I have had a long and personally meaningful relationship with the American Numismatic Association. This year’s annual convention in Chicago will be the 40th in row that I have attended. My first airplane flight was in 1974 to attend the ANA Summer Seminar after winning a scholarship to study Colonial coinage with Ken Bressett. The ANA has truly been an important part of my numismatic journey.
In 2009, I was first elected to serve on the board of governors for the association. The election was quite competitive, and luckily I was able to secure a spot.
New board members have much to learn about the ANA, and I was no different. There are many issues that face the ANA and quite a few are complicated, with no easy answers.
The hobby has grown considerably in the last decade, yet membership has declined. There have been thefts from the museum, and in my three years as a board member, there have been three executive directors. Everyone agrees that the Internet is vital for our future, yet the ANA website needs considerable improvement. These are just a few of the major issues facing board members, let alone the many questions that need to be addressed on a regular basis. As you can see, being an ANA Board member is no easy task.
I have had the pleasure of working with many dedicated board members over the last three years. Some were newly elected; others have a long history with governance of the ANA. Every board member that I have observed works very hard to serve the membership and provide a solid future for the ANA. The existing governors seeking re-election have experience and work well together, despite the many controversial issues that have been addressed in recent years. It is difficult to maintain momentum and consider long-term strategies with new members being added every two years. The learning curve can be daunting, but nearly everyone seems to embrace the exciting challenge of being a part of the leadership for the ANA.
One complaint I hear often is that the board is secretive. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was quite surprised when I first served on the board that the numismatic media is usually invited to listen to both open and closed board meetings. How much more transparent could an organization be? The only subjects that are kept private involve personnel issues or contracts. Every nonprofit, small business or major corporation in the United States must follow these same rules. It is often more difficult to remain silent than to offer explanations. Board members have a fiduciary responsibility to protect the interests of the organization, and must act responsibly.
Much progress has been made in the last few years on many of the major issues facing the ANA. Our recently named executive director, Kim Kiick, has over 30 years of experience working for the ANA. She knows the organization thoroughly, and should prove to be the right person at the right time for the ANA. Kim will also be working with a superb staff that are all dedicated, and work hard to keep the ANA on solid footing.
The museum collection has been given much attention since the theft occurred several years ago. High-value coins have been segregated and a complete security assessment has been conducted to determine the best ways for protecting the collection.
One of the highest priorities for the ANA is to improve our Web presence. Nearly everyone agrees that for the ANA to grow, considerable resources will need to be invested. These resources include money, intellectual talent, and membership participation. Hopefully, a redesigned ANA website will add value for our membership and be the catalyst needed to grow once again.
The upcoming election should be exciting. There are 14 candidates running for seven governor spots. There are incumbents and many new faces vying for a seat on the board of governors. Many of the issues mentioned above will no doubt be subject to lively debate. This is good for the ANA, as no one person has all of the answers.
In my opinion, the ANA is headed in the right direction, but new ideas and creativity are vital for its future. The candidates running for election this year have many different backgrounds and life experiences. Members should study the slate carefully and vote for those who will work hard as an ANA Board member. The job can be difficult and requires considerable time and effort.
I urge voters to dig a bit deeper when evaluating candidates. Many of the candidates have the same basic platform of numismatic education and improved member services. Look for candidates with the right background and experience to tackle problems and truly make a difference.
Jeff Garrett is unopposed in his bid to be the vice president of the American Numismatic Association. He is owner of Mid-American Rare Coin Co., Lexington, Ky.