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American Mensa Region 10

RVC Column


September 2021

The quarterly meeting of the American Mensa Committee (AMC), usually held in September, took place on Thursday, August 26 at the World Gathering in Houston, TX. Since I am writing this column prior to the meeting I do not have any details yet, but since this is taking place so soon after the July meeting, it was expected to be a brief meeting, and the agenda only included two motions.

The first was a change to the ASIEs to resolve conflicts in the procedures for appointing National Representatives (NatReps) to the International Board of Directors (IBD). In the earlier version, one section gave the Chair discretion on the appointments, while another section gave the approval to the AMC. The revision made it clear that the AMC must approve the appointments, and that the NatReps must be voting members of the AMC. Theoretically, as the ASIE was originally written, the Chair could have appointed anyone -- friends or family, Mensan or non-Mensan -- to these positions, but this motion makes it clear that the NatReps should have a first level of approval from the membership via election, either as one of the nationally elected officers or one of the RVCs in case any of the nationally elected officers could not serve.

The second motion was to set the location for the 2025 Annual Gathering. The proposed site for 2025 is Chicago, IL in July 2025.

The AMC also serves as the voting members of the Mensa Foundation, and we voted on the appointment of Deb Stone (former AMC Chair) to serve as Foundation Trustee until the annual meeting of the Mensa Foundation in 2024.

At the beginning of August an email went out to the membership launching an Oral History project in partnership with Publishing Concepts (PCI) to gather stories from Mensa members about their experiences in Mensa, with the goal of creating a book for members to purchase. Postcards and emails with more details will be sent to members in late September, but PCI will not be provided with member data. Lapsed members will not be included, since only current members will be invited to participate.

This will be the first collected history of Mensa in 25 years, following Vince Bonzagni's "Mensa Book Of Lists" in November 1997. As a member of the AML History Committee, I hope you will consider participating in the project.

With the resurgence of the COVID pandemic in Florida, most local group meetings have still not resumed. Those that are happening are subject to the requirements of the host of the event. A host has the right to require proof of vaccination or not, as they choose. This restriction is permitted per the ASIEs (Actions Still In Effect) of American Mensa, as only official meetings (business meetings or those hosted by the local group itself) are required to be open to all members. Social events are specifically excluded from the definition of official meetings, per Article 12 Section E(3) of the ASIEs. For full details, the ASIEs can be found at

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

Thomas George Thomas
Twitter: @FardleBear

August 2021

The quarterly meeting of the American Mensa Committee (AMC) was held on July 10, 2021 at the new American Mensa headquarters in Hurst, TX. The meeting was simulcast via YouTube for members who wished to observe, although because there were no cameras in the conference room, it consisted of audio and PowerPoint presentations. It also started with an extended period of silence for the observers, since the first order of business was handled in executive session to discuss volunteer and personnel issues.

During the session, the four appointed officers to the AMC were confirmed, including Charlie Steinhice as Director of Science and Education and Tabby Vos as Marketing Officer (both continuing from the previous term), and Robin Crawford as Communications Officer and Kimberly Strickland as Membership Officer. Robin was the 2019 recipient of the Margot Award "for the rendering of exceptional service to Mensa for a number of years", including serving as Communications Officer several years ago. Dr. Strickland is a new addition to the AMC, and brings expertise in Marketing that she uses in MBA instruction in Marketing and Organizational Design. All four will be serving for the one-year terms that are traditional for the appointed positions, and I look forward to working with all of them.

Other business conducted during the meeting were approval of Action Committees and their appointees, appointment of Committee chairs, acceptance of the 2020-2021 financial audit, appointment of the 2023 Annual Gathering co-chairs, and the selection of Lora Mitchell (RVC 3) as the RVC representative to the AMC Executive Committee.

Regional Vice Chairs (RVCs) are expected to serve on a number of national committees, and during this meeting I was appointed to three Action Committees (Bylaws Committee, Community Service Committee, and Finance and Audit Committee). Each Action Committee requires a minimum of three voting members of the AMC to approve any actions taken by their committee. I will also serve as the AMC Liaison for the AML History Committee and the Gifted Youth Committee. The Liaison serves as representative to the AMC on behalf of the committee when the chair is not a member of the AMC.

The next meeting of the AMC will be at the World Gathering in Houston on Thursday, August 26, 2021.

During the World Gathering (August 24-29), I will be holding a Meet-and-Greet for Region 10 members (and any guests who wish to attend) on Wednesday, August 25 from 10:30 AM to 11:45 AM. I'll also be attending the Broward Mensa meet-and-greet on August 26 at 4:30 PM (that is, if the AMC meeting is over by then). I will also be co-moderating a small-group discussion session with John Neemidge (RVC 6) entitled "Best Practices for Local Groups by Size" on Friday, August 27 from 3:00 PM to 4:15 PM. This is one of 11 Leadership Development Workshops that will be held during the Gathering, ranging from getting Area groups going to Succession Planning and The Future of Mensa.

To those who will be attending, I hope I get a chance to meet you at one of these sessions.

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

Thomas George Thomas
Twitter: @FardleBear

July 2021

The American Mensa election has concluded, and now the new American Mensa Committee (AMC) will be getting down to business. The term for the new AMC begins on July 1, so rather than wait until the World Gathering in late August, we'll hold our first meeting at the new American Mensa headquarters in Hurst, TX on July 10, 2021. We'll start on Friday, having the advantage of an extra day for orientation for the new AMC members without the lure of World Gathering programs to distract us, so we can be better prepared to meet the members in Houston during the last week of August.

The orientation is important because nearly half of the AMC will be in new roles. Five out of fifteen members are new to the AMC, with two other members moving to new positions. The first couple of meetings in a new term always involve members getting their bearings, including the assignment of members to various committees such as Bylaws, Communications, Community Service, Gifted Youth, Leadership Development, Membership, and so forth. There are nearly 30 different committees, so this can be a bit overwhelming to new members who underestimate the scope of what happens at the national level. Fortunately, no one is expected to participate in every committee, and we do draw other committee members from the volunteer marketplace.

Which brings me to my plug-of-the-month: There are opportunities for all our members to participate at the national level, but most members don't know how to get involved, and many committee chairs don't know enough members well enough to have a diverse pool to draw from. To solve this, the Volunteer Marketplace was created in Mensa Connect in order to bring the two groups together. If you go to you can complete your volunteer profile so you can be matched with opportunities for which you are both qualified and interested.

As outlined in the volunteer overview, "The ideal life cycle of a volunteer starts with small tasks and virtual participation to working all the way up to committee and leadership positions." It's important that we build our volunteer pool so we have more available and experienced candidates for the AMC in three years. As evidenced in this past election, seven of the ten Regional Vice Chair (RVC) positions were uncontested (including one region without any candidate, resulting in the previous RVC continuing in their role per our bylaws). It's difficult to ask people to jump into those positions without some experience at the national level, so serving on committees helps members who might be interested to get their feet wet early. Now that the referendum has passed to extend the AMC term by an additional year, it gives us a little more time to build that base, but we need to do that sooner rather than later, or we wind up with the same small pool to draw from in three years.

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

Thomas George Thomas
Twitter: @FardleBear

June 2021

The minutes for the March 20, 2021 meeting of the American Mensa Committee (AMC) have been posted to the National website. These can be found at by selecting "2021-03-20 -- Teleconference" from the dropdown box. At 67 pages, these may seem daunting, but the meeting itself is covered in the first 14 pages. The remainder of the document contains nine appendices that provide greater detail on the motions that were voted upon at the meeting. These were prepared by Ian Strock, the incoming Secretary for the next term, so they provide a preview for how minutes may be presented going forward. The next meeting will be for the installation of the newly elected AMC and will be held in-person on July 10, 2021 at the new American Mensa headquarters in Hurst, Texas.

The results of the annual Membership Survey, which are posted at the same link noted above, contain a lot of interesting data, but what we as an organization do with that data is yet to be determined. The survey received 3,044 responses, which is enough to draw preliminary conclusions, though not always what we would have liked to see.

One trend showed a decrease in the likelihood of our membership to recommend Mensa to friends they think would qualify. The Net Promoter Score (calculated by subtracting the negative from the positive responses) remains positive, but it is the lowest it has been since we started tracking it in 2015. The survey does not draw any conclusions as to why this may be the case, though the breakdown shows our strongest supporters to be members who have been in Mensa for over 20 years, Hispanic members, and Boomers, while the main detractors were Millennials, Parents, and shorter-term members.

This is not to say that members are generally unhappy with Mensa. According to the analysis, 64% of our members are satisfied with American Mensa, though 56% are satisfied with their Local Groups. Specifics were not provided for these results, but the most commonly used adjectives for American Mensa are positives, including "Intelligent", "Informative", "Unique", "Community", "Reputable", "Stimulating", and "Exclusive", while the most commonly used adjectives for its members are "Intellectual", "Friendly", "Witty", and "Well-Informed". 28% of the respondents said they were similar to their description of the typical Mensan.

Other topics covered by the survey regarded children in Mensa, the Mensa Bulletin, the Annual Gathering, and what members are interested in for local events (contrary to most of our local group calendars, more members say they are interested in museum events, in-person speaker events and cultural events than dinners). There was also a section on Social Media and which platforms our members use, paired with the content members would like to see posted on the various media platforms, primarily news of member events both local and national and local group spotlights.

The main body of the analysis is followed by breakdowns of the various subgroup components, including volunteers, parents, length of membership, generations, and race.

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

Thomas George Thomas
Twitter: @FardleBear

May 2021

The 2021 American Mensa, Ltd. (AML) Elections are now underway, and any member who renewed prior to April 1 is eligible to vote. You should have received your ballot instructions either via email or by postal mail if you opted out of the electronic process. There are four contested National positions (Chair, First Vice Chair, Second Vice Chair, and Treasurer), as well as one Bylaws referendum to change the frequency of AML elections. Information on the candidates and the referendum (including pro and con statements) have been disseminated via email and mail, and are also available at the AML website.

The Mensa International election is also underway, but is entirely electronic, and election information has been distributed via email.

Balloting is open through May 15 for both elections. For detailed information and instructions, please visit You will be asked to log in to view this page.

The quarterly meeting of the American Mensa Committee (AMC) was held on March 20, 2021 via videoconference and was simulcast via YouTube for members who wished to observe. While a video recording was not retained, the audio recording is available at the meeting reports link below. It was a long agenda, though the major actions taken during the meeting were:

  • Approval of the minutes from the December 2020 and January 2021 meetings, which can now be viewed under their respective meeting reports links

  • Approval of updated Minimum Standard Bylaws and Model Bylaws for Local Groups, which had not been updated since Spring 2017

  • Adoption of the 2021-2022 AML Budget

  • Updates of the Conduct of Regional and National Hearings

  • Adoption of Event Safety Standards

  • Adoption of the AML Advocate's job desctiption

An additional motion to require scheduling parameters for Regional Meet-and-Greets at the Annual Gathering was rejected.

There were three presentations to the AMC: Education by the Treasurer (an explanation of liabilities), a Membership report on the 2021 Membership Survey, and a Leadership Development report on the 2021 Volunteer Survey.

All of these presentations, along with the mini-minutes and a recording of the meeting, are available via the AMC Meeting Reports at under the 2021-03-20 dropdown. Details for the motions can be found in the Agenda at the same link.

After the year of the pandemic, local groups are starting to look forward to opening up in-person activities again. Some of the practices that arose during this time may be retained, such as video conferences (via Zoom, Discord, etc.) for local group Executive Committees (ExComms), since it made it easier for members in widely spread-out chapters to attend without driving long distances. It remains the case that all official meetings such as business meetings must be open to all members.

However, AML policies allow unofficial events, such as social gatherings, to set their own rules, which may include requiring masks in private homes if the host so chooses. For that matter, a host may exclude any individual for any reason, as long as the event is not an official Mensa function. So as local groups begin to have in-person events, be sure to check the calendars to see what rules the host may have put in place.

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

Thomas George Thomas
Twitter: @FardleBear

April 2021

The agenda for the American Mensa Committee (AMC) meeting for March 20, 2021 was not posted until early March, so I was unable to get that information to the local group newsletters for the March issues. Additionally, the meeting occurred after the deadline for the April newsletters, so those of you who would want to read about it here would not see that until the May newsletter, over a month after the meeting. While local group newsletters are an important tool for groups to share their own activities and articles by and for the members, over the past few years they have become increasingly inadequate for producing timely information about national news. For those of you who want to be kept apprised, I strongly suggest you make sure you read the Mensa Wired e-newsletter that is emailed out during the third week of each month. To ensure that you receive it, please visit to manage your subscription settings. I will also post information on the Mensa Region 10 Facebook group when it is available, though I realize the percentage of you in that group is small. Please visit to request to be added.

As mentioned last month, the AMC Budget webinar was held on March 17, and by the time you read this the recording should be posted on the national website at The budget presentation will also be available under the AMC Meeting Reports at under the 2021-03-20 dropdown, along with all other presentations from the March meeting, including the Membership report, which will include results from the recent Member Satisfaction Survey, and a Leadership Development report by 2nd Vice Chair Billie Lee.

(As an aside, I found out a couple of days ago that Julie Warriner of Palm Beach Area Mensa participated in the analysis of the data from the Member Satisfaction Survey, and wanted to express my appreciation for her volunteering at the national level. Thanks, Julie!)

The agenda for the March meeting seemed daunting at first -- 61 pages! Since most of that document was contained in the appendices, the actual agenda was only seven pages long (still substantial). Of the 17 motions included, nine were included in the Consent Agenda (covering six of the nine appendices). The remaining eight concerned adopting the 2021-2022 AML (American Mensa Ltd.) budget, three regarding Hearings (Regional, National, and Acts Inimical), a modification to the RVC replacement procedure, an expansion of the limitations for the use of RVC discretionary funds, adoption of event safety standards, and scheduling rules for Annual Gatherings regarding Regional Meet-And-Greets.

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

Thomas George Thomas
Twitter: @FardleBear

March 2021

While most of my columns have been focused on national topics, there are a few Region 10 specific items to note:

Congratulations go to Julie Warriner of Palm Beach Area Mensa who was appointed as the Region 10 Scholarship Chair, and our thanks go out to Albia Duggar of Miami Mensa who served in that capacity for the past two years. Also, Tampa Bay Mensa has a new Local Secretary: Welcome Lisa Blair, and thanks to Arthur Schwartz for his past service in that position.

Back in December the results of the CultureQuest XXXI competition were announced, and three Region 10 teams came back winners! Florida Panhandle Mensa Team with Captain David Howard (Northwest Florida Mensa) came in tied for second, Tragic Kingdom with Captain Bill Horton (Central Florida Mensa) took 10th place, and Jumping Jax with Captain Brenda Weiler (Mensa of Jacksonville) was tied for 17th place. Each team won funds for their local group that more than covered their registration fees, plus bragging rights for the next year. Because the virtual approach worked out so well last year, they will continue with that format for CultureQuest XXXII in 2021. I hope we can see more of you on the leaderboard next time.


Back to national news, National Volunteer Week will be April 18-24, 2021. This is when we traditionally hold Mensa Cares! events, sponsored by the Community Service Committee. While these sorts of events have been difficult to plan since the pandemic hit because social distancing makes group events impractical, this is where Mensa ingenuity comes in handy. What sorts of innovative projects can you come up with to highlight Mensa's contributions to our communities? Local groups get Jewel Award credit for Mensa Cares! projects, and it shows the community that Mensa is more than just an elitist club. Although most events are scheduled in April, you can hold Mensa Cares! events anytime throughout the year. You can see examples of projects created by other local groups by visiting

From an administrative standpoint, the Finance and Audit Committee held their budget meetings in February, and a webinar will be presented for members in early March so you can provide feedback if you wish prior to the March AMC meeting where the budget will be presented for approval. At the time of writing, I do not know when the webinar will be held, but I will post that on the Mensa Region 10 Facebook group as soon as I know. Members can join that group by going to

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the AMC will be held on Saturday, March 20, 2021. We have determined that this meeting will again be virtual, and while I do not have the details on how to attend yet, I will also post that information on the Mensa Region 10 Facebook group when it is available.

At some point in the future, we will return to in-person meetings. Based on the candidate roster for the AMC Election, there could be anywhere between two and seven new members (out of fifteen) on the board, and an in-person meeting would be necessary for orientation in July when the new board takes office. In the meantime, information about the candidates has already been posted at . To vote in this election, you must renew your membership before the end of the fiscal year on March 31. Don't put it off!

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

Thomas George Thomas
Twitter: @FardleBear

February 2021

I hope that you are all doing as well as can be expected. I have heard sad reports of some members having contracted COVID recently while at a local gathering, but on the positive side I'm also hearing reports of members who are beginning to receive the vaccines. Stay safe as we dig our way out of this -- we will meet again in person eventually!

As noted in my previous column, the quarterly meeting of the American Mensa Committee (AMC) was held on Saturday, December 12, 2020 via GoToMeeting. During this session, we voted upon 10 actions:

  • Approval of the minutes of the 7/20/2020 meeting,

  • Approval of the minutes of the 9/29/2020 meeting,

  • Approval of the minutes of the 11/20/2020 meeting,

  • Passed a procedure making publication of mini-minutes official (in the past this has been done by the Secretary without an official requirement),

  • Denied a motion to set a budget cap on administrative and general (overhead) costs,

  • Passed a motion to amend the Hearings process to add RVCs to the list of those who can file charges on behalf of a member,

  • Passed a motion to limit the charge of the Awards Committee to national-level service to Mensa,

  • Passed a motion to set objectives for the charge for the SIGs (Special Interest Groups) Committee,

  • Passed a motion to modify the charge of the Strategic Planning Committee, and

  • Passed a motion to change the conditions for eligibility in the Research Review Guidelines.

In addition, we received a presentation from AMC Treasurer Taz Criss, discussing the impacts of the pandemic on our finances (revenue is down, but expenses are also down, resulting in a net projected increase over our budget in our bottom line for 2020). Not the way we would like to achieve a benefit, seeing that it involved decreases in programs for our members and our testing programs, but we expect to be back on track as we ease out of pandemic mode by the middle of 2021. Taz also explained the 2021-22 budget process and timeline, with the preliminary budget to be presented to the Finance Committee in early February, reviewed by mid-February, presented to the membership via webinar (date to be determined), and voted on by the AMC at our March meeting.

Mini-Minutes for this meeting, along with the Treasurer and Executive Director presentations and a recording of the proceedings, are available on the national website at and selecting 2020-12-12 -- Teleconference from the dropdown. You can also find the minutes for the previous three meetings via the dropdowns for each of those sessions.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the AMC will be held on Saturday, March 20, 2021. We are still discussing whether this meeting will be virtual, in-person, or a hybrid of the two. I intend to provide more information on that in my next column.

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

Thomas George Thomas
Twitter: @FardleBear

January 2021

Happy New Year to everyone in Region 10! 2020 was an extraordinarily difficult year for so many, but there are signs that we may be able to resume some of our regular activities in a few months. The 2021 World Gathering is still ramping up for August, with LeVar Burton scheduled as the Gala Dinner speaker. In the meantime, there are several virtual events throughout our Region, with Palm Beach Area Mensa hosting a monthly speaker meeting (December's was with member Tereen Hough speaking on Travel Hacks), and Tampa Bay Mensa hosting a monthly Book Club with a wide-ranging cross of genres, from mysteries to sociology, fantasy to biography, and Florida capers to character studies. Many of these events have been posted in the Region 10 Facebook group. While Zoom fatigue is an issue for some, these have provided an opportunity for other members who have not been able to meet -- even before the pandemic -- to participate with other members.

The quarterly meeting of the American Mensa Committee (AMC) was held on Saturday, December 12, 2020. Due to early seasonal newsletter deadlines, I am writing this column before the meeting and cannot provide a report at this time, but by the time you read this the mini-minutes will have been posted online at .

There are seven motions in the agenda for this meeting, including

a) making the procedure for publication of mini-minutes official (in the past this has been done by the Secretary without an official requirement),

b) to set a budget cap on administrative and general (overhead) costs,

c) to amend the Hearings process to add RVCs to the list of those who can file charges on behalf of a member,

d) to limit the charge of the Awards Committee to national-level service to Mensa,

e) to set objectives for the charge for the SIGs Committee,

f) to modify the charge of the Strategic Planning Committee, and

g) to change the conditions for eligibility in the Research Review Guidelines.

Petitions for the 2021 American Mensa Election process have been posted at Members have the opportunity to electronically sign any and all of the petitions for National Office (Chair, First Vice Chair, Second Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary) and the Regional Vice Chair (RVC) for their Region. By logging in and selecting a petition, you can add your signature with a single click, so the process is very simple. At this time my petition is the only one posted for Region 10 Vice Chair, but any member interested in running for that position (or for any National position) may still submit their own petition through January 31.

In order to qualify for the ballot, a candidate for national office must obtain 250 signatures of members in good standing as of December 1, 2020, and a candidate for Regional Vice Chair must obtain 100 signatures of members in good standing from their Region.

The Mensa International special referendum election has ended, and all three referenda were passed. As a result, an international board member is now limited to a two-term maximum, with a half-term considered a full term, and the election committee is appointed the year prior to an election year rather than on even-numbered years.

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

Thomas George Thomas
Twitter: @FardleBear

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