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January 2019 MenTally

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RVC Columns

THE TENTH STORY for January

Happy New Year! The new Mensa Store opened last month at https://www.mensastore.com/ with fresh branded merchandise, and closeouts on merchandise left over from the old store. Dave Fox and Fox Imaging did not seek a renewal of their contract, but we thank them for their long service to Mensa, as we move forward with our new vendor. We expect to have more options available as time moves on, and suggestions for new merchandise are welcome via email at support@mensastore.com.

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After 20 years at its old location, The American Mensa national office has moved to a new (temporary) location, following the decision of the Mensa Foundation to sell the building effective December 2018. The new address is 1200 E. Copeland Rd. Ste 550, Arlington, TX 76011-1344. The website and phone numbers remain unchanged. For background on the move, visit https://www.us.mensa.org/featured-content/mensa-on-the-move/. This also includes goals for the new permanent location, for which the search is underway.

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The American Mensa Committee (AMC) held its regularly scheduled quarterly meeting on December 1 via teleconference. All four motions on the agenda passed. These included a motion giving hosts of non-official events the right to invite or exclude individuals at their own discretion at meetings/functions hosted by members, both in members' homes and in public venues. Official Local Group events are still open to all members, though even there a member may be evicted for unacceptable behavior. The other three motions were specific to the administration of Annual Gatherings (AGs), including the responsibilities and requirements of White Hats (who assist with event security), an updated list of functions offered by the National Office at the request of the AG Chair or Committee, and updates to the meeting room requirements for AGs.

The AMC also met in closed session to discuss potential candidates for the Mensa International election coming up in spring 2019, and voted to nominate Nick Sanford (USA) for International Chair, Isabella Holz (Germany) for Director of Administration, Peter Froehler (Germany) for Director of Administration, Tomas Blumenstein (Czech Republic) for Director of Development, and Richard Kingston (Cyprus) for Director of Development. These nominations place candidates on the ballot, but are not explicit endorsements, which is why there are multiple nominations for two of the positions.

Mini-minutes are posted at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/, as well as a link to the audio recording of the meeting for anyone interested in hearing the AMC in action.

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Speaking of nominations, petitions are now open for the AMC election in the spring at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/elections/2019-board-election/. Candidates for the five nationally elected offices require 250 signatures, while candidates for RVC require 100 signatures. Online candidate petitions are available through January 31, although manual petition signatures may also be gathered using forms at the link above. I hope you will sign my petition as well as other candidates for RVC 10 and other offices, since this is the only avenue for members to get on the ballot, and offer a choice to the membership.

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

THE TENTH STORY for December

The American Mensa Committee (AMC) met via teleconference on October 30 to vote on Bylaws referendum items for the 2019 election. Four items were passed for the ballot, pending legal review. Those items included:

  • A change to Article IX, Section 6, related to discipline of members whose conduct has been deemed to be harmful,
  • The ability to add one or two days to the election period if needed,
  • A change to the petition deadline from February 1 to January 31,
  • Removal of the requirement for a signed Candidate Acceptance of Nomination for elections.

(Note that if they pass, the three election-related referendum items would not take effect until the 2021 election.)

Two additional referendum items failed to pass for the election: a procedure to fill RVC vacancies (currently in the ASIEs (Actions Still In Effect) but not in the Bylaws), and a change to AMC terms from 2 to 3 years (to match a similar referendum being submitted for members of the International Board of Directors).

We also approved the minutes of the September 29 AMC meeting, which are now posted on the national website at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/.

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And since it seems we can never have enough meetings, the next AMC meeting is scheduled on Saturday, December 1, via teleconference. The agenda includes:

  • A motion regarding the rights of both members and hosts and meetings/functions hosted by members, both in members' homes and in public venues,
  • A section regarding White Hat requirements at AGs,
  • A list of functions offered by the National Office for AGs, and
  • Meeting room requirements at AGs.

There will also be reports and updates from the Treasurer, the Event Safety Task Force, the Risk Management Committee and the Governance Task Force.

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As I mentioned last month, the Election Portal is now open at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/elections/2019-board-election/. Online candidate petitions for the AMC will be available from December 1 through January 31, although manual petition signatures may be gathered earlier using the forms at the link above. I plan to run for reelection for RVC 10, although I welcome new energy if others choose to run.

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At the Region 10 level, there is currently plenty of activity, including some big events. Lisa Blair will be leading Tampa Bay Mensa's participation in the Miles For Moffitt cancer awareness event on December 8 as part of Mensa Cares!. Ed Wujciak is leading planning activities for the King Mango Strut satirical parade in Miami on December 30. Debbie Freeland is putting together the next Regional Gathering for Central Florida Mensa over Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend in January. Theresa Hohmann and Belinda Nemeth are continuing to plan the "RG At Sea" cruise for Tampa Bay Mensa over Memorial Day weekend. And many of the local group calendars show holiday parties scheduled.

It's nice to see the renewed energy during this season, and I'm thankful for all the volunteers who make things happen.

That's all the space I have for this month. 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

THE TENTH STORY for November

In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, American Mensa reached out to members in affected areas including Northwest Florida Mensa, Tallahassee Area Mensa, North Florida Mensa, Tampa Bay Mensa, and Mensa In Georgia. The most badly hit group was Northwest Florida Mensa, and while initial efforts to reach those members have received a limited response (only 30 out of 170 members have checked in as safe as of this writing), outside of our efforts some members have reported that they are safe and have continued with their activities such as happy hours and a local group picnic in late October. The American Mensa Committee (AMC) has appointed Carole Lane of San Diego Mensa as Disaster Relief Coordinator. She'll help organize our relief effort for those in need by mobilizing and promoting fundraising efforts, coordinating with SIGHT officers to provide temporary shelter, and facilitating the temporary housing of animals. Carole can be reached at disastercoordinator@us.mensa.org.

The AMC held its fall meeting in Arlington near the national office owned by the Mensa Foundation. It was recently announced that the office building was sold by the Foundation, and our operations will be moving to a new facility in December. More detailed information about the move can be found at https://www.us.mensa.org/featured-content/mensa-on-the-move/.

Actions taken during the AMC meeting included the creation of the AML History Task Force, to be chaired by Howard Prince, and the referral of three motions regarding changes to the ASIEs regarding Responsibility to Control Offending Parties to the Event Safety Task Force (a fourth motion was defeated). The agenda and mini-minutes for that meeting, as well as an audio recording, can be found at http://us.mensa.org/meetingreports by selecting 2018-09-29 - Arlington, TX from the dropdown. The next meeting of the AMC will be a teleconference on October 30. The agenda for this meeting has not yet been finalized but will likely include approval of the minutes from the September meeting (after which they will be posted at the preceding link), as well as discussion of proposed Bylaws changes to be presented to the membership in the 2019 election.

Speaking of the 2019 election, the Election Portal has been opened (announced in the Mensa Wired e-newsletter on September 18), and information can be found at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/elections/2019-board-election/. Online candidate petitions for the AMC will be available from December 1 through January 31, although manual petition signatures may be gathered earlier using the forms at the link above.

The American Mensa website has a wealth of information for members wanting to serve at the National level, whether as an elected official or by volunteering for several of the national committees. Most important of these are the policy documents, including our Constitution, Bylaws, and Actions Still In Effect (ASIEs). These can all be found at https://www.us.mensa.org/read/policy-documents/.

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

THE TENTH STORY for October

The American Mensa Committee (AMC) held a teleconference on August 22 to elect Greg Kontz as our new Secretary following the resignation of our previous Secretary Lisa Maxwell, per the procedure set forth by Article III.(12) of the American Mensa Bylaws. We also used the opportunity to approve the minutes of the July 5, 2018 AMC meeting. The full minutes are now available for review at http://us.mensa.org/meetingreports by selecting 2018-07-05 - Indianapolis from the dropdown.

Also available at the meetingreports link, you will be able to find the agenda for the upcoming September 2018 AMC meeting. Agenda items include appointment of the 2019 Election Committee, as well as changes to the membership of existing committees. There will be discussion regarding Event Safety, and a report from the Risk Management Committee. In New Business, there is a motion to create an AML History Task Force to collect historical information about American Mensa and format it so it is accessible to the membership. This will leverage volunteer efforts, and if approved, I will serve on this Task Force. There are also four separate motions proposing changes to the ASIE regarding "Responsibility To Control Offending Parties". I have no sense of how these will play out, since between the AMC meetings an Event Safety Task Force was created, and I have also been appointed to that Task Force.

The AMC has many committees, and although there are several others I find very interesting, as the saying goes, "You can do anything, but not everything." For this reason, we all trust that our colleagues who serve on the AMC will provide due diligence on the committees the rest of us don't have time for, and we also make use of the expertise provided by member volunteers from outside the AMC as much as feasible. This extends beyond the AMC, however, and also applies to the Local Groups. There's a lot to do, and I've heard from some of the local leaders that the most frustrating parts of their roles is the assumption that if things are going well that they don't need help. But help is always needed. For instance, the annual Scholarship Program has just launched (https://www.mensafoundation.org/what-we-do/scholarships/), and our local scholarship chairs will be looking for volunteers to help judge essays. All local groups need proctors for admission tests to find new members. All local groups need event organizers to provide stimulation for other members (and all event organizers need members to attend!). All local groups need members who promote Mensa to new prospective members, through social media or community service projects (https://www.us.mensa.org/volunteer/community-service/). And so forth. The local group officers can't do it all themselves. Bottom line, all local groups need YOU. They can't do it without you.

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

THE TENTH STORY for Setember

At the American Mensa Committee (AMC) meeting held at the Indianapolis Annual Gathering (AG) in July, there were three primary actions taken. We approved four Appointed AMC officers to one-year terms for 2018-2019. Continuing in their positions are Tommy Ryan as Communication Officer, Henri Buccine-Schraeder as Membership Officer, and Marie Meyer as Director of Science & Education, with new appointee Alex Huth taking on the position of Marketing Officer from departing officer Alexis Wise, who is beginning a graduate program this year. We also appointed Sue Ann Gilmore as Regional Coordinator to stand in for the recently vacated Region 8 RVC position until the 2019 election, and approved Reno, Nevada as the site of the Annual Gathering for 2022.

Several Region 10 members and local groups were honored at the Awards ceremony at the AG. Brian Reeves received a Chairman's Service Award as part of the transition team for the replacement of our Executive Director. Southwest by South Florida Mensa received the Innovative Owl Award (best member retention) for the second time in the past four years, with a 92.5% retention rate. Four of our Local Groups received Jewel Awards for outstanding member service, with Broward Mensa achieving an Emerald Award in Class II groups (400 - 899 members), Manasota Mensa and Mensa of Jacksonville achieving Emerald Awards in Class III groups (200 - 399 members), and Northwest Florida Mensa achieving the Sapphire Award in Class IV groups (100 - 199 members). And for CultureQuest, Northwest Florida Mensa's "Florida Panhandle Mensa Team" ranked 16th out of 107 teams, while Central Florida Mensa's "Tragic Kingdom" team took first place for a remarkable fifth consecutive year, with a $550 prize for their group! Congratulations to all.

One of the projects our Membership Officer has been working on for the past year was to establish a Young Adult Mensan (YAM) program, which would focus on attracting and engaging members from ages 21-40. Those members currently have the highest lapse rate, so we want to find ways to make them feel more welcome and involved in the organization. To that end, Henri Buccine-Schraeder has appointed Josh Fishkind as the National YAM Coordinator, and each RVC has been asked to appoint a Regional YAM Coordinator to assist. I have appointed Deanna Kalil from Miami Mensa to be Region 10 YAM Coordinator, so please welcome her and wish her well in the position.

One of the most interesting discussions during the AG was a Debate Room program called "How Can Mensa Be Improved?". There were dozens of members there brainstorming possibilities, such as microgrants for members, mentoring programs, Mensa sponsored events for the public, and many others. Of course, the challenge, as always, is finding volunteers to take these ideas and run with them, but to remain a thriving club, we must find ways to incorporate new and exciting ideas as they come up.

Along with other experiments, Tampa Bay Mensa has decided to shake things up a bit on the Regional Gathering front, and rather than the traditional style of gathering, will be hosting a "High Seas RG" next Memorial Day weekend, traveling between Tampa and Cozumel. Theresa Hohmann and Belinda Nemeth are busy promoting the event, so make your plans early to get the best rates, and to be sure your passports are up-to-date!

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

See our new proposed by-laws (PDF format).
See our current local by-laws (PDF format), and the national minimum standards for bylaws (PDF format).

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