The 2012 LifeRing Annual Meeting was held May 11. 12 and 13 in San Francisco and came off very smoothly. Attendance was not overwhelming, but those who came both contributed to the meeting’s success and benefited from it.
The meeting, held primarily at the very comfortable San Francisco LGBT Center, featured it’s usual mix of organizational work, informative talks by prominent researchers and experts, and a generous amount of warm interaction among the participants.
Friday’s sessions focused on how best to strengthen the LifeRing organization as a whole, with particular attention on the board of directors and its ongoing efforts to both grow and strengthen LifeRing’s work in reaching out to make our system of support available to all. In one session, the directors met with an experienced non-profit consultant to explore how best to move forward. In another, the board members and others met with three Ph.D. researchers to discuss possibilities for research. That session included a fascinating interaction by the researchers about their different approaches to addiction studies.
Saturday saw the “main event” of the Annual Meeting with presentations by very prominent experts about their research and their approaches to addiction treatment. There were also “break out” sessions to discuss how LifeRing can best use technology in its work, and on how to improve our fund raising efforts. The featured speaker for the day, Martin Nicolaus, the founding leader of LifeRing who developed the organization and articulated its approach in his writings, gave a talk on “Towards a Medical Model of Addiction, or: Is It Time to Occupy Recovery?” The talk was very well received by the enthusiastic audience. It was filmed, and if the video turns out well, we’ll post it on this website. The presentation was somewhat different, but much of the information was contained in a previous talk by Nicolaus, this one last fall in Victoria, Canada. That one is currently on our website at https://lifering.org/7086-2/.
On Sunday, the meeting moved to the nearby Alano Club. That meeting — the LifeRing Congress — was for discussion and action on organizational matters, primarily amendments to the Bylaws and elections for Board members. One Bylaw amendment was adopted unanimously, allowing the Board to hire (if we ever have enough money!) a professional to act as Executive Director under the direction of the board. This idea had surfaced before but been voted down. This year, however, the effort to move us towards a more organizaed and efficient entity has made it increasingly clear that professional skills would be a major asset. There’s no money for paying such a person at this time, but the board now has the option to move in that direction when finances allow.
The Congress also voted to move towards a system of allowing official delegates to vote on bylaw changes without being present at the Congress, which would be a significant change from current practice. A resolution was passed unanimously calling for the study of such a change with an eye towards adopting it as the first order of business next year and having it take immediate effect so that it could be used for any other votes that take place at next year’s meeting. The board will appoint a committee to work out the details of the idea.
There was also consideration given to a few other proposals made by members before the Congress. These included the possibility of expanding the Board and compensating other officers and Board members, as well as allowing those not in recovery to serve as Board members or officers. These ideas were discussed but rejected at this time.Elections for members of the LifeRing Board of Directors saw little controversy: incumbents — Craig Whalley, Dru Boyd, and Carola Ziermann — were re-elected to three seats and the fourth, vacated by the early retirement of Lauretta Magill, will be occupied by Troy Spears, the only candidate. Troy is from Modesto, CA, where he has begun several LifeRing meetings. A brief bio of him and the other board members will be posted soon.
This brief summary doesn’t do full justice to the weekend’s events, but perhaps it gives at least a hint of what the experience was like.