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

THE TENTH STORY for September

The AMC (American Mensa Committee) scheduled a teleconference for August 23 with four action items: to approve the minutes of the July AMC meeting so they can be published; to appoint Brian Reeves (from Palm Beach Area Mensa) as the chair of the 2019 Annual Gathering; to establish a Higher Logic Task Force (HLTF) as an advisory group for the implementation, messaging, and phase-in of the new technology platform; and to appoint Second Vice Chair Billie Lee as the Chair of the HLTF. Mini-minutes will be posted to the website sometime after the meeting. The next in-person meeting of the AMC will be September 16 in Arlington, TX.

Several awards were presented to Region 10 individuals and groups at the Annual Gathering. A National Certificate of Appreciation went to Debbie Freeland of Central Florida Mensa for her service on the Communication and Membership Committees as well as the Testing and Local Group Logistics Teams, and Ruth Danielle of Manasota Mensa was given the National Service Award for her service as editor of Isolated M. Nine of the Region 10 groups were named Jewel Award winners for Local Group participation in activities and accomplishments:

  • Ruby: Broward Mensa, Mensa of Jacksonville, North Florida Mensa, Palm Beach Area Mensa, and Tallahassee Area Mensa
  • Sapphire: Manasota Mensa, Northwest Florida Mensa, and Tampa Bay Mensa
  • Emerald: Central Florida Mensa
For Culture Quest, in addition to last month's announcement that Central Florida Mensa's "Tragic Kingdom" team had taken first place again, Tampa Bay Mensa's "Flour For Algernon" also placed in the money in 18th position. The local groups for both teams were awarded cash prizes.

I will be looking to fill several Regional positions within the next few weeks. One existing position that is overdue to be filled is the Regional Scholarship Chair. But I'll also be establishing some newer positions. In a couple of cases I will be allocating some of my favorite tasks to others, since I would undoubtedly focus all of my attention on those if I kept them for myself. I've already had someone volunteer for Regional Social Media Coordinator, who will be responsible for working with each group to make sure they are developing and enhancing their social media presence (and helping a couple of groups who don't have a presence to create one). I'll also be looking for a Membership liaison to help groups with strategies for both increasing their memberships and the number of active members.

There are also some unofficial Regional positions that I'm considering. National Membership Officer Henri Buccine-Schraeder brought up that Regions 2 and 6 have Regional GenY Coordinators, and encouraged other Regions to do the same. While I think it's an excellent idea, I think it may not be appropriate for me to make the appointment, since that group would know better than I who could best represent them as a liaison for the Region.

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

Thomas George Thomas
Twitter: @FardleBear


The response from the Annual Gathering in Hollywood earlier this month has been overwhelmingly positive, and I was stunned by the number of people who attended the Region 10 Meet and Greet. At the last few gatherings, our M&Gs have run from 5 to 8 members, but this time we lost count after 60, with people standing outside the doors of the room. Thanks to everyone who came, and I'm sorry we didn't have room for everyone, but I did suggest to the organizers for the Indianapolis AG next year than they consider a larger room for their local members.

The AMC (American Mensa Committee) met on July 6, and the motion I put forth allowing for a temporary replacement for RVC vacancies passed by acclamation. This allows the administrative tasks of a region to continue without disruption and without burdening the remaining RVCs, as was the case with the previous ASIE (Action Still In Effect), but it doesn't allow for the substitute to have a vote on the AMC. This can only be corrected through a bylaw change, and this cannot happen until the 2019 election cycle. The Bylaws Committee will be working on a referendum to address this.

Another motion that passed by acclamation allows for the RVC to appoint assistants without seeking approval from the full AMC. This gives more flexibility to the RVC for each Region, as well as making it more efficient for the RVC to make use of volunteers as they become available. As I mentioned in last month's column, there are some opportunities arising, including openings for Regional Scholarship Chair and Regional Social Media Coordinator among others. By next month I hope to have the full list of open positions defined, and will request that they be posted to the Region 10 website as well as the Mensa Region 10 Facebook group.

The new Appointed Officers for the AMC were named at the AMC meeting, and in keeping with the turnover for elected officers that I noted last month, they are new officers with good credentials. While Mensa Foundation President Marie Mayer will be continuing as the Director of Science and Education, the three new appointees are Tommy Ryan as Communications Officer, Alexis Wise as Marketing Officer (formerly Development Officer), and Henri Buccine-Schraeder as Membership Officer. I look forward to working with them and with the rest of the new AMC. (For perspective on how new this AMC is, the only remaining members from four years ago are incoming AMC Chair LaRae Bakerink, (who was 2nd Vice Chair four years ago), RVC 6 Baker Ring, and myself.)

By next month I should have the full list of awards winners from our Region who were recognized at the AG, and I will pass that information along here. But in the meantime I want to make special note that Central Florida Mensa's "Tragic Kingdom" CultureQuest team won first place for the fourth year in a row - congratulations!

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

Thomas George Thomas
Twitter: @FardleBear


The Mensa elections are over, and I will be continuing as RVC 10 for the next two years. Thank you for your support, and thanks to Mel Dahl for keeping me on my toes.

This will be another interesting cycle at the National level, and I have high hopes for this new AMC. And I do mean new. Only three of the elected officers (including myself) will be continuing in our previous roles, with seven new RVCs and one new Executive Committee member. The other four ExComm members are moving over from other positions, but none are continuing in their old roles. Congratulations to Lori Norris (First Vice Chair) and Billie Lee (Second Vice Chair) on their elections, and to LaRae Bakerink (Chair), Lisa Maxwell (Secretary), and Deb Stone (Treasurer) for their new roles.

On the international front, former AMC Chair Dan Burg was elected Director of Adminstration, and former AMC Treasurer Nick Sanford was elected Mensa International Treasurer. Congratulations to them and to Bibiana Balanyi from Hungary for her election as International Chair and Rudi Challupner from Austria for his election as Director of Development.

In other news, the Mensa Foundation had increased their Local Group scholarships to $600 each, and established that all new scholarships will have a minimum level of $600 to coincide with those. They've estimated that an investment of $30,000 would be required to sustain a $600 endowed scholarship. There will be a presentation to the RVCs during the Hollywood AG about how we can support participation in the Scholarship program, including clarification of the local group role (a local group is not required to fund a scholarship themselves in order to participate).

While on the topic of Scholarships, I would like to honor Laura Peralta of Broward Mensa for her service as Scholarship Chair at the Local and Regional levels for the past 25 years. She is stepping down from the position, and we will be looking for another to serve as Regional Scholarship Chair, though of course no one can replace her. Thank you, Laura.

As I begin this next term, I will be looking for more people to serve in Regional and National roles, as well as helping local groups to develop goals for the next year. These goals do not need to be ambitious, but I do think it's important that each group have a sense of accomplishment, which setting a measurable goal will help to achieve.

As always, I recommend that you become involved in your own local groups, either by serving as a volunteer, attending events, or participating in local social media. All but one local group in Florida has a Facebook group, and if you're shy, getting to know people online can lead to a little bit more comfortable experience the first time you attend an event in person.

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

Thomas George Thomas
Twitter: @FardleBear


First, the housekeeping item: The American Mensa Committee (AMC) met via teleconference on May 2 to approve the minutes of the April 1 AMC meeting. These are available at under the dropdown 2017-04-01 - Hollywood, FL.

After several years of continuous growth, Region 10 had a year-over-year loss during the renewal season. We're running an incentive program for local groups to encourage them to contact lapsed members, and we hope some will renew as a result. As further incentive for lapsed members, renewals processed before June 30 will be at the current rate, before the dues increase in July.

Last July Stephanie Thornton, our National Membership Officer, presented us with the results of her Lapsed Member Survey. Several reasons were provided for lapsing. One of the top reasons given was "Negative experience with other Mensans", and this was borne out in a lively discussion on the Region 10 Facebook group last month about various experiences members have had. In the survey, 19% had reported negative in-person encounters, while 13% reported negative online experiences.

We would always hope to head off conflicts that would rise to a level that members would be discouraged from remaining, but sometimes situations get beyond our control. One tool we have to address this that many members are unaware of is a fairly detailed dispute resolution process, which can be found at .

A significant part of this process is the use of Local Group Ombudsmen. While a few of our chapters have Ombudsmen to help resolve issues members have within their local groups, most do not, and some have told me that they don't need one right now; they'll appoint one if something comes up that requires one. Unfortunately, by that time it can be too late. During the AMC meeting in April, our National Ombudsman Garrison ("Bud") Klueck stated that "when interpersonal disputes come up the ombudsmen should be used more. ...[If] interpersonal disputes are resolved quickly, there will be greater member satisfaction and retention may improve. ...[Once] local group leaders start bickering, it won't cure itself and someone needs to step in."

While acknowledging that finding new and uninvolved volunteers is often difficult, this seems to be an important enough issue to focus on. Fortunately, most of the time the Ombudsmen I've spoken to have reported little or no need for their intervention, so it's not a position that requires a lot of time. Only a couple of chapters have reported a need for intervention during my last two terms.

Region 10 does have a very capable Regional Ombudsmen in former AMC member Brian Reeves, and he has reported little if any activity requiring his attention. I will be working during the first part of the next year to ensure that every group has an Ombudsman in place, just in case - and one hopes they won't be needed. But it's better to have a fireman on duty to call on than to try to train one after the fire has already started.

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

Thomas George Thomas
Twitter: @FardleBear


The American Mensa Committee (AMC) met on April 1 at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, FL, taking the opportunity to preview the facilities in advance of the Annual Gathering in July. I would like to thank Region 10 members Dan Tobias and Brian Reeves who attended the meeting. One of the reasons for having the meeting at various sites throughout the country is so members from each Region can have a chance to see the AMC in action for themselves. Regrettably, so few take that chance - even when it is paired with an event like an RG, as it was in New Orleans - that it seems like it's time to reconsider this expense, despite the tradition it represents.

All motions at the meeting passed, most notably an increase in annual dues to $79 and the fees for Admission Testing to $60, both effective July 1, 2017. Prospects can still test at the current rate and members can extend their existing membership at the current discounted multi-year rates until then (though extending membership can only be done by calling the office directly at this time). There were also a couple of licensing deals announced, including a high-profile deal with Hasbro on pairing the Mensa name with their educational board games. The mini-minutes are available at under the dropdown 2017-04-01 - Hollywood, FL, and we have a conference call scheduled for May 2 to approve the full minutes, at which point those will be posted at the same link. If you're interested, there is also an audio recording of the meeting available there.

Membership Officer Stephanie Thornton presented the results of the latest Member Satisfaction survey, which was sent to all members with email. Here are some key metrics, with Region 10 metrics following in parentheses where they vary:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS), which is the likelihood that a member will recommend Mensa to a friend they think would qualify: 23 (Region 10: 24). A score > 0 is considered healthy. That ratio is highest among members 46 and older or married members without children, but the score drops significantly for single members under 46 years without children, as that group had an NPS of -6.
  • 93% of our membership feels that the most important mission of Mensa is to provide a stimulating intellectual and social environment for our members, with 58% thinking we do this very or extremely well, compared to 54% two years ago.
  • The majority of Mensans say their family and friends know they are members, but don't tell co-workers - though they will include it on a resume.
  • 80% report that they are proud to be members of Mensa, with 5% disagreeing.
  • 54% (Region 10: 48%) report that they volunteer for Mensa. However, the NPS for volunteers is lower than the average (though still healthy at 18).
  • Member satisfaction in their local group officers is highest among those who interact with them. Understandably, members are far more likely to interact with their local group officers, while only a few have any interaction with the AMC or National Office staff.

There's much more, but no more room. I'm open to any questions you may have, and will also post to the Mensa Region 10 Facebook group ( ) so we can discuss it (and other topics) there.

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

Thomas George Thomas
Twitter: @FardleBear

See our new proposed by-laws (PDF format).
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