The President Ponders
November 1, 2022
This month our focus is on nominating committees and their work. At the end of September you received a special mailing from the MSAP Nominating Committee. Chair
Todd Ellis and committee members Dianne Bostic Robinson and Jacalyn Shelton Wallace, RP, are actively seeking persons who would like to serve on the MSAP Boardof Directors. Thank you, Nominating Committee!
The most recent National Parliamentarian had a timely article by Cynthia Jean “CJ” Mills, PRP, entitled For Want of a Leader. It’s good advice for any organization who is having trouble recruiting leaders—and many societies are. Why? Most of us can name reasons—already involved in too many things, family commitments, lack of interest, poor health, unwillingness to learn what is required, and more. CJ wisely suggests that you actually ASK people why they won’t serve in your organization and then consider their reasons that might mean changes in the organization itself.
Why have I chosen to serve the Michigan State Association of Parliamentarians in various roles? The short answer is, “I was asked.” I said yes to the opportunities to try out leadership
positions in the Louise Saks Parliamentary Unit and then in MSAP, even when I was inexperienced. I trusted that somebody would show me the way. Certainly, I made and continue to make
mistakes even as I am continually mentored. Every time I attempted a new role I learned much, and it wasn’t always about the office itself or even from Robert’s Rules of Order Newly
Revised. I would have never become
as proficient using a computer if I hadn’t had assignments that were beyond my ability like making tables, creating PowerPoints, and formatting a newsletter. Now, I can Zoom at a moment’s notice, FaceTime, and use Apps. I choose to text and once in a while I add an emoji. ❤️
Serving in MSAP leadership and engaging in parliamentary activities is a way I’ve made friends and acquaintances throughout the country, encountering and connecting with people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. It’s a chance to keep learning by observing how others lead and how together we contribute to the many facets of parliamentary life.
Adjourning for now—
Last week we learned that former National Association of Parliamentarians President Leonard M. Young died. His significance in Michigan cannot be underestimated as he was the first of four Michiganders to serve as NAP presidents.*
Though Leonard Young served as president before my membership in NAP, I was fortunate to meet him, attend at least one of his workshops, and observe his ongoing commitment to the parliamentary profession and to NAP. Recently he initiated the “Build for the Future” campaign to update the NAP headquarters and he wrote a biography of General Henry M. Robert “Henry Martyn Robert: Writer of the Rules, An American Hero.” A vibrant attendee of NAP annual meetings, Leonard was invited to be in our Michigan delegates picture. We were proud to call him one of us though his home in recent years was in Independence MO.
While we parliamentarians knew Leonard as a skilled professional, he was a man of multiple roles—father, husband, educator, and church leader who had friends and clients from around the world. He generously shared his parliamentary expertise by teaching many in this state and beyond. Len was the first parliamentary teacher of former MSAP and NAP President Connie Deford when she attended his class at the YWCA in Bay City after being first appointed city clerk in 1986. Connie continued her study in the Young home in Saginaw to become a Registered Parliamentarian and with Len’s encouragement she became a Professional Registered Parliamentarian and then NAP Treasurer. He was a mentor whose legacy lives on in this state.
"Honor the Past; Envision the Future" was the theme for NAP during Leonard Young’s term. Today I honor the past by commemorating Leonard Young and his service as well as countless others who have encouraged us. And I envision the future of parliamentary leaders who will serve NAP, this profession, and strive for better meetings in innumerable organizations.
Adjourning for now,
*Michigan presidents of NAP:
Leonard Young, PRP 1999-2001
Nola Pursiful, PRP 2003-2005
Connie M. Deford, PRP 2007-2009
Maurice S. Henderson, PRP 2011- 2013
February 7, 2022
It’s February so prepare to be inundated with hearts and sappy Valentine’s Day greetings. This is a day for romantics and dark chocolate candy lovers.
The Better Meetings/Happier Members seminar in January was Meeting Decorum: Who Needs It? It was well-attended with people liking its focus on planning meetings that set the stage for good decorum. How do I connect meeting decorum and Valentine’s Day?
Both are about love and respect, not sappy greeting card love, but love connected with respect for yourself and for others, a respect that acknowledges that there are different opinions growing out of various life experiences, a respect that means that we listen thoughtfully and carefully to others, that we let others speak when it is their turn and that we speak with clarity and without rancor.
In case you didn’t attend the lesson on decorum let’s review some main points for all meetings:
❤︎ Speak only when recognized following the rules for length of speaking time.
"The chair recognizes Suzi."
❤︎ Address your remarks to the chair, not to any member of the meeting or even to the entire group.
Facing the chair and looking at him, Suzi says "I speak against/in favor."
❤︎ Confine remarks to the item of business on the floor, not to any past action or to anything else. Stay on topic.
"I think we can build goodwill with this project."
❤︎ Do not attack a member’s motives.
❤︎ Avoid the use of members’ names. "The previous speaker mentioned…"
❤︎ Read anything other than your own remarks only with the permission of the assembly.
"Do I have permission to read the first letter from “Letters from the Birmingham Jail?”
❤︎ Listen when not recognized to speak; do not disturb the assembly.
❤︎ Avoid being personal and critical of another member or group.
All of us who follow such meeting norms will go a long way to creating respect for ourselves and for others. Every meeting will be like a beautiful Valentine’s Day card created by us and for us.
Would you like to attend our next Better Meetings/Happier Members seminar? See the flyer by clicking on the news and events tab and click to register. We look forward to your presence!
Adjourning for now,
Gretchen Denton, PRP
President of MSAP
The President Ponders…
October 4, 2021
When the National Association of Parliamentarians (NAP) Convention, September 9-11, 2021, was over, I took a mental break from all things parliamentary. This was NAP’s first virtual convention and it was a major learning experience for everyone.
I had the opportunity to be in the location where the virtual event originated and I have thank Steve Britton, PRP, and most recent MSAP president for driving to Kansas City where the convention happened. Steve, as Chair of the NAP Bylaws Committee needed to be there as a major presenter in the NAP business meeting. As an NAP Bylaws Committee member I tagged along to serve as needed. When Steve invited me to ride to the Kansas City Airport Hilton I was less than enthusiastic. It’s a twelve hour drive from southeast Michigan and during the pandemic I have hardly been out and about.
But, it was a highlight of my parliamentary life. I learned so much about virtual meetings by seeing it in person. While I’ve done Zoom meetings for small groups, usually under 30, I had no idea of the logistic challenges of a meeting with 650 participants.
Here are some of my learnings:
1.It can be helpful to have two parliamentarians, one focused on the electronic aspects of the meeting while the other does the more traditional work of advising the president. It is best if parliamentarian(s) are in the same physical room with the presiding officer.
2.Auxiliary workers who are, if possible, in the same physical room, can be very important in managing the meeting. Auxiliary workers can monitor everything from voting to keeping track of the Chat to seeing that the presiding officer has water, tissues, or whatever she needs.
3.Members should be muted except when allowed to speak and videos turned off help the internet connection.
4.Obtaining the floor can be an issue.
5.Interrupting motions can be a challenge.
6.Technical issues for meeting participants takes a whole team to manage. How is the voting app set up? Do members remember to unmute when they can speak? How much delay time needs to be allowed for members to unmute and show their faces? What about troubling internet issues or power outages in stormy weather?
7.Some business may take more time than expected, particularly when 600 people are voting.
8.Technical expertise is essential, particularly for voting and for running the meeting itself.
9.Two computers can be better than one. I found that using my iPhone for voting and my computer for following the meeting worked well.
We are all learning for leading every time we attend a meeting. I look forward to using this learning in the leading experiences that are in my future. What are you learning in every meeting you attend?
Gretchen Denton, PRP
President, Michigan State Association of Parliamentarians
May 10, 2021
Learning for Leading—Video Conference Platforms
The May flowers promised by April showers are a feast for our winter-weary eyes and even the grass takes on a green glow (before we tire of weekly mowing). Though May tends to be a busy month for organizations, take time to enjoy whatever pleases your eyes these days.
A year ago we were staying home in our lounge wear, putting on a presentable top only when we had a Zoom meeting. Many of us continue Zooming and now we know that the National Association of Parliamentarians will be having its biennial convention virtually in September. It is too early to know if virtual meetings will become the norm for organizations but some of us are glad to participate in committee meetings from our bedroom, office, or other at-home space.
Yesterday I read an article (Science News, pp. 22-26, April 24, 2021) with the title “What Took the Videophone so Long to Catch on?” The article outlined the history of video communication beginning with a 1927 prototype and the unrealized hope off AT&T researchers that “the 1990’s will be the video communication decade.” There were forays into the field with picture phones but it took the introduction of Skype and the growth of high-speed internet connection in homes to make widespread video-conferencing possible.
Earlier, there were mixed feelings about appearing on a screen, “I’ll have to have my make-up on.” But when the pandemic landed we adapted fast to this new way of seeing our friends—and we know how to turn off the video camera when we aren’t our most photogenic.
Will the use of video-conference platforms continue when we can be out and about? Or will we continue to realize the versatility and convenience of meeting across the miles virtually? We will see.
In the meantime, we explore parliamentary issues that are raised with this changed meeting platform:
Plus, there’s learning about promoting the softer-side of meetings like getting acquainted and welcoming visitors. Once again, we Michigan parliamentarians are engaged in studying and adapting to new procedures and possibilities. We continue be be Learning for Leading and making a difference in all the organizations we know and love, whether we are meeting virtually or in-person.
Adjourning for now,
Gretchen Denton, PRP
Michigan State Association of Parliamentarians
President Gretchen Denton
First Vice- President Francis Jackson
Second Vice-President Barbara Bonsignore
Recording Secretary Kristine Ranger
Treasurer Diane Schrift
Directors Taniqua Carter-Brown, Elizabeth Haynes, Laurie Marshall
Corresponding Secretary Mary Ann Rosenberger
Historian Lois Shulman
Parliamentarian Joan Price
Bylaws and Standing Rules Taniqua Carter-Brown
Membership and Extension Laurie Marshall
Education Barbara Bonsignore
Communications Carolyn Stubbs
Budget and Finance Susan Schneberger
Youth Joyce Brown-Watkins
Publication Vivian Tansil
State Coordinating Francis Jackson
Nominating Todd Ellis
Auditor Blinda Baker
Detroit Carla Patrick-Fagan
Mid-Michigan Unit Erica Shifflet-Chila
Kalamazoo Parliamentary Law Laurie Marshall
Louise Saks Parliamentary Unit
MI Unit of Registered Parliamentarians Barbara Bonsignore