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National PSR Conference - November 2012

National PSR Board of Directors Conference                                                                 
Start: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Finish: Saturday, November 17, 2012


Thursday, 11/15/2012

Optional lobbying events occurred in the morning and through the afternoon. Most board members did not participate in the lobbying.  For those board members not lobbying, like me, there was an opportunity to network with other board members. I was actively networking with other board members throughout this conference. 

In the evening the following agenda items were referred to briefly and discussed throughout the conference:


That life on Earth is precious, powerful and vulnerable;
That human life draws vital sustenance and coherence from the ecological and social systems in which it participates;
That the acquisition and application of scientific knowledge imposes the responsibility to protect life, not to endanger or destroy it;
That knowledge about global threats results from experience and scientific study including modeling and simulation, which inherently contain uncertainty;
That the necessary decisions based on such uncertainties must be evaluated in settings open to public review, so that the best possible approaches can be achieved;
That citizens have a right to informed participation in such decision-making processes made by both government and industry which affect their health, welfare and environment; and
That our commitment to future generations requires that problems of violence and militarism, global environmental degradation and social and economic inequities be addressed now and not be left as a toxic legacy to be solved by those who follow us.

Major Goals of this Conference:

1. Review PSR’s financial revenue, expenses and position for 2012, and projections for 2013
2. Consider and approve 2013 budget
3. Engage on the concept of “Recruit, Train, and Mobilize” new advocates
4. Provide oversight and direction for programmatic goals  

Executive Director’s Report (Thomasson)

Four organization-wide PSR goals for 2013 were presented: 
1) Recruit, train and activate health professionals, students and concerned citizens as representatives of PSR. One key idea that got much discussion was to develop small educational events which will recruit others to join us in targeting humanitarian organizations such as the Red Cross and world affairs-type organizations.  
2) Dwindling membership (donor) numbers despite increasing e-activist numbers. This is not at an alarming level. Our Development and Membership Deputy Director has just returned from maternity leave and we expect her work will help address these concerns.
3) Continue to integrate chapter and national collaboration on program work.
4) Collaborative development of chapters -- We have been working on creating a very useful and informative chapter leaders meeting in February 2013 in Tampa.  We are focusing on the theme of developing successful chapters.  

The day’s meetings ended at approximately 9:25pm.

Friday, 11/16/2012(from 8am to 9:15pm)


Chapter & Advocacy Development

- Role of the Board (Kanter)
- Recruit, train, activate (Thomasson)
- How One PSR fits in  (McCue, Kerwin)
- How Social Justice fits in (Gould, Ringler)

Moratorium on fracking proposal

Most fracking takes place in rural areas.  In recent years, farm families living close to fracking wells have been diagnosed with respiratory and neurological effects based on their exposure to air pollutants such as benzene.  Air quality is further compromised by the intensive truck traffic required by fracking, resulting in substantial diesel emissions. Fracking can also pollute water.  Drilling chemicals and fracturing fluids used in various steps of the drilling process can be highly toxic and include known carcinogens, such as benzene, butoxyethanol, boric acid, and methanol.

PSR’s board of directors has called for a moratorium on fracking until health-protective regulations can be put in place that will provide protection from these and other health impacts.
Lacking these protections, fracking’s impacts on human health are anticipated to increase as gas development moves closer to residential communities.

2013 Chapter Leaders meeting

The 2013 Chapter Leaders meeting is scheduled February 8 and 9th in Tampa.  The goal is to have 2 chapter members, a staff or lead volunteer and a steering or chapter board member to increase chapter development. There have been significant calls and planning put into the 2013 Chapter Leaders meeting as a separate functioning subcommittee.  See for additional details.

Website & Communications

(Kerwin, Morgan, Sinha)
Communications with members is done with newsletters, e-alerts, personal phone calls and direct mail. Email is used as much as possible, but we also  provide postal mail communications when requested.
Upcoming Events: Every other Monday, we send an e-alert that lists the wide array of events
across the PSR network.  This calendar of events alleviates the need to send separate announcements for each upcoming event.  The list of Upcoming Events is also on our website
under “Press Room.”

PSR Monitor (monthly e-newsletter):

Each edition features three to five stories about current PSR events and accomplishments.  The sidebar features action items and announcements.

PSR Reports is a twice-yearly hard-copy newsletter that is mailed to approximately 12,000 members.  Features program information, a message from the executive director and president of the board. 

The “Experts and Speakers” page on the website features many of our trained professionals.  In 2013 we will encourage chapters to feature their own Experts and Speakers on their chapter portals if they don’t already do so.

Google Ad Words

In May 2012, PSR was awarded a Google Grant for paid advertising on Google's ubiquitous advertising system. The goal with paid advertising is to bring new traffic to and to find ways to engage those visitors in our core work. Over the past few months, our use of this platform has steadily improved with, currently, over 9% of our total web traffic coming from paid  advertising (85% of which are new visitors).

Website & Communications (continued)

Assistance is provided to chapters in posting content and sending chapter-specific e-alerts, two basic functions they need to have to engage their members.  The intent is to drive more people to participate in our upcoming events and activities and to be more consistently sharing information as a network.  

Safe Energy Program

In Sep’12, Dick Mark was hired to lead the work of the Safe Energy Program. For me, Dick’s presentation was the most thought-provoking and inspirational of our 3 days together. This program is expected to continue to be directed at preventing the construction of new reactors (primarily, by stopping federal and state subsidies). We also expect to take advantage of the recent court decision on “waste confidence,” the looming federal fiscal crisis, recent severe weather events, along with the continuing bad news coming from the disaster at the Fukushima Daichii nuclear power facility to drive the point home that our nation’s many aging as well as future nuclear power plants are risky, a threat to public health and a monetary threat to all taxpayers who are burdened with subsidizing any new plants.

Security program

Webinars were a key component of the Security Program this year. Details can be found at . A summary of each webinar follows.
1. Speakers Training on Nuclear Weapons presented by Ashish Sinha and Ira Helfand
2. Understanding the Federal Budget and Military Spending presented by Chris Hellman 
3. Nuclear Famine Report: A Billion at Risk presented by Ira Helfand  
4. Effective Lobbying presented by Rebecca Griffin of Peace Action West

The remaining Friday presentations focused on fundraising and internal business. What follows are these topics.

- Fundraising channels and challenges
- Cash-flow projections from now till March 2013
- Review of PSR’s financial status 
- September 2012 financial reports
- 50th Anniversary Campaign
- Leadership Circle
- Direct Marketing/Member Acquisition
- Exercise on member/donor outreach
- 2013 Proposed Budget                                                                
- Initial informational presentation of budget as recommended by EC            
- Executive Session-
- Audit discussion

The day’s meetings ended at about 9:10pm.

Saturday, 11/17/2012(from 8:00am to 1:15pm)


Student Program/New materials were presented


Board Administrative Actions

- Restatement of conflict of interest policy
- Consideration and Approval of 2013 Budget
- Consideration of DC group for new chapter status
- Proposal for restructuring our committees was discussed and approved    
- Presentations from PSR President-Elect, Treasurer, At-Large Directors, Executive Committee, 
- International Councilors
- Audit Committee report  
- Committee assignments 
- International work / IPPNW update 
- Closing remarks from outgoing PSR president, Andy Kanter
- Remarks from incoming PSR president, Jeff Patterson

Next national Board of Directors meeting is tentatively planned for April 11 – 13 (2013).