The American Numismatic Association National Money Show in Portland, Ore., was a chance for show attendees to hear directly from candidates in the election for the ANA Board of Governors.
Nine out of 13 candidates were present for the March 7 forum, including current vice president Jeff Garrett, who is the sole candidate for president, and current board member Gary Adkins, the sole candidate for vice president.
Current board of governor members Greg Lyons, Tom Mulvaney and Ralph Ross, who are running for reelection, and board candidates Steve D’Ippolito, Steve Ellsworth, Brian Hendelson, Richard Jozefiak and Oded Paz, all seeking election to the board, were also in attendance.
Garrett opened by noting that his experience on the board for the past five-and-a-half years has prepared him for the presidency, which he can claim with a single vote as the only candidate for the office.
“I am excited about running and I am equally excited about running unopposed,” he said. “We’ve built a great house but now we have to put in some good furniture.”
Mulvaney, who has been on the board for some 60 days after the resignation of Mike Ellis, sounded a note that was repeated throughout the forum.
“Now that our legal problems are behind us we can focus on increasing membership. The website is really fantastic but still needs to be expanded,” he said.
Membership levels, the website and the future of the hobby were recurring themes for candidates and current board members.
The website, Summer Seminar, the ANA Road Show, the library and museum were all touted by multiple candidates and members as positive benefits of ANA membership.
Paz said the greatest challenge to the ANA is getting younger members to join.
“The average member is 58 [years old]. I’d like to see that close to 48 or even 38. ... If we don’t get them into the hobby, your 1909-S VDB [Lincoln cent] will be worth nothing in 10 years because there will be no market for it.”
Engaging students with hands-on instruction is critical, according to Hendelson and Ross, both of whom formed coin clubs at the high school level.
Ross said he is the “Pied Piper” for coin collecting, sharing the hobby with young collectors, and that the ANA should have arranged for local schools to attend the Portland show.
When asked how the ANA should spend a theoretical $100,000 unrestricted donation, Hendelson suggested using that money to generate more young collectors.
D’Ippolito countered that the Young Numismatist fund “already has more money than it knows what to do with — we need to figure out new things to do with that money.”
As important as YNs are to the growth of the hobby, Adkins said, in the short-term the ANA needs to get those in their 30s to 50s interested in the hobby. Those folks will have the disposable income in the middle term to act as a bridge to the generation of YNs that may set aside the hobby for a few decades until they are in a position to reclaim it, he said.
The ANA’s website, www.money.org, was relaunched to much fanfare and expense in 2014, and board members position the website as a critical platform for engaging new collectors and also convincing collectors who are not ANA members to join. The addition of 120 years of The Numismatist, the monthly publication of the ANA, in a digital archive, is one tool that will add value to membership, Garrett said.
Other possibilities are blogs, in-depth series-by-series information and expert advice.
Paz bluntly asked current members of the board why they have not made current programs work, and why they have not implemented some of the plans that they suggested during the forum.
Garrett said: “We’ve had a lot of difficult issues that we’ve had to deal with. It was a gut-wrenching decision to spend money on the website, but now we’re talking about doing more creative things. ... I’d rather focus on a smaller number of things but accomplish them well, than talk about doing a lot of stuff but not get anything done.”
Jozefiak has worked several years to get the ANA registered for the Combined Federal Campaign, a program operated for federal employees that is a potential fundraising source. The employees are encouraged to make donations to any number of agencies in a massive list, but the ANA was never part of the list until recently.
“It’s a long term, sustainable program and doesn’t cost the ANA anything to participate,” he said. “This is a program that can be used to fund other programs.”
Ellsworth asked for a strategic or operational plan, to guide the ANA in answering some of the challenges. He emphasized the need to establish a long-term gifts and development program to create funding capability for future board projects.
“You can’t put the cart before the horse,” he said.
The fact the ANA does not have a professional fundraising position needs to be addressed, D’Ippolito said.
Numismatist editor Barbara Gregory (who moderated the forum) asked the candidates three yes-no questions, including whether the candidates would be willing to donate their time to the ANA and recuse themselves on conflicts of interest, and all candidates agreed.
Garrett closed the forum on a positive note, saying: “I can work with anyone here who wins. Let’s have a good turnout for this election.”
Candidates announce for ANA offices:
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