Published March 29, 2020
The meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Farm & Wilderness Foundation, Ninevah Foundation, and Farm & Wilderness Conservation, Inc., will be held virtually on Saturday and Sunday, May 2-3, 2020. Over the past couple of months, Board members have become quite adept at holding meetings virtually, but there is no doubt that we are longing to be in Vermont to see the greening of the mountains and pat the baby animals!
Because no one should have to tolerate sitting in front of a computer screen for as long as we customarily sit in our Board meetings, we have compressed the May meeting. To that end, many of the discussion sessions we usually look forward to (for example, hearing from year-round staff) will not take place; instead, we’ll read many pages of reports in advance. This agenda is intended to maximize connection and effective work.
We will begin on Saturday with Silent Meeting. Next, we will hear about the status of our search for F&W/NF’s next Executive Director. Even though the person may not start until September, we hope to be able to identify who that person is. Our finalists are exciting, excited, and experienced in meeting challenging situations such as the one we’re in now.
The Board will discuss the status of camp this summer. We hope to make a decision at the May meeting, but as we all know, everything is uncertain at this moment. Whatever happens, our primary concern is for the safety of our campers and staff.
Saturday afternoon will be devoted to a long session on what’s happening long-term. Looking to 2021 and beyond, we’ll consider finances, capital projects, and programming implications of whatever our decision is about Summer 2020.
Sunday morning’s Silent Meeting will be centered on Board member Cindy Amatniek, who died recently.
The May meeting is when we say goodbye to departing Trustees and look forward to welcoming a new slate of Trustees in August. Our Nominating Committee will present the names of those they are recommending to the Boards. We will also welcome our new Executive Committee (Clerk, Assistant Clerk, Treasurer, and Recording Clerk).
We will close with appreciations for Trustees who have served for six years (Colin Mitchell, Nina Lesser-Goldsmith, and Becca Steinitz). We had intended to celebrate Rebecca Geary, but that will take place at a later date.
Because of COVID, this agenda is subject to change, but I welcome your comments and questions in advance.
This past weekend the F&W and Ninevah Board of Trustees met in what was certainly the most unusual Board meeting I’ve been part of in nearly 20 years on the Board. It was conducted entirely by Zoom, and did not include many of the features we usually expect and enjoy, such as delicious food from the gardens, learning how many campers we will welcome this summer, and patting baby animals in the barns. We were efficient and made several momentous decisions – some very painful, and some joyful.
- The Board came to a sense of the meeting that we will not open for our regular season this summer. This is devastating to all of us but was clearly the only course of action.
- The Board came to a sense of the meeting that we will not commence construction of Friends Lodge in September 2020. We will re-examine the project once financial conditions improve.
- The Board considered four budget options and approved an operating loss for 2020 of $923,781. This budget is designed to prepare F&W for a healthy summer in 2021. It will affect all staff through salary cuts, cuts in hours, furloughs, and a very few layoffs, all of which are planned to go into effect July 1 (we are fortunate to have received nearly $500,000 in funds from the Payroll Protection Program). The Board made this decision with great sadness for its effect on staff, a strong focus on the short- and long-term fiscal and programmatic health of the organization, and a determined commitment to return to robust staffing as soon as it is prudent.
- The Board came to an enthusiastic sense of the meeting that we will offer the position of Executive Director of Farm & Wilderness and the Ninevah Foundation to our preferred candidate. In keeping with the principle that our budget circumstances will affect all staff, we are asking her to start in September. We hope she wishes to join us!
- We are eager to welcome six new Trustees to the Board. They are: Carolyn Rouse, Karlan Eberhardt, Judy Greenberg, Art Gardiner, Em Lash, and Alisha Carberry.
- We confirmed our new Executive Committee: Kristi Webb (Clerk), Ann-Marie White (Assistant Clerk), Adam Keller (Treasurer), Steve Burwell (Secretary), and Tonya Orme (Liaison to Committees).
We also shared Meeting for Cindy, that is, a Silent Meeting during which we honored our dear Cindy Amatniek, who died this Fall. We were so pleased that her husband, Max Yaffe, and daughter, Abby, were with us for this.
Finally, we bade farewell to three departing Trustees: Nina Lesser-Goldsmith, Colin Mitchell, and Becca Steinitz. We will miss them and hope to see them – and you – back in Vermont when it is safe to do so.
Kristi Webb, Recording Clerk
If you have any questions, you can send an e-mail to Kristi Webb.
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