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Annual Member Meeting Minutes
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Each year at the Catholic Media Conference, CPA hosts a member meeting that allows members to meet in person with the Board of Directors. The President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Executive Director provide reports stating the progress and goals of the association.

All of the reports from the most recent meeting on June 25, 2015 are posted below. You may also click here to download a full copy of the minutes.

President's Report

President DeFrancesco welcomed new CPA board members Kerry Weber, John Feister and Ana Rodriguez-Soto, and the new officers: Deirdre Mays, secretary; Joe Towalski, vice president; and Matt Schiller, president. He also thanked departing board members Maria Scaperlanda, Peter Finney and Lynn Monahan for their service.

President DeFrancesco provided an update on finding a new CPA treasurer to replace Matt Schiller. As of today, the association does not have one. The Nominations Committee has reached out to Penny Reichhart, controller for OSV Publishing, who agreed to be nominated. An election will be held in about a week. Executive director Tim Walter said the association solicited nominations from members but did not receive any other qualified candidates. With regard to Reichhart, members will vote to approve or not approve her as treasurer.

President DeFrancesco highlighted some of the successes over the last few years, including engaging in a strategic planning process, identifying a vision and goals for the association that have led to greater accountability, stronger member services, financial stability and greater responsiveness to the changing media landscape. An area that still requires attention is creating a pathway for membership, including a dues structure, for digital-only publications and those transitioning from print to digital.

Secretary's Report

Secretary Joe Towalski reported total CPA membership through May 14, 2015, in all membership classes, stands at 762. This is a 7 percent increase from May 2014 and almost a 10 percent increase over the last two years. The biggest growth categories were general publisher staff members, affiliates (individuals) and freelance members. A half-price membership drive the association ran this spring brought in 51 new members, mostly staff from member publications. Towalski explained the Membership Committee’s new approach of making a personal contact with new applicants both before and after the board votes on their membership.

Treasurer's Report

Treasurer Matt Schiller reported that in 2014, total support and revenue for the association was $668,574; expenses were $606,441, for a change in net assets of about $64,000. The CPA’s new auditors, Knutte & Associates, presented the association with a final report in a timely manner and offered a clean opinion. The treasurer’s report is included in the CPA Annual Report. Work done in the last few years has stabilized the CPA’s finances, which was one of the goals of the strategic plan. The association can now save for contingencies.

Executive Director's Report

Tim Walter highlighted the association’s strategic planning outcomes — what has been accomplished and what still needs work. The CPA has refined its mission, increased its CMC partnerships and consultation services and continues to build its education services, including a Fundamentals of the Catholic Church webinar that will be launched this week at CMC and offered in the fall. The association also has increased its visibility and credibility thanks in part to publishing an annual report for members. Grant awards have increased significantly for its consultation services and education programs.

Responding to a question about digital memberships, Tim said he talked to the board about having the vice president focus on membership. Questions that need to be answered include what the dues structure should be for digital publishers. A committee will be set up to look at how to serve the changing media landscape. While the vice president will focus on membership issues, maintaining the membership roster and providing the annual membership report will remain the CPA secretary’s responsibility.

Tim said another strategic planning goal was organizational and financial stability by late 2014. At the end of 2013, the association had net assets of +$22,000; at the end of 2014, it was +$64,000; by the end of this year there will be almost twice that amount in reserve. Expenses are under control. Revenue programs are slightly above budget.

Responding to a question about what amount would be a reasonable reserve, Tim said Treasurer Matt Schiller would contact the auditors for their opinion. Tim will discuss a goal amount with the board after receiving information from the auditors.

Another goal of the association is to expand membership to engage a broader segment of Catholic communicators. The CPA sponsored a half-price membership drive in the spring. The drive resulted in more freelance memberships and may indicate that the usual membership fee is too high for freelancers. He will discuss this with the Membership Committee.

Another goal has been to develop professional growth programs. The association initiated a pilot training program in 2014, and it needs to continue work to strengthen the vocational identity of Catholic communicators.

Regarding membership outreach and services, Tim reiterated the plan to move membership responsibilities to the vice president to strengthen this office’s role and visibility. Efforts are needed to reach out to lapsed members, non-members and digital members. A dues structure needs to be created for digital publishers. Other needs include a consistent membership recruitment process.

Tony Spence said last year’s member meeting minutes noted that Archbishop Joseph Kurtz called for a dialogue between Catholic media and bishops. In the past, a panel of bishops was included as part of CMC. Tony asked if there was a consensus among the board members to maintain a dialogue between the bishops and CPA. President DeFrancesco said yes, and it will be part of the board’s agenda moving ahead. Discussion continued regarding possible efforts focused on advocating for the Catholic press, including the role of bishops in this endeavor and how they interface with their own communications directors and editors.

Regarding the CMC for 2017, Tim said exploratory discussions have been positive for a conference in Quebec City that would be more international in nature and include Signis, the world association for Catholic communicators. The conference would be held at Laval University. Although airfare costs would likely be higher, lodging costs would be less. The CPA would work with two Catholic communications organizations in Canada for program planning. Tim will send a meeting planner there to provide financial projections for the association.

Regarding the CPA sponsoring fundraising tours as revenue source, Tim noted there is a tour scheduled to Ireland in late October-early November with Bishop Donald Hying of Gary, Indiana. Tours can help keep down CPA administrative and member costs. He asked if members would be willing to run ads for the association-sponsored tours. Some indicated they would be willing to run ads for future tours.

Regarding outreach to young adults, Tim said the CPA has no relationship with young, Catholic journalists. The association is looking to work with Catholic universities to start a Catholic press awards program for students, offer publication memberships without voting privileges, train student editors and offer network opportunities. In the discussion that followed, three members said it would also be important to include Catholic students at non-Catholic universities.

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