Chapter Presidents' Seminar 2003

By Maurine Barcelo, NFBC Treasurer

Editor's Note: Each year the NFBC provides a leadership seminar for all local chapter presidents.

On March 29, 13 chapter presidents gathered at the state office in Burbank and we held our annual leadership meeting. President Nancy Burns began our meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance which was followed by the NFB pledge. We then had a moment of silence for Pathfinder's Gloria Johnson and Coachella Valley's Christina Golding; both of these presidents passed away last fall. We also recognized those presidents not present due to illness. We gave a warm welcome to the newest chapter presidents, Jason Holloway from San Francisco and Ethell Brandon from the Pathfinder's chapter.

Since many of us were returning presidents, the meeting was a good review. At all presidents meetings a review of a sample agenda always helps all who are present, even those of us who have attended before. It is somewhat of a surprise during the review of the sample agenda to hear questions such as, "Do we have to play the presidential release from national?" The answer is, "Yes, if Dr. Maurer takes his time to record the release, then we can listen." Besides, this is sometimes the only communication that some members have with national. As to the question of, "Can the meetings be recorded?" Generally the meetings should not be recorded. However, certain situations may exist where it could be permitted. President Burns pointed out the fact that in the minutes of the meeting, names of people who have made and seconded a motion should be included. There always seems to be at least one chapter that is not recording names in relation to the motions. Of course the review of the sample agenda is usually first because this is the base for the rest of the meeting.

This year, Jana Littrell, president of the Bay Area chapter, led us in a discussion of NFB philosophy. The general history of the NFB and the NFBC was heard by many for the first time. Jana and president Burns discussed the fact that Dr. tenBroek was Dr. Perry's student. Dr. Perry, a blind educator, founded the California Council of the Blind in the mid-'30s. Then in 1940 Dr. tenBroek organized the NFB. At that time, each state had its own name for its affiliate. California was called California Council of the Blind. In the '70s we all would take the name of the National Federation of the Blind. Our philosophy has always been to improve the lives of the blind. The NFB philosophy is based on love and caring for our blind brothers and sisters. The discussion went well and the knowledge and creative sides of both president Burns and Jana were quite evident during this discussion.

Jana also talked about getting members involved. She said some people can sell candy and some people can do other things. An ongoing task can be as simple, yet important, as having someone make phone calls to remind people of the meeting. The goal is to get everyone active.

We all know that as president, someday we will step down and there will be a new president. Who will fill the position next? What makes a good president? In the words of Dr. Jernigan, "The most important responsibility of a president is to groom a potential future president."

Presidents should be able to listen, hear and respond positively and objectively, not only to people, but to situations that might come up. We need to be caring and understanding, too. We also must remember that being president means that there will be some criticism. Of course, take the constructive criticism and work to improve yourself or the situation. The position of president requires time, responsibility and commitment. Jana also stated that sometimes, because of special situations, there may be changes, and we need to be flexible.

The final item on the agenda was funding the movement. We reviewed the Pre-Authorized Check (PAC) plan and the Associate program in detail for those who were not familiar with them. For anyone interested in either one of these programs, call our state office. President Burns then passed around the Braille jewelry that we will be selling at the national convention. Many seemed to be interested in buying at least one piece. If you will not be attending national, you can call the state office and still obtain some of the jewelry. There is also a possibility of a Celebrate Life II. Since California gave over $90,000 in grants and scholarships last year, continued fundraising is very important. So if anyone has any ideas for a big fundraiser or has any connections, please call president Burns with suggestions.

Our leadership meeting was productive and gave presidents much to think about.

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