Thursday, August 05, 2010

A letter from Merryll Saylan, AAW Past President 1995

Letter From Merryll Saylan

August 4, 2010

I’m writing in support of the Board of Directors of AAW.

I would like to share my experience as President of the AAW in 1995, to add my perspective to what is already known.

My background includes growing up with my father running a small business. My husband counseled businesses for a group called SCORE. One of my sons has been in the nonprofit field for 25 years, starting in the position of staff, and working up to executive director, as well as a CEO of large urban Y’s. He is now a consultant to YMCAs throughout the US. I ran my own small business and frequently consulted with my husband and son.

I was president of the AAW for only a short amount of time, however, in those few months, I quickly realized that Mary Lacer, AAW’s administrator, had control over the AAW, and the elected Board of Directors. I attempted to institute better business practices in the office; however, every attempt at doing so was met with resistance from administration. Knowing that I would not be able to effect change, I resigned as President. Here is part of my resignation letter from 1995:

"I have been firmly committed to AAW and its members. There is great potential for this organization and what it can offer. I believe a house in order makes enacting missions and goals far easier and more realistic. I have never underestimated the role Mary or Alan have played in the development and identity of AAW, but the organization has changed and we, the Board, need to change to meet its demands.

I have had concerns about the business practices of the organization. Two years ago when I first came on the Board, an audit recommended the “responsibilities of the administrator and treasurer are so extensive that special care should be taken by the board to provide oversight and supervision.”

The executive committee at that time never acted upon those recommendations for which the most recent audit also made reference. Despite a motion by the board, having money well over the FDIC insured amount in a checking account, was not attended to, and was only corrected in late March, under the aegis of the new treasurer and finance committee. The important recommendations of the audit were lost in a spate of squabbling, in fact, just wanting a new audit after Alan Lacer’s long term as president was accused as my not trusting Mary.

AAW has not been working under an operating budget and efforts to gather information to institute one have met with much reluctance and difficulty. There have never been any job descriptions so even the board had no idea of what a committee did. Our by-laws are vague, open to many interpretations, and invoked or ignored as deemed expedient.

Rumors, lobbying board members, back-biting are not my cup of tea.

There have been difficulties in resolving these different factions and attitudes. Change is never easy, and knowing that I would never entertain the thought of “changing everything” for which I was accused. Yet change is inevitable.

This then is my formal letter of resignation as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Association of Woodturners. The fractious environment that has enveloped the board, my office and the administrator over the past several months, makes it such that I no longer wish to serve.


Merryll Saylan

For more information see the Support the AAW Board website.

1 comment:

Andi Wolfe said...

This letter is posted at: