Board Meeting, 09/30/2011 to 10/02/2011

Meeting Agenda

  • Meeting called to order
  • Brief introduction to the new website
  • President’s report
  • First Vice President’s report
  • Treasurer’s report
  • Past & future of the AHF (defining the AHF)
  • Membership responsibilities & benefits
  • Future key projects
  • Scheduling next special board meeting to review bylaws

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38 Comments

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38 Responses to Board Meeting, 09/30/2011 to 10/02/2011

  1. Cecil Longino

    I would like to call this meeting to order by briefly discussing some points about the website.

    Brief introduction to the new website:

    Firstly, feel free to peruse the site and enjoy the fact that the site is finally live. The site has gone through many changes in platforms, volunteers and webmasters before this final version went live. Many thanks to Kim Moser, William Elder and Keena Suh for their time on this un the past and Jeannette Acosta-Martinez, Keena Suh and Ben Miller for their tireless work on content.

    The current version of the site was created this summer by Stephanie Zimmerman who is our current webmaster. The site is built on a content management system which features an extended membership module, allowing for future growth and outreach opportunities for AHF members. However, due to limitations on volunteer time, any major improvements to the site (including forum discussion expansion) will be considered in a website beautification project to be considered next summer.

    More articles about fencing history will be made available to members soon.

    For communication purposes, board members are given access to dicussions unavailable to general members. Once you login, you can see all content available to the board member level. However, if you forget to login or if a non-board member attempts to access restricted pages, they/you will be sent to a membership signup screen.

    We have set up discussion boards for various committees (available to general members) and projects to discuss regular business. Discussions are currently managed by blog subject and post-comment threads. These are hierarchical, which means you can respond to a specific comment by clicking Reply under the comment itself (like the President’s Report), or you can reply to the overall post (or meeting in our case) by immediately typing in the comment field at the bottom of the meeting post.

    Next is the President’s Report…

    • Invited Guest to Board Meeting

      For full disclosure, the webmaster (Stephanie Zimmerman) will be monitoring this first board meeting off and on – just to make sure everything is working for people.

  2. Jeff Richardson

    “For communication purposes, board members are given access to dicussions unavailable to general members. Once you login, you can see all content available to the board member level. ”

    Can you outline where these areas are. I am not seeing anything that would be board members only on the website. Other than this discussion which has no website link and was accessed through the link in thee-mail you sent me.

    • Jeff, excellent question about navigation.

      Because most people viewing the site are usually general public looking for fencing history information or membership news, all of the behind the scene communication posts are currently housed under the Mission & Structure link found under the “About the AHF” heading in the SideBar.

      I’ll keep log of usabilty comments like this when considering navigation changes in future builds.

      • I had envisioned that General Membership Meetings (which we currently have a place holder link for under the Membership Corner in the sidebar) would be where Committee participation would be announced and pointed out to interested members. [currently we just have place holder conversations for the committee spaces]

      • Jeff Richardson

        Thank you, I saw those and noticed they were listed as members only. I guess I was responding to Cecil’s comment that there were board member only areas linked off the site.

  3. Cecil Longino

    President’s Report
    The new website project is successfully completed! This project has consumed a great amount of time and resources but now we can redirect some of those efforts to additional projects. The new website is already showing positive results. The AHF has been receiving new members as a direct result of the website’s launch.

    As you can tell from the meeting agenda we have some important topics to cover. While the AHF has managed to accomplish a number of excellent things in its past: Rule sets for classical and historical fencing tournaments, professional level fencing judges training, assisting other organizations with historical education and hosting various lectures on historical topics. I feel, we have yet to really grow the AHF into its full potential. The organization itself came into being to fill a number of needs in the greater fencing community that have changed since the AHF’s first years. It is now time to really focus our resources, efforts and organizational direction. Because the AHF is equally concerned with preserving historical information pertaining to and involving aspects around fencing, we should attempt to make our organization attractive to professional historians, research librarians and other antiquarians. The AHF, as a nonpartisan organization, is in a unique position to attract university level scholars and professional researchers. I believe by attracting other (non-fencing) professionals into the AHF, we will greatly increase the quality and amount of accurate information the AHF can offer to its greater membership. I would like to see the AHF grow to an organization that may one day rival other professional organizations (such as the Journal of Military History) in the presentation of historical articles and preservation of period documents.

    Next, I would like to note that as we continue to grow as a professional organization, some changes will need to occur which will allow us to function in a more orderly fashion. I would like to encourage all board members to take a more active role in facilitating said growth. The AHF is not and should not be considered a pet project of the current president and executive committee. I believe strongly, we are all an important part of the AHF’s future and we can only achieve it by working together and not relying on the work of one or two individuals.

    I promise to help grow the AHF, with your help, and use your talents as much or as little as you are willing to contribute to that growth.

    I will be presenting more details for the future of the AHF after the Vice President’s report.

  4. Antone Blair

    Vice President’s Report

    Due in large part to the thoroughness of the President’s report, my comments will be brief. I would like to begin by strongly seconding Mr. Longino’s sentiments, particularly our pleasure at the launching of the new website and our enthusiasm for the many endeavors I foresee the AHF pursuing in the near future.

    As noted by the President, along with the substantial work that was done on new website, many people have invested a great deal of time and effort in seeing that other AHF projects have continued to move forward, including the continued efforts to update and revise our tournament rules, as well as the further development of the procedures and materials for training AHF tournament officials. I am also pleased by the ongoing work on the part of numerous members to collect, catalogue and archive documents related to fencing history; I strongly feel that the preservation of these documents is one of the most important future projects of the AHF, and is an invaluable service to all people interested in fencing or the study of history. I look forward to seeing these efforts continue and grow in the coming years.

    Recently several AHF committees have been inactive, due partly to the enormous amount of work that has been done to focus on the new website, and partly due to ongoing discussions between myself, the President, and various AHF members about reorganizing and restructuring a number of AHF committees. We strongly feel that this is the best path to take in order to streamline the way we pursue AHF projects, and to help the AHF evolve in order to best meet the needs of our membership. Our efforts to revise the structure of our committees will be one of my top priorities in the coming year,and the President and I look forward to discussion and input from the Board as we bring forward our proposals on this topic.

    • Ramon Martinez

      Thank you Cecil and Antone for your reports. I will be brief. I am both pleased and astonished with the excellent work that everyone has accomplished on the new website. It has given me a renewed enthusiasm for the AHF and its future. The content of the information provided is in my opinion the best of what is our there in the cyber space jungle.

      Given,that I will again urge the board, members and friends of the AHF to unite and work together for the common goal that is clearly stated in our mission statement, more later!

  5. Cecil Longino

    Past & Future of the AHF:

    I would like to proceed with discussing the branding of the AHF. In the past, we have focused our resources solely on those AHF members who were fencers, who have amounted to the bulk of our past general membership. Over the last three years, we have had an incredible exodus of members. Factors behind the loss of renewing members have included:

    Lack of a uniformed and coherent message concerning the purpose & goals of the AHF
    Out-dated registration, registration renewal process and methods of communication
    Limited and undefined target audience from which to draw new members
    The failure of our organization to meet the quickly changing needs of an elusive target audience
    Failure of the AHF to motivate and harness the talents of a greater range of current members

    The AHF was formed in 1999, when the historical & classical fencing communities were in their infancy. The perceived needs of the greater fencing community were formulated under a series of assumptions that have not proven themselves completely true. Since the early years, the needs and desires of the greater fencing community have drastically changed. Over the past few years we in the AHF have been going through our own growing pains as we refine the mission of our organization in a continually changing landscape.

    Our organization has dispensed with the idea of offering club insurance to other fencing clubs, as this offering is not legally viable for the AHF, as a non-profit. We have also, in an effort to remain untangled from the politics of the greater fencing world, refrained from advertising or promoting any school or club affiliations. Likewise, we have refrained from recognizing any instructor over another. While I fully support these choices and hope the AHF will always remain a nonpartisan organization, I also believe it is these very choices that have led many fencers and fencing clubs in the greater fencing community to view the AHF as having minimal value to them. The growing trend has been for these clubs to recently create many new organizations for self-promotion and training accreditation. With Google’s work on digitizing historical books, along with the collection efforts by many of these clubs to offer public libraries, many potential members are uninspired to pursue joining the AHF. I bring this up because we must understand how the fencing community’s landscape has changed and how the AHF can address these changes. I believe the AHF may still hold a great significance for that community.

    The strength of the AHF and what sets It apart from many new organizations is the numerous professional connections found in our membership. The AHF has members who are adjunct professors, doctoral students, information scientists and others with similar backgrounds. We should continue to cultivate this base of our general membership alongside that of fencers in the community.
    Increasing the number of these professional members will allow us to greatly enhance our abilities to find, maintain and present historical documents as well as build a body of professional research that can increase the prestige of the AHF.

    Likewise, we should seek to build relationships with other historical preservation societies. This is all in keeping with the mission of the AHF.

    This path is key to the growth and relevancy of our organization.

    • Jeannette Acosta-Martinez

      “This path is key to the growth and relevancy of our organization.”

      As the President and Vice President have given their reports and brought us up to date for this meeting, I would like to add a few comments. It is important that we are all clear on how things get done and their relevance to the membership.

      Events: As you can see there are 4 recurring/annual events.

      The Grand Assault, NY and the Foil Tournament, FL are AHF events

      Foil Invitational, Purchase College and Redwood Assault, CA are events that are a direct result of the creation of “Guidelines for Schools or Organizations hosting AHF events”. These organizations have become Institutional members in order to host these events. Creating the guidelines has been useful and has generated these recurring events. These events in turn have also generated a need for FOC to train judges for these organizations. This serves not only the organizations involved but also the AHF as these events also generate more individual membership.

      The Grand Assault provides a venue by which we can serve our prime directive of education as there is a Public component to the tournament. We are already in the process of planning the 2012, 10 year anniversary of this event.

      Creating relationships with other historical preservation societies should not be a difficult task. We need to find how we can be relevant to them.

      • Cecil Longino

        The Grand Assault and the other tournaments have certainly been very useful in bringing public attention to the AHF.

        • Jeannette Acosta-Martinez

          Yes, but now its time to look at other types of projects as tournaments are not our primary goal.

          I have several ideas that should be looked at through the project development committee first before discussing them here.

          One idea I can propose now: From time to time we host an exhibition online of images from our library. Much like museums host special exhibitions of items not always on display. This virtual exhibit would be open to the general public and would only be online for a short period of time. If we can get other institutions interested we could also include images from other collections. The idea is to get people to the AHF site to see the exhibition and thus see the whole site.

          The exhibition could then be permanently housed in the members section. These exhibits could be very simple to begin with and have the potential to be much more elaborate if we can partner up with other organizations.

  6. Michael Su

    Treasurer’s Report

    Hello Everyone,

    Thank you for all your hard work on the new website. The ability to sign up directly for membership, creating recurring membership payments, and consistency of the interface are simply stunning.

    I would recommend sending out an official reminder for all past/current AHF members to sign up for membership, especially with respect to the upcoming Grand Assault. The ease with which the sign up process can be completed is certainly something to emphasize.

    As for the AHF Treasury, I am happy to report on the strength of the Treasury.
    Currently, the Savings (Translation) account stands at $4,534, collecting very little interest per month. Due to the continuing weakness of the economy, the market returns for CDs remain at the 1 to 2 percent level. With respect to any possible investment of this money, I would like to know if the AHF has plans to access these funds in the next 6 months. If not, I would like to place the funds into a higher interest bearing account. At a rate of 1.5% for a 6 months CD, it would be possible to gain some minor, but worthwhile benefits from these funds.

    As for the AHF Checking account, the current balance stands at $1,281. Pending payments include the balance of the space rental fees for the upcoming Grand Assault (-$362), and any associated costs. Pending deposits include the most recent registration fees from the AHF board members (+$269). Although I had previously considered moving this account to another bank, in order to reduce the monthly bank service fee of $25, I had not been able to find a comparable service until recently. While many banks advertise free checking or low fees, most of these account offers greatly inflate their fees when balances, such as those of the AHF, are volatile and low. I have just discovered the Capital One Non-Profit Checking Account, which has no minimum deposit requirements, and charges a fee of $5 per month, without any restrictions or additional fees otherwise.

    I would like to proceed with the move to this Capital One account for the AHF. As the application can be made online, followed by one visit in New Jersey, I can undertake this move next week Tuesday – well ahead of the upcoming Grand Assault. Besides myself, I would like to add Cecil and Maestro Martinez to the account. All statements can continue to be delivered to me. As well, with online bill payment service, it would be possible for the AHF to direct payments online as needed, if I am not available to write a check in person.

    As for other Treasurer activity, I continue to regularly file the requisite tax forms. In general, our low revenue has not required further attention with respect to tax filing. However, with the new website, and new avenues of income, it will be necessary to keep closer track of income/expenses, and begin to add this information to the tax filings.

    Lastly, I would like to ask after the 10 year anniversary Grand Assault. As this event is likely to require significantly more upfront investment, would the Board consider a fundraiser event, or call for donations, along the lines of establishing a reserve fund well-ahead of time?

    Thank you.

    • Cecil Longino

      Mr. Su,
      I have indeed compiled a list of recently expired members, current members and members quite out-of-date. I will be sending out emails to invite everyone to return to the AHF and see all the new material we have available through our new website.

      The Executive Committee should discuss your proposal of shifting those funds into a higher interest account.

      I am all for moving the checking account to the Capital One Non-Profit account. It sounds reasonable. Are their any objections from the Executive Committee or Board of Governors?

      Does anyone have comments in regard to Mr. Su’s proposal for a fundraiser or call for donations to support next year’s Grand Assault of Arms?

      Michael, thank you for the report.

      • Jeannette Acosta-Martinez

        Perhaps the sponsorship committee can come up with further ideas for fund raising for this event. I can work with Michael to create a budget for the event based on our expenses in the past and proposed “grandness” of the the 2012 event.

        • Michael Su

          Thank you, Cecil.

          I can keep track of the effectiveness of the membership call, as I will be processing the paypal deposits.

          Executive Committee and Board of Governors: if you find better deals, or have personal experiences with other non-profit bank accounts, please let me know. I have discovered many of the banks hide their actual fees until just before commitment. Hence, the Capital One option.

          Thank you, Jeannette. I will see you on Tuesday evening, so we can perhaps discuss this possibility.

          I think the significance of the fundraiser is not just to raise funds, but to raise awareness ahead of time, ahead of this year’s Grand Assault. Having a “grand” event, towards which we can begin to work, would be an effective way to tying members together. For instance, each regional section of the AHF (by school) could prepare a presentation/demonstration, etc. Key to the event would be demonstration of the size and breadth of the community. The AHF could hold local fundraisers, for instance.

          From personal experience, with respect to fundraising for a local theater of Japanese plays at the Flea Theater, attendance was fantastic solely on the basis of promised future benefit, some minor food and drinks, and a demonstration.

          Thank you.

    • Jeff Richardson

      What is the state of the Translation Project bank account? All moneys are advertised as going to future projects. Therefore there should be an independant accounting of these funds.

      • Cecil Longino

        Mr. Richardson,
        That is a reasonable question. Allow me to clarify any potential confusion. The AHF has two bank accounts, a checking and a savings account, as Mr. Su listed above. The Savings account is specifically for the Translation Project. This money comes from direct donations to the project itself or from sales of the last book on Capo Ferro. No monies have gone out from the account as we are still attempting to pull together reliable translators for future projects.

        The balance of this account as stated in the treasury report:

        the Savings (Translation) account stands at $4,534

  7. Michael Su

    For your review, the website relating to the Capital One Non-Profit Checking Account:

    http://www.capitalone.com/bank/smallbusiness/checking/nonprofit_north.php

  8. Cecil Longino

    Membership Responsibilities & Benefits:

    Allow me to start this section of the discussion by addressing the benefits to AHF members first. Historically, we have offered:

    * Members receive a 10% discount on all events hosted by the AHF.

    * Access to the “Members Only” section of the AHF website, which contains reviews of museum collections, professionally researched articles, period magazines and newspapers and suggested readings related to fencing, history or philosophy.

    * Exclusive access to the AHF reference library. The Library contains historical documents, treatises, manuals, bibliographies, magazines, and articles related to classical and historical fencing. These documents may be referenced for information useful to professional and amateur historians or fencing instructors alike.

    Recently, we have added:

    * AHF membership card/luggage tag.

    These still need to be distributed to most of our current members. We should also devise a process of distributing them to new members in a timely fashion.

    Again, I find it imperative we strive to offer a greater range of professional research to our current and future members. As we manage to connect with other preservation societies and research libraries, we may also be able to offer additional benefits beyond our current number.

    I will also be creating an AHF Youtube page where we can post both public & private video segments. For example, we have footage of two members performing the Grand Salute at last years Grand Assault of Arms in New York. As a side note, Mr. Kirby has also created a AHF Facebook page that we will be putting to use.

    The translation project, directed by Mr. Jared Kirby, has great potential as an enticing benefit. It has been much under used recently and I hope to see it become more active in the near future. I have been personally speaking with several new potential contributors.

    I encourage the rest of the board to present any projects or ideas that they have been considering as potential benefits to the members of the AHF.

    Membership Responsibilities:

    As board members, we should continue to inspire our general members through taking an active part in developing projects, heading committees or hosting public events. The more value we ascribe to the organization the more value our members will find in it. I am aware, we are all pressed for time in both our private and professional lives, but as board members, committee heads and project leaders, we should endeavor to commit a modicum of time to our AHF roles so our organization may proceed smoothly and orderly. I am happy to have our current Board of Governors. As this is a volunteer position, I greatly appreciate your efforts and dedication to assisting the AHF in it’s mission. Should any one reach a point where he/she feels they are unable to commit any time to his/her AHF responsibilities or duties, please do not hesitate to communicate this to either myself or Mr. Antone Blair. We are willing to discuss what role or duties will make best use your talents, given your level of desire and life schedule.

    The new website and registration process resolves the past issue of maintaining timely payment of one’s membership dues and keeping one’s membership current. This will greatly improve our finances moving forward, particularly as we look toward funding specific projects.

  9. Cecil Longino

    Future Key Projects:

    The Rules Committee has done a find job of creating an excellent and professional rule set by which classical tournaments may be run, and to a more limited degree, earlier weapons such as rapier and small-sword. We should consider creating additional rule sets to include tournaments with bayonet and even early period weapons.

    The Project Development Committee should consider projects to encourage the production of professional level scholarship for the AHF general body of knowledge.

    Projects in video format can serve as positive advertising for us and allow us to reach a wide range of people by posting these to Youtube, etc.

    Projects that allow us to connect with other historical preservation societies can greatly help us connect with these other groups working on similar endeavors.

    • Jeff Richardson

      The AHF mission statement says, “AHF asserts its main duty is the preservation of classical and historical fencing through public education and presentations of factual, well documented information concerning our Western martial heritage.”

      For the AHF to remain relevant and survive I feel it is highly important that the Association find a way to reach out to the greater general public and be an education resource. We have a unique ability to become a resource for educational outreach to museums, art houses, schools and teachers, etc…..

      The tournaments and exhibitions are a great thing which I am happy to see. But they don’t as far as I have seen reach very far outside the community to the greater public.

      “AHF is dedicated to disseminating knowledge to its members and the general public through seminars, exhibitions, lectures, demonstrations, workshops and maintaining an archival library for historical documents.”

      The AHF needs to find a way to focus on it’s core mission statement and reach out to the greater public as an educational resource. This is where I have seen the AHF fall down. It is also where I have seen individuals and individual clubs excel over the years.

      I would encourage everyone to keep outreach opportunities forefront in their thoughts, with our mission statement in mind, as we move forward.

      Jeff Richardson

      • Cecil Longino

        I absolutely agree, we should always look toward projects and possibilities that will allow us to educate the public. I will be proposing some projects to the Projects Committee that should help us move further toward this goal.

  10. Jeannette Acosta-Martinez

    The rules committee will have to develop rules for the Bayonet and for Stick fencing as these two weapons will be added to the roster for the 2012 Grand Assault.

    • Jeff Richardson

      Jeannette;
      Could you elaborate on what you mean by stick fencing? Are we talking about Staff fencing or something else?

      • Cecil Longino

        I believe Mrs. Acosta-Martinez is referring to a rule set that addresses the practice of cane/stick as typically practiced during the 19th Century. Staff would be closer to Grand Baton and is also something we should consider in the future.

        • Jeff Richardson

          If we are talking cane fighting – per Vigney and Cunningham and the rest – then I highly suggest consulting Tony Wolf and getting the Bartitsu Society involved in those endeavors.

  11. Cecil Longino

    Bylaws Review Meeting:

    As we are limited on time for this current meeting, I would like to schedule a second Board Meeting to review several points in our bylaws that we should consider adjusting and/or updating. I would like to hear the opinions of the board before on this subject prior to bringing this before a general membership meeting.

    I would like to call this meeting on December 9th – 11th . Please check your schedules and let me know if you are available at this time.

    General Membership Meeting:

    Lastly, I will be calling a general membership meeting on November 18th – 20th . It is time we updated the general members on all of our current accomplishments and what we see for the AHF’s future.

    Please, feel free to comment on any of these topics through Sunday at 5 PM PST, at which time I will bring the meeting to a close.

    Thank you in advance for your participation and advice.

    — Cecil Longino
    President, AHF

    • Jeannette Acosta-Martinez

      If the general membership meeting is in November, why is the meeting of the board to discuss proposed changes scheduled for after December?

      • Cecil Longino

        I would like to present changes to the board first to get input and then next year bring the ideas before the general membership at next years meeting.

        • Jeannette Acosta-Martinez

          I understand. However, Ramon and I will not be available for the December meeting. Is it possible to have it early next year as the rest of December is busy for us as well?

          • Cecil Longino

            No problem, I will propose another weekend for the meeting in late January tomorrow afternoon.

          • Cecil Longino

            Revised Date for Bylaws Review Meeting

            I propose we meet on January 27th through January 29th, 2012 to review potential updates to the AHF bylaws. It is necessary to hold this meeting prior to the 2012 general membership meeting.

            Does anyone have any questions, comments or scheduling conflicts?

  12. Cecil Longino

    Board Meeting Adjourned

    Thank you for participating in our first Board of Governor’s meeting held through our new site. I hope this message board has proved far more useful and beneficial to our meeting process than the old method.

    Should you have any comments about the message forum, please email them directly to me.

    Please note on your schedule the dates of January 27th – 29th for our next special board meeting.

    Thank you for your efforts and time. I look forward to the AHF’s progress in the near future.

    This meeting is now adjourned…

    Cecil Longino
    President, AHF