On September 28, 2011, the American Numismatic Association issued a press release announcing that the association has “ended its employment arrangement with Larry Shepherd, as executive director, effective as of September 20, 2011. the vote of the Board to sever that relationship was unanimous.”

The ANA held a conference call early in the day a with members of the numismatic press. Unfortunately, your blog host, who is also an ANA member, was not invited to participate.

No reason was given as to the reason for Shepherd’s dismissal. However, those of us who make our living reading between the lines can speculate about the reason based on what was disclosed. The first clue comes when the press release says:

“We appreciate Shepherd’s past three years of contributions, but the Board determined the association needs to move in a different direction going forward, providing greater focus on its core educational mission,” said ANA President Tom Hallenbeck

This is the first that has been reported that the Board or anyone else felt that not enough emphasis was being placed on ANA’s educational efforts. But it appears that the Board is not happy with the increased attention to the shows. In the succeeding paragraph, Hallenbeck was quoted as saying:

The ANA is about more than just being a big coin show. It’s about our individual members and member clubs. It’s about educating our members and the general public, doing so by creating a positive numismatic experience for the many diverse segments of our organization and the greater hobby community.

Reading between the lines, the ANA Board of Governors may have found some irregularities in Shepherd’s involvement in the expansion of shows and basing the flagship World’s Fair of Money in Chicago, a move questioned on this blog in May 2010. Has this been a simmering issue with the Board as well?

“Successful conventions and auction contracts are critical to our future,” Shepherd was quoted as saying during a time when the ANA recovering from an economic crisis created by the previous executive director. Not only did Shepherd turn around the ANA’s fiscal situation and found ways to expand revenues that would support expanded educational access to ANA members by creating additional shows as outlets for that eduction.

The last piece of the speculative puzzle was when the press release noted that the board repealed the fee instituted by Shepherd for ANA member clubs to occupy tables at the annual World’s Fair of Money convention and the National Money Show. It did not make sense to charge member clubs to participate at the show. It should have been a service, especially for all of the clubs local to the show, even if they are not a sponsoring club. Although this is something that the Board could have addressed without firing Shepherd, there must have been more.

Given the evidence, apparently, Shepherd may have overstepped his bounds during the contract negotiations regarding the shows and his attempt at management of the shows. Speculatively, Shepherd may have said something inappropriate to clubs and ANA staff involved in the shows that almost caused a revolt by those involved. The Board had taken the complaints and addressed them by saying “[Employer’s Resources of Colorado] has identified employment policy deficiencies, and provided recommendations for improving internal operational practices and positive motivational development as the ANA moves forward.”

We may never know the real reason for Shepherd’s firing, but it may boil down to his personality not meshing with the ANA employees in Colorado Springs more than anything else.

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