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Report on Fall 2007 SSA Board meeting

The Directors held their Fall 2007 meeting at the National SoaringMuseum, Elmira NY, on September 29th and 30th. The meeting included consideration of the report of the Future Restructuring Task Force (FRTF) and a number of decisions of significance regarding the future of the Society were made during the meeting. These are summarized below, along with other important information and actions taken by the Board.

The draft minutes of the meeting can be viewed on the SSA website at and the report of the FRTF is also available.

2006 SSA Financial Audit: The 2006 Audit of the SSA had resulted in the balance sheet as of December 31, 2006 being approved by the auditors without any qualification.

Contest Towplane Insurance: A proposal was approved that all towplanes towing at SSA sanctioned events must carry $1, 000,000 combined single limit liability insurance cover for bodily injury and property damage, whether or not including or excluding passengers. The new rule is effective from January 1, 2008.

“Off Year” Convention Events: It had previously been decided that the SSA would hold national conventions every other year, with the first “off” year being 2009. While some consideration had been given to having the Society sponsor some sort of off-year event, such as a seminar, it was decided (after surveying the views of SSA business members) that no “off year” event of any sort would take place in 2009, and following that experience, a timely decision and action could be made for the next “off year” (2011).

Bylaw Change – Special Regional Director Elections: A bylaw amendment was approved allowing Special Regional Director Elections. This would allow members in a region that had failed to nominate a candidate in a timely fashion during the regular election cycle to do so, and hold a special election at a different time. The Board immediately approved the holding of Special Elections, to be advertised as soon as possible, in Regions 1, 6 and 11.

Specific Recommendations of the Future Restructuring Task Force:

The Task Force felt that the present organizational structure of the Society was mainly sound, but that three primary areas required improvement: (1) The structure and functions of the Board and top management needed to be strengthened. (2) The list of member services needed to be reduced to ensure that available resources were not overstretched. (3) Soaring magazine quality needed to be improved and its revenue-generating capability increased.

Hire a Strong Executive Director (ED): After discussing the financial realities and uncertainties faced by the SSA, it was recognized that current SSA finances were insufficient to secure the services of an adequately skilled and experienced ED. In light of this, the Board authorized the promotion of Ms. Denise Layton to the position of full-time “Chief Operating Officer”.

Reduce the Number of Regional Directors: The Board agreed with the FRTF that the number of regions and Regional Directors should be reduced, but that implementation would require careful planning and timing to ensure fairness in addressing Director positions that were intended to be eliminated. The FRTF was asked to devise and recommend to the Board a detailed plan, including drafting suggested Bylaw changes, to implement in a fair and equitable manner the reduction in the total number of regions from 12 to 10, with each region having only one elected Regional Director holding office for 3 years.

Change the At-Large Director Term to Three Years: The Board felt no particular problems had been encountered from having Directors-at-Large elected to one year terms and decided to make no change. It was also decided to create an additional Director-at-Large position to used for the Bylaw-mandated NAA representative, making 7 in all.

Periodic Setting of Regional Areas: The Board agreed with periodic re-evaluation of SSA regions, including boundaries, to ensure they represented similar numbers of members and reflected other relevant concerns, and asked the members of the FRTF to recommend in detail the form and timing of such re-evaluation.

Expand Role of Nominating Committee: The FRTF recommended expanding the role of the committee to identify Regional Director candidates as well as Officers and Directors-at-Large, however the Board decided it was unrealistic to expand the committee’s task while the well-known difficulties in identifying willing, qualified candidates for officer and Director-at-Large positions persisted. The hope was expressed that once the membership better recognized that the Society was achieving financial normalcy, and better understood the role of Regional Directors, finding qualified candidates for these positions would become easier.

Annual Financial Audits: The Board unanimously endorsed the FRTF recommendation to continue to conduct annual audits, with outside auditors being approved by an audit or other appropriate committee, and with audit reports being posted on the website.

Financial Reporting: The Board approved the FRTF recommendation for timely and transparent reporting of quarterly and annual financials, and observance of financial reporting agreements with affiliates, divisions, the US Team, the SSF, and the SSA Foundation.

Reach Out for Volunteers: The Board agreed with the FRTF that task and time commitments of volunteer activities should be clearly delineated, with calls for volunteers being publicized in e-News and with full details on the website. It was also agreed that State Governors should be enlisted to help identify volunteer resources.

Reduce or Eliminate SSA Merchandizing: The Board decided that significant further work was required analyzing costs before the profitability of the present program could be ascertained and meaningful decisions made.

Hire a Professional Editor for Soaring: The Board approved this recommendation, and a Task Force was subsequently formed to search for a new Editor.

Editorial Redesign for Soaring: It was decided that this recommendation properly fell within the purview of a new full-time editor, when appointed.

Create a Functioning Editorial Board for Soaring: The Board agreed with the FRTF recommendation that a functioning Soaring magazine Editorial Board (SEB) be created, and that the chair of this board would be a volunteer. The SEB would solicit articles, and assist the editor in preparing for publication. It was hoped that existing Contributing Editors would be willing to become members of the SEB.

Engage a Publisher to Produce and Promote Soaring: The Board agreed in principle with this FRTF recommendation to enlist the assistance of a magazine publisher, with the specific hope of expanding revenue generating advertising, promote the magazine, and assist with its production. The Board asked that the task force further develop and refine its proposal, and report back.

Increase Utilization of Website: The recommendation to increase website utilization was accepted by the Board.

Maintain and Promote the SSA Insurance Program: It was agreed by the Board that the SSA should continue to market and improve this important member benefit.

Increase Efficiency of Badge and Record Program: The Board agreed to institute online submission of A, B, C, and Bronze badges. It was also decided, if possible, to automate portions of the FAI badge and record application process using commercially available software.

Turn National Conventions over to Regional Groups: Arguments were made for and against giving convention responsibility to regional groups. The FRTF was asked to conduct further, in-depth consideration of this issue.

Posted: 10/30/2007