American Numismatic Association leaders announced Sept. 28 that as of Sept. 20 the board of governors had “ended its employment relationship” with Larry Shepherd as executive director of the 30,000-member nonprofit association with headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo.
ANA President Tom Hallenbeck announced the action during a telephone conference with the numismatic press. He was joined in the conference call by ANA Governor and Immediate Past President Clifford Mishler and Ron Sirna, ANA general counsel.
Hallenbeck said the ANA Board voted 9 to 0 Sept. 20 to end Shepherd’s service as executive director.
Shepherd was hired in March 2008 and had approximately two years left of a five-year contract. He was placed on paid administrative leave Aug. 20 by unanimous vote of the board.
Sirna said ANA officials could not publicly discuss any severance arrangements, nor would they discuss the ANA Board’s reasons for taking the action, generally describing them as personnel matters.
Shepherd told Coin World Sept. 29 that he had received a letter dated Sept. 20 informing him of the board’s action, but was surprised by the manner in which the announcement was made.
“I was not aware of the news release or what it stated until people started calling me a few minutes after it was sent to ANA members by email Sept. 28,” Shepherd said.
The ANA’s press released stated:
“Coinciding with placing Shepherd on leave in August, the board initiated the process for a comprehensive organizational review of management issues and employment matters, and engaged the assistance of Employer’s Resources of Colorado. The human resources consulting firm has identified employment policy deficiencies, and provided recommendations for improving internal operational practices and positive motivational development as the ANA moves forward.”
Shepherd took exception to the implications in the ANA press release as well as what he characterized as “malicious gossip and innuendo” that have been swirling in the numismatic community and in Internet postings since Aug. 20.
In a written statement issued to Coin World Sept. 29 Shepherd noted:
“During my tenure at the ANA I have not violated the ANA employee handbook, or the code of ethics as stated in the ANA bylaws. I did not violate any provisions of the ANA conflict of interest policy. I did not violate federal EEOC anti-discrimination or harassment guidelines (sexual, age, race, etc.). I offered to the general counsel that I would take a polygraph to clear up any issues or concerns that may have arisen due to unfounded rumors and innuendo, but I sensed they were more interested in finding a cause than in finding facts, as evidenced by my being told on Aug. 20 that I would not be coming back, even before the outside investigation took place.”
In the statement Shepherd enumerated a long list of accomplishments realized during his three years as executive director and thanked those who have supported him during “this trying period.” (See full statement on Page 5.)
Also on Sept. 29 Harlan J. Berk Ltd. of Chicago announced that Shepherd had joined its staff as of Sept. 23.
Via the ANA press release Hallenbeck acknowledged progress under Shepherd’s tenure.
“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.”
Hallenbeck added: “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.”
In response to questions from the numismatic press Hallenbeck said the ANA is on sound financial footing and that the board will be considering a new budget during its meetings in Pittsburgh in mid October.
The ANA president described headquarters functions as being on “cruise control.” He said Operations Manager Kim Kiick is in charge of day-to-day operations and directing the staff.
Hallenbeck noted that his coin shop is only two blocks away from ANA headquarters and that he has been stopping by a couple of times a day to deal with any matters that need attention.
Hallenbeck announced that the ANA is establishing a corporate governance committee and will soon begin the search for a new executive director, although no timeline has yet been established. He noted that he expects to focus on providing a more balanced approach to serving ANA’s educational mission.
“We will be seeking a new executive director to help us achieve this objective in a way that will better serve the total hobby community,” Hallenbeck said.
The ANA president added that he expects extensive and possibly “heated” discussions in Pittsburgh regarding how to move forward.
General counsel Sirna said it is likely ANA will bring in outside consultants to advise the board regarding best practices for nonprofit associations and establishing better dynamics in the working relationship between a governing board and the executive director.
The ANA Board is scheduled to meet in open session Oct. 14 from 3 to 5 p.m. in Room 330 of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh during its first fall National Money Show. ■