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Archiver > APG > 2007-12 > 1197415051

From: Jeanette Daniels <>
Subject: Re: [APG] Ethical Membership
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2007 15:17:31 -0800 (PST)


Thank you for restoring Tom Jones article to the APGQ. I believe that we will all benefit from reading this. Many would like changes to the organization and I believe that open expressions of new ideas are always positive for improving an organization. Many of us do not agree with everything on this list but seeing how others feel about issues is always enlightening and helpful. Just because you thought that Tom's article was negative doesn't mean that the rest of us will. I personally believe that there does need to be more to membership in the APG. I saw an internet article years ago that I sent on the the APG leadership at that time entitled, "How to Become a Professional Genealogist is Five Minutes," that explained that all anyone needed to do to become a professional genealogist was to spend five minutes filling out the APG membership form and writing the check.

I sense that you have taken Melinde's and the others' responses personally. I personally believe that the APG membership wants to be involved more in the future of the organization and the directions it takes. I really think that all of the discussion whether real or hypothetical could be very positive for the organization. I hope so.



----- Original Message ----
From: Sharon Moody <>
Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2007 2:59:25 PM
Subject: [APG] Ethical Membership

I sailed out of the country on November 30 on an exciting trip to
South and Central America with my husband. I returned last night and
was shocked and appalled at the confusion rained upon the APG list by
a posting that was both misleading and inflammatory. I tell you of my
travels only so you’ll understand that the problem grew and festered
from my lack of presidential response to the questions and concerns
because I was unaware of them.

I waited until today to respond because in my absence Vice President
Jake Gehring had arranged for a telephonic board meeting today to
discuss one of the issues of concern: the article that the EC had
pulled from the December issue of the APGQ.

It was obvious from reading some of the responses to Melinde Sanborn’s
posting that some of our members are not aware of how APG is
structured. Since that structure is important to several of the
issues in question, I will take the time and space to explain it.

The Board is the policy-making body for APG and its main concern is to
establish policy and exercise powers not specifically vested in any
specific office.

The Executive Committee (EC) is the managerial and operating body of
the association. As such the EC makes decisions on the day-to-day
operation of the organization and reports its activities to the board
on a regular basis. The president, vice president, secretary, and
treasurer sit as the EC.

We also have an Executive Director (ED) who handles administrative
duties for the organization.

We have five standing committees established in the bylaws. Two of
those committees have played a part in activities questioned in
Melinde’s posting. The Professional Review Committee (PRC) reviews
and mediates allegations of member violations of the Code of Ethics.
They do their job in accordance with the guidelines as outlined in the
Policy Manual (approved by the board) and the Procedures Manual
(approved by the EC).

The Publications Advisory Committee (PAC) reviews all materials that
are published under the name of the association and all of its
chapters to ensure that printed and electronic materials best
represent the standards and policies of the organization. One of the
publications that the PAC reviews on a regular basis is the APGQ.

Now that you have the big picture of all the parties involved in the
general running of the association, let me address the issues:

First is the matter of pulling of an article by a well-respected
member of the genealogical community. Melinde posed the question “if
a well respected author wrote an article for the APGQ and it was
pulled after months of work - after typesetting -because the EC didn't
like it, what would you think?” She didn’t give you any background or
details on the matter and asked you to make a judgment call. Many of
you began speculating and judging from a variety of “what if’s.”
For the sake of time and space, I won’t give you every small detail on
what happened and who said what and when. Here is a very abbreviated
but factual account of this matter.

Tom Jones submitted the unsolicited article in question to editor Matt
Wright in late July. Tom’s article was a very strong opinion piece
that addressed our organization and our profession. Matt immediately
sent a copy of the article to the ED with the question “what do you
think?” Since the ED is not a decision-maker in the organization
(except on administrative matters), it was her responsibility to seek
input on this question. She immediately sent the article and same
query to Jake and me as president and vice president and asked if we
wanted to discuss it at our regular monthly EC meeting in two days.
Several persons expressed concern on the APG list that the EC had
crossed that sacrosanct line into editorial independence by pulling
this article. Hopefully this will relieve those concerns: we were
asked our opinion on the matter and were brought into the picture
indirectly by the editor.

Matt rightfully was concerned about the matter. He is an excellent
editor and consistently gives us a product of which we are very proud.
He knows, however, that the traditional focus of our quarterly has
been educational materials and member news and activities. With the
exception of occasional opinions expressed in the president’s column,
the APGQ has never published opinion pieces. And the one that Tom
submitted was very strong and uncomplimentary of our organization.

After some discussion and deliberation the EC suggested the article
proceed to the PAC for review to see if the committee shared our
concerns. The PAC shared the EC concerns about the article.

The PAC suggested modification and clarification to some materials and
suggested that the article might then run as with a notation that it
was opinion piece, perhaps with a counterpoint piece in the same
issue. The EC continued to have concerns about the appropriateness of
what we considered derogatory article about the organization running
in our own publication. Since the FGS conference was drawing near, we
asked Matt and Jake as the EC representative to meet with Tom to
discuss our concerns and see if an agreement could be reached and
whether or not Tom would be amenable to modifying some of his
comments. At that conference in mid-August Matt and Jake had
conversations with Tom and he agreed to make some changes in his

When he submitted his revised piece it went through routine channels
to the PAC for review. The PAC pointed out that it was a “thought-
provoking piece, worthy of discussion” but felt it should not be
showcased in the APGQ. The PAC suggested that perhaps the article
could be used as an internal document as a guide for the board and EC
to improve the organization and the profession of genealogy.

The EC studied this recommendation and the newly submitted article. In
the meantime Tom had been elected to serve a two-year term on the
board. We viewed this as an exciting opportunity for someone of his
professional caliber and experience to bring his article to the board
so it could be used to improve the organization and where a balanced
discussion would include all board members. We hoped that Tom would
see this as an opportunity to work on changes within the organization
rather than air to the general public what he saw as our flaws.

Bear with me here as I give you a little background critical to
understanding how the EC was viewing this article. Early this year I
announced to the membership that the Board at its May meeting (at the
NGS Conference, Richmond) would be reviewing its objectives and how
well we were meeting them. We conducted an online survey, focused the
Roundtable at the NGS conference on these topics so members could give
us opinions and thoughts from which to work. Issues of “what is a
professional” and concerns about low membership requirements rose to
the top.

At the Richmond board meeting we focused on those concerns and quickly
saw there were no quick fixes. Several committees were tasked with
gathering information and making recommendations on these topics.

Tom discussed these very topics in his opinion piece and did so in
what we felt was a less than constructive tone. The EC feared that it
would be inappropriate to print his article in the APGQ at the same
time our committees and the board were struggling to improve the
organization. It was a tough call but after a unanimous EC vote I
wrote Tom of our concerns. “Since you shortly will be a member of the
APG board we believe that body’s deliberations will be the appropriate
venue for addressing issues you have with the organization’s
membership, structure, and management. Focusing your experience,
energy and concern for APG internally will be a positive corrective
step; projecting the critical and mostly unflattering statements made
in the article undermine the hard work being tackled by the current
and future boards and provide fodder to the individuals who frequently
attack our organization.”

Reading the responses to Melinde’s posting was a painful process for
me. It was painful to see suggestion that the EC had acted
unethically or that we had moved to censure Tom and silence his
opinions. We directed that the article be pulled from the December
issue and then we offered Tom what we honestly felt was an opportunity
to use his talents, his experience, and his strong feelings internally
to improve APG. We did not want to silence him – we simply suggested
another venue for his work.

One of our concerns was that our organization has many “subscriber”
members. These mainly are libraries and organizations that want our
publication for their facilities. It is through our publication on a
library shelf that many learn about us and from us. Tom’s article (and
I paraphrase) points out that our membership criteria resembling those
of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and that such organizations as
the Association of Professional Piercers have stronger membership
requirements than APG. We were not concerned about our own members
reading the article, but feared that potential clients and potential
members would read Tom’s criticism of our organization and write us
off as unsavory.

Many of you have judged the EC harshly for the decision to pull this
article from the December issue. I hope that this explanation helps
you to understand how we viewed the matter and how we reached our
decision. Whether it was a wise or foolish decision, I at least hope
that you understand we did not try to silence Tom or keep his thoughts
under wraps. We simply asked that he work with us in what we thought
would be a more positive way in the efforts as we continue to approach
the problems.

I have never written anything more sincere than when I wrote to Tom
“The EC and the PAC believe that your article would be an excellent
internal document for discussion by the APG board rather than a public
article that would forever remain in print and circulation. Your
credentials, experience, and willingness to analyze APG’s problems
will make you an excellent board member working toward positive
changes in the organization and making the organization a stronger one.”

The EC and the board met today and agreed that in light of the
unfortunate way it came into a public discussion on this list, it is
best that the article be printed in the December issue. The issue
won’t get into your hands this month because Matt now has to shift to
accommodate the article. Each of you will have the chance to judge for
yourself the value of Tom’s assessments. I hope you will then share
your thoughts and opinions on what you read. I ask only that you
believe me when I say this was not a matter of censorship as you were
initially led to believe.

Melinde also asked readers of her post “is it proper for a member of
my chapter who has participated materially and constructively in APG
to be accused, tried, convicted, and suspended in absentia behind
closed doors?” She also called this a hypothetical situation. A member
of her chapter recently was suspended as a member of this
organization. To say that she was “tried, convicted and suspended in
absentia behind closed doors,” however, is very misleading.

When a member is accused of violating the Code of Ethics, as I
explained earlier, the matter goes through an administrative process
and is given to the PRC. These matters are kept behind closed doors
for the protection of the accused member. We are very strict that no
board, EC or committee member is allowed to discuss the details of the
matter outside the confines of committee or board meetings. The
procedure calls for the member to be notified immediately of the
complaint and all allegations. The member can respond with as much
evidence and information as he/she desires. The PRC reviews all the
materials, makes a decision and recommends action to the EC. If the
recommendation is for suspension of membership, the matter then goes
to the full board for approval. The member is then notified of the
suspension and has an appeals process, which includes a hearing before
the board.

APG does provide full due process to any accused member. The matter as
Melinde described it did not happen. The complaint against the member
in her chapter was investigated and the EC and Board all approved the
recommendation of suspension. The member was given the right to
appeal; she did not.

Melinde’s post asked “If a nationally known speaker was pulled out of
a banquet talk - after the publicity and syllabus was out - because
something s/he was expected to say was "unapproved" by the APG EC,
what would you think?” This has never happened and I do not understand
Melinde’s motive in making such a suggestion.

Melinde’s raised other issues in her posting. She asked “what if your
APG EC took an email sent to this list and censored it so that it
never appeared, what would you think?” First of all, I am not aware
that this can be done. Once something is aired on this list, it is
archived and remains there. Only the person who made the post can
remove it. Last year a member posted comments that were extremely
unprofessional and were defamatory about other members. Several
complaints were received. The EC asked him to remove those from the
archives, which he agreed to do, and we placed him into a monitoring
status so that our Rootweb coordinator saw each of his posts before
they became public. (This is the procedure set forth by Rootsweb
which hosts our list.) This action was our way of protecting the
bashing of other members. That offending member attempted no
inappropriate posts during the monitoring period, so nothing he said
was ever censured. The monitoring has been removed and his posts go
online without review just as all of yours do.

The bottom line of Melinde’s post was that the EC micromanages the
operation of APG. Her final question was “should we accept invisible
micromanagement from the APG EC?” My answer is that you should not. I
am confident that I speak for the entire EC when I say that we welcome
input from members. We have asked for it on a number of occasions. The
EC meets monthly for a telephone conference that usually lasts two-
three hours. We exchange emails regularly. None of this is “secret.”
Our secretary John Wylie takes minutes and these are sent to each
board member. Recently a chapter representative asked if minutes
could be sent to the chapters. When the ED passed the question to me,
I immediately told her to send them and was glad that a chapter asked
for them. At the next EC meeting we discussed and agreed that the
minutes, as of that November meeting, will be posted in the Members
Only section of the website so that any member can see what happened
at each meeting. If you have questions when you read the minutes,
please ask.

Barring some other controversial eruption on this list during the next
20 days, this probably will be my last communication to you as
president. My term expires 31 December, and Jake Gehring will assume
the reigns of leadership on 1 January. Contrary to some insinuations
that have been made the members of the EC have not tried to suppress,
silently direct or keep anything from the membership. We have worked
within policy and procedure to make the wisest decisions we could for
the organization. We have been a cohesive team—Jake Gehring, John
Wylie, Beverly Rice and me. We have been willing to disagree, discuss,
and then reach a consensus for the organization. We haven’t always
agreed, and we have had some mighty interesting discussions. There is
no doubt in my mind, however, that we all four respect each other.
We’ve been willing to make the calls we sincerely believed policy and
procedure had tasked us to make. No organization could function if a
full board was consulted on every decision; no organization could
function if the members were democratically asked to vote on every

We took our offices because we believe in the objectives of APG and in
improving the profession. I don’t believe any of us expected accolades
for our work; it would, however, be rewarding to know that at least
the membership knows we gave it our best and for the right reasons,
not for any power or self-promotion.

Thank you for the opportunity to have served as the president of APG.
I hope you all have a wonderful and safe holiday season.

Sharon Moody, APG President

Sharon Moody, CG
Moody Genealogical Services
2019 Grantham Greens Drive
Sun City Center, FL 33573



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