For the sake of its nearly 28,000 members and the coin hobby in general, one hopes that the American Numismatic Association Board of Governors will give new executive director Jeff Shevlin the tools to succeed and help the ANA fulfill its mandate to educate and help people of all ages collect and study money.
It’s a tough job to do well, and an even tougher job to keep. As ANA governor and executive search committee chair Wendell Wolka said at a May 11 open session of the ANA Board, the committee’s goal was to “make sure this one takes.” Wolka added, “We can’t afford to have three in a row.” This referenced the fact that the ANA has a history of firing its executive directors and getting tangled in the aftermath.
Larry Shepherd served in the role from 2008 until being placed on administrative leave, and then fired, in 2011 for reasons that remain murky. After the termination, the ANA responded to a published statement that Shepherd wrote defending his actions at the ANA with a press release confirming that Shepherd was, if there was any doubt, fired. The open back and forth was unbecoming of a congressionally chartered organization of the ANA’s stature.
Shepherd had replaced Christopher Cipoletti, who began serving as the ANA’s legal counsel in 1998, and was executive director from 2003 until 2007 when he was fired for cause. Associated litigation involving Cipoletti and the ANA lasted four years and the many documents that were released as part of the various proceedings shed unwanted light on the ANA’s internal practices. Resources that could have been spent promoting the hobby were instead spent on expensive and time-consuming litigation.
Cipoletti was recommended for a job at the ANA in 1998 by then-executive director Peggy Hofmann. Hofmann began her duties in April 1998 and was fired for cause several months later. Soon after, she filed suit against the ANA and its then-vice president alleging that the organization failed to disclose the seriousness of legal problems facing the ANA and misrepresented the executive director’s job responsibilities. The ANA settled that lawsuit in 1999.
In the last 15 or so years, only Edward Rochette, who joined the ANA staff in 1966, and served as executive director from 1998 to 2002, emerged from his role as executive director unscathed.
The tumultuous history of the ANA and its executive director over the past 15 years has put many qualified applicants on notice that the job perhaps offers more obstacles than benefits. Can Shevlin break the disconnect between the executive director and the board that has hindered the success of the ANA and make real, positive change during his time in charge? For the benefit of our hobby, I sure hope so.