DAA's Absolute Authority
firm establishment of the absolute power of the Douglass Alumni Association (DAA), as being that which is totally separate and independent of the National Douglass Alumni Corporation (NDAC), was displayed at Saturday's general membership meeting Aug. 14, 2010.
The meeting produced a large turnout of DAA members. Including a large number of new members having just graduated from Douglass High School. These former students of Douglass are now official members of a growing Douglass alumnus.
DAA has for the past 25 years operated as though they were a part of a group organization under the NDAC. This was due mainly to the influence some founding members of the NDAC had within the governing board and structure of DAA.
When founding members of the NDAC broke away from the DAA in 1985 they established a system of governance within the DAA and the NDAC, built on influence and not the guidelines the IRS put in place for group organizations.
The NDAC created a mentality within DAA that DAA had to and must pay dues along with other fees annually to the NDAC. This continued for approximately 25 years.
And when brought to the attention of NDAC officials in open meetings there was never a response indicating the problem was being address or even considered.
The NDAC acted as though they needed to change nothing and all was well.
DAA presented a proposal through secret discussions with the NDAC on how the two organizations could settle all of their differences and become one united organization serving the entire Douglass community.
This proposal was rejected by NDAC and the reason given for rejection was because the DAA proposal would not get any traction within their organizational bylaw structure and some within NDAC would never vote for it; and any attempt to bring it to the floor would be quickly defeated.
These conversations took place between DAA and NDAC just prior to the NDAC’s convention in Atlanta, which was held the 1st week of July 2010.
Needless to say, the NDAC’s hierarchy has been fully aware of the problems relating to finance, membership dues, governance and organizational structure facing its organization and the DAA.
Yet at their only meeting of the year, NDAC failed to address these serious issues. Electing to continue receiving dues and fees payments annually from DAA. “No more,” says DAA President John Bernard.
Opening of the New Douglass High School
With the opening of the new Douglass High School discussions of updating the manner in which the alumni is structured and operated began to surface.
Their actions (NDAC) put in place a system of governance that was not and have not, since their formation, completely followed IRS guidelines relating to the forming of group organizations. (See IRS Publication 557)
With the establishment of the NDAC, its founders secured a source of funding through DAA by providing false and misleading information to DAA members. Their operations met none of the IRS's sections pertaining to the establishment of group organizations.
With the election of John Bernard as its President, in 2009, DAA set itself on a course to bring legitimacy to a very proud and ailing organization.
The election of Bernard created such a stir, that efforts immediately began to undermine his legitimate authority. Hoping to give Bernard no say so on any of the issues to come before DAA, some members saw these efforts as what they were. Ploys to sabotage a legitimate Presidency trying to run a legitimate organization.
"We intend to continue our working relationship with the NDAC." "Not very much has to change," says Bernard. "The terms will change from what they have been for the past 25 years."
"Those terms, according to the experts we have consulted, were not in reasonable accordance with IRS regulations. They were not even in the ball park," says Bernard.
"We are not looking to continue any practice or practices that may jeopardize our standing with the IRS," Bernard expressed. “We have professional people that we rely on to guide us in these matters and we trust and depend on their guidance in matters of their expertise."
“When brought to my attention as to how serious these issues could be, I immediately received consultation from these professionals and decided our best course of action. Our approach is legal, sound and serves the entire Douglass community best,” says Bernard.
NDAC to DAA’s knowledge has never filed for a group exemption or met any of the other requirements under IRS guidelines governing group organizations despite having paid thousands in dues and fees to the NDAC. Always being under the assumption that they were a chapter of a National organization.
Saturday’s meeting cleared the way for DAA to continue its lead as the organization that is committed to the Douglass community in Memphis TN.
“While we recognize that we have members in other parts of the nation, Memphis will always be home”, said Bernard.
While this paves the way for DAA to take control of its organizational structure and membership while excelling it to new heights, it does not remove the stigma that has plagued DAA and its sagging membership.
“There is still much work that needs to be done,” says Bernard. “We must continue to concentrate on rallying our troops to support the effort that we have undertaken that will make Douglass better, bigger and stronger.”
Saturday’s Membership Meeting 08/10/2010
DAA Scholarship Chair Joe Ferby and NDAC Scholarship Chairwoman Vallie Dee Williams, both lifelong residents of the Douglass community, handed out scholarship checks to those students that applied for and met scholarship requirements.
The entire membership was thrilled about the new graduates becoming members. This brings to a start the support these students can expect to receive from the Douglass alumni over the next few years considering their full time position in a higher educational facility.
Janet Ware-Thompson, Principal at Douglass High was also present to assist in recognizing the newest members of the DAA. (Thompson who has been criticized in the past) for her leadership decisions, for now will be leading the 2nd class of Douglass graduates to the stage for the 2010-2011 school year.
Bernard further stated, “Memberships will continue to increase. These new graduates have already begun to share some of their ideas. Their presence alone makes a difference in this organization.”
Simultaneously we must continue to reach out and touch those Douglass graduates who are not yet members of this very historic organization,” says Bernard.
Food was provided by Ms. Edith Jordan and was free to members and their guests. DAA meets each 2nd Saturday of the month at the new Douglass High School located at 3200 Mt. Olive, Memphis TN.
For more information on meetings and other alumni activities please contact Ms. June Nichols, DAA Secretary at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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