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InfoComm International Executive Update May 2006

May 2006

A Solid Foundation

The International Communications Industries Foundation (ICIF) has retained an expert who informed us that several changes had to be made to the foundation. Since the creation of the foundation long ago, the IRS has made several changes in the ways associations can run their foundations. To keep us in legal compiance with the IRS, ICIF projects need to strictly promote public, rather than just industry, good. The foundation must not associate in any activities that might generate money for the association. But even more importantly, we can no longer ask the foundation to raise money for industry scholarships or other activities that promote the well-being of the industry; instead, they must promote the well-being of the general public. For this reason, we are no longer asking for donations from our members that support the InfoComm education program.

This change is dramatic, but it will keep us in compliance with the IRS and it will not inadvertently drag any contributor into a tax dispute between the Foundation and the IRS.

Several changes have been made to the ICIF bylaws. There has been a change in the number of ICIF board members. Effective 2007, the President-Elect of the Association will act as President of the Foundation. Two members of the InfoComm Board of Governors at Large will sit on the Foundation Board. A seat will be available to a current member of the ICIF board, with the remainder appointed by the InfoComm Board. The ICIF mission has been clarified to promote the “public good” in education and community service projects and we will ask our members to join in that effort with their talents and their contributions.

ICIF has been a hallmark program of InfoComm for nearly three decades. In its earliest stages, ICIF was a small, but earnest program aimed at promoting AV cart safety and scholarships for industry training. In the mid ‘90s, the foundation was revived with an emphasis on creating online education programs, funding classroom and lab spaces for InfoComm’s Academy, and pursuing federal grants. At the dawn of the millennium, ICIF shifted back towards funding scholarships, as well as underwriting the cost of the industry’s AVolution awareness campaign and the market research that InfoComm is so well known for.

The ICIF is a program that was built on the generosity and good intentions of the InfoComm membership. In the past year alone, I have often heard from members who feel that their lives were changed for the better because of a college scholarship awarded to a local student, a grant they received in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina or their participation in the InfoComm Shines initiative that involved the creation of a state-of-the-art education facility at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults. However, over the last several months InfoComm has taken great pains to restructure and redirect the efforts of the ICIF.

We feel that these changes will help make a good foundation even better. ICIF will focus on providing college scholarships, completing existing programs, and possibly continuing the popular InfoComm Shines initiative. Winston Churchill once said, “There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.” We hope that these changes made to ICIF will make it a solid program for many decades to come.

I wish everyone safe travel to InfoComm 06 in Orlando. See you there in June!

Randal A. Lemke, Ph.D.
Executive Director
InfoComm International

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