Common Ground Board of Directors Meeting Minutes: January 2021

PLEASE NOTE: In order to comply with adjusted CT Open Meeting laws, this Zoom meeting will be recorded and posted on the Common Ground website


New Haven Ecology Project

Board Meeting Minutes

Jan. 25, 2021


Board Members Present: Babz Rawls Ivy, Bob Parker, Monica Maccera Filppu (ex officio, non-voting), Errol Saunders, Ana Reyes, Kyeen Andersson, Beth Klingher, Charlie Negaro, Deloris Vaughn, Terri Snell

Staff Present: Elena Augusewicz, Christina Maclean, Kimball Cartwright, Bev Greene, Rebecca Holcombe, Joel Tolman

Babz called the meeting to order at 5:37.


  • Welcome (5:37)


      1. Public Comment (5:37) (two minutes per person for a total time limit of 30 minutes, or by email; see instructions below) Sign up for Public Participation HERE
      2. Babz called for public participation. Seeing none, she moved to the next item on the agenda.


  • Business Requiring Approval (5:40)  


      1. December 2020 Minutes
      2. Errol would like to add a comma to the top date, he would also like to remove the note at the top since it is redundant. Kyeen noted that there are a few sentences halfway down the page that didn’t seem complete. Errol saw them and will delete. 
      3. Bob moved to approve the December 21, 2020 Board of Directors Minutes, Charles seconded. The December Minutes were approved unanimously. 


  • Invoices Needing Approval


      1. Charlie moved to approve all invoices needing approval, Beth seconded, these invoices were approved unanimously.
        1. Aladdin, Inc $17,892.00 for New Windows in Hilltop building to be paid out of Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF)
        2. CEO Electric $5,860.00 for electrical in new pavilion build to be paid out of CRF
        3. Environmental Engineering (add date) $17,000.00 for Springside HVAC to be paid out of CRF.
        4. Environmental Engineering (add date) $6,440.00 for Springside HVAC to be paid out of CRF.
        5. Thurston Foods $5,842.52 for Dec. food orders to be paid out of CRF.
      2. Errol asked whether or not the Environmental Engineering invoices were indeed separate invoices. Elena explained that the Environmental Engineering expenses are billed on the date that they come out to campus to do the work. Errol asked that the minutes reflect the dates of those visits for clarity. 
      3. Charlie asked about whether these expenses were already in the budget. Monica replied that these were all off-budget expenses that were covered by the Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF).


  • Executive Director Report (5:50) (Monica)


      1. Covid update: Will continue to wait for community transmission to go down before re-visiting a return to hybrid. Environmental Ed in Action Class will be offered in person once a week in the second semester. We will offer a few limited classes this spring that will meet outdoors in person on wednesday mornings. 
      2. We expect Common Ground employees will be eligible for vaccine when essential workers are eligible
      3. Kyeen wanted to know if this will be all staff or only those that are considered teachers or educators. Monica said that she is planning to submit for all staff to be covered. 
      4. Monica indicated that her next ED report will reflect an update on the school now that we are mid-semester. 
      1. Deborah shared her screen with the group. She explained that the farm was pretty busy this summer and fall despite covid restrictions. She then began her presentation with a land acknowledgement. 
      2. The farm is partnering with the city, Gather New Haven, NRCS and other community partners to improve education and access around our industrial composting facilities. We grew 10,800lbs of food that was distributed through our farm share, this was the first year where that was open to members of the community along with staff. 
      3. The farm team also ran our Mobile Market on a limited schedule and look forward to running that again this year. 
      4. The food box program was the major new program, it began with 30 community families when covid first began. We surveyed our students/alumni/staff families and found that access to stores during the height of covid was greatly reduced. 
        1. We now serve about 75 families. 36% of those surveyed suffered from food insecurity and 89% said that the food box program was important to their food security. 
        2. Along with this program we did cooking education videos, recipe guides, partnerships with CTCORE and Semilla Collective, Havens Harvest. We have purchased food and ingredients and had bread donated by Chabaso and books donated from CT READS. 
        3. So far we have delivered 5000 boxes of food total (about 300 boxes per week). The main challenge of this program was that it was an emergency program and funding was unpredictable. It was very different from food distribution that we have performed in the past but we felt it was a necessary service for our community members. 
      5. Our other goal is education, even through covid. We hosted weekly cooking classes for the high school students. It’s become a whole family experience which was a pleasant surprise and multiple family members were enjoying the lessons together.  We changed from a quarterly in-person Farm and Garden Conferences but now we are doing virtual workshops 1-2 times per month led by lots of great guest chefs, student chefs, and our farm interns. It was a wonderful way to build community
      6. We have formed a lot of partnerships throughout Covid. Our next partnership is with EMERGE and they will be hosting some workshops on our farm. Edgewood park is also interested in converting an acre of their space into a flower farm and we will be working with them on that. 
      7. Several Board members commented on how inspiring the work of the farm has been.
  • Governance Committee Report (6:08) (Bob)
    1. The governance committee did not meet in January. They are scheduled to meet Feb. 16th.
    2. New Board member for consideration
      1. Bob explained how Kim Lisack came to be considered for joining the Board. She comes to Common Ground through the weekend open farm days with her kids. 
      2. Her bio here appears here for Board member consideration. The governance committee will bring Kim Lisack up for official consideration next month. Kim Lisack will join the development committee as a guest until her Board membership is officially considered. 





  • School Committee Report (6:10) (Monica)


      1. The School Committee will meet on February 8th to develop hiring processes and competencies. Monica explained that the next meeting will focus on our hiring process and how we can align those processes with our values.


  • Finance Committee Report (6:11) (Beth)


      1. Budget vs. Actuals as of December, 2020 with projections
      2. Beth explained that in row 4 our individual gift goal was increased by $350,000 more than the year prior. However the new projection is $200,000 less than that. We did make a valiant effort and did increase by $40,000 compared to last year. We have made a lot of new donor contacts and hope that it will give us a good base for moving forward. The good news is that 
      3. Beth explained that Rock-to-Rock (row 7) appears to be down but that is not true because we are no longer a fiscal agent for a project.
      4. We had originally projected a transfer-in $350,000 to make up revenue for community programs, we had assumed that there would be no revenue from these programs due to covid restrictions. Our new projection is net $140,000 through Community Programs because we were able to run a Covid-safe and smaller version of our regular programming. We will not have to take as much money from our reserves.
      5. Overall, we expect to net $150,000 for this fiscal year. 
      6. Kyeen asked Beth to explain if this budget includes staff salary increases. Beth said that it does, this is the first year of a three year salary increase. It’s important to increase our individual giving in the coming years to stay on track with that three year plan.
      7. We received a PPP loan through TD Bank. They have not yet opened their window to apply for forgiveness at this time. We will be applying for this loan to be forgiven once that window is opened. 



      1. Charlie reported that year-end giving was extremely successful. We raised $33,000 against the $20,000 match that we were working from. We significantly increased the number of donors that we brought into the fold and increased our peer-to-peer board outreach.
      2. Charlie explained that we’ve raised about $125,000 in individual gifts and we hope to have $360,000 by the end of the fiscal year. We are ahead of our fundraising goals in previous years. We would like to explore how we can continue this growth in the next few years. We are increasing the number of new donors and hope that adding new people to the board will help with that. Kimball added that the $50,000 from new donors were introduced to CG by Board Members.
      3. There is an ask for Board Members to send thank you notes and calls to donors that you may know; this is important to cultivate these donor relationships. Beth said that we are asking each member to call fifteen people to thank them, they don’t just have to be people you know. 
      4. Charlie, Kimball, and Audrey will be meeting this week to discuss setting a $100,000 fundraising goal for Feast from the Fields in the next fiscal year. We hope to do this by engaging sponsors.


  • New Business (6:27)


      1. Babz asked if there was any new business. Seeing none she moved to the next agenda item. 


  • Executive Session (6:27)


      1. Bob did not have a request to move into Executive Session so he sought a motion to adjourn. 


  • Adjourn (6:28)


    1. Beth moved to adjourn, Bob seconded that motion. The move was approved unanimously at 6:28.

Next Meeting:

Monday, Feb 22nd (5:30 pm)

Public Comment: 

In order to comply with adjusted Connecticut Open Meeting laws, any member of the public wishing to participate in the meeting must sign up on the Public Participation Sign-up Document. Sign-ups for Public Participation will open at 5 pm on the last business day before the meeting (Friday, January 22nd) and will close at 5:00 pm on the day of the meeting (Monday, January 25th). Public Participation is limited to 2 minutes per person up to 30 total minutes. Anyone wishing to make a statement to the board can also submit testimony in writing to the Board Secretary: by 5:30 pm on the day of the meeting. All submitted documents will be included in the publicly shared meeting minutes.


Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.