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American Mensa Region 10

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December 2017

On October 17, Executive Director Pam Donahoo announced her resignation as Executive Director of American Mensa to take a Chief Executive Officer position at another association. Subsequently, the American Mensa Committee (AMC) met on November 1 to discuss next steps. A contingency plan was already in place for any major vacancy at the national office, and a Transition Committee was appointed by AMC Chair LaRae Bakerink to make recommendations for action at the December 2 AMC Meeting in Houston, TX. All the members of the transition committee have experience in hiring for executive positions.

 In the next few months, another major technology transition will occur in American Mensa with the implementation of Higher Logic, and the rollout of Mensa Connect. Mensa Connect will be replacing the existing in-house mailing lists used for Local Group officers and other committees, such as the LocSecs/Presidents, Editors, Membership Officers, and others, as well as the Mensa Community. There will be a presentation to the AMC at the December meeting, followed by testing by some of the existing groups. Once the testing phase has concluded, the function will be rolled out to local groups as well. While many groups have moved to Facebook over the past few years as their main point of connection, this has not been an ideal solution because there are many members who do not have or want Facebook accounts, and feel left out. Because this will hold all your private information internally, unlike Facebook, it will be a more secure way to participate, and will allow us to ensure that only members of Mensa are included in the groups. And since you'll be able to log into the Mensa site to participate, you won't need to join a different social media application.

At a regional level, I'm happy to announce that Bill Horton from Central Florida Mensa has joined the American Mensa Community Services Committee. This group works to identify service projects that members can participate in to raise Mensa's profile in the community. Members who participate can qualify for Mensa Cares! T-shirts for their efforts. Projects that have already occurred include Adopt-A-Highway programs, assisting at Food Banks, sprucing up cemeteries, collecting donations for homeless communities, and other projects. This is by no means an exhaustive list of possible projects, and Mensans have shown themselves to be very creative in their proposals!

I had posed a question a few weeks ago on a couple of Mensa Facebook groups on whether people thought Mensa was a volunteer organization. The responses surprised me, because while I was pondering what makes the organization run (no events are scheduled at the local group level unless a member volunteers to run it), many thought I was referring to Mensa volunteering in the community -- and several were adamantly opposed to the idea that we should require such a thing. But in no way are we suggesting that any member will ever be required to participate in a community program. We don't even require that members volunteer internally. But of course we ENCOURAGE it, at least internally, since we cannot survive as an organization without volunteers.

Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas
https://www.facebook.com/groups/MensaRegion10/
Twitter: @FardleBear

November 2017

September was a difficult month for many in Region 10, with Hurricane Irma crashing into Florida on September 10, and Hurricane Maria leveling Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands (part of Miami Mensa) on September 20. American Mensa made a concerted effort to reach as many members of Region 10 as they could on September 11, and I sent a follow-up email on September 23, with additional telephone contacts to non-email members by Palm Beach Area Mensa volunteer Laura Bulawski, and eventually we received check-ins from over 26% of our membership. That's a great response, and even better when taking into account general member participation levels and the surprisingly large portion of our membership who do not permit their contact information to be used, even by Mensa. Thanks to all who responded.

I realize people have their own reasons for keeping their member information private, but those members miss out on a great deal of information about Mensa at the national and even the local level, if they can't be reached except through the Mensa Bulletin or local group newsletters. Aside from the various social media groups, which are admittedly not to everyone's taste, there are also the national email newsletters such as Mensa Wired (a monthly resource for Mensa-related news), Mensa Weekly Brainwave (with news briefs and links to a variety of articles chosen for their interest to Mensans), and Mensa Leader (a twice-monthly publication for all officers in Mensa). You have the option to choose which communications you receive, or block those you don't want, by updating your member profile at https://www.us.mensa.org/my-mensa/my-membership-profile/, where you can also set information about your interests, see your membership history, set your communication preferences (including additional email addresses to manage your subscriptions), and many other features. Or you could turn them all off, but still allow your local group to contact you so they can invite you to events like picnics.

On to National news: At the September American Mensa Committee (AMC) meeting, there was a presentation on the Dispute Resolution Process and a motion to amend the rules of the Hearings Procedures. This is the second in-person meeting where we had to address hearings and conflicts, which is unfortunate but ultimately unavoidable. However, the process is robust, and the conflict resolution process can be found in its entirety at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/policydocuments/grievance-policies/. These are too involved to go into in detail in a short column, but the gist of it comes down to communication. If you have an issue with someone, of course you should try to work it out directly with them, but if that's not possible, each chapter should have members who can act as intermediaries, or processes to escalate to the relevant officers, or even to the Ombudsman (local, regional, or national) if necessary. The "nuclear option" is to remove an offending member from Mensa, but that is extremely rare -- it's only happened eight times in the history of American Mensa, to my knowledge (the last one in July). A person needs to work VERY HARD to get to the point that Mensa revokes their membership. We hope to be able to resolve conflicts before they get to that point -- and almost always do.

The next meeting of the AMC will be held on December 2, 2017 in Houston, Texas (who had their own hurricane issues, but are recovering, as are we).

Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas
https://www.facebook.com/groups/MensaRegion10/
Twitter: @FardleBear

September 2017

The AMC (American Mensa Committee) scheduled a teleconference for August 23 with four action items: to approve the minutes of the July AMC meeting so they can be published; to appoint Brian Reeves (from Palm Beach Area Mensa) as the chair of the 2019 Annual Gathering; to establish a Higher Logic Task Force (HLTF) as an advisory group for the implementation, messaging, and phase-in of the new technology platform; and to appoint Second Vice Chair Billie Lee as the Chair of the HLTF. Mini-minutes will be posted to the americanmensa.org website sometime after the meeting. The next in-person meeting of the AMC will be September 16 in Arlington, TX.

Several awards were presented to Region 10 individuals and groups at the Annual Gathering. A National Certificate of Appreciation went to Debbie Freeland of Central Florida Mensa for her service on the Communication and Membership Committees as well as the Testing and Local Group Logistics Teams, and Ruth Danielle of Manasota Mensa was given the National Service Award for her service as editor of Isolated M. Nine of the Region 10 groups were named Jewel Award winners for Local Group participation in activities and accomplishments:

  • *Ruby: Broward Mensa, Mensa of Jacksonville, North Florida Mensa, Palm Beach Area Mensa, and Tallahassee Area Mensa

  • *Sapphire: Manasota Mensa, Northwest Florida Mensa, and Tampa Bay Mensa

  • *Emerald: Central Florida Mensa

For Culture Quest, in addition to last month’s an-nouncement that Central Florida Mensa’s "Tragic Kingdom" team had taken first place again, Tampa Bay Mensa’s "Flour For Algernon" also placed in the money in 18th position. The local groups for both teams were awarded cash prizes.

I will be looking to fill several Regional positions within the next few weeks. One existing position that is overdue to be filled is the Regional Scholarship Chair. But I'll also be establishing some newer positions. In a couple of cases I will be allocating some of my favorite tasks to others, since I would undoubtedly focus all of my attention on those if I kept them for myself. I've already had someone volunteer for Regional Social Media Coordinator, who will be responsible for working with each group to make sure they are developing and enhancing their social media presence (and helping a couple of groups who don't have a presence to create one). I'll also be looking for a Membership liaison to help groups with strategies for both increasing their memberships and the number of active members.

There are also some unofficial Regional positions that I'm considering. National Membership Officer Henri Buccine-Schraeder brought up that Regions 2 and 6 have Regional GenY Coordinators, and encouraged other Regions to do the same. While I think it's an excellent idea, I think it may not be appropriate for me to make the appointment, since that group would know better than I who could best represent them as a liaison for the Region.

Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas
https://www.facebook.com/groups/MensaRegion10/
Twitter: @FardleBear

August 2017

The response from the Annual Gathering in Hollywood earlier this month has been overwhelmingly positive, and I was stunned by the number of people who attended the Region 10 Meet and Greet. At the last few gatherings, our M&Gs have run from 5 to 8 members, but this time we lost count after 60, with people standing outside the doors of the room. Thanks to everyone who came, and I'm sorry we didn't have room for everyone, but I did suggest to the organizers for the Indianapolis AG next year than they consider a larger room for their local members.

The AMC (American Mensa Committee) met on July 6, and the motion I put forth allowing for a temporary replacement for RVC vacancies passed by acclamation. This allows the administrative tasks of a region to continue without disruption and without burdening the remaining RVCs, as was the case with the previous ASIE (Action Still In Effect), but it doesn't allow for the substitute to have a vote on the AMC. This can only be corrected through a bylaw change, and this cannot happen until the 2019 election cycle. The Bylaws Committee will be working on a referendum to address this.

Another motion that passed by acclamation allows for the RVC to appoint assistants without seeking approval from the full AMC. This gives more flexibility to the RVC for each Region, as well as making it more efficient for the RVC to make use of volunteers as they become available. As I mentioned in last month's column, there are some opportunities arising, including openings for Regional Scholarship Chair and Regional Social Media Coordinator among others. By next month I hope to have the full list of open positions defined, and will request that they be posted to the Region 10 website as well as the Mensa Region 10 Facebook group.

The new Appointed Officers for the AMC were named at the AMC meeting, and in keeping with the turnover for elected officers that I noted last month, they are new officers with good credentials. While Mensa Foundation President Marie Mayer will be continuing as the Director of Science and Education, the three new appointees are Tommy Ryan as Communications Officer, Alexis Wise as Marketing Officer (formerly Development Officer), and Henri Buccine-Schraeder as Membership Officer. I look forward to working with them and with the rest of the new AMC. (For perspective on how new this AMC is, the only remaining members from four years ago are incoming AMC Chair LaRae Bakerink, (who was 2nd Vice Chair four years ago), RVC 6 Baker Ring, and myself.)

By next month I should have the full list of awards winners from our Region who were recognized at the AG, and I will pass that information along here. But in the meantime I want to make special note that Central Florida Mensa's "Tragic Kingdom" CultureQuest team won first place for the fourth year in a row -- congratulations!

Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas
https://www.facebook.com/groups/MensaRegion10/
Twitter: @FardleBear

July 2017

The Mensa elections are over, and I will be continuing as RVC 10 for the next two years. Thank you for your support, and thanks to Mel Dahl for keeping me on my toes.

This will be another interesting cycle at the National level, and I have high hopes for this new AMC. And I do mean new. Only three of the elected officers (including myself) will be continuing in our previous roles, with seven new RVCs and one new Executive Committee member. The other four ExComm members are moving over from other positions, but none are continuing in their old roles. Congratulations to Lori Norris (First Vice Chair) and Billie Lee (Second Vice Chair) on their elections, and to LaRae Bakerink (Chair), Lisa Maxwell (Secretary), and Deb Stone (Treasurer) for their new roles.

On the international front, former AMC Chair Dan Burg was elected Director of Adminstration, and former AMC Treasurer Nick Sanford was elected Mensa International Treasurer.  Congratulations to them and to Bibiana Balanyi from Hungary for her election as International Chair and Rudi Challupner from Austria for his election as Director of Development.

In other news, the Mensa Foundation had increased their Local Group scholarships to $600 each, and established that all new scholarships will have a minimum level of $600 to coincide with those. They've estimated that an investment of $30,000 would be required to sustain a $600 endowed scholarship. There will be a presentation to the RVCs during the Hollywood AG about how we can support participation in the Scholarship program, including clarification of the local group role (a local group is not required to fund a scholarship themselves in order to participate).

While on the topic of Scholarships, I would like to honor Laura Peralta of Broward Mensa for her service as Scholarship Chair at the Local and Regional levels for the past 25 years. She is stepping down from the position, and we will be looking for another to serve as Regional Scholarship Chair, though of course no one can replace her. Thank you, Laura.

As I begin this next term, I will be looking for more people to serve in Regional and National roles, as well as helping local groups to develop goals for the next year. These goals do not need to be ambitious, but I do think it's important that each group have a sense of accomplishment, which setting a measurable goal will help to achieve.

As always, I recommend that you become involved in your own local groups, either by serving as a volunteer, attending events, or participating in local social media. All but one local group in Florida has a Facebook group, and if you're shy, getting to know people online can lead to a little bit more comfortable experience the first time you attend an event in person.

Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas
Twitter: @FardleBear

June 2017

First, the housekeeping item: The American Mensa Committee (AMC) met via teleconference on May 2 to approve the minutes of the April 1 AMC meeting. These are available at www.us.mensa.org/read/board-meeting-reports under the dropdown 2017-04-01 -- Hollywood, FL.

After several years of continuous growth, Region 10 had a year-over-year loss during the renewal season. We're running an incentive program for local groups to encourage them to contact lapsed members, and we hope some will renew as a result. As further incentive for lapsed members, renewals processed before June 30 will be at the current rate, before the dues increase in July.

Last July Stephanie Thornton, our National Membership Officer, presented us with the results of her Lapsed Member Survey. Several reasons were provided for lapsing. One of the top reasons given was "Negative experience with other Mensans", and this was borne out in a lively discussion on the Region 10 Facebook group last month about various experiences members have had. In the survey, 19% had reported negative in-person encounters, while 13% reported negative online experiences.

We would always hope to head off conflicts that would rise to a level that members would be discouraged from remaining, but sometimes situations get beyond our control. One tool we have to address this that many members are unaware of is a fairly detailed dispute resolution process, which can be found at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/policydocuments/grievance-policies/grievance-documents/dispute-resolution-guidelines/

A significant part of this process is the use of Local Group Ombudsmen. While a few of our chapters have Ombudsmen to help resolve issues members have within their local groups, most do not, and some have told me that they don't need one right now; they'll appoint one if something comes up that requires one. Unfortunately, by that time it can be too late. During the AMC meeting in April, our National Ombudsman Garrison ("Bud") Klueck stated that "when interpersonal disputes come up the ombudsmen should be used more. ...[If] interpersonal disputes are resolved quickly, there will be greater member satisfaction and retention may improve. ...[Once] local group leaders start bickering, it won't cure itself and someone needs to step in."

While acknowledging that finding new and uninvolved volunteers is often difficult, this seems to be an important enough issue to focus on. Fortunately, most of the time the Ombudsmen I've spoken to have reported little or no need for their intervention, so it's not a position that requires a lot of time. Only a couple of chapters have reported a need for intervention during my last two terms.

Region 10 does have a very capable Regional Ombudsmen in former AMC member Brian Reeves, and he has reported little if any activity requiring his attention.  I will be working during the first part of the next year to ensure that every group has an Ombudsman in place, just in case -- and one hopes they won't be needed. But it's better to have a fireman on duty to call on than to try to train one after the fire has already started.

Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas
Twitter: @FardleBear

May 2017

The American Mensa Committee (AMC) met on April 1 at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, FL, taking the opportunity to preview the facilities in advance of the Annual Gathering in July. I would like to thank Region 10 members Dan Tobias and Brian Reeves who attended the meeting. One of the reasons for having the meeting at various sites throughout the country is so members from each Region can have a chance to see the AMC in action for themselves. Regrettably, so few take that chance -- even when it is paired with an event like an RG, as it was in New Orleans -- that it seems like it's time to reconsider this expense, despite the tradition it represents.

All motions at the meeting passed, most notably an increase in annual dues to $79 and the fees for Admission Testing to $60, both effective July 1, 2017. Prospects can still test at the current rate and members can extend their existing membership at the current discounted multi-year rates until then (though extending membership can only be done by calling the office directly at this time). There were also a couple of licensing deals announced, including a high-profile deal with Hasbro on pairing the Mensa name with their educational board games. The mini-minutes are available at www.us.mensa.org/read/board-meeting-reports under the dropdown 2017-04-01 -- Hollywood, FL, and we have a conference call scheduled for May 2 to approve the full minutes, at which point those will be posted at the same link. If you're interested, there is also an audio recording of the meeting available there.

Membership Officer Stephanie Thornton presented the results of the latest Member Satisfaction survey, which was sent to all members with email. Here are some key metrics, with Region 10 metrics following in parentheses where they vary:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS), which is the likelihood that a member will recommend Mensa to a friend they think would qualify: 23 (Region 10: 24). A score

  • > 0 is considered healthy. That ratio is highest among members 46 and older or married members without children, but the score drops significantly for single members under 46 years without children, as that group had an NPS of -6.

  • 93% of our membership feels that the most important mission of Mensa is to provide a stimulating intellectual and social environment for our members, with 58% thinking we do this very or extremely well, compared to 54% two years ago.

  • The majority of Mensans say their family and friends know they are members, but don't tell co-workers -- though they will include it on a resume.

  • 80% report that they are proud to be members of Mensa, with 5% disagreeing.

  • 54% (Region 10: 48%) report that they volunteer for Mensa. However, the NPS for volunteers is lower than the average (though still healthy at 18).

  • Member satisfaction in their local group officers is highest among those who interact with them. Understandably, members are far more likely to interact with their local group officers, while only a few have any interaction with the AMC or National Office staff.

There's much more, but no more room. I'm open to any questions you may have, and will also post to the Mensa Region 10 Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/MensaRegion10/ ) so we can discuss it (and other topics) there.

Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas
Twitter: @FardleBear

April 2017

The agenda for the American Mensa Committee (AMC) meeting for April 1 has been posted at us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/ and it is a busy one.

The biggest part of the agenda comes from the Finance Committee, and is divided into several motions. First is a motion to change the single-year dues rate to $79.00. This is based on a number of factors, including but not limited to the long-delayed expense of replacing an antiquated computer system, a desire to provide more support to local groups, general inflation, and debt building up after deferred dues increase requests from prior years. Next is a motion to appoint an auditor for the AML financial statements, which is a routine matter. Third is a motion to waive the current requirement for equity restoration for one year based on the projected budget shortfall for next year. The equity restoration is based on the commitment of prior AMCs to pay back the legal expenses from a lawsuit a few years ago, and this motion is intended to defer that just for one year. The fourth Finance motion is a change in the way dues payments are processed, including pro-rated dues for new and returning lapsed members, which could not be implemented until the recent upgrade of the AMS (Association Management System). The fifth motion is a request to increase the Testing and Prior Evidence Review fees, which were last changed ten years ago. Test supply costs and payments to local groups have increased over the years, and this is a catch-up measure. Finally, the last Finance Committee motion is to approve the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 budget, which is predicated by the previous motions.

There are also several Local Group related motions. These include revisions in the Minimum Standard Bylaws and Model Bylaws, to bring them in line with ASIEs (Actions Still In Effect) passed over the past few AMC sessions; procedures to standardize the dissolution of Local Groups that are not meeting the minimum requirements of their charter; and a revision of the Information and Privacy Policy to bring it into alignment with actual current practices.

Reports to the AMC will include a presentation of the results of the recent Membership Satisfaction survey, and an update from the Awards Review Task Force.

There is time set aside at the beginning and end of every AMC meeting for comments from the audience, and all members are welcome to attend. Since this is being held in our Region, I hope some of you will attend to offer your perspectives and see the AMC in action. The meeting will be on Saturday, April 1 at the Diplomat Beach Resort (which is also the site of the Annual Gathering in July), beginning at 9:00 am. The Diplomat is located at 3555 South Ocean Drive, Hollywood, Florida.


There's never enough room to report all the news in these columns, so I hope you'll check in on the Region 10 Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/MensaRegion10/ to get more details, other news, and conversations about our Region and American Mensa topics.

Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas
Twitter: @FardleBear

March 2017

 The next American Mensa Committee (AMC) meeting is scheduled for April 1, 2017 at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, FL. AMC meetings are open to all members, which makes this an excellent opportunity for any of our Region 10 members who have expressed interest in national governance to observe the AMC at work. Many of the current AMC are running for National positions in the upcoming election, so you will be able to meet them as well, including incoming Chair LaRae Bakerink, incoming Secretary Lisa Maxwell, and incoming Treasurer Deb Stone, all of whom have been declared elected as they were running unopposed. There won't be a forum available for debate among the candidates who are still standing election, given the likelihood of a long meeting. Every Spring AMC meeting includes a presentation of and vote on the following year's budget, but you may still be able to ask some questions during the breaks. In addition, it will give you a chance to preview the site of this summer's Annual Gathering, which is certain to persuade you to attend if you haven't already registered.

 Although the agenda for the AMC meeting has not yet been set as of this writing, it will be posted as usual on the American Mensa website, and I will be announcing it on the various social media fora throughout our Region.


 Several other activities are proceeding in the meantime. CultureQuest is scheduled for Sunday, April 30, and several local groups are working on putting together teams -- I hope yours is among them! Entries are due by March 31, 2017. Scholarship judging has been underway, and by the time you read this the first round will have been completed. And of course, March 31 marks the end of the current membership year, and the deadline for renewals. Thank you to all who have already renewed (and of course to our Life Members for their commitment to Mensa)!

 Because of timing of the Annual Gathering, there are no Regional Gatherings in Florida this year other than the wonderful Central Florida Mensa RG already held in January. Debbie Freeland and her team put on one of their best Gatherings yet, and I look forward to next year's event. In the meantime, some groups are working on smaller offerings. Tampa Bay Mensa held a shoreline cruise at the end of January, and will be hosting a Games Weekend in May (though not on Memorial Day weekend). Southwest by South Florida Mensa has been hosting their Bikers vs. Brainers scholarship benefits periodically, and those are always a lot of fun. And there have been a few other cross-(chapter)-border events throughout the region as well, many of which have been publicized via the Region 10 Facebook group. I hope you'll take the opportunity to participate in one of these events, which give you the chance to enjoy the greatest assets of our organization -- our members!

 Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas
Twitter: @FardleBear

February 2017

My last column went out on December 10, just hours before Marc Lederman, Chair of the 2017 Annual Gathering (AG) in Hollywood, FL, passed away at the age of 56. This was Marc's 13th term on an Annual Gathering Committee. Marc was a four-time recipient of the Chairman's Service Award and received the National Service Award in 2013. He was a Life Member who had served in several terms on the American Mensa Committee (AMC) as Regional Vice Chairman, Secretary, Membership Officer and Communications Officer, as well as many national committees.

There is no replacing Marc, though the groundwork he put in place for this upcoming AG is allowing us to continue with planning activities. He will continue to be listed as the official Chair of the AG, with Heather Poirier and LaRae Bakerink (First and Second Vice Chairs respectively of American Mensa) appointed as Co-Vice-Chairs to move us forward. They have both run successful AGs of their own, so we're in good hands. We have a dedicated team of members from our Region, including Kris and Ryan Martin, Kay Klasen, and Jason Knight from Broward Mensa, Bonnie Wilpon and Sylvia Zadorozny from Tampa Bay Mensa, and Debbie Freeland from Central Florida Mensa (among others) all working to put together the best event we can in tribute to Marc. I look forward to you joining us at the AG on July 5-9. 


I've written previously about the new Association Management System (AMS) being implemented at the national office to help us to improve our support of the membership and local groups. This was launched on November 11 with the initial impact being website login issues for a few members with invalid email addresses (which replaced the Membership Number as the login ID). Because only a small percentage of our membership visit the website on a frequent basis, this was manageable, and we generally had good feedback.

But then December rolled around, when the system was asked to do a lot more - - and it turned out there were many problems that hadn't been accounted for, starting with the local group officer reports. These used to be supplied to a data coordinator for each group, along with functionally specific reports provided directly to various people such as the Membership Officer, Testing Coordinator, Editor, and of course the Local Secretary. Now they were only being supplied to the functional offices, in formats that they were not used to, and much of the support that had been in place was cut out of the loop.

Unfortunately, this impacted more than just the individual officers involved, as it cascaded downstream to the members who received their newsletters late (or not at all), new members who were not welcomed and prospects who requested test sessions but did not receive responses.

While this has been incredibly frustrating to many of our officers, and by extension the members they serve, we're seeing a great deal of progress in solving the problems, and most of the reports are back in production. We're continuing to review the issues as they are brought to our attention and once these are resolved, the new system will give us a good baseline for many great steps forward in months to come. We just need to get through the growing pains first, and appreciate your patience as we work through them as quickly as possible.

Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas
Twitter: @FardleBear

January 2017

 This afternoon (December 10) I attended the American Mensa Committee (AMC) Meeting in New Orleans. Motions which were passed at this meeting included expanding the existing policies for websites to include social media, requiring future motions to include an explanation of how they relate to the Strategic Plan, establishing an official annual calendar for national meetings and deadlines, and a change in the annual dues rate to $79 per year effective July 1, 2017.

Per the bylaws passed during the 2015 election, this was the first of two required votes on the dues change motion, which must be approved at two consecutive meetings before it can take effect. The next AMC meeting will include the presentation of the proposed 2017-2018 budget together with the second vote on the dues change. The budget is expected to emphasize the need for the proposed dues increase, with a projected shortfall of nearly half a million dollars over the next two years at the current dues rate. AMC meetings are open to all members, so if you're interested in seeing the AMC process in person, I welcome you to attend this meeting, which will be held on April 1, 2017 in Hollywood, FL.

In addition to our official business, we received a presentation by Mission Advancement (missionadvancement.com), which is working with the Mensa Foundation to develop strategies for increasing contributions for our charitable endeavors, including scholarships and gifted youth programs. They spoke about other steps towards organizational health beyond fundraising, including cultivating and inspiring care about the organization, two steps that are often left out between explaining what we need from our members and asking for their help. The mantra for the weekend was "Hope is not a strategy".

This transitioned neatly into our other major presentation: the results of the 2016 Local Group Leader survey, which was the second time in the past two years that input was solicited directly from local group leaders. There were 298 participants from 100 of the 129 local groups in American Mensa. (I'm pleased to note that this year we had participation by leaders in every local group in Region 10.) Topics included "Why do you volunteer?" (Top answer: Someone had to do it and no one else would...), "Do you enjoy being a Local Group leader?" (72% said yes, down from 82% last year), "What are the most desired events?" (Top two answers: Museum and Speaker events), and "What is the biggest challenge?" (Getting younger people to join/get involved in leadership). Free-form comments were also reported, and prevalent themes for our region included a perception of general apathy, low participation, and a desire for new ideas and for new members to step into leadership roles.

 Speaking of leadership roles, the 2017 AMC Election season has begun, and the election code has been posted on our national website at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/elections/2017-board-election/, where you can find details on how to manage your voting preferences, sign an online petition, or even create your own petition if you are interested in running for a seat on the next AMC. This is the first election following the elimination of the national Nominating Committee, which means petitions are the only way a candidate may get on the ballot. Petitions must be completed by the end of January.

 Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas
Twitter: @FardleBear

Past columns: 2016

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