CHC Board Minutes: October 4, 2019

Board of Directors meeting
Fri. Oct. 4, 2019

President Rob Elder called the meeting to order at 9:03 a.m. Also present: Greg Karp, Jason Martin, Tahman Bradley, Alejandra Cancino, Mike Ewing, Susan S. Stevens, and by phone Howard Dubin, Madhu Krishnamurthy, Suzanne McBride, Stan Zoller, Claire Bushey, Alex Hernandez and Amahnda Vinicky.

Minutes from the last meeting were approved with one fix: Suzanne McBride was present.

Rob said we were off to a great start with the first two fall programs.

He urged board members to each recruit two new CHC members, saying we are in a crisis with declining memberships. SPJ HQs has identified 240 CHC members, and is trying to reconcile 14 more (including your secretary). Alex will work on a campaign to reenlist last year’s members who failed to renew.
SPJ HQs reported to Rob that more than 50 percent of our members failed to get emailed ballots from the national conference. Amy Merrick, regional director and DePaul campus adviser, says about the same percentage of her members did not get ballots.

Rob reminds us to use social media to promote our programs. The Facebook event had 40 RSVPs, but only 14 showed up for a great program. Alejandra said the solution to the no-shows is to charge something.
Rob warned against scams. Susan got one, purportedly from Rob asking for something.
Discussion about asking SPJ for program grants.

Treasurer’s report: Greg said there was no income last month. The only expenditures were $5,850 on EIJ and $500 for City Bureau event tickets. As of Sept. 30, we had $1,586.57 in checking and $81,979.34 in savings.
He is concerned about Chicago’s new 9% amusement tax. If we qualify as a non-profit, we will get two exemptions a year. Educational programs are exempt.

Secretary and Foundation report: For the Dec. 9 Toast the Truth, Susan said Bill Kurtis, Felicia Middlebrooks, Rob and she will be hosts. Sun-Times, Daily Herald and Crain will be sponsors at $500 each. More sponsors are being sought.

Programs: Mike confirmed the 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 19 portfolio and pitching event will be at Columbia College. More professionals are needed to advise. Board approved spending up to $100 for snacks.
The Excel training event Nov 16 will be at DePaul.
Rob said some smaller things may be coming up. He will advise.

FOI: Rob said we are looking for new grants. Howard has been exceedingly generous.

Branding: Rob announced two campaigns.
Jason Wambsgans will design, featuring a journalist at work with the hashtag #WeAreTheHeadlineClub. Target Audience: Chicago journalists and news consumers.
New recruitment messaging that more clearly defines our value proposition, so it’s easier to recruit members through concrete talking points. This could be put on the website, on flyers in newsrooms and on postcards that also carry our programming. We start with the headline: Support. Protect. Connect.

Membership: Alex and his committee will be reaching out to members who lapsed in the past year and colleges that don’t have student chapters. NEIU is organizing a student chapter. Alex wants to revive the Roosevelt chapter. Suzanne said the Columbia chapter officially registered. Alex seeks volunteers to pitch SPJ and CHC in newsrooms; we’ll buy donuts.

Lisagor: Madhu needs committee members. Alejandra moved to continue the relationship with the Foundation to reimburse Lisagor dinner costs, and the board approved. Kathy Catrambone will be asked to return as banquet coordinator. Discussion of budget. Greg said costs might go up a few percentage points. Madhu will have a budget at the next meeting.

Watchdog: Jason said we are in good shape on grants and he will seek more. Will promote nominations to the Watchdog Award and Fund late this year. He wants more submissions for the Fund.

Student/Youth outreach: Claire said the committee met recently via conference call. Thanks to people who agreed to be available to speak at groups. They are in a Google doc.

Rob moved and the board approved we spend a total of $250 to send two people to a two-day training called Foundations of Evidence in Data Journalism, organized by WBEZ and the Harris School at the University of Chicago. Alejandra will review applications.

Rob moved and the board agreed to give Public Narrative $500 for us to be a sponsor of the Studs Terkel Awards. We will have two tickets. Volunteers?

Meeting adjourned at 10:03 a.m. Next meeting Fri. Nov. 1.

Respectfully submitted,
Susan S. Stevens, CHC secretary and CHCF president