March 2012 Minutes

UAA Executive Committee Meeting
March 15, 2012
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
TetraTech Offices, Arlington, Virginia


Board Members in Attendance:  Frank Almaguer, George Hill, Jim Michel, Alex Shakow, David Sprague and Ann Van Dusen

Board Members Absent:  Margaret Carpenter

Committee Co-Chairs in Attendance:  David Cohen, Curt Farrar, Paula Goddard, Brad Langmaid, Pamela Mandel, Nancy Tumavick

Committee Co-Chairs Absent:  Larry Smucker

UAA Intern: Kristina Short

Meeting Chair: Alex Shakow


1.  Review and approval of the February 16, 2012 minutes:  

Minutes from the February 16, 2012 Executive Committee meeting were circulated prior to the meeting and were unanimously approved by the UAA Board for posting in the UAA Website.


2.  Report on new members:  

The UAA has gained 20 new members since the 2011AGM. 16 of those members have registered since the start of the 2012 membership campaign.

The Board discussed the period of time covered by membership contributions. It concluded that membership contributions are intended to be for the calendar year, irrespective of when in the year the contribution is made.

The possibility of offering lifetime membership, for an as-yet-undecided amount, was brought up. This option will be tabled for the current year and reconsidered in 2013, after analyzing the outcome of the 2012 membership campaign.


3.  Update on the new membership campaign and contributions:

  • Executive Committee members were reminded to continue to reach out to their networks, with emphasis on personal outreach.  They were asked to help bring in at least five new contributing members each.
  • The registration and contribution processes were clarified.  Directory registration and membership contributions are handled as two separate functions on the website. The Executive Committee agreed that, in addition to those already confirmed on the UAA alumni roster (whether contributors or not), everyone who registers should initially be included in the directory and given assess to the directory password. Individuals can then opt-out of having their information visible. A brief note will be added to the “thank you e-mails” sent to contributors and a similar one to all who are registered to ask that their UAA website profile be updated, if necessary.
  • Regional Member Groups: The membership committee presented information gathered by Don Soules on five states with clusters of retirees that will be used to test regional group strategies: North Carolina, California, Washington, Oregon, and Florida.  Nancy will send the list prepared by Don to the Executive Committee for review and feedback.  Kristina will circulate a list of people who opened the last Newsletter, along with people who contributed last year and people who already contributed since January 1, 2012 to provide a more accurate count of alumni who are actively engaged with the UAA.
  • FSN Advisory group: Nancy will discuss further at the April meeting the issue of reaching out to retired FSNs and getting more of them to join. The registration form will be revised to include a line for FSNs to indicate their status.
  • Foreign Service Institute Retirement Seminar (March 30th): Brad will attend and take copies of UAA brochure and urge retiring USAID employees to join the UAA. The UAA also will provide brochures to HR at USAID and request that these brochures be included in retirement packets.
  • Options for future outreach to new retirees: 
  • Find out if DACOR is still holding receptions prior to the FSI Retirement Seminar and, if not, discuss the possibility of the UAA hosting or co-hosting an event in the future.
  • Membership cards or other tangible items that denote membership in the UAA.


4.  2012 Budget: 

The UAA budget estimate for 2012 recurring costs (e.g., intern, website) is $7,000 to $8,000, with a current balance of approximately $11,600. No requests have been received from committees regarding funding they may need this year, leaving $3,000 to $4,000 available in the budget for activities.

George will send Committee Chairs a request for details on any activities that may require financial support. Committee Co-Chairs should return requests to George for incorporation into a final budget document to be presented at the April Executive Committee meeting.

The UAA is currently undergoing an internal audit to ensure that all financial documents are in order and that all legal requirements for non-profits are being met. George will circulate income tax-related information. This is in preparation for an external audit required of all 501c(3)s.

The Executive Committee briefly discussed – without any decision – the possibility of seeking corporate donations.

Next Steps:

  1. Alex Shakow will follow up on the possibility of corporate donations and report back at April meeting.
  2. George will distribute a final version of the UAA budget that takes into account possible committee spending needs.


5.  Items for the April Newsletter: 

The April Newsletter will be distributed to UAA members in early-to-mid April and will include:

  • Welcome to and listing of new members
  • Alumni Profile of Sean O’Leary, written by Patrick Radaer
  • Brief description and link to Ben Barber’s interviews conducted at the 2011 AGM
  • New on the UAA Website
  • Write-up on the previous social event and possible information on the next one.


6.  Communication – Distribution Lists, Website, etc.: 

UAA Executive Assistant Kristina Short and David Cohen provided a primer on UAA communication mechanisms, including electronic distribution lists, alumni directory access and registration and contribution functions on the UAA Website. The Executive Committee also discussed the basics of Skype in anticipation of future conference calls.

A reference sheet detailing UAA distribution lists, directory access, and Skype communications was circulated to all Executive Committee members for future reference.


7.  Report on UAA’s first happy hour:

The UAA Happy Hour, held on February 29, 2012, had 23 attendees. Three individuals who signed up to attend did not show.

Members discussed several factors that may influence attendance, including geographic location, time, date and traffic conditions, as well as formal vs. casual atmosphere. Several members were in favor of rotating social events around the Washington, DC area (No.Va., DC, Bethesda). Additional ideas for future social events include:

  • A picnic when weather allows
  • A Sunday afternoon reception (catered)
  • Groups hosted at houses based on shared areas of interest (e.g., geographic, technical skill areas)

The Executive Committee briefly discussed the question of the UAA partially subsidizing costs for social events, particularly in the case of regional events. Additionally, it was suggested, without a decision, that contributing members could pay lesser fee than non contributing alumni.

The Membership Committee will meet on Tuesday, March 20, 2012.  Ideas for future social events should be sent to Nancy, who will put forward options based on Membership Committee discussions.


8.  Affinity Groups: 

The Executive Committee considered how the UAA can work both internally and externally to increase the visibility of the UAA in the development and foreign affairs community.  Our objective would be to:

  • Articulate in those settings the interests and views of the UAA and of our members.
  • Develop alternative vehicles for getting the word out on the UAA.
  • Provide a service to our members by linking (through our website) groups that may be of interest to our members as they seek to remain connected to the foreign affairs and international development community.
  • Capture the expertise of those groups that have been around longer in terms of membership drives, activities that attract and retain members, etc.

Associating formally or informally with affinity groups may serve UAA interests.  On the other hand, most of these groups have interests and roles (e.g., AFSA’s role in “collective bargaining”) that we do not share.  Hence, we will need to be judicious on this type of outreach.

One option considered was placing a notice and article in AFSA’s “Foreign Service Journal” and in the State Department magazine. Similarly, ensure that USAID’s “Front Lines” covers UAA activities. Frank, Alex, and Ann will meet with AFSA on March 15, 2012 and will explore options for UAA interaction with AFSA.  They will report on this meeting at the next Executive Committee meeting.

The Executive Committee also examined working with groups such MFAN, USGLC, InterAction and CIDC) that help promote the “150” account and the “USAID Forward” agenda. These groups are beginning to play an active role in supporting a robust foreign aid budget and other unique interests of our membership (e.g., environmental and health issues).

In addition, the committee was in agreement that the UAA needs to strengthen collaboration with DACOR, both in support of the Development Dialogue series and social activities, in additions to being another outlet for reaching out to USAID retirees.

Future discussions will further define the criteria used to select organizations with which the UAA may wish to affiliate and the nature of that formal or informal affiliation.


9.  Jim Michel’s March 3rd meeting with USAID Counselor Bambi Arellano: 

Jim Michel reported on his meeting with Bambi Arellano to follow-up on earlier discussions of UAA support for and engagement with USAID.

A. USAID policy and learning agenda: 

UAA may be able to play a role in public outreach about proposed policies. It was suggested that the UAA recommend a few highly qualified alumni who will participate in briefings and consultations with other stakeholders. This offers an opportunity for the UAA to have systematic participation in dialogues with USAID and make ongoing contributions to the development agenda.

Larry Smucker and Curt Farrar, Development Committee Co-Chairs, will act as UAA points of contact and coordinate with Sohini Chatterjee at USAID/PPL to move forward with enabling USAID alumni to participate in stakeholder discussions. Curt will report back on conversations with Sohini at the April meeting.

B. Leadership gap mentoring: 

David Cohen and Pam Mandel will follow-up with USAID/HR on mentorship needs and what support UAA and USAID alumni can provide. They will work to clarify potential requirements, such as long- term mentorship.

C. Special Events and Outreach Opportunities:  

Bambi will communicate with principal USAID coordinators for outreach events and will try to establish a central USAID point-of-contact with whom the key UAA points-of-contact, UAA Co-Chairs Ann Van Dusen and Brad Langmaid, can communicate about upcoming events.

Next Steps: Jim Michel will send a letter to Bambi documenting the above points and reflecting the Executive Committee guidance.


10.  Other business:

  • Next month, the UAA Board and Executive Committee will begin preliminary discussion of the 2012 AGM. The question of alternative venues will be one of the issues reviewed.
  • A separate Executive Committee session for planning beyond the one-year cycle will be scheduled for May. This proposed session will consider a new longer- term (2 – 3 year) business plan for presentation to and consideration at the next AGM.


11.  Next meeting: 

The April Executive Committee meeting will be held April 19th, 2012, from 10:30 am – 12:30 pm, at the TetraTech Offices in Arlingon, VA.

The regular Executive Committee meeting for May will take place on Thurs., May 17.

For June, the meeting will take place on Thurs., June 21.

In addition to scheduling the Special Executive Meeting in May, as proposed in item 10 above, the April Executive Committee meeting will consider the regular monthly meetings during the July and August summer period.