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American Mensa Region 10

RVC Columns: 2015

December 2015

Webmaster's Note: RVC Thomas did not write a column this month, due to family issues and not much Mensa news to report. Info on the October AMC teleconference and the upcoming December AMC meeting in Texas can be found in the national Mensa website at http://www.us.mensa.org/meetingreports (use pulldown to select meeting). This info includes audio and mini-minutes of the teleconference, and agenda and reports of the upcoming meeting.

November 2015

The American Mensa Committee (AMC) met on the weekend of September 12, and there were two topics in particular that generated a lot of discussion. Second topic first - The AMC voted to appoint a Regional Vice Chairman (RVC) to the Executive Committee (ExComm). The ExComm is a subset of the AMC that is authorized to take actions on behalf of the AMC between regular meetings. In the past, the ExComm has consisted of the five nationally elected officers (Chairman, First Vice Chairman, Second Vice Chairman, Treasurer, and Secretary). But for a variety of reasons – all of which were brought up in the lengthy discussion – it was felt that this might be the right time to make a change. Considerations in favor of the motion were the changes in the balance of the AMC following the bylaws referenda in the recent election, which resulted in two-thirds of the AMC being comprised of RVCs. While the point was made that an RVC does not have a mandate by the full membership to act on their behalf, it is also true that all members of the AMC have equal fiduciary responsibility for the organization, whether elected by the full membership or by a geographical segment. It was suggested that RVCs, as they have direct interaction with a number of local groups of various sizes and demographics, have a closer line to the thoughts of the membership. While this was countered with the valid statement that any action that required immediate action by the ExComm would not allow for an RVC to poll their membership for their opinions, it was still a compelling thought that the RVC had a constant involvement with the grass roots of the organization. Another idea that was brought up was whether an ExComm was necessary at all, since instant communication has become much easier since the original structure was created. In the end, the motion passed, and after a paper ballot, Baker Ring (RVC 5) was chosen for the sixth position on the ExComm.

The longer discussion at the meeting involved potential changes and/or clarifications to Name and Logo Committee policies, specifically in regard to their use in external events. There had been motions on this topic on the agenda, but they were withdrawn prior to the meeting because there were still significant gaps in understanding and consensus regarding the intent and impact of the motions. The topic was precipitated by the use of a large banner bearing the Mensa name and logo including the group name “Chicago Area Mensa” in the 2015 Chicago Pride Parade in June. There are differing opinions on whether this was intended as a social advocacy position. People disagreed on whether the Chicago chapter had the right to use their name on the banner under the provision that Mensa does not hold a position, however the Mensa Constitution allows that individuals and groups of individuals (interpreted in this case as a Local Group) may express their opinions as long as they do not state those opinions as that of the organization. There were statements made about the difference between what we can justify to ourselves as meeting the guidelines and what will be perceived by an impartial outside observer. But there were also concerns expressed that if we don’t allow any outreach, we cannot build our membership (under this argument, the parade was positioned as a promotion, and not support for any specific social position). While it was generally agreed that the name and logo rules need to be clarified so there would be less room for controversial interpretation, it was also determined that the Name and Logo Committee, together with other committees, needed to take the results of the discussion away and draft a new proposal for whatever changes need to be made. This will be an ongoing effort, but our eye is on making sure we get it done right, rather than fast.

There will be a teleconference of the AMC on October 25th, but the primary agenda item is the approval of the minutes for the September meeting. The next full public meeting of the AMC will be on December 6, 2015, in Grapevine, TX.

Thomas George Thomas--Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org--Text: RVC10@vtext.com

October 2015

Over Labor Day weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Broward Mensa Regional Gathering, "Another Excuse to Eat Chocolate". It was very well attended, as befits the last RG they will have until 2019 (more on that in a moment). Co-chair Robin Rhea announced that over 140 guests attended, including a standing-room only kids' track on Sunday. There were many excellent programs, including presentations on air traffic control, Thailand, DNA sequencing, and use of a drop spindle for spinning, among several others. There was also a Cabaret performance on Saturday night, along with several games tournaments. A couple of my favorite programs were a home-brewed mead tasting on Friday night with Jay Bertolet, a presentation on the ecology of the Galapagos Archipelago, and an interactive program on leading difficult people. With all the activity, I was exhausted by the end of the long weekend on Monday! Congratulations to Robin Rhea, Marci Barlolotta, Kris Martin, Micki Hawn, Alice Silver, Heidi Jameson, Jason Knight, and many others (I know I'm forgetting some important volunteers) who created this wonderful event.

Aside from the RG, I took a trip during the weekend to visit the Diplomat resort in Hollywood with Marc Lederman, Chairman of the 2017 Annual Gathering. Because of this major event, Broward will not be hosting an RG that year, which they usually do in odd-numbered years. Many people from throughout the region will be working hard to make this Annual Gathering a success, and Marc has already tapped many good local people to help in important positions. The hotel itself is a beautiful venue, with direct access to the beach for sun-worshippers. 

At this writing, I am in Arlington, TX for a meeting of the American Mensa Committee (AMC) scheduled for September 12, which will be long over by the time you read this. Unfortunately, due to newsletter deadlines, I can't provide the results of the meeting for this column, but I can mention the major agenda items. The first is a holdover from the July meeting, where a motion was presented to add an RVC to the Executive Committee (ExComm) of the AMC. It was postponed at that time,

but there are good points on both sides of this issue. On one hand, the ExComm currently consists of the five nationally-elected officers, who have a legitimate claim to a mandate from the full voting membership of American Mensa. On the other hand, every voting member of the board, whether elected nationally or by a regional subset of the members, has the same fiscal responsibility for the organization. And RVCs have greater day-to-day interactions with local groups of all sizes and therefore have a better -- or at least different -- sense of the members' needs and preferences. There will undoubtedly be a spirited discussion of this motion.

Additional motions regard changes to the Name and Logo policies. One motion proposes creating special "Members of Mensa" logos and banners for use in events of members' choosing, allowing them to participate in political or socially-related events without suggesting that Mensa itself promotes or has any opinion on said event. I don't like this motion because while saying that the bearer of such a banner represents the members and not the organization may be technically true, it's a distinction that will be lost on outside observers, who will just see the logo on a banner and assume it represents a Mensa position.

At the same time, a companion motion is being made to add a final review to any Name and Logo Committee decision to make sure that new logos are not created that could be interpreted as taking a political or social position. The impetus for this motion was the creation of a logo earlier this year that placed the Mensa emblem on a rainbow background, to which some members have objected. This motion allows the Name and Logo committee to take into account factors beyond whether the proposed use meets the technical requirements of the policy, as this logo did.  

Thomas George Thomas--Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org--Text: RVC10@vtext.com

September 2015

     Last month's column necessarily came quickly after the Annual Gathering, and some corrections to the results of the Jewels Awards were made after I had submitted it. A spreadsheet error resulted in Tallahassee being given credit for the testing program points earned by Mensa of Jacksonville. When that was corrected, Mensa of Jacksonville earned the Class III Sapphire for 2015, while Tallahassee Mensa was awarded an Emerald. (Class III is for groups of between 200-399 members.) Also, due to a professional conflict, I will be unable to serve on the Finance Committee as I had announced last month in this column.

     There is a meeting of the American Mensa Committee (AMC) scheduled for September 12 in Arlington, TX, but at this writing there is no agenda so I have no items to report on. (Such are the limitations of publication deadlines.) However, by the time you read this in your newsletter, the agenda will have been posted at http://www.us.mensa.org/read/board-meeting-reports/ and can be selected from the dropdown box on that page.  If you have anything you would like to comment on, please let me know.  

     I will be attending the Broward RG (FLoRanGe 2015: "Another Excuse To Each Chocolate!") on Labor Day weekend at the Courtyard Marriott. If you see this in time and haven't decided to go, I highly recommend it. A lively discussion with information about the event is at their Facebook group at (https://www.facebook.com/groups/M.FLoRanGe/ ).  I've been scheduled for an "RVC Rap" on Monday morning at 9:30, but will be available most of the weekend if you have anything you would like to discuss.

Thomas George Thomas--Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org--Text: RVC10@vtext.com

August 2015

At the 2015 Annual Gathering, there were several awards announced for Region 10 chapters and members. Micki Hawn of Broward Mensa was presented with the National Chairman's Service Award, while Southwest by South Florida Mensa won the Innovative Owl Award for their 93% retention rate during the renewal season. For CultureQuest, Conjaxure (from Mensa of Jacksonville) took 19th place, Texas Boys in Florida (from Northwest Florida Mensa) took 15th place, and Central Florida Mensa's Tragic Kingdom (Bill Keevan, David Fleming, Gary Franczyk, Holly Horton and Bill Horton) took 1st place for the second year in a row! And every group in our region won an award in the Jewels program, which recognizes those groups that go beyond the minimum expectations for member satisfaction in local groups. Every group received an Emerald, except for Tallahassee Mensa which won the Class V Sapphire. Congratulations to all the winners!

The American Mensa Committee (AMC) meeting was a full one, with several presentations to a largely new board. Aside from the regular Treasurer and Executive Director reports, there were also presentations on Legal Responsibilities of the AMC by American Mensa's Interpretive Counsel, the role of the Ombudsman by National Ombudsman Dave Cahn, results of a survey of lapsed members (following up on the Member Survey I touched on in a previous column), and on Community Services. As for motions, we selected Phoenix, Arizona as the site of the 2019 Annual Gathering, amended the rules regarding return address processing for local group newsletters (the charges for the service were redundant since the same process is used for the Mensa Bulletin), passed a motion to update Research Review policies, and changed the weapons policy to defer to the rules of the venue and local laws for national events. Two additional motions were postponed to the September meeting (expansion of the Executive Committee and revising the presentation of the ASIEs). We ended with a discussion of the use of the Mensa logo, and the Name and Logo Committee will be working with other committees to review the current rules and clarify them if necessary. The next AMC meeting is scheduled on September 12 in Arlington, TX.

My roles have expanded over the next term. In addition to serving on the Communication and Risk Management Committees and the Local Group Revitalization Task Force, I will also be on the Community Service, AG Policy Review and Finance Committees. And not least, I will be serving as the AMC Liaison for the 2017 Annual Gathering in Hollywood, FL, working with AG Chairman Marc Lederman (who did an excellent job co-chairing this year's AG with Mary Lee Kemper).

Finally, in Region 10 business, I have appointed Brian Reeves as the Region 10 Ombudsman.

I will be attending the Broward RG (FLoRanGe 2015: "Another Excuse To Each Chocolate!") on Labor Day weekend, so if you have any questions or comments I would be happy to discuss them with you there. Of course, even if you can't make it there, I would be happy to hear from you.

Thomas George Thomas--Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org--Text: RVC10@vtext.com

July 2015

The election is now concluded, and I am grateful that you've elected me to another term as your RVC. I want to acknowledge and thank Jack Brawner for his interest in the position and his spirited campaign. I've stated many times that it's important for members to be involved, and there's no more certain expression of interest and commitment than to run for the American Mensa Committee (AMC). I also want to acknowledge two members of our region who will be retiring from the AMC: Elissa Rudolph (Past-Chairman) and Brian Reeves (Secretary), both from Palm Beach County Mensa. Thanks to both of them for their service.

There will be some significant changes when the new AMC is seated at the first meeting of the term, to be held during the Annual Gathering in Louisville, KY on July 2. With the passing of referenda removing the Past- and Past-Past- Chairmen from the committee, and changing the four appointed committee members to non-voting positions, the AMC has shrunk from 21 voting members to 15. There are now 5 Nationally-elected positions (Chairman, 1st Vice-Chairman, 2nd Vice-Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer), and 10 Regionally- elected positions (the Regional Vice Chairmen, or RVCs). The level of experience of the new AMC has also changed, with Heather Poirier (1stVice Chairman) as the only member with long-term experience (she's served on the AMC for 10 years), and the seven returning incumbents with two years of experience each. It will be interesting to work with the new configuration, and I am looking forward to it.

At this writing the agenda for the AMC meeting has not yet been put together, so I have nothing to report on that front. There was, however, one last item covered by the last AMC, and that was a motion for American Mensa to sponsor an intelligence competition held by the Professional Services Champions League (PSCL), pending a contract acceptable to the ExComm (the five nationally elected AMC members) and AML counsel. This motion passed by a vote of 16-2 (two members were absent and the Chairman did not vote). Details can be found in the minutes of the teleconference at http://www.us.mensa.org/meetingreports- select 2015-05-27 - Teleconference for the agenda and minutes.

I think this is an excellent promotional opportunity for Mensa, as well as a benefit for members (who will be able to participate without paying the fee charged to non-members). But I have been asked why this motion wasn't put off until the July meeting, since a new board will then be in place. I had two primary considerations. First, the AMC continues to have fiduciary responsibility to the organization through the end of their term on June 30; that responsibility did not end with the final face-to-face meeting that we held on March 21. Second, an event of this size takes time to organize, and there was still work to do to finalize a contract acceptable to both American Mensa and PSCL. Putting this off another month or so would have created an unnecessary delay in the implementation of the event. If the new AMC decides not to go forward with this, it can still be reversed, but the idea is solid enough that I don't foresee that happening.

I will be at the All-Region Meet-and-Greet during the Annual Gathering on Friday morning, July 3 at 9:00 AM. I hope those who are attending the AG will stop by and say hello. Otherwise, I hope to see you at the Broward RG (FLoRanGe 2015: "Another Excuse To Eat Chocolate!") on Labor Day weekend.

Thomas George Thomas--Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org--Text: RVC10@vtext.com

June 2015

In March, an online survey was distributed to 36,081 members of American Mensa who had opted to receive email notifications from Mensa. This survey consisted of 47 questions about members' experiences, expectations, and opinions about Mensa. Approximately 1 in 8 members responded to the survey, though Region 10's response rate was somewhat lower, with 1 in 13 eligible members participating.

When asked for the first three words that came to mind when they thought of Mensa, unsurprisingly the first two for 30% of the membership were "Intelligence", "Smart" and other intelligence-related words. But after those came "Interesting", "Friends", "Fun", and "Social".

A Net Promoter Score (NPS) was calculated to determine how likely a member would be to recommend Mensa to a friend they knew would qualify. On a scale of 1-10, anyone answering 1-6 would get a negative point (detractors), 7-8 were neutral and 9-10 would get positive points (promoters).  A positive overall score indicates more promoters than detractors. In American Mensa, the NPS was 16, but in Region 10 we were much more likely to recommend Mensa with an NPS of 22. For members who participate in at least 7 events per year, that number jumps to 44, showing that participation leads one to be a more enthusiastic promoter of Mensa.

In terms of general satisfaction, members who participate in 7 or more events per year scored an 81% satisfaction rate, which decreased accordingly by the level of participation. But even members who didn't participate at all registered a 58% satisfaction rate, with an average satisfaction rate of 67% across all members (here in Region 10 that rate was 69%).

The top three reasons that new members join Mensa were for intellectual stimulation, meeting and socializing

with like-minded people, and intellectual validation. However, in Region 10 new members were less interested in validation than in trying something new (53% in our region vs. 32% nationally).

Members were asked to rate a variety of benefits and reasons to belong by both importance and by the satisfaction they provided.  Far above all other choices on both factors were the Mensa Bulletin and the Local Newsletters, followed by social activities with other members and local meetings and events, all of which scored over 70% in importance and over 55% in satisfaction. At a generational level, social activities and local group events were valued highest by millennials, while Boomers and the Silent Generation valued the Bulletin and newsletters higher. 

In terms of demographics, while the fastest growing sector of Mensa are Millennials (35% of all new members), Boomers are still the largest total percentage of members at 35%, followed closely by Gen-X at 30%. Yet nearly 50% of our local group officers are Boomers, followed by 25% Gen-X and 15% "Silent" generation (along with 5% who withheld their age).

Nationally, the types of events members found most appealing were Speaker and Museum events, though in Region 10 dinners rated above these two. Fourth were theatrical/cultural events, followed by games nights, except in Region 10 where members preferred lunch clubs.

There's far more to the survey, but my column is running long. I've shared the full results with the LocSecs of each chapter, but I'll be happy to discuss with anyone who has further interest.  Kudos to American Mensa Membership Officer Stephanie Thornton for putting together this survey.

Thomas George Thomas--Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org--Text: RVC10@vtext.com

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May 2015

Region 10 did very well with membership growth in 2015. At the close of the fiscal year on March 31, our increase in membership stood at 5.13% -- more than twice the percentage of the next Region. American Mensa had an increase of 740 members over the year, 215 of which came from our Region. Only one out of twelve local groups in Region 10 had a decrease this year, and that was only 2 members (statistically insignificant). The group with the highest percentage growth was Manasota Mensa, with an outstanding 9.49% increase, while Central Florida Mensa added a stunning 59 members to their roster, leaping past Tampa Bay Mensa to become the largest group in Region 10, and into a tie for 21st largest group in the country -- the highest ranking any of our groups has achieved since I started tracking it in 2008. Central Florida Mensa also had the most improved retention numbers in Region 10, although Tallahassee Mensa did better percentage-wise with a 32% reduction in lapsed members from 2014 to 2015.

Manasota Mensa had another noteworthy achievement when a panel of three member judges selected Ruth Danielle as one of four winners of the Member Event Contest! Ruth won for Manasota Mensa's Professional Meet & Greet, and her local group received a prize of $150.00 for support.

As mentioned last month, on the weekend of April 10-12 Central Florida Mensa operated a booth at MegaCon, the Southeast region's largest fandom convention. David Fleming led a fine team of volunteers to promote Mensa at this multi-genre convention catering to the comic book, sci-fi, animé, fantasy and gaming communities (thanks to Edgar Coudal for that description), and based on the photos on the Central Florida Mensa Facebook page, the event was a colorful success -- there were even Mensa Superhero banners to draw attention! This is the proactive approach that helped Central Florida achieve their terrific growth last year, and they will be sending lists of prospective members to each of the other local groups in Region 10 who offered to participate.

On a national level: You should have received both your American Mensa and Mensa International Ltd (MIL) ballot materials by now. Please be certain to familiarize yourself with all the materials and vote! While many of you will be able to vote online in the American Mensa elections, Mensa International is limited to paper ballots only. Nevertheless, it is still vitally important to make your voices heard in the International Election, as a sizable portion of your dues go to the international component, which is determined by the MIL board.

Don't forget: At the end of this month on Memorial Day weekend, Tampa Bay Mensa will kick off the summer with their "Margarita Bay" Regional Gathering in Oldsmar. Visit www.tampa.us.mensa.org and click on the owl for details and to register. At the end of the summer, Broward Mensa will be holding their "FloRanGe 2015 -- Another Excuse to Eat Chocolate!" gathering on Labor Day weekend. Visit http://www.broward.us.mensa.org/rg.php for their registration information. In-between those two is the Annual Gathering, this year in Louisville, KY. I plan to be at all of these, and look forward to seeing many of you there!

Thomas George Thomas--Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org--Text: RVC10@vtext.com

April 2015

Coming up in April, Central Florida Mensa will be running one of the most ambitious promotional events we’ve ever had in Region 10.  On the weekend of April 10-12, they’ll be operating a booth at MegaCon, the Southeast region’s largest fandom convention.  This is a marvelous targeted marketing opportunity, and since they have visitors from all over the state of Florida (and beyond), they’ll be talking up testing sessions in almost all of the chapters in our Region.

Later in the month, many of our chapters will be fielding CultureQuest teams on Sunday, April 26.  Across the country teams of up to five members will compete in answering questions about cultural knowledge (not trivia), with cash prizes to the highest scoring teams.  Want to get a taste of the questions? Go to www.us.mensa.org/attend/culturequest/culturequestion-of-the-day to receive a daily example from previous contests.

Northwest Florida Mensa held a strategic planning session in February, and Tampa Bay Mensa did the same in March, where members of their groups ran through a planning guide to determine strengths and weaknesses of several of the programs that are provided by the chapters.  These sorts of self-evaluations are greatly beneficial, and help the groups to determine where they can best spend their resources.  I hope that some of the other groups will also take advantage of this process.

Coming up on Memorial Day weekend, Tampa Bay Mensa will kick off the summer with their “Margarita Bay” Regional Gathering in Oldsmar, on the north end of the bay in Oldsmar.  Last year’s RG was very well received, and this year they will be taking over the entire hotel!  Visit www.tampa.us.mensa.org and click on the owl for details and to register.  They also have a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/222609511232064/ where program updates are provided frequently.

Bookending the summer, Broward Mensa will be holding their “FloRanGe 2015 – Another Excuse to Eat Chocolate!” gathering on Labor Day weekend. They also have a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/M.FLoRanGe/.  More details will be provided for that event as it grows closer.

As I write this column, I am preparing for the American Mensa Board of Directors meeting, which will be (was) held in Indianapolis on Saturday, March 21.  The reason that location was chosen was to give us an opportunity to tour the site of the 2018 Annual Gathering, but the main focus of the meeting is expected to be the 2015-2016 Budget.  I expect to have more to report on that later.

Thomas George Thomas--Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org--Text: RVC10@vtext.com

March 2015

Last month one of the Region 10 Local Groups made a big change: Gainesville Area Mensa updated their bylaws and has changed their name to North Florida Mensa to better define their group.  Their boundaries stretch from Central Florida up to the Georgia state line, and across the state from the Gulf Coast to Saint John's River near the Atlantic Coast, so calling them "Gainesville" served to disenfranchise the members in all the other local areas that they serve, including Ocala and The Villages to the south and Lake City to the north.  They've also launched a beautiful new website (www.noflamensa.com) to celebrate their new charter, which includes their calendar and recent newsletters.  This is a tremendous recovery from where they stood just nine months ago, after having lost all of their ExComm members.  Congratulations to Mark E. Kelly, Mike Perry, Pat Bartlett, Kathleen Stipek, Helene Johns, Susan Garbarino and everyone else involved who have been working to make this group a success once again.  

Congratulations also to Mensa of Jacksonville, who was one of four Local Groups chosen as a winner in the Plus ONE promotion for their testing activities in 2014.  They were awarded an additional $500 for their achievement.

There are also signs of recovery in Miami Mensa, who have reestablished their monthly Speaker meetings and have had experienced increased attendance over the past few months.  Again, thanks to LocSec Vincent Chen, Program Chairman Barry White, and all who are striving to make their group a success.

Central Florida Mensa held their very successful "Sun ‘n' Games" Regional Gathering in January, and is gearing up to host their second Mensa booth at Orlando's MegaCon in April.  Tampa Bay Mensa hosted an afternoon cruise for their members out of Clearwater in January, and is preparing the "Margarita Bay" Regional Gathering for Memorial Day weekend.  And Southwest by South Florida Mensa had another well-attended and profitable "Bikers vs. Brainers" promotional event/scholarship fundraising event.

The common thread in all these groups and all other successful groups in Region 10 are the commitment of the local group volunteers.  Nothing is achieved without their dedication, and I hope you join me in appreciating their service.


The next meeting of the AMC will be on March 21 in Indianapolis.  At this point the motions for this meeting are not finalized, so there won't be any opportunity to solicit feedback via the newsletters. However, the agenda will be posted on the American Mensa website (www.us.mensa.org/meetingreports), and as soon as they are available I will be posting a link to the Mensa Region 10 Facebook group (www.facebook.com/groups/MensaRegion10/) and in the Mensa Region 10 email group (to subscribe visit http://lists.us.mensa.org/mailman/listinfo/region10 ), where we can discuss items on the agenda.  There will also be a webinar on the proposed budget for 2015-2016 hosted by American Mensa Treasurer Nick Sanford, and I will post the information for how to attend on these sites as well.

Thomas George Thomas--Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org--Text: RVC10@vtext.com

February 2015

American Mensa has entered into another membership renewal season, which means if you are not a life member or in the middle of a multi-year membership, you've already received a notice from the National Office to send in your dues.

Why should you renew? I've covered member benefits in earlier columns, so I'd like to address another question I frequently hear around this time: Why should you be a member of Mensa? What does Mensa DO?

The usual answer to this is the social aspect: Local Groups hold a variety of events hosted by member volunteers, and American Mensa sponsors larger scale events such as the Annual Gathering and Mind Games, plus online connection through Facebook and the Mensa Community Forums and contests such as CultureQuest. (Side note: CultureQuest is coming up in April -- form your local teams soon!  You can find more details and get practice questions at www.us.mensa.org/culturequest).  For most of these, you must be a member to participate, but historically, fewer than 20% of our members take advantage of any of these on a year-to-year basis.

But the social aspect is only one part of American Mensa.  The Constitution of Mensa outlines three purposes for Mensa:

  1. Identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity;

  2. Encourage research in the nature, characteristics and uses of intelligence; and

  3. Provide a stimulating intellectual and social environment for members.

So If Local Groups and online communities are fulfilling the third leg of our Purpose, who is handling the first two? That would be the Mensa Foundation (AKA the Mensa Education and Research Foundation, or MERF).

The Mensa Foundation handles a number of initiatives, but the ones that members participate in most directly are the Colloquiums, the Mensa Scholarship program, and the Gifted Youth Program.

The Colloquiums are single-issue educational events which started back in 1982 and which have included topics such as The Gifted in Society, Consciousness, Genealogy and Crime Scene Intelligence. The upcoming Colloquium will be held the day before the Annual Gathering in Louisville on the topic of Brain Health.

The Mensa Scholarship program has been run by the Foundation for many years, accepting applications from September through January, with members throughout the country helping to judge the thousands of essays received during January through May, with winners announced in May.  This is one of the great service opportunities for members.

And definitely not least, the Gifted Youth Program (especially important in Florida with the burgeoning group of young members in our region) has been providing guidance and planning through tools such as the Excellence in Reading program and the Mensa for Kids website (mensaforkids.org), which has recently gone through a rewrite, making it much more user-friendly through mobile devices.  This website is co-sponsored by the Library of Congress, and contains lesson plans and activities for youth, including games and TED talks geared towards younger members.

So if you're interested in a social community, we're here for you!  But American Mensa also provides service beyond our membership, and we thank you for helping to make this happen.  Visit www.mensafoundation.org for more information.

Thomas George Thomas--Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org--Text: RVC10@vtext.com

January 2015

The American Mensa Board of Directors' meeting last month was productive.  Among the actions taken were:

  • Passed the update to the Avenues of Redress policy to cover online groups and forums

  • Approved allowing parental attendance at certain gifted youth events (including test sessions)

  • Kept the dues rate at current levels

  • Established an equity restoration level for the 2015-2016 budget of $25,000.

The motion to establish a national event attendance policy was postponed until the March meeting.

There was a presentation on risk management with a focus on determining proper levels of insurance and liability coverage. One of the takeaways of the meeting was for the Risk Management Committee, of which I am a member, to go over our current policies to determine if there are any shortfalls or even any areas where we may be over-insured. While it's prudent to be prepared for major eventualities, it's not wise (or economically feasible) to prepare for EVERY eventuality. This is an ongoing project, and I'm sure there will be more reports on the horizon.

Pam Donahoo gave a presentation on the programs that American Mensa currently supports, from programs that are growing in use and popularity (social media, MensaForKids.org) and programs which have high value to our members but low growth (MindGames, CultureQuest); to programs which are decreasing in value to our members (Mensa Gift Guide, Community Forums).  A couple of figures which I found interesting were that approximately 10% of our membership is now receiving the Mensa Bulletin online, while conversely only 96 members out of over

53,000 logged into Community Forums over the past month.


During the first part of December the National Office moved to some new servers and rolled out a new MensaForKids website, which is the first of Mensa's websites designed to work on mobile devices.  The website is sponsored by the Mensa Foundation and the Library of Congress, which is an exciting partnership.  These are great steps towards closing the technology gap identified at our September meeting, and I look forward to seeing their progress.


Keeping in mind that the main benefit of Mensa memberships remains other members, I hope that those who have the opportunity will attend the "Sun-n-Games" Regional Gathering in Central Florida Mensa on January 16-18 (go to sun-n-games.org for details).  After the RG, Southwest by South Florida Mensa will once again host their "Bikers vs. Brainers" Trivia Challenge on the evening of January 18.  If this event intrigues you, you might be a candidate to join a CultureQuest team in the contest coming up in April.

Other events around the region include Tampa Bay Mensa's Winter Social Cruise along the Intercoastal waterway on January 11, and a Party at Sea Cruise sponsored by Hell's Ms (the Party SIG) on February 8-14, departing out of Ft. Lauderdale. More details about this can be found at groups.yahoo.com/group/mensa_cruise.

I hope you'll take advantage of these, or any of the other events being hosted by your own groups. Enjoy!

Thomas George Thomas--Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org--Text: RVC10@vtext.com

 


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