The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 33, August 19, 2007, Article 7


By now most readers are aware that Christopher Cipoletti, executive
director of the American Numismatic Association, was put on paid
'administrative leave' by a unanimous vote of the new ANA board
of governors in its first meeting last Sunday.  Among the first
reports to circulate on the Internet was Numismatic News editor
Dave Harper's article:

"The action was announced following an executive session to a
packed public session of hobbyists including members and ANA

"Replacing Cipoletti on an interim basis is former ANA president
Ken Hallenbeck, who will serve as acting executive director for
an indefinite period."

"A special audit committee, headed by Camden, S.C., CPA Austin Sheheen,
was appointed to determine whether a full forensic audit of the ANA
would be required. He has 60 days to make his determination and report
back to the board."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

As it turns out, the action was taken exactly one year ago after
a muckraking article was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette
about the organization "beset by questions over its finances and
complaints that its leadership fosters a culture of excessive secrecy
and demands loyalty oaths. Some of the groupís 32,000-plus members
blame the turmoil on Christopher Cipoletti, a lawyer who took the
helm as executive director in 2003."

To read the August 13, 2006 Colorado Springs Gazette article, see:
Full Story

That week in The E-Sylum we discussed the article and the ANA's
ongoing employee turnover problem and its lawsuit against former


The Colorado Springs Gazette this week published another article
noting that "Cipoletti has been removed from his daily duties of
the 32,000-member federally chartered nonprofit organization,
which promotes studying and collecting money. Cipoletti now will
focus on [the] lawsuit scheduled to go to trial in 4th Judicial
District Court on Sept. 25..."

"In the lawsuit, Cipoletti accuses four former association
employees of conspiracy, defamation of character and theft of
business property, among other claims. Cipoletti is a coplaintiff
with the numismatic association in the civil lawsuit, and the
association is paying legal fees. Cipoletti said he is unsure
how much money has been spent on legal fees to date."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

The legal fees have added to the organization's operating deficit
at a time when many members felt that its priorities should be
focused on its core educational mission.  I understand that at
an open meeting of the old board, it was revealed that for the
quarter ending June 30, the ANA spent more than $151,000 on legal
fees, and spent $35 on buying books for the library.

Library matters are near and dear to the hearts of we bibliophiles,
and NBS stalwart Joel Orosz began writing a series of scathing
opinion pieces for Coin World.


The last chapter in this story has yet to be written as the ANA's
lawsuit and Cipoletti's tenure draws to a close.  There are many
possible outcomes, but unfortunately I think most are bad for the
organization, resulting in further expenditures in areas far from
its core mission.

But thankfully the hobby and the ANA's membership are strong, and
I believe the organization will survive and thrive in the future,
just as it has managed to do for over one hundred years.  The new
Board, many of whom are E-Sylum regulars (and most of whom were
endorsed in my commentaries) has a big job ahead - healing the
wounds of the recent turmoil and moving on to the next chapter.

Some have asked my thoughts on the organization's direction.  As
one who's only followed events from afar it's difficult to have
an informed opinion, but I trust the legal system and the new board
to come to a just conclusion of the matter.   I can only offer the
following observations, which are only one opinion among many.
Again, I have trust in the new board to consider the thoughts and
opinions of all members and interested parties in formulating
policies going forward.

1. Reconnect with local members.  Relations have been strained
with local and regional club representatives.  A number of regional
representatives have resigned their positions or even their ANA
memberships.  Reach out to these hardworking volunteers and try
to repair the relationship.

2. Repair employee relations.  The massive turnover in headquarters
staff has created a huge strain on the organization.  Institutional
knowledge has been lost.  Work to stem the tide and retain, recruit
or even rehire key personnel.

3. Review employee salaries.  While a time of deficit is not the
best time to consider raising salaries, this is one way to help
retain the best employees.  I and many others have been mystified
at the large salaries we heard were being paid to a number of new
"revolving door" hires while longtime key employees were overlooked.
One absolutely key position is that of Convention Director and
another is that of the Publications Editor.  Thankfully we still
have experienced pros in these positions, but parties and press
releases shouldn't be their only form of recognition.

4. Train recent hires in the ways of numismatics.  While many
talented new people have been brought on board, not all have a
numismatic background.  While that is not necessary in all new
employees, this knowledge should be developed over time.
Encourage and assist new employees in their acquisition of
hobby knowledge.

5. Continue outreach initiatives.  The ANA's announced plans to
fund new exhibits are admirable, and hopefully some way will be
found to continue them despite the recent turmoil.  But focus
first on exhibits rather than museums - setting up an exhibit
within someone elseís museum is a good form of outreach and
far more economical and sustainable than building a museum of
oneís own.

6. Build a world-class online museum.  The costs of building
and hosting massive web sites have fallen dramatically and an
online money museum would be accessible to far more people than
any physical museum (or museums) anywhere in the country.

7. Restore the core!  Finally, ensure that the ANA's core
educational departments receive their fair share of funding
to continue their mission.  Restore library acquisition funds,
and find a way to catch up on acquisitions of new items that
may have been passed over recently due to lack of spending.

Again, the best of luck to acting executive director Ken Hallenbeck,

the organization, its employees and members as the coming year unfolds.

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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