This month I received the renewal notice for my membership in the American Numismatic Association. When I opened the notice, I selected a renewal for the next five years and mailed it back to Colorado Springs along with a little extra as a donation. Regardless of the trouble the ANA has experience in recent years, I will remain a member. There was no consideration otherwise.
The troubles are the serious cause for concern from the membership. Closed meetings, expelling board members, budget deficits, and mistrust of the executive director has created a hostile environment amongst the members. In some cases, conversations on these matters overwhelmed the normal excitement of the bourse floor of the ANA National Money Show in Charlotte. This carried over to the Meet the Candidates session held the Friday night of the show.
When it comes to running an organization like the ANA, I would classify myself as progressive with an eye toward fiscal discipline. The ANA should be doing more to carry out its charter objectives of education and providing an oversight role for the industry. However, at the Meet the Candidates session, audience members saw how the philosophies of the various candidates diverged. It was clear who saw the ANA as a shepherding organization that made some mistakes to those who saw the entire governance structure as broken and has radical ideas to find them. It made for an interesting discussion.
I entered the meeting room in favor of reform but weary of the reformers and not wanting to like the “old guard.” I left the room in favor of some of the reformers and gaining a little respect for the old guard. Nevertheless, the bottom line is that I feel the ANA needs change and now is as good as any time to make the change.
Although I commented about the convention before and promised one correspondent saying I would write more about my impressions of that meeting, I have decided I will not to write a review but my impressions of what I am looking for in a candidate.
The areas I consider most important to the success of the ANA is transparent governance, a better working relationship between the membership elected board and the headquarters, expanding education and outreach to reach more members, and using twenty-first technologies to assist in solving the problems being faced in the twenty-first century.
Transparent governance and a better working relationship between the board and headquarters should be a given. For any organization to be a success, they must be able to work together for the common mission that supports the membership. This goes beyond saying “can’t we just get along.” Board members and headquarters staff have to be committed to the success of the organization. Candidates for the board do show this trait. However, a few are too willing to let the emotions of the past affect their judgment by announcing that they want to change the executive director. I am not sure if this is a good stance since I do not know Chris Cipoletti. I would prefer a candidate say they want to have his performance be reviewed by an outside arbiter and let the results speak for themselves.
Education is the core mission of the ANA. Not only should it remain a core mission but should be expanded to work regionally rather than nationally. Some suggested taking the courses on the road, offering them in different areas of the country, even customizing them for use by clubs. All are very good ideas but there have to be a commitment from the board to do this. Some have said that education is important, even saying they want to bring back the old logo with the Lamp of Education. Only a few candidates recommended expansion of the programs. I support those who look to expand educational opportunities.
As a professional in the computing industry, I advocate the use of technology to resolve some of the more difficult issues that plain human power cannot resolve. Technology can be used to resolve the communications issues, expand education opportunities, support virtual meetings, and can open up a world that would benefit the ANA in ways a pretty but difficult-to-use website cannot. Think about it, if you have a conflict with this year’s Worlds Fair of Money as I do and cannot attend, it would be wonderful if I could attend board meetings virtually using a service like Skype. A few candidates support the use of technology in this manner, but not enough.
Finally, I would like to see the new board look for ways to reach out beyond the “usual suspects” and bring in new people to help expand the organization. For example, how many ANA members have been in the computing industry for over 25 years with a background in putting together systems along with security and privacy that could help them make these technological changes and comply with Sarbanes-Oxley? Would it be wonderful if that member, who just paid his renewal, were allowed to help the ANA merge technology with numismatics for the benefit of everyone? I mentioned this to a few of the candidates who showed interest in the idea. I will await their response after the election.
It was reported that ballots were mailed on June 7. I have not received a ballot as of June 20. When I receive my ballot, I will provide my endorsements. Until then, if you are not a member of the ANA, I urge you to become one. If you are a member, make sure you renew on time. For everyone else, please remember to vote when your ballot arrives. This is probably the most important election in the last few years and every vote counts.