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Our local newsletter, Mentally, is not available online. But here are other items of interest:

THE TENTH STORY for February

The American Mensa Committee (AMC) met via teleconference on January 16. This brief meeting involved the approval of the minutes of the December 2 AMC Meeting (now posted online), the official appointment of the Chair for the Community Services Committee (yours truly), the Transition Committee's report regarding a new Executive Director, and a vote on a motion to clarify the Duties, Responsibilities, and Authority of Regional Vice Chairmen for inclusion in the ASIEs (Appendix 26). This is the topic I mentioned in my column last month, and I hope it will be useful information for anyone interested in running for the position in the future, as I have heard many amusing misconceptions about what the RVC's role actually is.

The details of the agenda for this meeting are available on the national website at www.us.mensa.org/read/board-meeting-reports/ under the dropdown 2018-01-16 - Teleconference. The next in-person meeting of the AMC will be in Denver, CO on March 3, 2018. The agenda will be posted online at the link above on February 16.

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CultureQuest registration opened on January 16, and there's still time for your Local Group to field a team (or three)! Last year Central Florida Mensa and Tampa Bay Mensa both took money prizes, and maybe this year it's your turn. The deadline for registration is March 31, and remember, all members of your team(s) must also have renewed by that date! Rules and registration are at https://www.us.mensa.org/attend/culturequest/.

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Does your Local Group have a great Gifted Youth Coordinator? Nominations for Gifted Youth Coordinator of the Year are due on February 20. Information on this program is available at https://www.us.mensa.org/recognize/group-awards/gy-coordinator-of-the-year/.

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And finally, with National Volunteer Week (Mensa Cares!) coming up on April 15-22, I'm starting to hear groups coming up with different programs they would like to create, from beach and road and park cleanup to library support to group home visits and other projects. Besides being a good way to give to your local communities, it's also great visibility and promotion for your local group. I'd love to year what kind of creative ideas you could come up with! You're Mensa - and you're Brilliant!

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

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

THE TENTH STORY for January

The American Mensa Committee (AMC) met on December 2 to discuss several matters, including the Transition Committee's progress in seeking a new Executive Director to replace Pam Donahoo, as I'd mentioned in last month's column. After presenting their report, the AMC thanked them for their work so far and asked them to continue with their work. In the meantime, Trevor Mitchell, AML's Director of Membership and Strategy, was named Acting Executive Director.

Other appointments made at the meeting included Palm Beach Area Mensa member (and former AMC Chair) Elissa Rudolph as the AML Advocate, and Allison Reeves will be joining Palm Beach Area Mensa member Brian Reeves as Co-Chair of the 2019 Annual Gathering (AG) Committee.

The usual Treasurer and Executive Director reports were presented, along with the results of the Local Group Leadership Survey and the launch of Mensa Connect (the Higher Logic project). These reports and more are available on the national website at www.us.mensa.org/read/board-meeting-reports/ under the dropdown 2017-12-02 - Houston, TX.

The next in-person meeting of the AMC will be in Denver, CO on March 3, 2018, with a teleconference meeting scheduled before then on January 16, 2018. The agenda for the teleconference has not been set, but will be posted online at the link above on January 6.

On another topic, the AMC has been discussing the role of the RVCs (Regional Vice Chairmen), given the split duties we perform. In addition to acting as members of the Board of Directors for American Mensa along with the five nationally-elected officers, and serving as voting members on various national committees, we also have particular duties to the Local Groups of our regions that go beyond the fiduciary responsibilities for American Mensa. However, some expectations, both from the national and local point of view, are contradictory. While there is documentation that defines our role as "CEO of the Region", this nevertheless carries with it limited authority. So when I've been asked to intervene in some local group issues over the past few months, there wasn't much that I could do other than to listen to the issue being presented and refer the involved parties to documentation on the website (primarily dispute resolution). The RVCs are working through the existing ASIEs and guidebooks to come up with a consolidated job description so that it will be clearer to future RVCs (and local members) what the real expectations should be.

Finally, I mentioned the Community Services Committee in my column last month, and I have recently been appointed Chair of that Committee. While there are projects going on year-round, the big focus is Mensa Cares!, a project that coincides with National Volunteer Week. This year those dates are April 15-21. Many of our members have mentioned in surveys that this was something they wanted Mensa to be involved in, and the response to last year's efforts was enthusiastic. More information will be forthcoming as the Committee starts planning over the next few weeks.

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

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

THE TENTH STORY for December

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE TENTH STORY for November

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

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

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

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

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

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

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