Mensa | USA | Region 10 | RVC Column | 2023

American Mensa Region 10

RVC Columns: 2023

December 2023

The next meeting of the American Mensa Committee (AMC) will be held via teleconference on Saturday, December 9, 2023. The agenda is short, but likely to engender a lot of discussion.

The first motion expands the principles of conduct for AMC Officers to prohibit their service on a Local Group level as LocSec, Treasurer, Editor, RG Chair, or any other position that is authorized to sign contracts on behalf of a local group. Because the AMC has an oversight role over Local Groups, it is improper for AMC officers, particularly RVCs, to be in a position to have oversight over their own actions. This motion similarly prohibits AMC members from serving as Ombuds at either the local or regional level, for the same reason.

The second item is less wonkish, and more interesting to the membership: to increase the single-year membership dues to $107 effective April 1, 2024.

Admittedly, nobody likes dues increases. But just as all other costs have gone up, so have the costs of running the organization, from printing the Bulletin to employee salaries, and dues increases are inevitable. The main question is how much should the increase be, and what goes into the calculation.

There are some complexities that need to be considered. First, this motion, if passed, will not result in an increase in dues unless it passes a second time at the March 2024 AMC meeting. This is because our Bylaws require that an identical motion must be passed at a second regular meeting, not less than 60 days after the first meeting. (All of this is outlined in Article IX Section 8 of the Bylaws, as per a vote of the membership in 2015).

Also keep in mind that the March meeting, when the second consideration of the dues comes up, is when the annual budget will be set for 2024-2025. In order to set the budget, we must be able to project what revenues will be, and therefore need to know when and how much dues will change.

In 2017, when the current dues rate was set, it was expected to cover the shortfall of the prior year and give a little leeway until the third year, when another dues increase would be proposed. But then the pandemic hit, and many plans had to be delayed and reconsidered. Now that we're six years on, we are behind schedule on dues and are playing catch-up. If we had gone by the original plan, we'd still be looking at a comparable rate, but it wouldn't be as much of a raise at one time.

There's more detail to go into but not enough room left in this column. I encourage anyone interested to listen to the meeting on December 9, where it will be discussed in detail. A link will be emailed out to the membership before the meeting, so make sure you have your communication preferences set to receive emails by visiting https://www.us.mensa.org/my-mensa/my-membership-profile/.

The agenda can be found by clicking the dropdown item "2023-12-09 -- Teleconference" at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/.


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/

November 2023

The American Mensa Committee (AMC) met on Sunday, October 8, 2023 at the National Headquarters in Hurst, TX.

Four motions were carried over from previous meetings as Unfinished Business, after having been taken back for more work. These were a motion to clarify the definition of Regular vs. Interim Meetings, requiring a tentative 14-month rolling calendar of AMC meetings for planning purposes, sending a referendum to the membership to allow Regional Ombuds to be eligible to vote for and run for National Ombudsman, and sending a referendum to the membership to deal with a potential vacancy in the role of Ombudsman (in cases of recusal or pending the election of a new Ombudsman). All four motions passed.

New business included the appointment of Allison Reeves and Karen Gruebele as Co-Chairs of the 2025 Annual Gathering in Chicago, IL, establishing a SIGs (Special Interest Groups) Committee and rolling the SIG Officer into the role of SIG Committee Chair, and opening the position of Leadership Development Committee Chair to non-AMC members. The Election Committee requested two referenda to be passed to the membership - one to clarify an election eligibility question (a technicality around renewing memberships vs. paying membership dues), and one to require a minimum 6-month period of membership prior to running for office. There was also the required review of questions to AMC candidates, with the primary change being an addition of a question asking whether the candidate had ever left an elected/appointed position before the end of their term (including an opportunity to explain why if they had). All of these motions passed as well.

Reports included a review of the Lapsed Member Survey, which will be posted in the Meeting Reports (link below), and an Education by the Treasurer presentation explaining the process for dues increases.

It was also announced that the recently appointed Communications Officer had resigned, and the position had been opened up on the Volunteer Marketplace (https://connect.us.mensa.org/volunteeropportunities) with an application deadline of November 10. The responsibilities of Communications Officer are defined in detail in Appendix 28 (American Mensa Committee Job Descriptions) in the Actions Still In Effect (ASIEs) which can be found at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/policydocuments/actions-still-in-effect/

Details and a recording of the meeting will be posted at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/.


The day before the AMC meeting, the AMC held a strategy review/planning session in the national office. We are currently in the third year of the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan, so changes to that plan will be left to the next AMC in a couple of years, but we still needed to see how we are progressing against our goals and what obstacles are in the way, as well as concerns arising. Clearly, a plan that was adopted for 2020 immediately ran up against some unprecedented problems with the COVID pandemic, and some of our targets such as Local Group testing are lagging, although we're on target with our overall and 1st year member retention rates. In one case our success is making future success impossible -- we met aggressive goals of getting member reinstatements, which meant the lapsed member pool has been getting smaller, not larger, for subsequent years!

The Strategic Plan can be found at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/planning/.


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/

October 2023

The next meeting of the American Mensa Committee (AMC) will be held on October 8, 2023 at the National Office in Hurst, TX. At this writing, the agenda has not been finalized, but proposed items include a motion to define AMC Meeting terminology (clarifying after debate among some members what constitutes a regular meeting), a motion to establish an ongoing tentative calendar for future AMC meetings, a motion to pass the Regional Ombudsman referendum to a vote by the membership, a motion to pass an Ombudsman recusal process referendum to a vote by the membership, appointment of the 2025 Annual Gathering Chair, modification to the Special Interest Group (SIG) Officer and Committee rules, changes to the Leadership Development Committee rules, motions regarding national election qualification rules to be passed to the membership (at the request of the Election Committee), and a motion to update the AMC Questions to Candidates. Membership Officer Kimberly Strickland will also present the Lapsed Member Survey (different from the Member Satisfaction Survey from the previous meeting). (It's going to be a busy day...)

These may change before the meeting, but the final agenda will be posted at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/ soon. Information on how to attend the meeting virtually will be posted to the membership the week prior to the meeting.


As a member of the AML (American Mensa Ltd.) History Committee, I have been reaching out to local groups to find out who has dedicated archives of their documents, minutes, newsletters, etc. from the time they were established. It's important to retrieve as much of this information as possible before it vanishes; in the case of one local group it appears to be too late, as the archivist passed away several years ago, and after their spouse passed away a number of years later, most of their papers went to a landfill. Many assume that this information is available through the national office, but reviewing the online history only Central Florida Mensa and Palm Beach Area Mensa have newsletter archives preceding 2005 (2003 and 1999, respectively). There are scattered newsletters preceding these dates (Palm Beach has a variety between 1973-1984, and Tampa Bay has a sequence from 1976-1977), but for the most part early history of many of our local groups is missing, and with the reduction of frequency and detail in recent newsletters newer history is going the same way.

The only full archive that I know about is for Tampa Bay Mensa, because it's sitting in a large file cabinet in my storage room. These included the original letters establishing TBM as a local group back in January 1976, and some of the meeting minutes leading up to that. Tampa Bay also has a member handbook (last updated in 2011) on their tampabaymensa.org website, which contains a history chapter that mentions Central Florida forming in 1973 (Suzanne Wright tried to reactivate a group in Orlando and was presented with the entire expanse from the Atlantic to the Gulf!), and Manasota Mensa forming in November 1989 (under the leadership of Dwight Gill). In reviewing some of the early newsletters, I was interested to find that back in the 70s, there was an Indian River chapter, which in later years was either merged with or expanded into Space Coast Area Mensa (currently in the process of dissolution). But much of the information about that, and other local groups, is sketchy at best.

To all the long-time members out there still reading, if you have archives for your local group, or know who would, please let me know (even if you think someone else will let me know, because that often doesn't happen)! My contact information is below.


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/

September 2023

In preparation for the October American Mensa Committee (AMC) meeting, we've begun discussions about the questions for candidates running for the next AMC. This is per our Bylaws, which specifies that the candidates' answers to these questions must be provided by the AMC for the election ballot. While this may seem early for an election that won't occur until next April, the Election Committee needs to have them before December in order to prepare the nominating rules.

I don't intend to run for the AMC again, so other members from Region 10 need to start thinking about whether they would like to take on that opportunity. I have found the position fulfilling, and would like to continue to serve on national committees if they'll have me. However, after over 10 years as RVC, I have had to slow down, and cannot fulfill some of the expectations for the role -- such as visiting each of the local groups throughout the year (the long car trips have become quite challenging).

One of the tacit expectations of the members of the AMC, and indeed of all officers in Mensa, is finding successors for their positions. This is mildly ironic, considering the bylaws referendum from several years ago that eliminated the national Nominating Committee. One of the complaints was the suspicion that candidates were being chosen by the NomCom from the "in-crowd". Having gone through that nominating process with a panel that did not know me, I don't see how that was more of an inside job than me actually picking my own successor, but so it goes. Conspiracies don't necessarily follow standard logic.

If anyone is interested in running for Regional Vice Chair (RVC), let me know if you have any questions. I would start you out by referring you to Appendix 28 in the Actions Still In Effect (ASIEs), which outlines the job descriptions for each of the positions on the AMC, and we can go from there.


I mentioned in my previous column that Membership Officer Kimberly Strickland would be providing a Region 10 breakdown of her Membership Satisfaction survey, and the results were striking. A key measurement in these types of surveys is the Net Promoter Score, or NPS. The way this is measured is that on a scale of 0-10, Promoters are

those who give a score of 9 or 10, while Detractors provide a score of 0-6 (7 and 8 are considered Neutral). Each Promoter is given a plus 1 score, and each Detractor is given a negative 1 score.

When asked the question "Would you recommend Mensa to a friend?", the percentage of Promoters was 38%, while the percentage of Detractors was 31%. The result was a NPS of 7, which is consistent with similar surveys done in the past. Any NPS over 0 is considered good, so 7 is in the right ballpark.

For Region 10, the results were much different. The percentage of Promoters was 43.5%, while the percentage of Detractors was 28%. That gives Region 10 a Net Promoter Score of 15.5%, which is a higher level than I'd seen in any previous surveys. The creators of the NPS metric put 20 as a "Great" score, but 15.5 is Very Good. And given the reticence of so many members to even admit that they are members of Mensa, this is a surprisingly high number. I hope we can keep the trend going!


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/

August 2023

The American Mensa Committee (AMC) met on July 6, 2023 at the Annual Gathering in Baltimore, MD. There were three motions passed that updated our Actions Still In Effect (ASIEs), which is Mensa-speak for "official policies" not dictated by our Bylaws. The first was the motion I outlined in my previous column (authorizing Gifted Youth Member Volunteers). The second and third were tandem motions which clarified some redundancies and inconsistencies with the Testing Team, including who appoints the Testing Team Chair, that the Testing Team Chair and National Testing Officer (NTO) are the same person, and the scope and limits of the authority of the NTO and the testing team. There was an additional motion to update the AMC Meeting and Quarterly Reporting requirements, but in discussion concerns were raised about some inconsistencies and potential unintended consequences in the various parts of the motion. Past experience with editing a motion on the fly has demonstrated that this is poor practice, as we may miss any potential new issues that may be created as a result, so rather than voting it down, the motion was recommitted to the mover (Jon Gruebele/RVC 4) and we will discuss in more detail before the next meeting so these problems are resolved.

There were three reports presented at this meeting, with the usual Treasurer and Executive Director reports plus a report by the Election Committee that Chad Anderson had been elected as National Ombudsman with a term beginning on August 1, 2023. I look forward to working with him to refine the referenda I was working on over the past year (covered in several of my past columns) so we can alleviate any concerns before putting them before the membership for a vote at the next election.

In addition, there were three presentations given to the AMC. Taz Criss (Treasurer) as usual presented an Education by the Treasurer, this time explaining our Investment Funds, specifically our Life Member Fund and 3/5 Year Member Fund. Tracey Guice (RVC 8) provided a presentation on their Regional Gifted Youth Coordinator program, and Kimberly Strickland (Membership Officer) went over the results of the Membership Satisfaction Survey from February of this year. We've been promised a breakdown of the results by Region, and I look forward to seeing how our Region stands up in terms of member satisfaction.

The AMC also serves as the voting members of the Mensa Education and Research Foundation, and a recess in our regular meeting was called in order to hold the Annual Foundation Meeting. Nguyen Pham and Michelle Rakshys were elected to serve as Foundation Trustees for a term ending at the annual meeting of the Mensa Education & Research Foundation in 2026.

Various appointments of Committee Chairs, Individual Appointees, Action Committees and other appointments were discussed in executive session, and once those individuals were informed of their appointments announcements were made regarding those results. These were made public via the Mini-minutes on the website on July 10, 2023.

All of these presentations and reports, plus a recording of the session, are available on the website under 2023-07-06 -- Baltimore, MD in the dropdown at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/. The next meeting of the AMC is scheduled for October 7, 2023 at the National Office in Hurst, 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/

July 2023

At the most recent American Mensa Committee (AMC) meeting on May 20, 2023, the appointed officers of the AMC were approved for the 2023-2024 term. Dustin Hawkins from Mensa in Georgia will be the new Communications Officer and David Leavitt from Mid-America Mensa will be the new Marketing Officer. Kimberly Strickland and Charlie Steinhice will continue in their roles as Membership Officer and Director of Science and Education, respectively. Additionally, the Governance Task Force was officially established, with Second Vice Chair Baker Ring as Task Force Chair, and RVC7 Beth Anne Demeter, RVC4 Jon Gruebele, and RVC10 Thomas G. Thomas (hello!) assigned to the task force.

The second vote to remove the National Ombudsman was declared moot due to their resignation, and the motion to align the review of AMC Job Descriptions with the Terms of Office was adopted.


The next meeting of the AMC will be on July 6 in conjunction with the Annual Gathering in Baltimore, MD. While the agenda has not been finalized as of this writing, I can mention a motion that I submitted on behalf of the Gifted Youth Committee.

The fastest growing segment of American Mensa is our Gifted Youth, but as a member-run organization we have been limited in our capacity to serve this segment. Each Local Group's Gifted Youth Coordinator must receive a background check in order to interact with youth members, but it is still a challenge for an individual to cover all the bases for coordinating youth events. One option adopted in 2014 was to permit non-member parents of Gifted Youth to serve as volunteer assistants, but this still didn't offer enough flexibility.

In the latest review of the Gifted Youth Program and its volunteer handbook, it was determined in conjunction with the Risk Management Committee and Leadership Development Committee that we could allow non-parent Mensa member volunteers to assist with Gifted Youth, with the same background check protocols as the Gifted Youth Coordinators. This would allow qualified members who already work with youth (such as educators, counselors, and others) to assist without taking on the administrative

duties that the programs require. In those cases where a local group does not have a Gifted Youth Coordinator, these vetted member volunteers would be permitted to assist the Local Secretary.

The motion I've submitted will modify Section 9.C. of the ASIEs (Actions Still In Effect), which are part of the governing documents of American Mensa. I've already received enthusiastic support for the motion, and hope that this will open up opportunities that we have been missing for our Gifted Youth members.


Finally, the Annual Business Meeting will be held in conjunction with our Annual Gathering on Friday, July 7 from 9:00 AM to Noon Eastern Time. I expect that members will be able to attend remotely. Detailed information should be available at https://www.us.mensa.org/attend/calendar/ by the time you read this.


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/

June 2023

I am writing this column before the May 20, 2023 meeting of the American Mensa Committee (AMC), but it will not make it into Local Group newsletters until after the meeting has occurred. The best I can offer is the agenda.

Beyond the announcement that the site of the 2026 Annual Gathering will be the Omni Fort Worth Hotel, we needed to start with the unfinished business of the vote to remove the National Ombudsman. This is a moot point because the National Ombudsman resigned and the election for a new National Ombudsman is underway, but as a technical matter the original motion must be resolved, hence its inclusion here.

The next order of business will be held in Executive (closed) Session in order to discuss the AMC appointees for next year. This must be done at this meeting in order to invite the approved members to the AMC meeting in July at the Annual Gathering. Although we've heard some complaints that Executive Sessions have been overused, it would be unfair (not to mention legally questionable) to discuss the applicants' qualifications in open session, and out of respect for those members who might not want it known that they had applied and been passed over, we will not be providing that information, just as we did not release the names of all the applicants for the Second Vice Chair position when we filled it at the December 2022 meeting.

The last formal motion on the agenda is a housekeeping motion regarding the timing of updates of AMC Job Descriptions. The ASIEs specified that the job descriptions be reviewed every two years, which aligned with the terms of office for those roles. But since the terms were increased from two to three years in the last bylaws referendum, this needed to be updated as well (or it needed to be decided to leave it every two years -- I don't know what the decision will be yet).

To end the meeting there will be a discussion/presentation by Executive Director Trevor Mitchell and AMC Chair Lori Norris on potential changes to our governance structure. This was alluded to in the last meeting, and this is where we'll start working on it in earnest. This is not a new discussion, and in fact a consulting team had been hired in 2007-2008 to review our governance structure. A Governance Task Force was then established to review the information received and offer recommendations for future action, and a 53-page report was submitted in November 2010 (which can be found in the reports from that meeting at the link below). But at that point all momentum stopped, and very little action came from it.

Now once again there are suggestions coming from various directions: Should we have fewer or more members on the AMC? Should all AMC members be elected nationally? Are Regions and Local Groups obsolete? And so forth. But none of these suggestions are coming with analysis, and since we already have data to work with, we should probably start from there, with updates to take into account technology and cultural changes in the intervening 13 years.

Although minutes will not be posted yet, the recording of the meeting should be, along with mini-minutes. You can check it out at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/.


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 2023

As noted in my previous column, the American Mensa Committee (AMC) passed a motion to remove the National Ombudsman at our March 2023 meeting, in the first of two votes required in order for the motion to take effect. On March 31, 2023, R. Edward Lomas resigned as National Ombudsman, rendering a second vote moot. An election for a new National Ombudsman will be held starting in May and ending in June. Per our current Bylaws, only Local Group Ombudsmen are eligible to run, and only current Local Group Ombudsmen may vote for the National Ombudsman. Candidates have until May 6 to submit their information to the Election Committee. Additional information is available at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/elections/2023-ombudsman-election-portal/.

In earlier columns I had mentioned motions that I was putting forth to modify some of these procedures, but they won't be applicable for this election. At present, Regional Ombudsmen are not eligible to run for or vote for National Ombudsman, which is unfortunate as there are some fine members serving in those roles. And the National Ombudsman, once elected, may not run in the succeeding election, because they are not eligible according to the current bylaws. The motions are currently pending further review to ensure there are no unintended consequences, so that we can achieve the two-thirds vote of the AMC that a Bylaws referendum requires. I hope we can have those ready to present to the membership for a vote during the 2024 election cycle.


Four of the positions on the AMC are appointed at the meeting held at the Annual Gathering each July. One of those -- the Director of Science and Education -- is nominated by the Mensa Foundation. This year, in a change from prior practice, the other three positions have been opened up to member applications through the Volunteer Marketplace (https://connect.us.mensa.org/volunteeropportunities). Those positions are National Communications Officer, National Marketing Officer, and National Membership Officer. This is not meant to imply dissatisfaction with the current volunteers holding these positions, but since the roles call on specialized skills, we want to make certain any interested candidates with outstanding credentials are considered, and that they can let the Chair know their availability and willingness to take on the role. Applications close on April 30, but I did not know about this process in time for my previous column. I've posted more information on the Region 10 Members Community on Mensa Connect.


Speaking of the Region 10 Members Community, all members of this Region are automatically added to the Community, but you may not see messages -- such as the announcement of volunteer opportunities or events that may be happening near you -- if you are not set up to receive emails. If you wish to receive these messages in a timely fashion, please log in at https://connect.us.mensa.org/communities/local-groups/region-10, select the Region 10 Members Community link, and click the green Settings button next to the Community name. You can set your email preferences to Real Time, Daily Digest, or No Email. Even if you choose No Email, you can always log in to this community to see the discussions, but then you might miss time-sensitive announcements.

For those concerned about receiving too many messages, non-Mensa related discussions have been moved to a Subcommunity which may also be joined by clicking the Subcommunities link at the site above. Since the Region 10 General Discussion is opt-in, members are not automatically added -- they will only see these messages if they are interested. This helps to focus the topics in the main Community to relevant 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
Mensa Connect https://connect.us.mensa.org/communities/local-groups/region-10
Region 10 Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MensaRegion10/

April 2023

The latest meeting of the American Mensa Committee (AMC) was held on Saturday, March 11, 2023 at the National Office in Hurst, TX. Every year in March, the AMC has to approve a budget for the coming year, so that was the second order of business after the appointment of the Auditor, which we do every three years. The budget is too detailed to go into in a short column, but American Mensa Treasurer Taz Criss hosted a half-hour webinar on the topic which can be viewed at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/amc-webinars/2023-24-amc-budget-webinar/ . We also voted to increase the fee to review Prior Evidence to $49. In the final motion, the AMC voted to remove the National Ombudsman from office due to repeated violation of confidentiality of Executive Session meetings. Because it involves confidential matters, the details about the violations cannot be discussed, which can be frustrating. Per the American Mensa Bylaws, this motion must be passed at two separate regular meetings of the AMC, so we will be voting on this again. If it passes, a new election will be held for a replacement.

There were also four presentations at this meeting. One was "Education by the Treasurer", which is a regular presentation at our meetings, and which can be heard on the recording to be posted at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/. Another provided preliminary results of the February Membership Survey, with a full presentation to come at the July meeting at the Annual Gathering, after all the data has been analyzed.

A third presentation involved the International Board of Directors (IBD). Because Mensa International Ltd (MIL) is comprised of 40 full national member countries, the IBD Meeting moves around the world each year. This year in October American Mensa will host the IBD meeting in Texas, the first U.S. meeting since 2006 in Orlando. More information will come later, but this will be an easier opportunity for those interested to see the IBD in person.

The fourth presentation was about future potential governance changes. Periodically questions are raised about the structure of the organization: Do we have too many officers? Too few? Is the Local Group/Region structure appropriate? Are the groups distributed properly? Should they be divided demographically as well as, or instead of, geographically? There are lots of questions, and no consensus on the answers to any of them. As it happens, this topic has come up before, and in 2007 a Planning Committee was formed to handle some of these questions. A consulting firm was hired that produced an analysis for American Mensa, a Governance Task Force created a report in November 2010, a Blue Print task force was created to create an implementation plan, and a Strategic Plan was created to address actions going forward. But then entropy set in, and the original purpose of the Strategic Plan was forgotten, since the AMC was almost fully reconstituted with new members (and a new Executive Director) by the time the review of the Strategic Plan came up again in 2016 and 2021. Now we've been asked to think about next steps. At this point, I want to review all the prior documentation before starting from scratch -- and as usual with a group this size, others have different opinions. More to come later.

The next regular meeting of the American Mensa Committee (AMC) will be held virtually on Saturday, May 20, 2023.


Finally, a reminder: National Volunteer Week is April 16-22, 2023. Some local groups had problems entering their events online, and the email links were broken, but those issues have been addressed. To see current events (such as Feeding Tampa Bay) and past events (such as Boynton and Delray Beach Cleanup), or to submit your own, please visit https://www.us.mensa.org/volunteer/community-service/. Make sure your local group gets credit for any community service you provide!


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 2023

The next meeting of the American Mensa Committee (AMC) will be held at the National Office in Hurst, TX on Saturday, March 11, 2023. The agenda has not been finalized at this writing, but will be available by clicking the dropdown item "2023-03-11 -- Hurst, TX" at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/ by the time the March newsletters go out.


National Volunteer Week is April 16-22, 2023, and many Local Groups have already begun putting together projects for Mensa Cares. Mensa Cares is the name of the Community Services initiative for American Mensa, established in 1997 for the purpose of community welfare and generating positive images of and for Mensa through Community Service.

In our Membership Surveys, Community Service is consistently near the top of activities our members say they want available. Last year Palm Beach Area Mensa filled all their volunteer spaces for their Beach Cleanup event, and this year Tampa Bay Mensa has filled all their available spaces for the Feeding Tampa Bay project. Other groups have already started setting up projects, so contact your Local Secretary/President for information on any projects your Local Group is participating in, or if you want to head one up yourself.


Another aspect of volunteering is at the Local Group level, and American Mensa is facing the same sorts of challenges as all social organizations across the country regarding decreased participation. Without volunteers to run local groups, they eventually risk failure. When I started as Region 10 Vice Chair, there were 134 Local Groups in American Mensa. Today there are 124, with two groups in other Regions in the process of merging into other groups due to lack of volunteers. Up to now, Florida has been spared this reduction, but in the last couple of months Space Coast Area Mensa was unable to find anybody to run for their board, and the two remaining board members of SouthWest by South Florida Mensa announced in their newsletter that they've begun the process to consolidate into one of the neighboring chapters.

There aren't any easy solutions, though some groups

continue to thrive because their members are hosting more events. But in a social organization such as Mensa, that's the key -- members hosting events. The boards of the groups are there to support members in creating activities, but cannot be solely responsible for filling the calendars. The health of a group can't be taken for granted; it takes a continuous flow of new energy from members to keep it going. If the same people run a group for too long, they burn out, and so does the group.

If you're interested in the health of your local chapter, reach out to the leaders in your group and find out what you can do to help out. They'll be happy to hear from you, even if it's just for encouragement.


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 2023

In my previous column, I mentioned that the next meeting of the American Mensa Committee (AMC) would be in January or February, but schedules among the AMC members didn't align, so the Spring meeting will be held at the National Office in Hurst, TX on Saturday, March 11, 2023. The Late Spring meeting will be held remotely on Saturday, May 20, and the Summer meeting will be held at the Annual Gathering in Baltimore on Thursday, July 6. Details on all of these meetings will be posted in advance under their respective dropdowns at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/


In my December column, I mentioned that there would be a change coming to the Region 10 Members Community on Mensa Connect. All members of Region 10 (Florida) are automatically enrolled in this Community, with a choice on how to see messages (Real Time, Digest, or Online (No Mail)). Some members were using it for open discussion, yet while some of these discussions were interesting, they drove other members to turn off all notices from this Community to avoid unsolicited email. The result was that members were missing information directly related to Mensa events, such as local group Zoom meetings or the Regional Gathering in Central Florida.

A new Subcommunity called Region 10 General Discussion has been created to accommodate those who want to have open discussions. This is an opt-in Subcommunity, which means members will have to request to join. Members of Region 10 will automatically be accepted upon request. To join this list, please visit https://connect.us.mensa.org/communities/local-groups/region-10 and click Region 10 Members Community, then click the Subcommunities tab on the far right. There will be a link to Region 10 General Discussion that you can select. Alternatively, you can log in to https://connect.us.mensa.org/home and type General Discussion in the search box, which will provide links to General Discussion (all American Mensa members have access to this community) and Region 10 General Discussion (open only to Florida members).

Now that this Subcommunity has launched, topics in the Region 10 Members Community will be limited to Mensa matters only. It will continue to be open automatically to all Florida members, but no off-topic discussions

In prior odd-numbered years, this is the time when the American Mensa election season would be kicking off. But in 2019, a Bylaws referendum was passed to change the term length from two years to three, and the election won't be happening until 2024.

I don't expect to be running for RVC again next year, since I'm in my fifth term and that's the longest anyone has ever served as RVC in American Mensa. It's important to have leadership volunteers preparing for the next cycle so you don't wind up having me appointed again. Ideally, there would be a nominating committee to seek qualified candidates, but another Bylaws referendum in 2015 removed the Nominating Committee, so candidates are self-selecting. From both personal experience and observation, most newly-elected members of the AMC are unprepared for the difference in process from serving at the national level as opposed to the local level, and an RVC is not a "Super-LocSec", as one person thought it was. It has, however, been a gratifying experience to serve in the role, and I recommend it for anyone who is willing to put forth the commitment.

I would suggest that anyone interested in serving at the national level get their feet wet by checking the Volunteer Marketplace (https://www.us.mensa.org/volunteer/volunteer-marketplace/) to see if there are any positions that interest you. At this writing, there are six positions available on the National Membership Committee, and other positions open up throughout the year, especially in July. Additionally, I will be posting information on various roles on the Region 10 Members Community to give people a better sense of what is going on, so make sure you're set up to get those messages.


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 2023

The most recent meeting of the American Mensa Committee (AMC) was held on Saturday, December 3, 2022 at the Grand Hyatt in Denver, CO, in conjunction with Denver Mensa's holiday party. Several housekeeping items were addressed, including approval of the September 2022 AMC minutes and various officer appointments (Taz Criss as Meeting Chair for the 2023 International Board of Directors (IBD) meeting, Angie Christie joining the Name and Logo Committee, and Beth Anne Demeter as 2024 Annual Gathering Chair). There were also three appointments made in Executive Session, which were not announced during the meeting until all the candidates for the positions could be notified. Those appointments were Baker Ring (former RVC 5) as Second Vice Chair, Lora Mitchell as Risk Management Chair, and Thomas G. Thomas (hey, that's me!) as Community Service Committee Chair.

There were six motions in regular business, four of which addressed potential referenda for the 2024 election cycle. The simple ones were to remove the Gifted Youth Committee Chair from the list of Professional Appointments (which passed), and to prevent Regional Ombuds from being forced to review their own decisions (which was rejected). I went into detail on the first of these in last month's column, but the Regional Ombud motion was new.

As for the Referenda items, these once again involved the Bylaws proposals for the Ombud positions. Unfortunately, there were reasonable changes requested to the wording on these, but because Article XII, section 2(d) of our bylaws states that the referendum must be included "in the written agenda circulated prior to the meeting", no changes could be allowed during the meeting. Therefore the motion to give Regional Ombuds a vote for the National Ombud was withdrawn in order to change "Ombudsperson" to "Ombudsman" for consistency with the existing Bylaws, and the motion to deal with a potential vacancy in the role of the Ombud was withdrawn in order to specify the number of days between the declaration of a vacancy and the election of a new Ombud (it was "MMM days" in the motion with the expectation that we could set that during our discussion, not realizing we had to have it in place before the agenda went out). A third Ombud motion to amend the previously passed referendum to change the term of office for the Ombud was withdrawn until we could submit another motion to withdraw the previous referendum (we couldn't amend the previous motion -- see Article XII (2d) again -- which means two competing referenda which mostly say the same thing would be competing on the ballot).

A fourth referendum was proposed to prevent the National Ombud from being forced to review their own decisions, which was similar to the Regional Ombud motion, and which was also rejected. There were two major issues with these proposals. First, they required that an Ombud would not be permitted to serve in multiple levels (the National Ombud could not be a Local Group Ombud or a Regional Ombud, and a Regional Ombud could not also be a Local Group Ombud), because this means that potentially a Local Group Ombud could issue an opinion, and if escalated to the Regional Ombud, they would be reviewing their own opinion. But since an ethical Ombud could recuse themselves and refer the matter to a different Ombud, this shouldn't require a Bylaws change. Second, without saying so, it set a term limit for the National Ombud to a single term, since at present our Bylaws state that the National Ombud is elected by the Local Group Ombuds "from among their number". If the National Ombud is not also a Local Group Ombud, they would not be allowed to stand for re-election.

These motions did raise a different issue, which we didn't resolve at this session. While an Ombud is not required to review their own opinion, there's also nothing that requires them to recuse themselves in the event of a conflict. We would expect that an Ombud, whose job description states they are supposed to be impartial, would do so without it being required, but there are unexpected instances where someone behaves unethically. We did not address requiring an Ombud to recuse themselves, though this may come up in a future meeting.

The mini-minutes and six presentations from the meeting (including Executive Director, Annual Gathering 2023, Marketing, Volunteerism, Treasurer/Finance Committee, and Strategic Planning) have been posted at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/ under the dropdown "2022-12-03 -- Denver, CO". The next meeting of the AMC will be in late January or early February 2023, although the exact date has not yet been set. Once it is, the agenda will be posted at the link above.


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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