as well as by donations from Summer School alumni. It is a tribute to Summer School to see how many who have attended it are currently active on the national level including the AEU's new President Richard Koral, who graduated from the first Summer School in 1996 along with Board members Carol Bartell and Karen Elliott.
- The Leadership Committee of the AEU has been in discussions with Jason Torpy of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers
about providing training for Ethical Culture Military Chaplains. We have had no candidates present themselves as potential military chaplains yet.
- A task force on internet and social media (including the Ethical Society Without Walls) was formed at the May Board meeting and met for the first time at the Assembly. It is chaired by Richard Koral and is tasked primarily with advising the Board on ways to better and more consistently use the internet and social media to spread Ethical Culture and help people who live outside of areas where there are Societies stay connected to the Movement.
- Leader Randy Best is the AEU's liaison with the Secular Coalition for America (SCA), one of our affiliates. He reported that the SCA
has a new Executive Director, Edwina Rogers, who is a professional lobbyist [See article on Edwina Rogers
]. Randy believes it has been advantageous for the AEU to belong to the SCA and that it is a good venue for networking.
- Ron Solomon, sitting in on the June 17 Board meeting (which any member of a member Society may do), reported that the International Humanist and Ethical Union will have their 2014 meeting in Oslo. (The 2013 meeting will be held in Montreal August 3-5, 2012.) The AEU is a member and a co-founder of the IHEU.
- The AEU Board agreed that the AEU should join and promote DC Vote
, a campaign to give those living in Washington, D.C. full voting representation in Congress as well as autonomy as a self-governing entity. Jo London of the Washington Ethical Society will be the AEU's representative to DC Vote. Additional information and possible actions will be sent out to the Society Presidents via their e-mail list as it becomes available.
- In May the Board Development Committee, chaired by Arnold Fishman of Philadelphia, presented to the Board its slate for the Board elections to be held at the Assembly in June. The slate, which was approved by consensus by the delegates to the Assembly, includes Richard Koral (Westchester) for President, Scott Walton (Chicago) for Vice-President, Tom Weishaar (New York) for Treasurer, Janet Broughton (Society of the Triangle – NC) for Secretary, and for terms lasting until the 2015 Assembly: Hank Gassner (Northern Virginia), Ken Karp (Bergen), and Scott Walton (Chicago). Continuing on the Board as elected Directors are Carol Bartell (St. Louis), Karen Elliott (Baltimore), and Laura Stark Steele (Washington).
- Tom Weishaar, the AEU Treasurer, reported that the deficit in one restricted fund had been repaid although by the time of the June 14 meeting it was slightly under its required minimum balance due to market conditions. Tom stated at the Assembly that he expects it to be back to the proper minimum level prior to the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2012. This was great news, as it means that the austerity budgets of the past two years may be discontinued and budget items that were cut in prior years, including the office staff budget, can be restored. The very realistic budget developed by Tom and Law'nence Miller, AEU Director of Administration, was approved by the Board in May and by the Assembly in June.
- Law'nence Miller, AEU Director of Administration, is continuing to work on getting the AEU a group tax exemption from the IRS so that member Societies who do not have their own 501(c)(3) status may accept tax deductible donations under the aegis of the AEU. L is also heading up a project to digitize the archives and reported that investigations are still underway about how best to handle the job. Much initial analysis has been done but scanning has not started.
- Details of the Assembly were also discussed at the May meeting, as was a suggestion to change the apportionment method (the calculation by which the monies given by individual Societies in support of the AEU are determined). The Board did not act on the latter request. The proposed change was contained in a resolution that was to be offered to the Assembly by the Bergen Society, but it was withdrawn upon reconsideration. The Board did approve a document created by the Secular Coalition for America relating to the rulemaking for an act allowing exemption for religious employers in some situations relating to reproductive medical coverage.
- Due to the unexpected closure of the hotel at which the Assembly was to be held, the AEU lost several thousands of dollars on the Assembly because of increased costs. Once the final cost is determined, our meeting planner (Sue Walton, a member of the Chicago Society) will work with Law'nence Miller to determine what, if anything, we can do to recoup the costs. Assemblies are usually run on a break-even basis. Next year's Assembly will be June 14-16, 2013 in Northern Virginia, hosted by the Baltimore, Northern Virginia, and Washington Societies.
- Tyler Lurie-Spicer and Emily Newman, Board representatives from FES (Future of Ethical Societies), reported on the FES annual conference which was held in North Carolina, hosted by the Ethical Humanist Society of the Triangle [See article on FES Conference
]. Twelve people attended and spent more time than usual with Society members, which was appreciated by all. The Board discussed possible ways for FES to outreach more young adults who did not grow up in Ethical Culture. Tyler also reported that they are looking into having more service projects, local chapters, and making use of active and enthusiastic members who have aged out.Board liaisons to Societies for the coming year are:
Baltimore Ethical Society – Karen Elliott
Boston Ethical Society – Karen Elliott
Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture – Hank Gassner
Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County – Ken Karp
Ethical Culture Society of Essex County – Jan Broughton
The Ethical Culture Society of Rockland County – Hank Gassner
The Ethical Culture Society of Silicon Valley – Karen Elliott
Ethical Culture Society of Suffolk – Ken Karp
Ethical Culture Society of Westchester – Richard Koral
Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago – Scott Walton
Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island – Ken Karp
Ethical Humanist Society of Philadelphia – Laura Stark Steele
The Ethical Humanist Society of Queens – Richard Koral
Ethical Humanist Society of the Triangle – Jan Broughton
Ethical Society Mid Rivers – Carol Bartell
The Ethical Society of Asheville – Jan Broughton
Ethical Society of Austin – Scott Walton
Ethical Society of Northern Westchester – Richard Koral
Ethical Society of St. Louis – Carol Bartell
New York Society for Ethical Culture – Tom Weishaar
Northern Virginia Ethical Society – Hank Gassner
Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture – Tom Weishaar
Washington Ethical Society – Laura Stark Steele
Ethical Society without Walls – Scott Walton