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American Mensa Region 10

RVC Column

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June 2024

On April 30, AML's Executive Director Trevor Mitchell announced that he has resigned effective July 12, 2024. He started working for American Mensa in 2015, became our Executive Director in 2018, and is now moving on to other career opportunities. He will remain with us for the transition to the next American Mensa Committee (AMC) at their meeting on July 4 and Annual Business Meeting on July 5.

As a result, the current AMC met on May 15 to discuss next steps. Because this is considered a staff-and-personnel discussion, it was held in Executive Session, so no recording was created. However, if any actions that can be reported are taken during the meeting (which has not occurred as of this writing), they will be available in the mini-minutes at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/ under the dropdown "2024-05-15 -- Teleconference".


In last month's column, I mentioned that I would be posting information about Region 10 membership on the Region 10 Member Community on Mensa Connect at https://connect.us.mensa.org/communities/local-groups/region-10. I provided details on the changes in Generation demographics, along with information on what those numbers are in Region 10. I also posted about the most common interests that members have shared through their Member Profiles (formerly called "PDQs", or Personal Data Questionnaires), and began a discussion about communication methods used by members of Region 10. I will be elaborating on some of these topics in future postings, so if you're interested, please check them out at the link provided.

On that last note, when I started as RVC back in 2013, my primary concern was improving communication, having already been a member of the AML Communication Committee. I was looking forward to getting members connected through Facebook, which we had successfully implemented with Tampa Bay Mensa, as well as looking for other avenues for discussion.

Generally speaking, we engage in three types of com

munication: Organizational (inward-facing), which is information passed down from leadership to the membership about what is happening in the groups and nationally through newsletters, emails, and the Mensa Bulletin; External (outward-facing), in order to reach out to the general public about what Mensa is, what we do and why/how to join, and Internal (interactive), which is how members communicate with each other.

Organizational communication has become more challenging as time has passed, since monthly newsletters were traditionally how this was passed to the members. In 2013, 11 of the 12 groups in Region 10 issued newsletters every month with one producing bi-monthly issues. Since then, most groups have reduced the frequency and/or decreased the size of their newsletters to reduce the cost of printing and postage, since half our members still opt for print delivery in lieu of online notification.

Internal communication has lagged due to backlash among a significant number of members against using Facebook, and slow adoption of Mensa Connect. While Mensa Connect is controlled internally, many members find it difficult to adjust, while others find it lacking in features that they now take for granted from larger externally-controlled infrastructures such as Facebook or X.

External communication is a much bigger topic, since it is more volunteer-intensive with questions about how to get volunteers involved and activated.

All these topics and more can be found in the Mensa Connect discussions, but there just isn't enough space to get into them in more detail here.


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
Mensa Connect https://connect.us.mensa.org/communities/local-groups/region-10
Region 10 Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MensaRegion10/

May 2024

I've still been getting questions about the dues increase, even though I posted about it in previous columns. Rather than reiterate the various pros and cons, I pulled the timestamps of the discussion so you can listen for yourselves. The recording has been posted at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/ under the dropdown "2024-03-09 -- Dallas, TX". The most relevant sections are:

Treasurer's report: 08:25 -- 16:15 (less than 8 minutes)
Motion to increase Membership Dues: 39:00 -- 1:13:15 (a little over 33 minutes)
Education by the Treasurer: 1:35:00 -- 1:51:00 (16 minutes)

I posted the full recording breakdown on the Region 10 Members Community in Mensa Connect under the discussion header "AMC Meeting recording from March 9, 2024 has been posted online", dated March 24.

Once you've listened, let me know if you have any questions regarding the points discussed, and I will answer what I can.


Despite (or perhaps because of) the dues increase, the member retention rate for Region 10 was higher this year than in past years. More members took the advice to renew before the dues went up on April 1, which helped.

One misunderstanding I heard was "It's unfair that local group support only went up 13% when the dues went up 35%". The biggest driver there is timing, and the discrepancy is not as jarring when this is taken into consideration. First, for the 2024-2025 membership year, the increase in revenue from member dues starts out at 0%, since only new members starting in April will be paying the increased dues. So even though local groups will be getting more support, there isn't an increase in dues to pay for it in the first year. In the second year, it gets more complicated. There will be no increase in revenue in 2025-2026 for members who have a Life Membership, or have opted for multiple-year memberships. Only those whose memberships expire on April 1, 2025 would pay the new rate, and in Region 10, that would be at most 52% of the members. Assuming a retention rate next year of 80% (slightly lower than this year), the total per-member revenue increase for April 1, 2024 through March 31 2026 would be less than 7.5%, versus the 13% increase in local group support for the same period.

What happens with the national budget next year will be up to a new Finance Committee (and the new AMC), but the change for this year, at least, is more than equitable when multiple factors are taken into account.


On a completely different note, after about 20 years, some changes were made last year in the way that American Mensa delineates its membership generations. It was decided to realign the generations with the Pew Research Center and USC, with adjustments to the age ranges for several groups, the renaming of "Generation Y" and "Homeland Generation" to "Millennials" and "Generation Z", and the addition of "Generation Alpha".

I've broken down some of how that shakes out for Region 10, but it's too long to add here. I'll post that analysis, as well as other membership data such as member interest categories and other topics, on the Region 10 Members Community at https://connect.us.mensa.org/communities/local-groups/region-10. You can view and participate in these discussions there using the same login as your American Mensa website ID and password.


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
Mensa Connect https://connect.us.mensa.org/communities/local-groups/region-10
Region 10 Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MensaRegion10/

April 2024

It's official! Because she was the only person to submit a petition, Katharine (Kay) Klasen has been declared elected as Regional Vice Chair 10 (RVC10) beginning July 1, 2024. If you are attending the Annual Gathering in Kansas City, make sure to come to the Meet and Greet and offer your congratulations in person!

Others who have been declared elected are Lori Norris as AMC Chair, Ian Randal Strock as First Vice Chair (moving over from his current position as AMC Secretary), Franck Mounier as Regional Vice Chair 1, Steve Welch as Regional Vice Chair 2, Richard Magnus as Regional Vice Chair 3, Matt Crawford as Regional Vice Chair 4, Curt Krambeck as Regional Vice Chair 7, and Kelly-Marie Jones as Regional Vice Chair 9. It is possible that there will be a complete turnover for RVCs this year, since only Region 5 has an incumbent running; the remaining three contested elections are between new candidates as well. Of this group, only Richard Magnus has served as RVC in the past, and that was over 20 years ago (2001-2003). Aside from the Chair and First Vice Chair, only the Secretary position is guaranteed to be a carry-over from this term since both candidates are current RVCs. So, the next term will be a very fresh start with between 9-12 new members out of 15 positions.

Just because Region 10 is already decided doesn't mean you should skip the election (which begins on April 15). Aside from the three national positions to be decided, there are also five Bylaws referenda on the ballot, and a concurrent Mensa International Ltd. (MIL) election for Chairman, Director of Administration, Director of Development, and Treasurer. There are three candidates from American Mensa on the International ballot this year: LaRae Bakerink (Chairman), Robin Crawford (Director-Administration), and John Recht (Director-Development). You can find all the candidate statements for the MIL Election in the March 2024 Mensa Bulletin.

Please vote! American Mensa needs your voice, since we are a large part of the international body, but have had the lowest representation in elections.


The American Mensa Committee (AMC) met in Dallas, TX on Saturday, March 9, 2024. All motions on the agenda passed (see my column last month for the list).

Because the motion to Increase the Membership Dues passed, we were also able to pass the 2024-2025 AML (American Mensa Ltd.) Budget. This will allow an increase to the monthly allotment to Local Groups from $0.85 to $0.96 per member per month, as well as an increase from $1 to $2 for each new member who joins a local group (transfers and reinstatements excluded).

The Budget webinar I mentioned last month has been posted on the American Mensa website at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/amc-webinars/2024-25-amc-budget-webinar/. This provides more detail on how the budget is broken out among the various projects and initiatives.

The full minutes of the meeting must be approved by the AMC before they can be posted, but the mini-minutes for the March meeting have been posted at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/ under the dropdown "2024-03-09 -- Dallas, TX".


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
Mensa Connect https://connect.us.mensa.org/communities/local-groups/region-10
Region 10 Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MensaRegion10/

March 2024

On January 27, Angie Christie resigned as First Vice Chair of the American Mensa Committee (AMC), and withdrew from the upcoming election. As a result, Baker Ring moved from his position as Second Vice Chair to First Vice Chair, and Second Vice Chair position is again vacant. Other adjustments regarding voting members on various action committees will be discussed at the March AMC meeting.


Speaking of which, the next meeting of the AMC will be held in Dallas, TX on March 9, 2024. The full agenda has been posted at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/ under the dropdown "2024-03-09 -- Dallas, TX".

There are six motions on the agenda:

A. Motion to Increase Membership Dues

B. Motion to Adopt the 2024-2025 Budget

C. Motion to Update the AMC Job Descriptions

D. Motion to Update Minimum Standard Bylaws for Local Groups

E. Motion to Update the Model Bylaws for Local Groups

F. Motion to Delete ASIE Defining Annual Gathering White Hats

There will be a webinar to present the budget (Motion B) to the membership before the AMC meeting, but the date has not yet been set. An announcement will be sent out once this has been determined.

The other motions (C, D, and E) are too lengthy to include here, but they are included in the appendices of the agenda. There are also details regarding two sections of the Consent Agenda, the repeal of 19 Actions Still In Effect (ASIEs) and modification of 6 other ASIEs, which were undertaken as part of the Governance Task Force project.


The calendar on the national website was updated in February, and now there is a search function to allow members to search for events by Local Group, Region, Event Type, SIG (Special Interest Group), Date range, and more. The new calendar can be found at https://www.us.mensa.org/attend/calendar/.

For this to succeed, local groups will need to add their events to the calendar, but this is easily done by clicking the "Add an Event" link at https://www.us.mensa.org/attend/gatheringslisting/. Since not every local group has a functioning online calendar, this will allow those groups to take advantage of a new resource to serve their members (you!).


Don't forget - March is your last chance to renew before the anticipated dues increase takes effect on April 1! If you are late, your renewal will be at the new rate, so don't delay - renew today!


The petition period for the American Mensa election has now ended, and barring the possibility of a candidate submitting written petitions, Kay Klasen, current Local Secretary of Broward Mensa, will be the new Region 10 Vice Chair (RVC 10) starting in July. But don't bother her just yet -- I'm still responsible through the end of June, so if you have any questions or comments, you should still reach out to me.


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
Mensa Connect https://connect.us.mensa.org/communities/local-groups/region-10
Region 10 Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MensaRegion10/

February 2024

I am writing this column from the Central Florida Mensa's "Sun ‘n' Games" Regional Gathering (RG), which is the only regular RG remaining in Florida. When I moved here from New York in 2000, there were several RGs to choose from: Tampa Bay Mensa over Memorial Day weekend, Northwest Florida Mensa's "ValenTime" in mid-February, Central Florida Mensa's "SmartiGras" in mid-January, and Broward Mensa's "FLoRanGe" and Space Coast Area Mensa's "SCAM-o-Ween" trading off every other autumn for their biannual RGs. There was even a Micro-G in the Florida Keys in November. But unfortunately, with the loss of affordable hotel venues, retirement of many long-serving volunteers, and general burnout, we're now down to this last hurrah in Orlando. Fortunately, Event Chair Debbie Freeland continues to display boundless energy, and with her excellent crew including Jen Keating, Bill Keevan, Tiffany Patterson, Stephen Stull and more, put on an excellent weekend of speakers, games, tournaments and special events. I hope this may help inspire others to relaunch some of the other Gatherings, as they are among the best opportunities for members to have full immersion in the Mensa Experience. (If you're feeling adventurous, other Gatherings are held all year ‘round throughout the country, and you can find them in every issue of the Mensa Bulletin or by viewing the National Events Calendar at  https://www.us.mensa.org/attend/calendar/entries/.)


The next regular meeting of the American Mensa Committee (AMC) will be held on March 9, 2024, at the national headquarters in Hurst, TX. Currently we don't have a draft of the agenda for the meeting, but because there will be a second motion regarding the membership dues change, our bylaws specify that the agenda must be posted 30 days prior to the meeting. This can be found at the link https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/ under the dropdown "2024-03-09 -- Hurst, TX".


I mentioned this last month but it's worth mentioning again: The American Mensa Elections are coming up in April. To vote in this election, your membership must be current as of March 31, so be certain that you remember to renew, if this applies to you. This is especially important because if the dues motion passes at the March meeting, renewing after the deadline will be at the new rate.


At this writing, there are just over two weeks left for petitions to be completed for AMC candidates, including RVC 10. Only four Regions have candidates who have qualified, and no candidates have yet qualified for Secretary or Treasurer. Any position that does not have a candidate receiving sufficient signatures to appear on the ballot will revert to the current officeholder. I sincerely hope it doesn't come to that. If the national positions are not filled by election, they can be filled by a vote of the incoming AMC, but if any RVC defaults to an officeholder who chooses to resign the position, their role would be filled by a Regional Coordinator (RC) chosen by the Local Secretaries in their Region, who would have all the rights and responsibilities of an RVC, but no vote on the national board.


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
Mensa Connect https://connect.us.mensa.org/communities/local-groups/region-10
Region 10 Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MensaRegion10/

January 2024

The American Mensa Committee (AMC) met via teleconference on Saturday, December 9, 2023. Both motions that I noted in my column last month passed. The Principles of Conduct motion stated that AMC members could not concurrently serve in certain Local Group positions for which they were responsible for financial decisions. There was discussion about removing the Ombuds section from the motion, but motions to amend the initial motion failed.

The motion to increase the annual membership dues rate to $107 passed the first vote, but per the American Mensa Bylaws it will not take effect unless it passes a second vote at the March AMC meeting. If it passes, the new rate will be effective April 1, 2024. This would also be effective for late renewals, so if it applies to you, make sure to renew your membership before March 31. (Side note: Local Groups get Jewel Points for early renewals prior to February 1, and also for prompt renewals prior to March 31.)

Because this motion passed, there will be two different budgets presented at the March meeting, which is when the budget for the following year is traditionally presented. One motion will be derived from revenues without the dues increase, and the second will take the new dues rate into account. The main impact of the dues increase will not be seen until the 2025-2026 fiscal year, since the 2024-2025 revenues will still be based on the current dues, with only incremental increases in revenue from new members, reinstatements and late renewals.

If the increases are approved, it is hoped that the next Budget and Finance Committee will consider long-standing requests which were not feasible with the current budget, including increasing local group funding support. These suggestions will be documented and shared with the next AMC for their consideration.

Additional actions from the meeting included the appointment of Tommy Ryan as the interim Communications Officer to complete the remainder of the 2023-2024 term. Tommy had previously served as Communications Officer during the 2017-2019 term. The AMC also chose Atlanta, GA as the location for the 2027 Annual Gathering pending approval of the contract by the AMC Executive Committee. Both of these actions took place in executive session, the

former because discussions of individuals and appointments are not held in open session, and the latter because contract terms had not yet been approved and could not be discussed publicly without compromising the negotiations with the hotel.

The mini-minutes from the meeting can be found by clicking the dropdown item "2023-12-09 -- Teleconference" at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/. A recording of the meeting will also be posted for those who wish to hear the details of the discussions.


Petitions are currently available for candidates for the 2024-27 AMC term, and I encourage you to visit https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/elections/candidate-petitions to sign petitions for the national candidates and Region 10. National candidates require 250 signatures to qualify, and Regional Vice Chairs (RVCs) require 100 signatures. While this doesn't sound like a high threshold, in the last election one of the Regions did not have any candidates qualify with 100 petition signatures, and their RVC continued from the previous term without election. Since I am not running this time, I ask for RVC 10 candidates to get as many signatures as possible so I won't be in the same position as that other RVC.


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
Mensa Connect https://connect.us.mensa.org/communities/local-groups/region-10
Region 10 Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MensaRegion10/

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