MINUTES OF THE 125th ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
FEBRUARY 5, 2010
L'Olivier Restaurant, San Francisco, California
The meeting was called to order at 6:20 PM.
President Hermann Attinger extended a warm welcome to this year's guests of honor, Consul General Julius Anderegg and his wife Ursula. He also welcomed all members present and several past presidents and board members such as Ernest Plattner, Pius Kampfen, John Maillard, Kurt Engel, Susy Lutsky. In addition, he was excited to welcome scholarship recipients Elizabeth Schlaepfer and Alessandra Schmitz.
Our records show that we have 180 dues-paying members at this time. 10%, or 18 members, represent a quorum. In addition to 40 members present - a very good representation - we received 37 proxy statements.
Minutes of the 2009 Annual General Meeting
Linda Maillard gave an animated abbreviated reading of the minutes of the 2009 Annual Meeting, which were then approved by a motion of John Maillard, followed by a second by Andy Eggler.
Treasurer’s Report by John Zeiter
Treasurer John Zeiter acknowledged that we had a better year in 2009 than in 2008. We had a number of bonds that matured during the year which the Investment Committee invested so we could get more interest income. John then read the details of the financial profit and loss statement and endowment balances: ...
- The General Fund account balance for year-end was adjusted to include the 2009 year-end donations of $9,425 ($8,625 donations and $800 scholarship - checks having December dates), which were received and/or deposited into the Schwab account after January 6, 2010.
- The endowment balance comprises five separate cash and investment accounts for each of the funds listed. All cash and investments funds are separate and independently managed.
- Reinvested dividend and capital gain income are not shown, but are included in the account balance.
Auditors Report by Kurt Engel
Kurt Engel presented the report of the audit that he and Hans Surber conducted. They examined on a test basis the evidence supporting the amounts and disclosures to obtain reasonable assurances that these statements are free of material misstatements. They checked the five funds. They praised John Zeiter for the "unbelievably" orderly manner in which the books are kept.
Hermann took the opportunity to express his thanks to Kurt for his six years of service as our auditor.
Investment Committee Report by Andy Eggler
2009 saw a great deal of realignment in the financial markets. One year ago the major markets were in free fall, a period that ended March 9th. The recovery during the ensuing nine months was also amazing. We attribute our good performance in part to the 15% invested in international holdings. On the fixed income side, we suffered from low interest rates. The Fed has indicated no change in interest rate policy; it's only a matter of time until inflation comes. We have a large cash position, a portion of which will be invested in bonds when the timing is appropriate. Investments are guided by the "prudent rule" and decisions made by committee.
Welfare Committee Report by Melanie Facen
Melanie Facen reported on several cases where we provided assistance. For Christmas, we mailed gift certificates to 3 people who we felt could use some extras for the holidays. Melanie reiterated her plea that if anybody knows of anyone in need of assistance to please let her know.
Scholarship Committee Report presented by John Andrew
In 2009 we received a total of 22 applications and were able to award $28,000 to 14 qualified students. Of special note is the fact that we were able to award a scholarship from each of the named funds. To honor the memory of August Strotz, founder of the scholarship program, we made a one-time monetary increase to all awards.
John then introduced the two 2009 scholarships recipients who accepted our invitation to attend the Annual Meeting. Elizabeth Schlaepfer is a student at William Jessup University in Rocklin, CA, and Alessandra Schmitz is a student at UC Berkeley. Both guests spoke briefly, thanking the Board for the educational assistance and saying it was a special privilege to be invited to the Annual Meeting.
John reminded the audience that our scholarship assistance, since the program's inception in 1989, is now over $700,000. He thanked Melanie for her help after he took over from Susy Lutsky. Susy had left everything in excellent shape.
Membership Report by Linda Maillard
Whereas we had 206 members in 2008, the number has dropped to 180 as of the end of 2009. As always, we are fortunate to have a small core of loyal and consistent donors who keep the Society going.
As Linda steps down from the Board, Hermann expressed his appreciation for the incredible amount of work that she performed while on the Board. Our thanks go to her husband John as well.
Public Relations and Fundraising Report presented by Bernhard Daniel
Bernhard urged the audience to introduce new members, especially in light of the decline in membership.
Fundraising report presented by Esther Scott
We were fortunate to find an organization that we can recommend to members interested in charitable remainder annuities. People who are planning to gift a portion of their estate to the SBS can do so while receiving income for life. Upon the donor's death the principal goes to the charity. If interested, contact Esther or any board member.
Ruedi Sandmeier then introduced himself, saying that he joined the Board in March 2009. One of his long-term goals is to move to email or web-based communications with our members over the next three years. His contacts with the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce and the Peninsula Swiss Club have confirmed that email communication can work for these types of organizations. Melissa Lindt will join him in this effort.
Melissa Lindt joined the board in November 2009. She introduced herself by saying how excited she is about her role in the Society. She wants a better way to keep in touch with people if they move away. "Stay tuned".
Hermann Attinger's President's Report
In closing, Hermann reminded the audience that at last year's Annual Meeting Gusti Strotz had resigned from the Board for health reasons. Sadly, he passed away a few months later. It is very moving that his widow, Marianne, has decided to continue the family tradition by joining our Scholarship Committee.
“You have heard a review of last year’s activities through the brief reports of my colleagues. Overall, 2009 was a satisfactory year in a still difficult economy. We were able to end with a net operating gain of about $10,000 and recovered some of the investment losses we suffered in the crash of 2008.
This is my last talk as your president, so allow me to look at a larger perspective. Don’t worry, I will keep it concise!
When I took over the helm of the SBS from Ernie Plattner in 2004 our net worth was $448,000. At the end of last year it was $487,000, an increase of $39,000. However, the high point was in May 2008 with $622,000!! ($135,000 or 27% higher)
During these six years we spent $32,500 on financial support and awarded 102 scholarships totaling $156,000. What is more, we had a net operating gain of over $80,000. Thus, we did not dip into the endowment capital.
Our membership has remained mostly level over the period but we did lose about 10 members last year. Board members will contact members who have not paid their 2009 membership fee. A declining membership is a worrisome trend for all Swiss Clubs. How do you attract new and, particularly, younger members?? This is an ongoing issue we all have to work on together.
On the other hand, our members have become more generous. In 2004 the average donation was $101, in 2009 $124. We have been very fortunate, and most appreciative, to receive a $50,000 donation from Silvia Iselin for a scholarship fund.
It is important to continue urging our compatriots to remember the SBS in their financial planning, their trusts and wills. As you have heard from Esther, we now have a new vehicle which benefits both the donor during his lifetime and the SBS with a lasting legacy in his name.
After 6 years I believe I leave behind a society in excellent financial shape, with modern by-laws, a dedicated team of volunteers and a very supportive and generous membership.
I have been privileged to have the support of a truly exceptional Board. Never before have I known a group of such motivated, committed and capable volunteers. They are the real heroes of today’s SBS. Just look how long some of our key officers and directors have served:
|Melanie Facen||20 years|
|John Zeiter||15 years|
|Marianne Aubert||14 years|
|Linda Maillard||9 years|
|Kurt Engel||6 years as Auditor|
7 years as Vice President
|Susy Lutsky||retired last year after 16 years|
We owe them a great deal of thanks! I treasured the experience of working with them. And of course, much credit is due to our loyal membership which is the foundation of our work.”
At this point, President Attinger asked if there were any questions or comments from the audience. Since no matters to be voted on were submitted from the floor, we then proceeded to the elections.
Under our By-Laws, the Directors are elected based on a system of rotation over a three-year period. One third of the Board comes up for election every year.
Election of the Board conducted by Consul General Julius Anderegg
Three members would normally be up for reelection but are stepping down: Hermann Attinger, Linda Maillard and Robert Rieder. Fortunately, Robert has accepted to become an auditor, replacing Kurt Engel who is stepping down. Melanie Facen will replace Robert as Vice President and Marianne Strotz will take over scholarships from Melanie.
Approval of the elections was done by acclamation:
– New Board members: Ruedi Sandmeier, Marianne Strotz, Melissa Lindt
– Reelected for a one-year term: Hans Surber as auditor
– Elected for a one-year term: Robert Rieder as auditor
Mr. Anderegg, who arrived in San Francisco four months ago, took the opportunity to introduce himself and his wife, Ursula. They call the town of Klosters home. He especially enjoys representing the Swiss government and Swiss endeavors. He mentioned there are 16,500 Swiss in his district.
Hermann expressed his appreciation to Mr. Anderegg for conducting the elections so efficiently and for the spirit of cooperation and assistance demonstrated by the Swiss Consulate.
This brought the Meeting to a close. Linda Maillard made a motion to close the meeting, seconded by Marianne Strotz. The meeting was closed at 7:10 PM.
* * * * *
The new Board then assembled for a brief meeting to elect the new Officers.
Election of the 2010 Officers
|Vice President||Melanie Facen|
All four Officers were approved unanimously.
(SBS members may request a written copy of the minutes by contacting the Secretary)