From Helen Flores, Secretary
WGPO Annual Member Meeting Minutes
Saturday, December 10 – Wednesday December 14, 2022
- Board members Jan Cardia, Treasurer; Laurie Cohen, Helen Flores, Secretary; Keith Hagel, Vice-President; Bennett Jacobstein; Steve Pellinen, President. Absent: Will Anderson was on the road and unable to attend.
- Lynda Finn and Winter, Elections Committee
- Mike Johnson, Ratings & Tournament Committee
- Charles Reinke, Twitch Moderator
Call to Order and Welcome: Vice-President Keith Hagel called the meeting to order at 2:00 pm CST, December 10, 2022. He introduced current Board members and explained the Annual Meeting Schedule.
- Part I will be a Board business meeting with an opportunity for members’ comments, questions and answers. Charles Reinke will monitor the Twitch channel for member questions. The Twitch meeting will be made available to WGPO members and observers, via a link to a YouTube video on the WGPO website.
- Part II will provide opportunity for members to vote to elect Directors for 2023. Five very capable candidates are running for four open positions on the Board. Keith noted that additional information on the election process will be provided later in the meeting. He encouraged all members to participate in the election process. Vote!
Word Cup 2023: Jan Cardia announced that Word Cup 2023 will be held in Albany, New York, at the Marriott Albany, beginning on June 30, 2023, through July 4, 2023. Total prize funds to be awarded include $50,000 of the CCSFF grant funds, and we expect to provide $10,000 each for first place NWL and CSL winners. Jan noted that the hotel offers excellent room rates, and we are excited to bring the WGPO Word Cup to the Northeast. More information is currently available on the WGPO Facebook page. Be sure to complete the survey for a chance to win a set of Protiles. And plan to attend!
Elections Committee Report: Lynda Finn, Elections Committee Chair, reported that the official ballot from Elections@wordgameplayers.org went out today (December 10, 2022) at 11 AM Central Time via electionrunner.com. All members with valid email addresses were sent a ballot. 957 ballots were delivered. Linda noted that there are 4 open seats and 5 highly qualified candidates. Even if members
already know who they are going to vote for, she asked them to please take the time to read the candidate statements and their Q & A’s from the WGPO website. The candidates have some great ideas and suggestions.
Voting will be open until Wednesday, December 14 at 11:55 PM, Eastern time. Lynda asked members who did not receive a ballot to either email or facebook message her at email@example.com or WGPOelections@gmail.com. Lynda thanked Winter for his work setting up the ballot this year and Mike Johnson for his work maintaining the current member email list.
Financial Report – Steve Pellinen: A written Report – covering assets and expenses year-to-date — is currently available on the WGPO website. It includes a report of expenditures using 2022 CCSFF funds as submitted to Jon Shreve.
Steve added that WGPO has received the 2023 Grant Funds of $100,000.
Lexicon Committee Update – Steve Pellinen: The new OSPD words make it necessary for WGPO to take action on our word list. Steve has contacted the NASPA Dictionary Committee to ask if WGPO’s Lexicon Committee can help coordinate additions to lexicons. He is looking forward to cooperative efforts in this area.
Ratings and Tournament Committee Report – Mike Johnson: As Co-Chair, Mike provided a detailed report on 2022 events and plans for 2023.
With tournaments opening up more broadly again, 2022 has been an eventful year forWGPO. We held 28 events in 14 different states and provinces (AB, AZ, CA, FL, IA, IL, MA, ME, MN, NM, NV, OR, WA, WI). We had 5 directors lead their first WGPO event(s) this year, and even more new WGPO directors have been trained to lead new events in 2023. Word Cup 2022 was our largest event-to-date with over 200 participants, and we were able to co-sponsor it with the Collins Coalition and WESPA. We are excited about the upcoming year!
Much of the Tournament and Ratings Committee each year involves behind the scenes work. This includes supporting our directors, organizers, and players through:
- managing the member database;
- approving and rating tournaments;
- certifying, training and assisting new and ongoing directors;
- coordinating the tournament schedule and promoting events especially in new regions.
In addition to this ongoing work, we have some new developments to share. Due to the generosity of the Carter Chapman Shreve Family Foundation, WGPO was able to sponsor multiple tournaments last year, including the Word Cup, School Scrabble Championship, and major tournaments in Phoenix and Madison. In 2023, we’ll be extending that sponsorship to a wider range of events. This distribution will include sponsorship of large events such as Word Cup and additional major events in NewOrleans (Crescent City Cup), Phoenix, and Columbia SC. We also developed a framework to sponsor other regional and local tournaments with the goal of supporting
- larger on-going regional events,
- newer events to grow WGPO presence in under-represented US/Canada areas, and
- newer directors in developing local events.
This framework has been submitted to the WGPO Board for approval, and we expect that early next year, tournament directors will be able to apply for this funding. Look for more details in the coming months!
Lastly, Mike, Bennett, and Winter want to welcome our newest member of the Tournament and Ratings Committee, Lynda Finn. Lynda is an experienced director from Madison, WI, and has already been a vibrant addition to our committee!
Educational Mission — Steve Pellinen: Steve reminded members that WGPO’s Articles of Incorporation and the terms of the CCSFF grant require ongoing educational efforts.
Our mission is to grow Scrabble™. In 2022, WGPO provided significant support for the School Scrabble Championship at Planet Word. Going forward we will need to incorporate educational efforts into all that we do.
First, Steve noted that the Scrabble™community and WGPO must grow opportunities for youth and schools to play the game. Selected areas of the country have strong School Scrabble™ and community level programs. Stefan Fatsis has long been active in this area. During 2023 the organization must promote more local and regional efforts for youth. Older persons and seniors will also benefit from additional educational efforts.
Scrabble™ provides mental and social stimulation for all ages. WGPO needs to serve broader community needs as we meet our educational purpose.
WGPO Annual Summary Report for 2022 – Helen Flores, Secretary: Helen listed WGPO accomplishments during its first year of incorporation.
1. Survival: WGPO appeared as an upstart organization with a tenuous future to some in the Scrabble™ community. Despite detractors, limited resources, lexicon wars and controversy, WGPO is not only alive, but also thriving.
2. Democratic integrity: WGPO continues to practice the principles on which it was founded. Although democracy is messy, the members run the organization. Winston Churchill once said that: “democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried.” WGPO counts every vote and operates transparently as we thrash out our differences.
3. Play Fair: WGPO developed standards for player conduct. Our policy Tournament Expectations outlines standards of conduct for making WGPO events welcoming and congenial. Leaders carefully and consistently follow a process to investigate complaints, hear both sides of disputes, resolve conflicts and, if necessary, take disciplinary action. The Board promptly addresses those rare instances involving threats, harassment, charges of cheating. Prior to our new structure, the Board of Player Representatives (BPR) addressed complaints and recommended disciplinary action. Lacking that in 2022, Directors realized that a separate Conduct Committee needs to assume these duties for the current organization. The new Board will appoint members.
4. Sponsorship and Support: Even before WGPO received its annual Carter Chapman Shreve Foundation (CCSFF) prize fund grant, committed Volunteer WGPO supporters – officers, directors, clubs, committees, individual members – provided remarkable levels of grassroots funding and participation. Tournaments – and Word Cup events, in particular – were consistently successful fundraising events. In our first year, WGPO was able to attract additional players to Scrabble and raise a significant amount of the funds needed to cover WGPO’s administrative expenses.
5. School Scrabble™: In 2022 WGPO offered significant financial and on-site support to a major School Scrabble™ championship event – held at Planet Word, Washington D.C. encouraging young players and growing the game. As Steve noted, more educational efforts are planned going forward, including outreach for older players.
6. Organization and Administration: From inception, a dedicated volunteer band of WGPO officers, committees, and directors have operated on a shoestring. More members offered legal and technical support. Key accomplishments include recent Articles of Incorporation, revised Bylaws, a soon-to-be unveiled updated website (with statistics, interactive features, and more) and an active Facebook page.
7. Collaboration and Coordination: We also sought to establish effective working relationships with corporations, other organizations, and individuals to strengthen WGPO and the Scrabble™ community at large. Word Cup was a joint effort with CoCo. We worked for WESPA accreditation of Collins tournaments, and WGPO members collaborated effectively with NASPA. We have improved communications with all
Scrabble organizations. Peace has broken out.
Helen noted that all of us “just want to play Scrabble™.” Opportunities to do so depend on the work of many. Numerous WGPO members working behind the scenes keep the organization running. Helen expressed the Board’s thanks to the following contributors: tournament directors, club directors, committee chairs and members, Deborah Baggett, Facebook Administrator; Susi Tiekert, who welcomes new members; Ruth Hamilton, WGPO Website Administrator; Charles and Thomas Reinke, Website Developers; this year’s terrific Nominating Committee – Sue Hoehn, Ruth Hamilton, and Mary Becker; the Elections Committee; candidates for office and the current hard-working board.
Question & Answer Session: Questions from members on Twitch, commenting on the
Word Cup announcement, or sending email comments were few:
- Will the Word Cup be a joint WGPO – CoCo effort as it was in 2022. No, it will not.
- The late announcement for Word Cup 2023 received criticism. It was too late for some to schedule vacation time and plan travel. Bennett apologized on behalf of the Tournament and Ratings Committee. He noted that plans for this year included requirements that caused unfortunate delays. This will NOT occur in the future. The goal will be to announce the 2024 Word Cup location and dates at the 2023 event.
- The requirement to be vaccinated for WGPO tournaments has recurred. Board members noted that the majority of players continue to support the vaccination requirement. Player safety and democracy determine such policies.
Departing Board Members: Bennett offered the Board’s thanks to retiring Board members: Keith Hagel, VP; and Helen Flores, Secretary. Both members plan to serve on committees and offered to assist during the transition to the new Board if needed.
Part I Meeting Adjournment: The Board reminded members to VOTE! The business meeting adjourned at 2:39 pm CST, Saturday, December 10, 2022 (Bennett/Helen).
Part II Election: Members had the opportunity to cast ballots until the Annual WGPO member meeting officially ended – when voting closed – at 11:59 PM EST, Wednesday, December 14, 2022. 251 members participated in the voting process.
Election Results: Steve Pellinen and Laurie Cohen were re-elected to the 2023 Board.
New Board members selected were Kathleen Murphy and Conrad Bassett-Bouchard.