State of the ALA January 2020
I wrote a state of the ALA in early 2015, in my first year as Chairman of the BOD. I had planned on writing an annual state of the ALA, although this hasn’t happened. As I complete my fifth year as the Chairman, it is time to look back at what has been accomplished.
Pre-BOD activities: Prior to my position on the BOD, I worked with Michael Koek and John Lyons in the creation of GWG Golf shirts, which were printed by a local company with which I’d worked for several years. These shirts were hand carried to the 2014 convention in St. Louis MO. I hand carried ALA logo golf shirts printed by the same company to the 2015 convention in Lancaster PA.
ALA Golf Shirts: Working with the same local company as used to create the GWG shirts, ALA logo golf shirts were pre-sold as well as taken to the 2015 convention. Shirts were mailed to those who purchased and were unable to attend the convention.
BOD Conference Calls: In January 2016, I introduced the monthly BOD conference call. Prior to this, the BOD only met face-to-face at the annual convention with the rest of ALA business conducted via e-mail. The conference call lasts between 1-1.5 hours monthly and is quite efficient in conducting business. An agenda for these meetings is distributed to the BOD, and the Chairman takes notes, which have been added, with a few exceptions, to the monthly Chairmanship reports.
ALA Membership: When I joined the BOD as the Chairman, I made a point of sending e-mails to all new, renewing, and expired ALA members, welcoming them to the ALA, promoting the convention when applicable, sending the latest journal PDF and e-Trader e-mails to those who weren’t members of the ALA at the time these publications were distributed. I also send information on our FB membership group and creating user profiles on our website for all new members. These communications with members can take up to 1-2 hours per day, so this is a significant amount of well-spent time in the service of our membership.
Subscription Membership: Just under 2 years ago, the ALA began offering renewing subscription memberships to our members. We had begun distribution of the Livebearer Journal by PDFs instead of paper copies and mailing to US/Canada/all other countries with tiered membership fees based on mailing costs. We made all memberships the same price of $25/year and offered new and renewing members the choice of annual renewals with PayPal or subscription memberships which automatically renewed on the anniversary of their membership payment. This ensures that members won’t miss quarterly Journal issues or the monthly e-Trader e-mails. About 80 percent of our members use this method of payment. The rest of our members use either the annual membership with PayPal or mail a check for renewal. The membership chairman has significantly less renewal e-mails that need to be sent out each month since they only go out to non-subscription memberships. As of December 30, 2019, our membership was 280, including two new Junior Members. We have a number of long-time members who haven’t renewed, and very good numbers of new memberships.
Finances: The ALA is in good financial shape. With the production and mailing of our hard copy color journal, mailing out paper e-Trader, including annual BOD election ballots, we lost significant money over and above what was collected as annual membership income. In the last 2 years, with distribution of our publications, including the journal, the e-Trader, and holding elections this year with an electronic program, we have almost recovered those operational costs.
Chairman Reports: Chairman Reports have been written monthly for the majority of my tenure. There have been times when these reports have been written as a two-month combined report. The information contained in these reports, based on board committee updates, is distributed to the BOD, the FALA, and all the board committee members. The information is included in our e-Trader which is sent to all our membership.
Websites: When I joined the ALA, the website was broken, with many links not working. IPS: In my first year on the board, the website was being relocated to IPS (Invision Power Systems). The admin pages of the site were very difficult to navigate, we couldn’t add content such as downloadable PDFs, and we had no dedicated webmaster. I was told by an ALA member working in the field that the ALA should never have been put there, and that if we were to move, we would lose a majority of the functionality. The forum was not being actively used by ALA members, and I spent hours each week deleting spam users and inappropriate posts.
PlanetTucker.com: The NEC (Northeast Council of Aquarium Societies), for which I was serving as the chairman of the annual convention, moved to PlanetTucker.com, and I was quite familiar with the editor program. I sent the BOD the URL of the NEC website and convention pages for them to view, and with PlanetTucker to obtain a cost and website pages proposal, which the BOD accepted. A basic set of pages was created for the ALA and I personally worked for about a month adding all the static pages from the previous website. These can be seen by perusing the links on our website. We now have a dedicated webmaster and a website on which it is easy to add and edit pages.
Convention webpages: As part of our website with PlanetTucker, we have dedicated convention pages, which is a benefit for our host clubs. The 2019 convention was the first club who worked with me and our webmaster in creating these pages. Dave Smith, and now Tim Stone, did the majority of the work on these pages, and Tim is now our Convention Liaison. One of his responsibilities is to work with host clubs to populate each set of new convention pages, including speaker profiles, schedule, registration, side trips, show information, and auction rules, among other pages.
Conventions: We have held successful conventions for at least the last 8 years according to the convention financial history spreadsheet that Tim Boelema created based upon host club financials and post-convention report sheets submitted from the host clubs. For the past several years, we have had host clubs approach the ALA before the year’s convention and we are in communication with potential host club for our 2021 convention, which is when we celebrate our 50th anniversary. I have been able to attend all the conventions since 2011 except for the 2012 convention held in Florida.
Convention Board Meetings: In the past 5 years, I have attended all the conventions and have held two BOD meetings during the weekend. We hold a face-to-face closed BOB meeting on Saturday morning with all the BOD members who have been in attendance, and a second BOD meeting following the Saturday night banquet which is open to our membership. Both of these meetings have an agenda and pertinent information is discussed in both meetings.
Facebook: The ALA has a public FB page, and a private, member-only, FB group. This private group was created, in part, as a replacement for our forums. John Shreve and I are admins on these Facebook URLs. There is a standard welcome that is sent to all hobbyists to request memberships who are not members of the ALA; ALA members are approved and welcomed to the private-only FB group.
Archiving ALA Forum: Before we moved off the IPS website, I copied every single post on the site and archived them, which took about 2 weeks work to accomplish. I worked with Rick Borstein to create a viewable and interactive archived forum so that no information in our forum was lost. The archived forum can be downloaded at http://www.livebearers.org/content/forum.
ALA Webmaster e-mail inbox: Our current webmaster has his own e-mail address, and the webmaster e-mail address – webmaster at livebearers.org – is monitored at least weekly by the Chairman, replying to a member e-mails found there.
ALA LOGO: The original logo that was created for the ALA was not high resolution and did not reproduce well. I sent it to a local graphic artist for his opinion and he said it would be very labor intensive, and expensive, to reproduce this logo as a high-resolution image. Following the 2018 convention hosted by Grand Valley Aquarium Club, I contacted Shea Sarns, a graphic artist who created the convention logo, to ask if she could create a new logo for the ALA. She graciously donated her time and created three new logos which we are now using for the Livebearer Journal, and the e-Trader.
BOD committees: In the past few years, there have been a number of new committees, including the Finance Committee, the Author Recognition Committee, the NAGWG, the CARES Program, the Joanne Norton Project, the Committee on Science Communication, Show Standards, Special Projects (reprised and expanded from Special Publications Committee), and the Mentorship Program. Some of these committees are quite active, while others are not as active. Several of them are very new committees.
Annual BOD elections: This year for the first time, we used an electronic voting program called Election Runner, which Patrick Miller set up and ran. The program was quite successful, and we are planning on continuing to use it.
Show Standards: Karl Trochu and his committee created 3 sets of show standards for our convention shows; these are also available to ALA member’s home clubs for their club shows. They are available for download at http://www.livebearers.org/content/show-standards.
Special Publications: There are several special publications that have been produced over the years, consolidated articles from the ALA Bulletin (precursor of the Livebearer Journal), primarily the work of John Mangan and Joanne Norton. In the past, these special publications were available for sale as hard copies. Mike Schadle sent me copies of those publications he had, and Pat Hartman sent me his personal copy of the only publication that Mike did not have. I sent these paper copies to Rick Borstein, who made them into PDF documents, and these archival publications are now available to all ALA members for download as a benefit of membership.
Archival Bulletins: Scott Tetzlaff was instrumental in PDF’ing all the archival bulletins, and past editor Ted Coletti and now editor Jeremy Kurtz e-mail PDF copies of the Journal which are uploaded to my Google Drive. We have released archival issues 1-79 and have been distributing the Journal electronically for download for the past about 2 years.
Update: Links have been created for Livebearer Journal issues 80-150 that should be made available to our members.
ALA Livebearer Indexes: There were a hard copy of all articles from Bulletin #1 through Bulletin #150, listing the author, title of the article, the bulletin number and pages, and search words, consolidated by John Mangan. I transcribed all this information into an Excel spreadsheet, now available for download by ALA members. This work took about 2 weeks of full-time transcription to complete. Rich Serva extended the hard copy to include up to Bulletin Issue #187, which I also transcribed and is available for download.
Archival e-Traders: I recently copied and saved all the paper copies of the e-Traders that were available in boxes of archival material that my husband and I picked up from Patrick that he had been storing in his house in TN. These e-Traders are also available for download by ALA members.
BAP program: The e-Trader has “Haves” and “Wants” ads, and we are working on offering BAP fish for sale in the e-Trader. Patrick Miller is working on this; the BOD has also approved his proposal for an amnesty program this year only to ALA members who have bred fish that have been submitted to their local clubs; ALA BAP forms can be submitted for credit, with the usual requirements of donated fish, and/or photos for ID and/or breeding articles submitted to the Journal, per the ALA BAP rules.
ALA By-Laws: The current By-Laws were last updated in 2006. In the past several years, I have been working on an updated set of By-Laws, and plan on continuing this in 2020. I have asked Matt Anderson to look at these edits in his capacity as a lawyer. The edits will be presented to the BOD for discussion and more potential edits, and then vote on the new By-Laws. Once the BOD approved the updated By-Laws, the members will vote on acceptance of the By-Laws.
Membership Handbook: The membership handbook needs to be added to our website as a downloadable PDF and also needs to be updated.
Other special projects:
Livebearer ID slide sets: Rich Serva e-mailed me noting that he had purchased a number of livebearer slide sets when they were offered for sale in the hard copy e-Trader a number of years ago. Rich offered his set of slides (55 of the 84 total slides), worked with a local company to have the slides digitized and created an Excel spreadsheet with the information on the slides, and sent a flash drive to me. He sent a second flash drive with additional livebearer images. We now have most of these images, plus many of the slides from the German Livebearer Club. These images and the spreadsheet have been uploaded to my Google drive. He has also given me permission to copy images from his Google drive to mine. Rich is working with members of the Special Projects committee to continue to make more images and information available. These will likely become made available to members as a benefit as members of the ALA.
LIS Livebearer Information Sheets: These were another set of items for sale in the archival e-Trader. Membership was offered as a member of LIS to ALA members in the British newsletter produced in the last 1990s by Derek Lambert and his mother Pat. Bill Gilles was the historical contact for these sales, although he was not sure he could access them in his archival storage boxes. Jim Craig sent me a few of these information sheets, and with further investigation, it appears that Ted Coletti may have the complete set and is looking in to getting them copied for the ALA.
Archival DVDs and VHS tapes: These were another set of materials offered for sale that I saw in archival e-Traders. Rich Serva sent me copies of 3 presentations – by Joanne Norton, Derek Lambert, and Dr. Kallman – of these presentations. My husband has purchased software and equipment to duplicate DVDs. I have tried to copy them but have not yet been successful in doing so. Earl Blewett also copied and cleaned up one of the DVDs, so this copy may be a better copy with which to work in making copies. These may be offered for sale since they are hard copy presentations and not easily uploaded and downloaded for viewing.
ALA BOD 1972 - 2014: I estracted information as it was available from Livebearer Bulletins and Journals 1-232 of listed members of the BOD and posted this to the ALA website, and have updated the BOD membership from 2015 - present.
Additional Information: I represeented the ALA at the first Aquatic Experience held in 2017at the Meadowlands in NJ.
Creation of the ALA Tri-fold Brochure: In 2017, I created a trifold brochure for the ALA, which was updated with the new BOD in 2018. These brochures are in PDF format. The 2017 brochure was printed and handed out at the Aaquatic Experience.
Membership: As of October 1, 2020, there were 328 members of the ALA, of which, 316 were sent ballots. There were several members without e-mails or junior members who received membership under the Mentorship program.
In closing, I am very pleased at the progress the ALA has made in the past 5 years, and of the contributions made by all the committee members and myself as Chairman. I look forward to continued progress within the ALA in the coming years!
Chairman, ALA BOD