We have come to the end of another eventful and productive year with the American Philatelic Society. In the important business of providing more value for your membership, this year I feel that we have genuinely achieved a great deal in that regard.
First, refurbishment of the American Philatelic Center. Housed in what began as a Match Factory 120 years ago, our society has turned a building that was once a decrepit eyesore into an attractive and sound headquarters with facilities for projects of every kind, innate historical flavor and character, not to mention a growing list of tenants. In addition to housing headquarters, the facility’s extra space also gives it multi-purpose capability to host small to medium specialty shows and bourses, even the greatly expanded enrollment of the 2019 Summer Seminar on Philately.
The facility has already hosted both the Confederate Stamp Alliance Show in October and the United Nations Philatelists’ UN Expo 17, both with great success. Both qualified as WSP shows, and both outperformed the plans of their organizers. The UN show plans to return in 2021. The Civil War show, concluded very recently, was highlighted by the dedication of the Kaufmann Room, devoted to the Civil War philately and honoring our own Vice President Trish Kaufmann, along with her late husband, Jack. That ceremony was so popular that it had to be moved into the largest available room in the downstairs of the facility, and it was still standing room only!
The second great accomplishment this year, thanks to our capable staff led by Scott English, is completion of the American Philatelic Research Library. It is becoming an outstanding research center, best attended in person if at all possible, and checked out on the web if not. It is without question the finest philatelic library in the United States. Due to the generosity of our membership, it continues to grow. The digitization project continues apace, and many Library resources are already available on the Web for the membership without the necessity of a trip to Bellefonte. However, if you can come to central Pennsylvania, Bellefonte will not disappoint!
The third great achievement, which continues at this moment, is the reduction of the debt incurred by the purchase and refurbishment of our headquarters. Thanks to our members and the careful financial management of our staff, particularly Controller Rick Banks, the debt, once a real threat to the stability of the organization, has now been reduced from over $16 million to less than $2 million. Our Executive Director indicates that we can extinguish the remainder of this debt within five years and, with continuing sound management, probably sooner than that.
These achievements of the past will make it possible to focus on our needs for the future. Raising the profile of the Society in the web-oriented world, and particularly appealing to a more diverse population, will ensure the future of the APS in this 21st Century.
Rick Banks rounds out a fantastic year as APS Controller, and an outstanding career of service as Chief Financial Officer. He will be greatly missed by his many friends when 2020 arrives.
One final word about Rick Banks. The Board of Directors of both APS and APRL have passed a special resolution, mentioned elsewhere in this magazine, honoring Rick on the occasion of his retirement. Rick has rendered exceptional service to the Society, helping stabilize our finances. Rick has provided both Boards with very comprehensive reports from month to month, which has made the management of our Society and the Library immeasurably easier. We wish him all the best and thank him very much for outstanding service as our Chief Financial Officer.
Editor's Note: The column was published in the December 2019 issue of the American Philatelist, available for members to read digitally. We will be posting the columns of APS executives on this website to provide updates about American Philatelic Society. Membership information is available through this link.