President's Update

Sunday, February 15th 2015

Hi to all, and I hope wherever you are, you are surviving the wintry weather.

I’m in Atlanta, and our immediate future forecast predicts lows in the teens, highs to barely reach 30. At least we are not shoveling out from under the many feet of snow that has devastated our friends in Chicago, Massachusetts, and all points in between and beyond.

There is all kinds of news to report. The ATOS Board of Directors held its mid-year meeting by teleconference February 7th and covered many topics. Much of our focus these days stems from recommendations coming out of last fall’s Retreat in St. Louis. What we call “Retreat Forward” involves much of the following:

  • Jack Moelmann heads the Transition/Bylaws and Policies effort. The board OK’d Jack’s initial update of ATOS policies, which eliminated several policies that due to circumstances were simply no longer applicable. The bylaws will also get a thorough review with suggestions for updating.
  • Mark Renwick of Jacksonville heads up the Finance Committee. His group is looking at all aspects of ATOS finances, from how we are currently investing our money; the overall budget process; the structure for managing finances and more. One major recommendation from the retreat event involves adding a professional position of Financial Administrator. ATOS has moved far beyond the point of having a volunteer treasurer handle the books. We have assets of nearly $2 million. That level of financial growth needs professional oversight, and we are moving in that direction. Treasurer Mike Hutcherson is stepping down this July after doing spectacular work in reorganization.
  • A new Communications Committee is being created to see how we best marry our journal, the website, the modern world of Facebook and Twitter and all that is social media, and position ATOS well in this different, exciting environment. Communications involves much more. We need to get in front of our chapters and our members and their chapter leadership in a much more productive way, and this is being explored, as well.
  • The overall management structure of ATOS changed as of January 1. In an attempt to continue the transition to a more professional organization, some management tasks are now being handled by the President/CE, with an organizational structure that makes more management sense. Day-to-day “Operations” falls into this category, while the board of directors will be more responsible for the larger “Management” aspect of ATOS. We are making progress in this area.

Other news – ATOS fundraising is enjoying a most successful period. The Annual Drive event is drawing record support – and that is thanks to one entity – our members! The Annual Drive has generated more than $31,000 in donations to date, almost 30% greater than any previous year and more than 50% greater than last year. We cannot say “Thank You” enough for your generous support and your interest in our programs.

In addition to those wonderful gifts, the estate of Kenelm Lufkin has generated a new gift of $41,000 (this a wonderful addition to that miraculous gift of $900,000 ATOS received five years ago). And the estate of Robert F. Mertz has notified ATOS that a gift of $115,000, earmarked for the Endowment Fund, will be forthcoming. This follows his previous gift of $100,000, so generously donated three years ago.

My week was busy, concluding with a visit to Savannah, GA. There is a project in development that is to include installation of a theatre pipe organ – a project so exciting and with great potential for more such installations around the country – that I left Savannah feeling as if I was flying over Interstates 16 and 75 instead of driving on them. More to come on this soon.

The board took action on the general elimination of written (or “secret”) ballots except in certain specific cases where privacy is warranted.

More than 100 are signed up for the Philadelphia convention for this July, and that is a very good attendance number to date, right in line with the recent successful conventions in Atlanta and Indianapolis. A suggestion – if you are planning to attend, and go to preglow and afterglow events – get your room reservations booked ASAP! Philadelphia at Fourth of July is a major destination. The hotel will fill up – especially those extra dates before and after the convention-proper – and it would be wise to get your room reservation in as soon as possible. It is all easily accomplished on the ATOS website:

John Ledwon offers two important reminders, both with deadlines of April 15th.
For those young players wishing to participate in the YTOC – the Young Theatre Organists Competition staged during the convention – your submissions are due no later than April 15th. See the website, the next journal, or contact John directly for more information (j.ledown [at]

Also, if your chapter or group has a project that might benefit from a grant from the ATOS Endowment Fund, the deadline for applying is also April 15th. All this and taxes too! Yikes! Again, the March-April journal will have more information.

Donna Parker reports a slight uptick in ATOS membership. How about that for good news! From month-to-month, depending on renewals, the membership number fluctuates, and we were concerned as it dipped under 2300. Today, it is just under 2400, and that is a good sign of some recent growth.

Vice Chairman Bill Coale’s efforts on posting news on our ATOS Facebook page is generating an amazing number of “hits” and more importantly, “likes.” This is that mysterious world of social media that is so vital to reaching out to new and younger people. And, our Theatre Organ Radio listenership, and the “time spent listening” has more than doubled over the past several months, according to Steve Worthington.

Plenty to write about, talk about, text and email about! And so much of it good news. ‘Til we chat again, stay warm, enjoy the music, and bring in a new member!

Ken Double