2016 President's Report

Introduction: The following is the report given by Tiffany Jolliff, now the immediate past president of ACBS, at the American Council of the Blind's national convention this past July. Here's what she has to say.

I first want to welcome and congratulate our 2016 scholarship winners!
It was a banner year for ACBS. We had a big hill, more like a mountain to climb between Dallas and now. Let me take a minute to tell our new members about the accomplishments of this affiliate:

  1. 501c3 distinction- ACBS was established in 1974. While we have had great successes in the past with fundraising, we did not have the ability to reach our full potential. That is until this year. As of late February, ACBS retained a 501c3 distinction. This means that when we ask for donations from organizations, those donations will be tax exempt. Organizations are much happier to donate when they know they can deduct them at the end of the year.
  2. Website / social media presence: When I took this position last summer, ACBS did not have a website, E-mail lists, our twitter wasn't active, and no one was posting in our Facebook group. As you can expect, without this presence, no one knew anything about what the students were doing — including the students themselves. As of this year, our Facebook group is active again with 232 members. We have 272 followers on our rekindled Twitter account. Minh has revitalized a Facebook page, and we now have 180 likes. Ty and Chris worked diligently, and not only set up our website and E-mail lists, but also took back our acbstudents.org domain name, and at minimal cost.
  3. Calls: When I took office, the board was not meeting regularly, and I also had no minutes from the past year to help me understand where the students had been. The board not only held monthly calls, but Sarah Wiles also took and posted amazing board minutes. IT is our hope that in the coming year, board minutes will be made public. Unfortunately, this year, we were rebuilding so much, that a lot of what we discussed was confidential. We are now in a position where that is not as necessary.
    We have also reestablished all-affiliate calls with interesting speakers. I was happy to hear so many people on our last call with Janet as she discussed the convention schedule. These affiliate calls will continue in the future.
  4. Relationships- When I spoke to the group last year, I said that the most important objective the students needed to meet was rebuilding relationships. As you can see this year, we have done that. We are holding events with RSVA, GDUI, Information Access Committee, and BPI. We also bugged Lane and Nancy in the Minneapolis office relentlessly. They have been instrumental with making sure that our bank accounts are reconciled, that our taxes are filed correctly, and have helped us with whatever other issues have arisen.

I also want to briefly thank our board advisors, Katie Frederick, Rebecca Bridges, Ray Campbell and Tom Tobin. Without their assistance on every board call, we would not have been able to accomplish so much this year.
This past year was a transition year. The things we accomplished were not "sexy." However, what we have done, is built a foundation for our next board. Throughout the year, I had to say no to a lot of big ideas, simply because we didn't have the infrastructure to accomplish them. Moving forward, because of what we accomplished, many big ideas can actually come to fruition.
It has been an honor to serve as your president. I thank my board for trusting my leadership. I thank the students who have stuck with us this year while we rebuilt. I thank the new students for being so receptive over the past month and a half or so. I look forward to seeing the results of Tuesday's election, and I look forward to continuing to get to know you in my role as immediate past president.