Jon Gruebele Regional Vice Chair Local Group Newsletter Articles from 2021

February 2021 ​– Board of Directors (AMC) Update
Moving into February, I hope those New Year’s resolutions have been working well for you. Many years ago, I made a resolution to not make any more resolutions. So far, it’s been working out splendidly!

Continuing our recent practices, the December 12th AMC meeting was held via videoconference and livestreamed. Some members attended “watch parties”; others shared updates via social media. When the AMC again meets in person, I’m hoping we’ll continue streaming deliberations for those not in attendance – an important step towards better transparency.

A motion I made to cap overhead costs for our 2021-2022 fiscal year budget was unfortunately defeated. Over the last 10 years, membership has declined by 10%, yet overhead costs increased 19%. That caused a 32% jump in overhead costs per member.

While some expense growth comes from Foundation operations, that’s not the whole picture. We’ve increasingly let overhead consume our dues dollars, meaning there’s less money for enhancing member value, providing local group support, marketing, or reducing our net asset deficit.

While the motion was defeated, I’m hoping the discussion will nevertheless lead to increased scrutiny of our overhead expenses, along with a renewed focus on using volunteers rather than staff.

All other motions were approved, including:

  • Guidelines for mini-minutes, including that these should also document any motions amended during the meeting
  • Hearings Process updates, clarifying an RVC may also bring charges of acts inimical to Mensa on behalf of another member
  • Updates to the duties of several committees
  • Appointments of Richard J. Puhl as Advocate, Dr. Jami Valentine as Diversity Committee Chair, and Alyssa Bolt as Gifted Youth Committee Chair

Bylaws Amendment

In our upcoming election, members will vote about switching from two-year terms for AMC members to three. There are good points on both sides of the debate. After careful consideration, I submitted this statement to the election committee for potential inclusion with our ballot materials:

If this amendment passes, then – including International – we would have two elections every six years instead of four. This would be a significant cost reduction for American Mensa.

If it fails, American Mensa and International elections will get out of sync. AMC officers might need to wait out a year after finishing their term before seeking an International role. If terms were instead on the same schedule, we might see more American Mensa members campaigning for International’s Board.

While the proposed referendum’s text is silent about RVC elections, existing bylaws Article V(2) says: “The Regional Vice-Chairmen shall be elected in a manner and for periods of time similar to the national elective officers.” This ensures that if the referendum passes, the entire AMC including RVCs would be elected on the same three-year schedule.

I therefore recommend a vote FOR this amendment.

January 2021 – 2021’s Got to be Better, Right? – And Some Election Info
Obviously 2020 wasn’t the best year for many of us. American Mensa had to cancel our Annual Gathering (AG) and in-person Regional Gatherings (RGs). Fortunately, many groups stepped up with Zoom events and online RGs. The CultureQuest® trivia contest went virtual. Several online Leadership Development Workshops were offered, and recordings are available on the national website. Interestingly, all these virtual offerings have allowed some members to participate who have never before attended events. Hopefully we’ll continue to have online offerings once things return to some semblance of “normal”.

The 2021 World Gathering (WG), August 24-29 in Houston, is open for registration. It will celebrate Mensa’s 75th Anniversary. Our Gala Dinner speaker will be LeVar Burton and is expected to sell out. The WG will be preceded by the Mensa Foundation’s Colloquium on Food Science. We’d love to see you there.

Election Season is Upon Us

American Mensa holds elections for our entire Board of Directors (AMC) every two years. Members vote for five nationally elected officers (Chair, 1st Vice Chair, 2nd Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary) plus the Vice Chair for your Region. We also vote on any qualified referenda.

Those running for office would appreciate you electronically signing their petition so they can qualify for the ballot. National officer candidates need 250 signatures; Regional Vice Chair candidates need 100. That’s not as easy as it might sound, particularly when COVID restrictions limit the ability to collect signatures in person. If candidates don’t have enough signatures by January 31st, they won’t appear on the ballot. Links to sign petitions can be found here:

The window for submitting referenda closed on November 15th. We will only have one question to consider: whether to change our elections from every two years to every three years. If passed, we would then match Mensa International’s election schedule. Including International, we’d have two elections every six years rather than four under the current bylaws.

The proposal is a little confusing since it only changes the election of national officers, not the Regional Chairs. Fortunately, there’s already language elsewhere in the bylaws that says Regional Chairs shall be elected on the same schedule as national officers.

Members have until January 8th to submit pro/con statements to be published with the election materials. My February 2020 newsletter article detailed some of the arguments I’d heard. If you feel strongly one way or another, you can submit your thoughts via e-mail to  The election will be held between April 15 and May 15th, with results available shortly thereafter. To participate in our election, you must have renewed your membership before April 1st. Mensa International will also be holding elections, and members will receive a separate ballot for that.

Feedback? Please contact me at or via phone/text at +1 309 693 1359. Region 4’s  Facebook group is: