International Director’s Report
By Dalene J. Whitlock, Western District International Director
The International Board of Direction met on August 11 and 12, 2011, in conjunction with the Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. Representing the Western District were Senior Director Ken Ackeret, whose term expires at the end of 2011, as well as Dalene J. Whitlock and Michael Sanderson. The early part of the meeting had a somber note to it as Executive Director Tom Brahms reported on the Institute financial status, including the projected loss at the St. Louis Meeting. Mr. Brahms noted that he has not hired staff to fill positions established by the Board during the meeting in Orlando due to the economic forecasts. While the Institute is doing well in terms of the income from publications, it is anticipated that about $300,000 will need to be taken from reserves to cover actual expenses. The Institute continues to lose members as those who have lost their jobs often cannot afford to maintain their membership.
Progress has been made in terms of the electronic distribution of information, with two e-newsletters to be issued monthly. Staff is working towards getting all reference materials into digital format, then decisions will need to be made about what to index based on its content, timeliness, topic, and applicability. All of the Institute’s safety related publications have been digitized and are available on the ITE Bookstore for purchase and download, and work proceeds on conversion of the Safety 101 series to be available 24/7. As work progresses staff will also be working on the look of the website to make it more appealing.
President Robert Wunderlich and Executive Director Tom Brahms reported on their attendance at a recent Global Road Safety Partnership meeting, and noted that while the Institute is committed to the underlying principles, it was decided not to invest in full membership at this time, but rather to offer to serve as a technical resource.
President Wunderlich discussed issues relative to International elections, including the amount of travel that candidates are doing and also the way that social networking has impacted the way candidates run their campaigns, and noted that the Institute’s rules do not always provide sufficient guidance relative to new technologies. The Board concurred with his recommendation to establish a panel to solicit input from various types of members, including younger members and those who have been nominated to run for International Vice-President in the past, on what changes we should consider in terms of the format of our elections. It was noted that consideration will be given to the cost of candidate travel and the benefit to the Institute versus having the elected officers traveling more.
The Board took action to allow the use of social media, specified what meetings can be attended that are not counted towards the maximum a candidate can attend, noted that logos of other organizations cannot be used on ITE-sanctioned media, and resolved that candidates cannot accept any new appointments to ITE committees or other positions during candidacy. The Executive Board was asked to prepare updated rules to be voted upon in October.
Vice-President Rock Miller noted that he hopes to have ITE co-sponsor the Pro-Walk-Bike conference that will be in Long Beach next year.
Though the 2012 budget was not adopted until the October Board Meeting, the Institute’s finances were reviewed and feedback provided to staff for their use in developing next year’s budget. The need to raise dues to close the gap between income and expenditures was discussed and were reviewed further in October along with spending cuts to try and achieve a balanced budget.
The cost of annual meetings was a topic of great concern, as always, but especially in these difficult economic times. It was noted that the “welcome” event was moved out of the vendor area and made a theme event (Route 66) this year, and lunches were included as part of the base price rather than being an added cost. Rock Miller noted that there are many issues that underlie the attrition in meeting attendance, including the cost, the economy, and a sense of needing more value for the cost. It was suggested that staff try to build on what works, which are the District meetings, and to depend more on volunteer time to cut staff time allocated to each meeting. Another suggestion was to change the format of the meetings as there have been no big changes in a long time, and changes may be needed to find something that members can get at the Annual Meeting that they cannot get anywhere else. The potential to eliminate the Spring conference should also be considered.
Coordinating Council Chair Pat Noyes reported that all of the Councils have been working on action plans to support and align with the Institute’s Strategic Plan.
Michael Sanderson gave the report for the Leadership Development Committee. He presented the results of a member survey that indicated there is strong support for the training. He noted that the program developed by the Southern District would likely need some changes to work at the International level. President Wunderlich thanked the Southern District for their work, and said he would appoint a new committee to work on developing a program to develop ITE leaders at the International level.
The Board’s next meeting was on October 14-15 in Washington, D.C.