Board Meeting Highlights & March 1 Open House/Conference Call


The Board of Directors convened its first meeting of 2010 last week. (A complete agenda and compendium of board materials is on Clubhouse and available prior to each board meeting.) 

As usual, we had a very full agenda with two days of working sessions preceding the formal meeting, a joint session with The Sierra Club Foundation Board of Directors, and evening events with local leaders and supporters. There were also some reflective moments, as the Board remembered and celebrated three Sierra Club heroes that we lost in recent months: past Director Ellen Winchester (1929-2009), Sierra Club staff member A. Blakeman “Blake” Early (1945-2010), and Deputy Executive Director Greg Haegele (1963-2010).

Here are some of the highlights of the weekend. Thanks to Director Lane Boldman and Joey Shadowen for the photos.

Sierra Club Florida Leadership

One of the key reasons for choosing to meet in Sarasota, Florida was so that directors could spend some time with Florida Chapter leaders. Members of the Steering Committee and Group Advisory Council (pictured below) had their own meetings in parallel, and met with the Board on Friday. They reported good progress in rebuilding and managing statewide Sierra Club functions in Florida. The commitment of these leaders to work together as a team and strengthen channels of communication among the members is notable.

PTC-FL St Comm

(from left to right) Frank Jackalone, Tom Larson, Craig Diamond, Debbie Matthews, Linda Jones, John Swingle, Rudy Scheffer, and Linda Bremer, (Marian Ryan and Betsy Grass also present, off screen to the right)

Press Conference for Protection of Florida Panther

The timing couldn’t have been better. Directors were able to join local leaders for a press conference to announce a lawsuit by five conservation groups (Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, and the Council for Civic Associations) against U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for repeated failure to protect and its refusal to designate critical habitat for the endangered Florida panther.

Lunch and Dinner Receptions

Presentations were made during a lunch and a couple dinner receptions to ever so briefly touch on some of the local conservation efforts, including the Red Tide Campaign, Resilient Everglades Habitat, partnership with Florikan, a leader in sustainable, controlled release fertilization products and practices and, of course, panther protection. The receptions were also opportunities to express appreciation to leaders (volunteers and staff), donors and supporters of the Club. Carl was presented with a wonderful photo commemorating the “Hands Across the Sand” event that took place on February 13, in which Sierra Club members participated with some 2,500 activists to line up along the beaches of Florida and join hands to protest offshore drilling.

PTC-Hands Across the Sand

Joint Session of Sierra Club and Foundation Boards

About twice a year the Sierra Club and Foundation Boards coordinate their respective meetings for the same weekend and set aside a few hours to convene in joint session. This meeting we covered a range of topics, including an update on the Executive Direction Transition Process that is underway (Michael Brune starts on March 15), a presentation from John Hutchison (Chairman of the Board for the John Muir Trust in Scotland -- more on this in a future Power to Change), and an update on Outcomes Based Management from Conservation Director Sarah Hodgdon and Larry Keeshan from the Foundation Board. The joint session was capped off by an inspiring report from Camilla Feibelman, Conservation staff and Evalexa Tomei, chapter vice chair, in celebration of the Puerto Rico Chapter’s fifth anniversary. Happy Anniversary, Puerto Rico colleagues!


More Reflective Moments: A Toast to Carl Pope!

PTC-Carl Toast The Board passed a Resolution of Appreciation for Carl Pope and his leadership for the Sierra Club as Executive Director.  Although this was Carl's last meeting as executive director, Board members look forward to an ongoing partnership with him in his new role as Chairman of the Sierra Club, beginning March 15. Sarah Hodgdon and Michael Brune, incoming executive director, join in the toast. 

Open House Call Monday March 1

Join me on Monday, March 1, at 8 pm Eastern/5 pm Pacific for a conference call to talk about these and other topics covered in the Board meeting. Questions welcome. Call 866-501-6174 — 1892-005. RSVP here.

On March 8, the conference call will be a guided tour of the Activist Network. I'll be hosting an Open House again on first Monday in April and May.

Meet New Executive Director Michael Brune


As you know, a year ago Carl announced plans to step down from his position as executive director of the Sierra Club after eighteen years of service, and hand the leadership of the organization over to someone new.

Our dedicated search team, working with an executive search firm, has spent the past year looking high and low for a stellar, talented leader to take the helm at this exciting moment when the Sierra Club’s strong work is more critically important than ever.

We were blessed to have a very strong set of applicants for the position, and I am thrilled to inform you that Michael Brune will be the Sierra Club's next executive director.

Mike comes to the Sierra Club from Rainforest Action Network (RAN), where he has served as executive director for seven years and gained a reputation as "a hard-nosed activist with a twist." Mike led a winning campaign at age 26 to convince Home Depot to stop selling wood from endangered forests. Time magazine called that victory "the top environmental story of 1999." Under Mike's leadership, RAN won more than a dozen landmark commitments from America's largest corporations, including Citi, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Kinko’s, Boise Cascade, and Lowe’s.

We are extremely lucky too that, after 18 years as executive director, Carl will continue to support the Sierra Club by providing strategic guidance and assisting with fundraising and media outreach.

As executive director, Mike will guide our remarkable staff and help to implement the visionary policies adopted by the all-volunteer Board of Directors. Hitting the ground running, Mike will oversee the key components of the Climate Recovery Partnership: directing Club efforts to move America into a clean energy future by advocating for the end of coal-fired electricity, supporting market growth for clean energy alternatives, pushing for economic sanctions against greenhouse gas-intense energy, transitioning the nation to a green transportation system, and protecting habitats and communities against inevitable climate change.

This is a critical time for the environmental movement. The coming years will present us with tremendous challenges as we face the threat of global warming. But in recent years we’ve stopped more than one hundred coal fired power plants, protected millions of acres of open space, and helped move our economy towards green jobs and cleaner transportation. Working together, we have the power, resourcefulness, and creativity to make a huge impact.

Mike is exactly what the Sierra Club and the environmental movement need right now. Mike has the rare combination of activist fire, managerial savvy, and crystal-clear vision to lead the Club through the most critical period in our history.

Mike’s first official day will be in mid-March.  Please join me in welcoming Mike to the Sierra Club. You can get to know Mike and send him a welcome note at .


Allison Chin
President, Board of Directors

Resolve to Make a Difference



Happy New Year! I enjoyed reading about your 2009 accomplishments. If you have not had a chance to check it out, take a moment to watch the video or hop around the interactive map to and enjoy some of the stories that describe Sierra Club successes in 2009. I know this is just a snippet of what happened, so I encourage you to celebrate (and brag) about 2009 Success Stories.

…and Resolutions

Are we really only two weeks into the new year? There is so much going on. I do want to bring your attention to some opportunities that need support and board projects that will benefit from your input:

Call to Action on Clean Energy and Climate — Tonight, Jan 12, 8:30 pm Eastern:
Call: 866.501.6174 — Code: 223 9223

Learn how you can help press for strong climate legislation.

Become a Climate Leader — Wednesday, Jan 13, 5:30-9:30 pm Eastern

Weekly, on Wednesdays, leaders from around the country make calls to support the Climate Bill…from the comforts of home! Sign up now

Seeking Comments...

We have two proposed policies we're seeking your input on:

2010 Elections

Has your chapter endorsed a candidate? Check out all the Sierra Club endorsements at Contact your political committee to find out how you can help. Get Out the Vote!

Copenhagen — One Very Long Day


I spent most of the past 230 hours in Copenhagen, as part of the Sierra Club delegation to the COP15 — the United Nations Climate Change Conference. This adds up to 10 days, but in practice, it was more like one very long day with intermittent naps. And I probably got more sleep than many.  

Sierra Club Delegates to COP15

Officially, there were 49 of us, including 18 members of the Sierra Student Coalition. Additional Sierra Club leaders attended who were credentialed through other organizations. (We have lots of information about the process for selecting delegates and the corresponding responsibilities before, during, and after attendance at COP15 available on Clubhouse.)

Daily Briefings

There was too much going on to stay away from the Bella Center, the conference site on the edge of Copenhagen, longer than needed to recharge. For the Club delegation, a typical day consisted of several briefings from Climate Action Network-International, USCAN (the U.S. block of CAN), and the Sierra Club. The student arm had additional briefings for youth. CAN is a global network of over 450 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including the Sierra Club, from more than 80 countries working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. Every other evening Jonathan Pershing, the U.S. State Department Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change, gave a briefing for U.S. NGOs.  Kudos to Sierra Club D.C. staff, who received a shout out at the first of these briefings.   

The purpose of the briefings ranged from sharing updates on the "state of play" to strategizing how and when to influence the next steps of the informal negotiations process. Information sharing occured all day (and night) long via email.  At 11 p.m. one evening I gave up waiting for one working group to convene (and learned that it had finally reconvened at 4:45 the following morning!). You may have heard the talks at COP15 characterized as a roller coaster and, indeed, the situation often went from better to worse and back again several times throughout the day.


Here's Fred Heutte (right), illustrious head of the Club delegation, with Frank Lorberbaum from the Missouri Chapter.

Here are delegates multi-tasking — certainly they’re all listening to Fred, too! — during one of our daily briefings.

Working Groups, Educational Sessions, and Creative Messaging

Throughout the day there were multiple programs running in parallel at the conference center — working groups focused on specific issues, educational sessions, information booths, side events and exhibits, and any number of ways to get your message out.


Glen Besa (Virginia Chapter Director), Polar Bear, and Joan Saxe (Maine Chapter).

Time to pay the bill!

Impromptu Meetings

Anywhere you could assemble could be a meeting place. A queue (and there were a lot of them) was a really good excuse to talk with your neighbors and find out what brought them to COP15.


...on the floor between booths

...atop a bench in the main hallway.

100,000 Participate in Climate Rally and March on Dec 12

Joan Saxe surrounded by  Friends of the Earth international delegates.

2009.12.12-March copy
The march ended with a candle light vigil at the Bella Center.

Anxiously Waiting

Worldwide interest in COP15 led to accreditation of supposedly 45,000 delegates. Logistics for managing this crowd became overwhelmed and led to limited access (for NGOs beginning on Dec 15 the Bella Center has a maximum capacity for 15,000). The Club delegation had to coordinate shared access, which worked fine on the 15th.  On the 16th, this fell apart when demonstrations inside and outside the Bella Center resulted in further restricted access. Maybe it was just as well that I headed home on the 16th, but it was also hard to leave the team.  

Like so many others, I am anxiously awaiting the outcome of these last couple days of negotiations. You can follow some of this on live webcast

Highlights of the November Board Meeting


The Board of Directors (BOD) met in San Francisco on Nov 19-20. Due to scheduling constraints, board members arrived prepared for two long and jam-packed days. Reminder that agenda and supporting materials are available on clubhouse in advance of each meeting. It was mostly work , with only a little play. We met with our colleagues on The Sierra Club Foundation Board for a brief joint session and then greeted some Bay Area friends of the Club for dinner. Carl Pope spoke about the Club's effort to address climate change with a positive impact on our economy. This waslikely Carl's final address to both boards as Executive Director.

Executive Director Search Update

The Board of Directors interviewed three candidates with strong qualifications. We are moving forward with additional due diligence and reference checks. Interviews went well - board members engaged in robust dialogue and deliberation. The search is open until a new ED is hired - the search firm has been instructed to continue to receive and follow up with interested applicants. We hope to make a decision by end of year or early in 2010.

2010 Budget Approved - Chapter Funding Changes and LeConte Lodge

A primary focus of the November Board meeting is adoption of a budget for the upcoming year, which is the culmination of several months of work by many club leaders - staff and volunteers. Derivation of the 2010 Budget that was approved was every bit as difficult as anticipated. The biggest change to accommodate was the shift to an increasing proportion of restricted revenue streams, as we have been discussing throughout the year. Two areas I want to specifically touch on are chapter funding and LeConte Lodge.

Funding for chapters comes from a variety of sources - membership revenue, bequests sharing, life member dues allocation, the field recruitment inceptive program, and the state lobby program. We have previously addressed why the chapter allocation from membership is reduced next year and how the allocation formula has been changed. The 2010 budget includes restoration of the chapter share of the c(4) bequest pool. Additionally, the BOD has approved "bridge" funds to soften the allocation reduction for chapters. A memo summarizing chapter funding support in 2010 is posted on clubhouse (12-1-09: Chapter-Affecting Memo), along with details for the new chapter funding allocation (Worksheet A), chapter bequest revenue sharing (Worksheet B), and chapter bridge funds (Worksheet C).

The 2010 budget includes funding for the LeConte Memorial Lodge Program. The BOD also passed a resolution to set a $50,000 fundraising target for LeConte. Board members will be looking for volunteers to lead this fundraising charge, from among the 130+ club leaders who expressed strong support for the LeConte Lodge; many of whom also made funding pledges. Thank you for speaking up!

Apprenticeship Program

A defininte bright spot in an otherwise densely packed agenda was a brief Q-and-A session with the second class of Sierra Club Apprentices.

2009 Apprentice Class Photo

Clockwise, starting from the front left position: Alda Chan, Kesaaraa Wijeyewickrema, Lisa Fouladbash, Jeff Speir, Debbie Chong, and Justin Guay.

Thankful For Your Support!


On Thanksgiving, I will sit with my family and reflect on all the things for which I am so thankful.  I am thankful for family and friends, I am thankful for my health, and I am thankful for you.  Thanks to you, the Sierra Club presses forward on its mission:

To explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth;

To practice and promote the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources;

To educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.

Our work is tremendously challenging and deeply rewarding, and only made possible by your support. As we press forward for sustainable solutions on renewable energy, resilient habitats, and safeguarding communities thank you for your commitment, tenacity, and collaboration at so many levels. 

 Have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Chapter Funding Changes


As we near year's end, the Club is facing continued shifts in our funding. For some time now, unrestricted contributions to the Sierra Club, such as membership revenues, have declined. This has largely been off-set by significant new, but restricted, funding. The shrinking of unrestricted membership revenues has already brought major changes to the way our conservation work is funded and implemented, including downsizing of our national staff.

In 2010 these funding shifts will significantly impact chapter allocations, which for the past four years have been supplemented as net membership revenue fell. The Club cannot continue this supplement. As a result the chapter allocation pool will shrink by approximately 40%-50% from 2009 levels.

Keep in mind that the national allocation to chapters is just a percentage of a chapter's overall funds; across all chapters the median is 38%.  Still, a 40%-50% reduction even to a percentage of a chapter's budget is significant.

The overall Sierra Club financial situation was reviewed with the Board of Directors and Council of Club Leaders during the September Annual  Meeting. Two conference calls have been scheduled to help grassroots leaders who were not at the annual meeting review these data:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 4 —
    3 pm Pacific / 4 pm Mountain / 5 pm Central / 6 pm Eastern
  • Thursday, Nov. 5 —
    5 pm Pacific / 6 pm Mountain / 7 pm Central / 8 pm Eastern

866-501-6174  [1892 - 005]

RSVP here.

In anticipation of a dramatic decrease in the chapter funding allocation pool, the Board of Directors (BoD) initiated a process in July 2008 to consider changes to the allocation formula. Two task forces have wrestled with this task.

As a chapter leader these changes are going to require difficult decisions in the weeks and months to come. To help you understand the changes, why they are happening and how they might shape your chapter’s choices, we’ve set up a new web page on Clubhouse.

This web page is divided into three sections.

  1. Chapter Funding Allocation — This section addresses changes in the chapter funding allocation process.
  2. Chapter Fundraising Support Task Force — This section address work happening right now on a Board established task force to identify ways to better supper chapters’ own fundraising efforts.
  3. Climate Recovery Partnership — This section addresses the work that the national Sierra Club is doing to combat climate change, how chapters can engage in that effort, and steps the CRP campaigns are taking to provide funding to targeted chapters to help win.

As you will note, this is still very much a work in progress. All of these sections are incomplete – reflecting the fact that many decisions are yet to be made. Please bookmark this page and check back regularly for updates.

There are many unanswered questions, including "How will this smaller allocation pool be distributed to chapters?" and "How can chapters increase their own fundraising efforts to help mitigate the impact of these cuts?" and "How will the restricted funding raised for the Climate Recovery Partnership campaigns impact chapters?"

Finally, the work that chapters do is at the heart of the Sierra Club’s strength and efficacy. These funding changes are painful for everyone involved. It’s the hope that sharing this information as completely as possible, even before final decisions are made, will help you and your chapter to make the best decisions possible in a difficult time.

Updates on Board Projects


Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet Around the Corner 

Club leaders will gather in San Francisco on September 25-26 for the Annual Meeting, which is a time when the Board of Directors and Council of Club Leaders (CCL) come together for dialogue on key organizational concerns. Tina Schulstad, CCL Executive Committee Chair, and I have been coordinating with others to develop a very full agenda. Council delegates have been working on compiling a report on the Financial State of the Chapters for presentation during the meeting.

Topics for the three discussion forums are:
  • Core Chapter Function,
  • Fundraising, and
  • Climate Recovery Partnership – Coordinating National and Local Efforts.
Check for updated agendas and materials for Council and Board meetings. We’re looking forward to engaging discussions! 

On September 26 (Saturday evening), the National Sierra Club Awards Banquet will be held at Cathedral Hill Hotel (also in San Francisco). Please join us to celebrate and recognize Club and community leaders who have made outstanding contributions to protecting the environment. (It’s not too late to purchase a ticket!)

Board Task Forces Hard At Work – Thanks for Your Input!

The Board of Directors has appointed a number of Task Forces to address conservation and organizational policy. Task forces are task- and/or time-limited to provide advice to the Board on focused, specific topics. The recommendations may, in some cases, be in the form of alternatives. Task Forces are volunteer-driven and led. The Board Executive Committee appoints a lead volunteer who will chair the Task Force. The Executive Director appoints a lead staff to participate on the Task Force. The composition of task forces can vary according to need and can include a mix of volunteers along with chapter, regional and national staff. A link to all current task forces may be found here

Thanks to the efforts of the National Parks Task Force, a new National Parks Policy was recently approved by Board of Directors. Look for Ken Burns' PBS documentary on the history of the national parks starting in September. Burns recognizes the prominent role the Sierra Club has played in that history, a role we can all be proud of. Consider hosting a house party to share a sneak preview of the documentary!

The Natural Gas Fracturing Task Force is soliciting comments on a Draft Unconventional Natural Gas Policy. Reminder that you can read the proposed policy here and comment here. Comment period ends October 12, 2009. 

Chapter Funding Allocation and Chapter Fundraising Task Forces will be looking at the discussion forums during the Annual Meeting (above) as a dynamic way to solicit input.

Interim Policy For Walk-A-Thons and Bike-A-Thons

The Board’s Finance & Risk Management Advisory Committee (FinCom; ) recently became aware that several Club entities had conducted and/or were planning some outings-like events with the potential for a large number of participants, like walk-a-thon, bike-a-thons, hike-a-yhons. After reviewing the Club’s outings policies and the scope of the Club's training for outings leaders, and consulting with the Sierra Club General Counsel, FinCom concluded that conducting these events is an unreasonably high risk activity. The Club is not in the business of staging such events, lacks experience in doing so, and could not do so at industry standard without a significant investment of resources to develop appropriate protocols and training.

Accordingly, FinCom has established an interim policy, effective immediately. It will become final Sierra Club policy if and when ratified by the Board at their Annual meeting in late September.

I Went To Camp!


I had “up close and personal” experiences with three fabulous Sierra Club Programs earlier this month.

Operation Purple Camp

August kicked off with a visit to one of the Operation Purple Camps with Brittany McKee, Sierra Club Representative for the National Military Family Program. At this particular camp in Pennsylvania, there were 90 youth, 7 to 15 years old. In 2009 there were 64 Operation Purple Camps and after the first two years of this program, we have helped to provide outdoor experiences for 23,000 military family members!

Here are some photos from camp:

(1) Campers untangling themselves from a human knot


(2) Me with kids and camp staff

OPC PA Allison and kids

(3) Kids climb in the obstacle course


Sierra Student Coalition Shindig

Next stop was the Sierra Student Coalition Shindig, at Catoctin Mountain Park in Maryland. This was their annual leadership forum where a new executive committee is seated and youth activists from many high schools, college campuses and recent graduates gather to celebrate our victories, strategize, prioritize, and set the goals and direction of the organization. The week is filled with leadership skills trainings, planning sessions, visioning exercises, and informative issue panels from guest speakers. It takes stamina to survive a Shindig, with daily schedules that run from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. (that’s an “early” end of day). Randy Downs attended a Sprog (SSC training) earlier in the summer and volunteered as chef for Shindig, creating delicious vegetarian meals for 110 hungry activists. At Shindig, everything is “optional” but nobody wants to miss anything!

(1) SSC Power

IMG 1892-SSC Power

(2) Small Group Breakout Session


(3) “Trust” comes in all forms


(4)  It takes a lot of pizzas to feed 110 hungry activists


Clair Tappaan Lodge Gala Celebration

There was a splendid turnout last weekend for the 75th anniversary of the Sierra Club’s Clair Tappaan Lodge and 85th anniversary of Hutchinson Lodge. Multiple generations of loyal visitors showed up to enjoy hikes, music, arts & craft workshops, great fellowship and, of course, raise funds. Special guests included Milton Hildebrand, who helped build the lodge in the early 1930s! The first CTL Music Festival was held on Sunday, which featured four local ensembles and brought in new visitors from the neighborhood. Hats off to the CTL committee and staff for a glorious celebration!

(1) Clair Tappaan Lodge


(2)  Milton Hildebrand


(3)  The Lost Quartet


Executive Director Search In Full Throttle


The Executive Director Job Profile was posted earlier this week on both the Sierra Club and Isaacson, Miller web sites. The profile was shaped by input provided to the transition committee and search firm through emails, a survey, individual interviews with current and past directors and senior staff, and group interviews with Club and Foundation boards and the Council of Club Leaders Excom. Many thanks for the thoughtful input.

With climate change now broadly recognized as an imminent threat to wild places and to humanity, and with unprecedented interest in acting to address it, the Club needs a passionate and savvy executive to play a pivotal role in leading the transition to clean, sustainable energy sources.

The Club is simultaneously undergoing its own evolution and adaptation to the dramatic changes impacting environmental advocacy. Digital technologies have profoundly changed how citizens take action, communicate with one another, and relate to organizations. Grassroots groups now inform and mobilize their supporters through the web, and younger generations are typically found to be more responsive to specific calls to action than to invitations to join organizations as dues-paying members.

So the new Executive Director, working with the board, will be the "architect" who will gather the Club’s powerful grassroots resources, talented volunteer leadership, and professional staff to transform the Sierra Club as it responds to this highly dynamic landscape.

Here are the key opportunities and challenges we have identified for the executive director:

  • Provide Strategic and Visionary Leadership for the Sierra Club
  • Leverage, Engage, and Grow the Volunteer Base
  • Serve as a Unifying and Decisive Staff Leader
  • Generate Diversified Funding
  • Continue to Raise the Profile and Build the Positive Reputation of the Sierra Club
Here are the main steps in the hiring process:
  • Understanding the Challenge (May, June) — Isaacson, Miller and Transition Committee [DONE]
  • Networking and Screening (Summer 2009) — Isaacson, Miller [IN PROCESS]
  • Narrowing the Field (Fall 2009) — Transition Committee
  • Selecting Finalists (Fall 2009 - Winter 2010) — Transition Committee
  • The Final Choice ("Early" 2010) — Board of Directors, with input from the Cabinet
Please pass or point prospects to the job profile or forward names and contact information for prospects to the Isaacson, Miller team at

You can see the full job description here and more detail on the see the remaining phases of the search here.

P.S. Fellow Director Dave Scott is seeking comments on the Club proposed new National Parks Management Policy.

User comments or postings reflect the opinions of the responsible contributor only, and do not reflect the viewpoint of the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of any posting. The Sierra Club accepts no obligation to review every posting, but reserves the right (but not the obligation) to delete postings that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate.

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