18-year board member Hans van Someren Grève and six-year board member Rachel Sullivan were recognized for their tenures serving on the board of directors. They each elected not to run for additional terms.
Hans joined the WAEF board of directors in 1999. As a member of the board, he was active with the strategic planning and resource development committees and served as chairman of WAEF in 2004. It was during his chairmanship that the Farmworker Education Endowment was created that currently helps to pay for activities supporting the scholastic success of families employed in entry level roles in the tree fruit industry.
Hans shared with the board the foundation had grown from a fledgling organization to a pillar in the industry; an organization to be proud of.
Rachel joined the board in 2011 after spending two years on the scholarship selection committee. She was quickly recruited into an officer role and spent four of her six years on the board on the executive committee and completed a term as chairman of WAEF last year. Rachel was active in resource development and was instrumental in helping the foundation reach its $1 million in scholarships awarded during her chairmanship year.
Rachel thanked directors for the opportunity to serve with them and commented that she felt as much as she gave as a member of the board of directors, she received in return.
As this was the annual meeting of the foundation, elections of renewing board members and officers also occurred.
James Foreman of Foreman Fruit was elected chairman of WAEF. He follows Kailan Dunn who served as chairman for the past year. James thanked Kailan for his leadership and pledged to ensure the foundation continues on its current path.
Also elected were Bob Mast as vice-chairman; Chis Willett as secretary; and Dwaine Brown as treasurer. The four officers will join immediate past chairman Kailan Dunn on the executive committee.
Elected to additional three-year terms were Bart Gebers of Key Bank, grower Dave Robison, Frank Davis of Kershaw Companies, James Foreman of Foreman Fruit, Jeff Fagg of Northwest Farm Credit Services, La Verne Bergstrom and Ruth Pringle of Yakima Valley Orchards.
In Other Business:
The board meeting began with a presentation from current WAEF student Miriam Castro. Miriam graduates this Saturday from Heritage University with a business degree. She has been offered a job with Catholic Family Services in human resources.
Miriam shared that the scholarship and support from WAEF helped her keep going, even though the path was at times bumpy. She finally found her footing when she enrolled in her junior year at Heritage University. Miriam closed by thanking all of the board members present for their efforts on behalf of students.
Treasurer Dwaine Brown reported that the audit of the 2016 financial had been completed by CliftonLarsonAllen and resulted in an unqualified (or clean) opinion. Board members were provided copies of the financial statements and tax filing for review in advance of the meeting.
Board members Jeff Fagg, Dwaine Brown and James Foreman were each recognized for their WAEF activities occurring in the past quarter. The recognition program is new and keeps focus on priorities assigned to members of the board of directors: growth of WAEF, sustainability of WAEF, strong governance and association with the industry.
Scholarship committee chairman Cory Groves provides an "early" report on scholarship recipients and stats for the 2017 year. The early report communicates that the industry will support students with around $900,000 in scholarships this year; shy of the desired $1 million but an impressive sum for an impressive pool of candidates.
423 students filed new applications with WAEF this year, up slightly from the year prior's 412 applicants. Currently, 136 of those students have been selected for scholarships. We anticipate 96 students will qualify for renewal from the prior year for a total of 232 students so far. It is expected that number will rise with final activity on the Wish List.
The WAEF vocational scholarship pool was discussed separately. It doubled in applicants this year with candidates demonstrating impressive aptitudes in various vocational and technical fields.
WAEF will be switching online application software providers in the coming year to a lower cost option that still offers the necessary functions utilized in the selection process.
Board members had a robust discussion regarding purchase of an online alumni software product. The product would be used to connect with scholarship alumni, post industry jobs & internships, facilitate mentorships and used as primary communication tool with current and former scholarship recipients. It is anticipated that the software would allow for increased efficiency and reduce reliance on staff to facilitate contacts.
Concerns were raised about privacy and data protection. Further research will be completed with the preferred software provider to ensure a positive experience for students and alumni utilizing the product. If additional questions check out, the software will be launched during the student workshops preceding the scholarship luncheons this summer.
A policy regarding board membership was approved. The primary purpose of the policy is to ensure the industry's charity continues to proudly reflect the makeup of the tree fruit industry. It will be used to direct board member recruiting to ensure its appropriate reflection of the industry.
Strategic Plan Proposal
Strategic planning committee chairman Jeff Fagg brought forward a revised strategic plan for board member review and discussion. The plan focuses attention on key stakeholder groups: tree fruit industry as a whole, WAEF donors, students & their families and the industry workforce. The two-page plan targets desired outcomes in each area and communicates a strong direction.
Directors discussed and will revisit in August.
Board members reviewed the list of donors with regular giving and assigned follow-up for thank yous.