Board Meeting Minutes
photo_camera Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
A rescued rooster at Farm Sanctuary's Acton shelter

2018

July 24, 2018

Board members present: Kelly Witwicki, Jonas Vollmer, Diana Fleischman

Meeting moderator: Kelly Witwicki

Minute taker: Diana Fleischman

Agenda items:

  1. Formalities
  2. Q2 2018 report
  3. Board of advisors

The board meeting starts at noon ET.

1. Formalities

Diana Fleischman was decided as the minute taker. We didn’t have a formal agenda but we did go through the quarterly report.

2. Q2 2018 report

Funding and budget: Kelly said SI has completed a whole year and has runway until March 2019. In estimating the runway Kelly excludes unusual grants. Kelly says she is comfortable budgeting a little over 250K a year. Including money CEA is holding SI has roughly 170K in the bank. Kelly said SI now has the funding to make salaries commensurate with other organizations’ entry-level salaries. SI is more funding constrained than talent constrained so it’s okay for now to offer entry level salaries. Jonas discussed with Kelly estimating funding runway including how much diversity of funding an org needs and how much runway to optimally have. Kelly said SI is increasing the amount to spend on Jacy’s speaking tour by about 5K.

Salaries: Jonas said other EA orgs regret not raising salaries earlier. Kelly intends SI to be very egalitarian salary-wise with herself and Jacy making no more than high-level research staff. Also, Kelly is skeptical about a policy of paying everyone what they ask for because men tend to ask for more money than women. One way of addressing the salary issue is asking “how secure do you feel with your finances at the moment?” and raising people’s salaries due to their response to that question, rather than because they asked for more money. Kelly thought that might be a good way to go about calibrating salaries.

Accomplishments: Blogs, research, case studies, op-eds, interviews, talks. Kelly talked about how Jacy made a post about “what do we mean by sentience” which is more armchair/less empirical than they prefer to be. In terms of response to data and research we are seeing advocates make intellectual updates but not yet making changes in practice. This is to be expected, change is slow. That’s why the blog about 3 changes that should happen in the animal rights movement was important — it was actionable change. The GM foods case study has been really useful. Clean meat entrepreneurs are grateful and some seem keen to put this knowledge into practice already. Insight that emphasizing moral motivations is important for clean meat industry. GMO failed hard because they were perceived as being profit-driven corporations despite starting as morally-driven startups. Brief conversation about how Lewis Bollard and SI view converge and diverge. Kelly talked about how she and Jacy both presented at the major US AR conference. Kelly spoke at EAG with Kieran Grieg of ACE and helped organize a gender equity mini conference for AR.

Mistakes and updates: Kelly is grateful that CEA still sponsors SI — the 1023 is finally submitted but this took much longer than it should have because the pro-bono lawyers kept pushing it to their backburner.

Perspective updates: Kelly is stepping away from the EA community due to a variety of issues around inclusion, like toxic masculinity in the community and excluding some of the right people. Also Kelly thinks EA has very low intellectual rigor when it comes to nonhuman animals and the inclusionary aspect of movement-building relative to other topics. Kelly added that things may not be as bad as she thinks but perhaps seem more that way because of her frustrating personal history with EA on both fronts. Jacy is still going to engage in EA. This quarter Kelly had a lot of excellent conversations at AR about effective strategizing and now believes that hostility towards EA in the AR community has much more to do with co-optive and bad implementation of EA in AR than with fundamental issues with EA principles themselves. Jonas said that formalizing a framing of “s-risks” made discussions of dystopian futures more accessible and exciting to x-risk people, perhaps a similar reframing approach could increase interest in MCE in EA.

Concluding remarks (mostly) from Kelly: Maybe we should be doing more content output for the purposes of advocacy — things that give people harder evidence and doing research that might update AR more on questions we feel we have sufficient evidence on, like the use of cartoonish costumes.

Plans for the upcoming quarter: These include a speaking tour for Jacy. Kelly is considering fundraising more aggressively — at the moment she has been letting the product speak for itself but she could pursue more and deeper conversations about SI’s insights with influencers  as well as try more actively to get funds for SI. SI is onboarding Jamie next week. Next week Kelly will be speaking with a couple of directors of large animal sanctuaries. Sanctuaries get bypassed, have a bigger potential role in the movement and haven’t yet been offered tools other groups have in improving their programs. Diana said they might need help with entry and exit surveys in order to evaluate their impact on attitudes. Kelly is trying to finish her moral circle lit review and also said she has underestimated the time going to overhead, but now appreciates that it will probably always be ~75% of her time, which puts SI at an overhead rate of ~15% if any donors care. Jacy is probably going to have time to complete a messaging study, if not this quarter then next quarter. Kelly is going to make the talk she gave at AR into a blog post. Jonas brought up tracking SI’s influence on organizations and individuals more carefully, also for fundraising purposes. Kelly thought this was a good suggestion, just a matter of figuring out how to do this beyond annual survey, e.g. making notes of messaging changes.

3. Advisory board

Kelly sent out emails and a handful of people got back to her. She couldn’t find the names at that time but said she would get back to us. Diana and Jonas agreed with going ahead with the advisory board in general.

The board meeting closes at 1pm ET.

January 22, 2018

Board members present: Kelly Witwicki, Jonas Vollmer, Diana Fleischman

Meeting moderator: Kelly Witwicki

Minute takers: Diana Fleischman, Jonas Vollmer

Agenda items:

  1. Formalities
  2. Funding update
  3. Minutes for 2017 board meetings
  4. Board responsibilities
  5. Board of advisors
  6. Annual board reviews of finances, ED performance, and programs
  7. Transparency page and conflicts of interest

The board meeting starts at noon ET.

1. Formalities

The meeting was held via video call. Diana was appointed as minute taker. Jonas was tasked with editing the minutes after the meeting.

2. Funding update

Kelly gave a funding update. While there is less money than they thought initially because of a couple of errors, there is enough of a runway for SI for some time, at least 10 months. Kelly also predicted a greater pool of donors once SI’s work is more widely known.

3. Minutes for 2017 board meetings

The board agreed to publish minutes on its website from now on. The board agreed that it will not publish minutes for 2017 because it has not made that many major decisions in the past few months. In case there is demand, SI might publish these minutes at a later date.

4. Board responsibilities

The board agreed that Jonas should be the chair of the board (i.e. schedule board meetings, prepare the meeting agenda, take meeting notes). Meetings will be held quarterly from now on.

5. Board of advisors

Several reasons for having a board of advisors were discussed, such as giving people who are already helping with editing and advising some kind of title, or improving SI's credibility. Invitations to the board of advisors should only be given to people for whom this does not cause conflicts of interest. Several potential candidates were discussed.

6. Annual board reviews of finances, ED performance, and programs

Jonas was tasked with developing a process for evaluating executive director performance.

7. Transparency page and conflicts of interest

Kelly said that the transparency page for SI will gradually get filled out. The board members will have to list disclosures of potential conflicts of interest on that page.

The board meeting closes at 1pm ET.


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