Science Iowa minutes


3 p.m., April 25, 2021


Present: President Dan Chibnall, Treasurer Ruth Henderson, Secretary Tom O’Donnell, director Bryan Bacehowski, member Kaitlin Higgins.


Approve minutes of March 28, 2021 meeting. See:


Ruth moved to approve; Dan second; motion carried.


Old business:


Review bylaw changes and consider approval. See:


Tom raised the question of whether Kaitlin is the best person to have listed as the registered agent since she is not an officer or director.

Kaitlin offered to continue as agent, saying she wants to continue contributing and may end up remaining in Iowa after completing her degree. The board agreed to keep her name and address as the registered agent.

Tom said it may make sense to keep her as agent because he (at least) can’t get into the Gmail account. Dan offered to be the secondary Gmail account contact. Kaitlin said that would be fine if we can get him onto it. Two-factor authentication seems to be the problem. Kaitlin’s cellphone gets the 2FA codes. Kaitlin will look into the matter.

Kaitlin suggested that if Science Iowa starts raising money and otherwise expands its activities, we may want to have multiple in-boxes, but Google charges a fee for that. Tom is currently paying the Google account fees.

Tom noted that the only issues the bylaw changes don’t address are terms in office and staggered terms. 

Ruth suggested two-year terms so people can settle into roles. That also would allow for staggered terms. 

Dan agreed that having longer terms helps maintain institutional memory. He suggested the board formalize the bylaws as they stand and amend them to institute terms at the next meeting. Tom will work up some verbiage spelling out, including staggered terms and initial terms for officers.

Kaitlin asked whether service limits in the bylaws should be defined in years or terms. Bryan asked if the staggered terms for the initial cycle would be spelled out in years. Tom suggested stating the year each office would be filled again, followed by terms of two years for each office. We would move an officer off the board once a year.

The meeting section was changed to say once a month at the president’s discretion without saying which specific day, i.e., the last Sunday of each month.

The board discussed the statement of nonpolitical activity at the end and whether it should be more general. Kaitlin suggested removing a phrase about making statements, suggesting that could mean Science Iowa couldn’t do its candidate surveys. Tom said that the section specifically says statements endorsing candidates or parties are not allowed. We can pass on candidate views without endorsement and can endorse views on policy, not parties or candidates. Dan suggested that the section say just that we operate in accordance with the nonprofit code and not raise other questions or hamstring ourselves. The board decided to cut the phrase about making political statements and retain the rest of the section,

Ruth moves to approve. Dan seconds. Bylaws approved unanimously.


Iowa Science Foundation grant status: Kaitlin Higgins


Kaitlin said we have not received word on the fate of our application. Tom will contact Craig Johnson with the Iowa Academy of Science to check on the status.


New business:


Science Iowa priorities for 2021: Dan Chibnall



Break down assignments

Next steps for each


Dan suggested picking out a few items on the list that we could assign to people to pursue. 


Bank and nonprofit status: Ruth is investigating a bank account and whether we need nonprofit status first. 


Tom asked whether as a nonprofit we could get free or reduced fees on banking. 


Kaitlin suggested choosing a credit union that would have no fees. Dan said it would be good work with a local operation.


Tom suggested a bank that has sufficient reach that someone living anywhere in the state could access if needed but noted that Internet banking may make that irrelevant.


Kaitlin mentioned Greenstate Credit Union which has branches in the Iowa City and Des Moines areas, which is where officers are most likely to be based. She noted that credit unions work together to share ATMs, etc.


Ruth will do some research on them.


Tom will look into the 501c3 process.


Developing a strategy to involve more people, getting them to come to board meetings and communicate with us:


Ruth reminded us that Jordan Wilmes wanted to get high school students involved. He and Bryan may have ideas on that. 


Dan reminded us that high school involvement is part of our long-term agenda, but it’s OK to pursue the idea If Jordan and Bryan are willing. Bryan will work with Jordan to get secondary students. Bryan noted that our official status and nonpolitical stance will have greater impact in attracting students.


Tom will forward information about the Iowa Academy of Science Teaching Section to Bryan and Jordan. That may be an avenue to attract students and teachers from around the state.


Dan will work on social media planning. Tom will help.


Further discussion: Ruth says she has access to Science Iowa Facebook page, but hasn’t posted items because the group hasn’t outlined what it wants to do.


Kaitlin suggested our goal should be to post items from other Iowa organizations and events two to four times per week. We should try to share new research from people in Iowa with about the same frequency, a sprinkling of national science news and one or two funny things a week. She advocated for posting to Facebook twice a day and Twitter three to four times a day. It’s difficult to plan, however, because we don’t know what research and events come out. We may need more people to carry out such a schedule.


Dan said he is on Twitter frequently and helps with the Cowles Library feed. They use a Google spreadsheet to schedule things. We want our feeds to be fresh.


Tom suggested we workshop the social media plan once we have a draft.


We discussed the social media policy Tom formulated. Dan asked if there’s a dos and don’ts for 501(c)3s doing social media. Ruth suggested we distill the social media policy into such a list. Tom will create such a list.


Bryan suggested developing a simple informal process to have one other person look over proposed posts to ensure they don’t jeopardize our nonprofit status or cause blowback. Tom noted that Facebook allows creation of drafts via the publishing tools function.


Dan also will work on SWOT analysis.


Ruth suggests holding discussion on the website at the next meeting. She will post the bylaws and create a page for minutes.


Moving discussions to Slack: Tom O’Donnell


Tom wanted to use slack to centralize discussion around issues and processes. Dan likes to use it makes it easier for people to follow projects and threads. Are others OK with it?


Ruth agreed that emails make it difficult to follow things. Dan noted that email is for everything someone does, but Slack is for just one part of what they do.


Bryan is willing to use Slack and may switch to a different email for Science Iowa work instead of using his West Des Moines Schools address. 


Dan noted that we can embed links to Slack discussions in emails.


Adjournment at about 4:05 p.m.