This is my candidate email, that will be sent by the Election Committee to all Region 4 members in April:
Greetings fellow Mensa members,
My name is Barbara Kryvko, and I am running for the office of Vice Chair - Region 4. I appreciate the opportunity to share my story, highlights of my past performance, and my vision for the future of Mensa. I want to help the organization in any way that I can, and I know that I can bring a strong, creative, informed, forward-thinking voice to the AMC.
In 1987, I joined Mensa as a single mother in the early years of a long career in information technology. I happened upon a practice test for Mensa, took the proctored test, then joined right away. I immediately signed up for several Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and met the wonderful members of St. Louis Area Mensa, many of whom are still close friends today.
I have not stopped trying to repay Mensa for all it has given me, and I doubt if I will ever break even.
In 1995, I was elected as RVC 4 for two terms. I had been very active locally, volunteered at many RGs, chaired an Annual Gathering (AG), was a Mensa CompuServe admin, and was a national SIG Coordinator. I had been Editor for several years – one of my favorite jobs ever. Most of that early experience revolved around event planning, organizing volunteers, moderating online discussion, running SIGs, and meeting lots of people. The experience I had was valuable, but not broad. While my time on the AMC was successful, I knew that it could have been better. After two terms as RVC, I chose not to run for a more advanced position because I didn’t feel quite ready.
Since then, I've studied Mensa business closely, have taken on a variety of national and international volunteer positions, and have been online a lot (as many of you well know!) interacting with Mensa members every day. I run online groups that focus specifically on Mensa people, politics, and issues. At the same time, I served as National SIGs Officer and Mensa International SIGs Coordinator for a total of 16 years - helping Mensans around the world connect to each other.
My career in IT has taken many turns, and has allowed me to have myriad real-life hands-on experience in organizing and executing initiatives with various types of teams, project management, conflict resolution, setting organizational strategy, and turning strategy and innovative ideas into valuable action.
More importantly, I’ve listened to what real Mensa members have said about their experiences, ideas, problems, and opinions regarding the organization. The large areas of opportunity appear to be:
1. Strengthening the volunteer pipeline
2. Diversity, equity, and inclusion
3. Member engagement and transparency
4. Prioritizing organizational issues and financial targets with an eye on retaining members and fully capturing market opportunity
5. Advancing our technological footprint
To read my views on specific issues and see a full list of my Mensa experience, visit http://www.barbarakryvko.com/.
Thank you for reading,
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This discussion has been going on for years, partly because the term "Code of Conduct" has become like the blindfolded men and the elephant. Everyone sees the term "Code of Conduct" through their own lens. In any given CoC discussion, inevitably someone will refer to language that is offensive to some but not to others, another member will tell a story of a physical assault at a gathering, someone in an online group will recount their experience being doxxed, and yet another will cite a local member who scares off newcomers. It's not possible to come to agreement on the wording of a Code of Conduct if we continue to focus on every situation, every degree of harm, every person, everywhere.
Do we need a Code of Conduct at all? My answer is "of course." In fact, we already have many of them that have been operating for quite some time.
The individuals that I work with in my professional life agree to follow the company's code of conduct when they sign their employment contracts. It includes similar guidelines for conduct that we have in our own American Mensa Actions Still in Effect:
The expectation of conduct in the above statements are vague. Members are not only unclear of what is unacceptable, they are unclear about whether the action they want to take about a certain behavior is appropriate for the action.
Since we essentially have a Code of Conduct in these various areas, it's important to shore these up so that proponents and opponents of such a code know what the expectation is, and what the consequences are if that expectation isn't met. We can agree or disagree on each individual clause, citing reasons that are appropriate to the section under discussion.
The important thing is that it be done with input from the membership, that it be done openly and with no surprises, that the guidelines and their consequences be spelled out clearly, and that there be an avenue for appeal. It should be as simple as possible, with a solid reason for each guideline. There should be a cadence for reevaluating the guidelines, with data driving decisions about the success of each particular section.
A Code of Conduct is not a silver bullet, nor is it a nail in the coffin of freedom. It's what is necessary to support a culture where our organization can thrive.