May 2022 ABA Board Meeting

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Day One — Tuesday, May 10, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm ET

The May Board meeting began with a welcome from Board President Christine Onorati. (Due to a possible COVID exposure, Christine attended the meeting virtually and co-Vice President Angela María Spring attended virtually for the first day then joined in person. ABA CEO Allison Hill ran the meeting.)

Next, Board members conveyed any dualities of interest that might be pertinent to the agenda planned for the three-day meeting, a procedure that this Board added last year to strengthen governance. (They also made the decision last year to disclose all Board Director dualities of interest on Bookweb for full transparency.)

CEO Allison Hill gave a reminder that ABA’s Ends Policies prioritize a “commitment to antiracism, equity, access, and representation.” This is an ongoing addition to agendas, begun this year, to help the Board be mindful of this commitment during their discussions.

The Board approved the February, March, and April board minutes then did a quick check-in about what was going on with everyone personally and at their stores — something positive and something challenging. (This was the Board’s first in-person Board meeting since January 2020.)

The Board’s main focus for the day was on futurecasting — one of the primary roles of the Board. The discussion topic was The Future of Bookselling and the Board's Role in Preparing for the Future — challenges and opportunities for the bookselling industry and the ABA Board’s role in positioning ABA to meet these challenges and opportunities.

Other agenda items covered in the afternoon included:

ABA CEO Allison Hill and COO Joy Dallanegra-Sanger briefing the Board on the ongoing publisher meetings that take place annually in the Spring.

The Board created a Board Vendor Policy to establish a timeline for review of vendors that the Board is responsible for hiring: auditor, general counsel, investment manager, and compliance & ethics hotline vendor.

ABA CEO Allison Hill discussed her quarterly CEO Report and answering questions. She also presented her Monitoring Report for Ends Policy 1.0 and the Board determined that she met the benchmarks and was interpreting the Ends in line with the Board’s intention when setting the outcome.  (The Board writes ABA’s Ends Policies which are the desired outcomes of ABA’s work. It’s the CEO’s job to interpret those Ends; in other words, determine how to achieve those outcomes, and establish metrics to measure success. The CEO then reports regularly on those metrics.)

The Board ended the day in a Board-only session to discuss the methodology for the CEO evaluation process going forward then the meeting adjourned for the day.

The Board gathered for dinner and toasted incoming Board member Jeff Deutsch and his new book, In Praise of Good Bookstores.

Day Two — Wednesday, May 11, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm ET

The Board began Day Two of the meeting with a discussion of Board dynamics and communication — ways to improve, what Board education is needed, etc.

Then the Board moved in to the first of two external meetings related to their earlier future discussion: John Rubin, CEO & New Product Development Director, and Deidre Dumpson, Retail and Library Client Success Manager, joined the Board virtually to discuss ongoing and future projects with Edelweiss and Above the Treeline.

Afterwards the Board was joined by ABA staff for lunch. 

After lunch Allison and ABA CFO PK Sindwani presented the Q2 Financial Projection — ABA is on track with the budget for the year — then the Board had the second external future meeting: Andy Hunter, CEO, and Sarah High, Senior Partnerships Manager, joined the Board in person to discuss ongoing and future projects at Bookshop.

The day ended with a discussion of the upcoming Annual Meeting & Town Hall then the meeting adjourned for the day.

The Board went out to dinner then had a goodbye toast for exiting Board member Michelle Malonzo.

Day Three — Thursday, May 12, 9:00 am – 11:15 am ET

The final day of the meeting began with some Board housekeeping including the Board self-evaluation form used by the Nominating Committee when reviewing Board nominees. Allison Hill shared an update on the Book Industry Charitable Foundation’s mental health support program for booksellers.

The Board then discussed the nomination process, the specific challenges Board service presents, and how improvements can be made that support the Board’s commitment to equity and inclusion. There was specific discussion about how white Board members can better support BIPOC Board members and how others could be be better allies — i.e., speaking up when we hear racist language, etc.

The Board then wrapped up the day reiterating action items from the meeting, brainstorming future agenda items, and discussing the schedule for future meetings.

The meeting was adjourned at 11:15am ET for an early lunch before everyone departed.