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RVC Columns

THE TENTH STORY for Jine

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 communication: 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/

THE TENTH STORY for May

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/

THE TENTH STORY for April

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/

THE TENTH STORY for March

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:

  1. Motion to Increase Membership Dues
  2. Motion to Adopt the 2024-2025 Budget
  3. Motion to Update the AMC Job Descriptions
  4. Motion to Update Minimum Standard Bylaws for Local Groups
  5. Motion to Update the Model Bylaws for Local Groups
  6. 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/

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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