Lynn's Problem with the Minneapolis/St. Paul Chapter

How fortunate I am to have so many wonderful friends--both in person and in cyber space.  It's unfortunate that we have to have a crisis to discover some of those friends.  Many of you poured out of the woodwork when you found out about about my chapter problems.  You offered wonderful advice, self-less friendship, and even a few jobs at your own chapters!

You have my heart-felt appreciation.

Many have asked to see the correspondence on this.  Here is the chronological order of what transpired.  Please try not to fall off your chair laughing (again).  I wouldn't want you to hurt yourself!

Prior to June 30, 2005 - As with any chapter, there were some "quirky" personalities on our board.  That included my own.  Little squabbles cropped up from time to time, but that was to be expected.  But in most chapters, people talk through their problems. I was blinded-sided by a letter of reprimand. And from the date of the first letter until today, not one of the officers has ever picked up the phone and called me.

CompuFest 2005 - Just so you know, my former dear friend and chapter president Ilene Meade, and her new boyfriend, fellow director Howie Myers, went to CompuFest.  During their 2 week trip, I received 4 emails from friends warning me that these two Minnesota representatives were talking negatively about me to several people at the convention.  I still have those emails, but I won't include them here.

June 30, 2005 - After Ilene and Howie returned from CompuFest, she lured me out to lunch, handed me a card addressed to my husband and I with a $50 gift certificate and a note thanking us for all we've done to help her.  Then she handed me a Letter of Reprimand from the executive committee.  I wondered what was going on at CompuFest!  Here's the result!

July 20, 2005 - I was shocked.  I had spent literally 100s of hours working for the chapter, and helping Ilene with no clue that I was doing anything remotely wrong.  I refused to sign the letter and I asked for an audience with the executive committee.  Here are My Notes Against the Allegations.

Ilene had a bout with high blood pressure that night and took a leave of absence from the chapter, for which I was later told was blamed on me! I'm sure she was stressed.  She displayed poor judgment at CompuFest, she completely mishandled the situation with me, and she was embarrassed by all the people who were finding out about this debacle.  I brought letters from current and past directors scolding the committee, as well as one from my husband with a message that wasn't kind to Ilene.  On top of that, her missteps cost her to lose a devoted friend. She was crying when I left the meeting. No surprise that her blood pressure was high.

Her leave of absence forced the chapter vice president, Gayle Olson, who had already accepted the Facilities Chair, to assume the role of president and Education chair, as well.

July 26, 2005 - I received a call from another director telling me that Gayle had called an emergency board meeting "regarding an associate director."  (Gee, I wonder who that could be?)  It was a 24 hour notice.  He didn't invite ANY of the associate directors, and he chose the one night of the week that one director (who was friendly with me) would never be able to make.  When I received that news, I sent Gayle a Letter of Reconciliation (well, sort of) on the eve of that meeting.

July 28, 2005 - On July 27th, they had their meeting.   This resulted in a Board Meeting Letter.  (Absent members questioned if they even had a quorum.)  Nearly all of my friends were appalled at the sheer  "arrogance and disrespect" (your words, not mine!) of this letter which is asking me to resign, yet suggesting that I continue to put in ALL THOSE HOURS working for the chapter.

August 8th, 2005 - I waited several days before I responded.  Then I sent My Letter of Decline.  Yes, I actually declined to resign!  How can anyone take a request for resignation seriously after reading all those glowing comments they made in their first two letters?!

August 13, 2005 - It fell on deaf ears because here's Gayle's Response to My Letter of Decline.  I had asked for some resolution on the original letter. No response.  I asked why I should resign, and if I did, why I should stay.  No response.  Obviously, no one had a clue as to how to deal with this issue.  So, I packaged my Road Class Program and sent the entire thing to Gayle, who was already buried with everyone else's jobs.  I felt bad having to do this, but I already said I would suspend my activities until someone responded to me. 

Summary - I never did receive a response to any of my questions. I had to hear second-hand from an associate director that my directorship ended.  Gayle Olson told the board that my classes were pulled because I never responded.  These letters tell a different story!  He also told the board that none of what I wrote about Martha was ever said.  I did not lie.  I actually recorded the July 20th meeting with Ilene, Gayle and Martha, then disassembled the tape system in front of another director at lunch directly afterward!  I'll burn an MP3 and post it on the I Club List if I'm forced! 

Gayle also told the board that the decision to remove me was due to the fact that I made the Letter of Reprimand public, yet I was never instructed to keep it confidential.  I had a right to receive council from other directors, and the executive committee considered this a "disciplinary problem." (Try control issue!)

Bottom line: I brought good ideas to the chapter that were very successful.  I was too progressive for some, and for that I was considered a problem.  It's the "big fish in a very small pond" syndrome.  No room for growth. 

Many people in the NAIC community have asked me why Minneapolis/St. Paul cannot recruit and retain directors.  This is a prime example. We are the 3rd largest chapter with the smallest board. There are 7 directors and 3 associates now.  And as you can imagine, everyone is spread paper thin. 

It was conveyed to me that Ilene was very clear at the September 7th board meeting that...(and I'm paraphrasing) it was the officers' decision to choose how to deal with me, that they are happy with their decision, and if anyone is not happy, they are welcome to resign. 

Half the board wanted me out.  That may seem like a lot, but the other 5 were outrageously supportive of me, as were at least 2 dozen chapter presidents, Ralph Seger and many other NAIC community members who've reached out to me after following this.  The one thing I keep hearing is "Lynn, don't change who you are.  It's what makes you worthwhile to this organization."  I have a huge NAIC support system that makes those first 5 people's opinion seem pretty insignificant.

I was offered an opportunity to join 2 other chapters.  Since Des Moines is my home, and I travel there often, I was very grateful that the Central Iowa Chapter called an emergency meeting on August 8, 2005, and unanimously voted to induct me as an associate director.  I've offered to develop and teach classes as needed and help administer the chapter home page.  One director told me "Minnesota's loss is our gain!" 

Thanks again for all your support.  And for my director friends who have conflicts, please use the Minneapolis/St. Paul Chapter as your poster child for how NOT to handle hardworking volunteers.



P.S. After sending this final page to 60 of my closest NAIC friends (!), I received such a warm and overwhelming response.  I just have to share some of them with you.  These first few are from my own chapter:

I am very sad that all of this happened, and hope that your experience in Iowa is a good one. You certainly contributed much to the local Chapter while you were on the board!

I am glad you landed on your feet. There is a saying that for every difficulty there is a window of opportunity. Our loss is Iowa's gain. Take care of yourself and let us keep in touch.

I am sure that the Iowa chapter will benefit tremendously from your participation, and no doubt that we, the Minneapolis/St. Paul chapter lost. Thanks for all what we did for us.  I hope that we will keep in touch.

Your insights on the makeup of the Twin Cities' board hardly make me want to get involved with chapter issues.

Ralph Seger seldom ever shies away from being quoted!  He writes: What a tragedy!  Some people have their brains in their feet to toss you off the chapter board.  Best of luck for the future. Ralph

And here are some notes from the rest of you:

Thanks for the update and while i'm sorry that you had such a horrific experience with the Minn/St. Paul chapter - their loss is Iowa's gain, whether Minn/St. Paul realizes it or not...

Sorry to hear about this, but living in Iowa I'll welcome you here.

Sorry to hear about all your NAIC/BI related grief.  Who needs it?  As I read the material, it sounds like Howie is not the best friend one might choose.

I am sorry to hear the situation could not be satisfactorily resolved.  It is obvious the Minneapolis/St. Paul chapter is simply mismanaged and you are far better off in not being involved with them.  It is difficult to understand why they would not recognize your superb accomplishments and knowledge that could significantly help the board and chapter.  Life is too short to associate yourself with such individuals and it is time to move on.  I am happy to hear the Central Iowa chapter recognized your value and promptly included you on their board.  I am sure you will be successful and now you can simply forget about the situation and move on to a much better situation.

I agree with ___'s words. Good luck with the Iowans. They are the lucky ones.

I wish you were here!   We would have inducted you here to our chapter.  We need some help of the kind you are offering!    I agree with the others. Don't change who you are.  You have already helped so many people and given of your time and knowledge.  Please don't let these rotten apples spoil your attitude and what you have to offer. Looks like they took their P's and Q's almost exactly from National, and their treatment of Ralph.

I'm glad you found a new "home". And keep calling them as you see them.

Remember: A pioneer is the lady with the arrows in her back!!! Looks like you’ve been added to the Hall of NAIC Shame along with Ralph,  Mark, Brian, & Hugh. No higher honor could be granted!

Iowa’s gain indeed.  I guess situations will arise like this in volunteer organizations...No chapter is perfect, but hopefully Iowa will work out well for you.  And in the long run it could be a moot point if membership keeps declining in most if not all of the chapters...