American Mensa Annual Awards
- Sep 9, 2021
With pride, we celebrate the members and Local Groups that continue to go above and beyond to help American Mensa thrive.
We annually celebrate the members and Local Groups who go above and beyond to help American Mensa thrive. Volunteers are our lifeblood, and these individuals and groups represent the best of the best.
American Mensa Distinguished Service Award
The American Mensa Distinguished Service Award is given in cases of outstanding service to American Mensa. Recipients are nominated by members and confirmed by the Awards Committee.
Lori Norris of Mensa of Western Washington has been volunteering at the national level for more than 15 years — on the AMC as RVC, Secretary, and First Vice Chair and as an integral member or Chair of many national committees, including Bylaws, Leadership Development, Risk Management, Finance, Name & Logo, Licensing, and Local Group Charter; Governance and Social Media Transition Task Forces; and many others.
Immediate past AMC Chair LaRae Bakerink of San Diego Mensa has actively served Mensa for nearly a decade at the national level as a member or Chair of many committees: Leadership Development, Membership, Community Service, Local Group Logistics and Revitalization, Communications, Testing, Risk Management, Name & Logo, Strategic Planning, and Finance. She also served as Second Vice Chair, AG Chair, and National Testing Officer.
National Service Awards
National Service Awards recognize faithful service to American Mensa and contributing greatly to the growth and betterment of the organization.
Taz Criss of Gulf Coast Mensa has been active at the national level since 2015, starting as a member of the Communications and Leadership Development Committees, and as an RVC, AMC Treasurer, and AG Chair.
Charlie Steinhice of Chattanooga Mensa has been a vibrant spokesperson for Mensa for many years and an active member of the AMC and several national committees and AGs. Most of his recent contributions have been serving the Mensa Foundation on the Board of Trustees.
Stephanie Thornton of San Francisco Regional Mensa has served on the AMC as Membership Officer for six years and on many national committees, including the Higher Logic Task Force, Strategic Planning, Leadership Development, Diversity, and, of course, the Membership Committee, either as Chair or as an active member. She has also been a positive spokesperson for Mensa in the media.
Tabby Vos of Metropolitan Washington Mensa has been active at the national level for several years as SIG Coordinator, AG Chair or committee member, and AMC Marketing Officer and on national committees, including Election, Licensing, Marketing, and Name & Logo.
National Certificates of Appreciation
First awarded in 1971, National Certificates of Appreciation are given in gratitude of a noteworthy contribution to the organization by a member. Recipients are nominated by members and confirmed by the Awards Committee.
Lowell Aplebaum of Metropolitan Washington Mensa chaired the 2018 Governance Task Force and served as a member of the Election, Leadership Development, Events, Emerging Social Media Platforms, and AG 2021 committees.
Rev. Tony Belarmino of Sacramento Regional Mensa has been a longtime active SIG Coordinator and member of the Communications and Membership committees.
Heather Booton of Chicago Area Mensa has served as a member of the Risk Management Committee and chaired Chicago’s virtual RG — which provided Mensa-style camaraderie for hundreds of members around the country — leading the team to put it all together in less than six weeks.
Henri Buccine of Central New Jersey Mensa has served as an RVC and as Membership Officer. She has been the Coordinator of the Gen Y SIG and a member of several national committees and task forces, including Member Safety, Membership, Hearings Process Review, Risk Management, Site Selection, Research Review, Name & Logo, and Higher Logic.
Nancy Campbell of Charlotte Blue Ridge Mensa has been active at the national level for many years as a member of several committees and as an RVC.
Matt Crawford of Chicago Area Mensa spearheaded the use of Discord for virtual gatherings for many local and national groups. Before that he chaired Mind Games® and for many years helped run the server for American Mensa and Mensa International.
Jon Gruebele of Chicago Area Mensa has served as an RVC, as Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, and as an active member of several other national committees, including Name & Logo, Leadership Development, and Research Review.
Garrison “Bud” Klueck of San Diego Mensa has served as Ombudsman/Ombudsperson for American Mensa for five years.
Rich Olcott of Denver Mensa has served on the AMC as an RVC and been an active member of National Committees, such as Bylaws, AML History, Higher Logic Task Force, and Name & Logo.
Laura Smith of Central Texas Mensa has been actively serving Mensa for many years as a Coordinator of several SIGs and member of several committees, such as Membership, Marketing, and three AGs.
Ian Randal Strock of Greater New York Mensa has served as an RVC and an active member or Chair of several national committees, including Audit Review, Communications, Finance, Licensing, Marketing, Print Media, and Strategic Planning.
Tim Vogt of Mensa in Georgia has been an integral member of the Communications Committee for more than a decade, with occasional service on other national committees and task forces.
Chairman’s Service Awards
Chairman’s Service Awards are presented by the Chair (then, LaRae Bakerink) in recognition of superior service to the organization.
- Henri Buccine of Central New Jersey Mensa for service as RVC 2
- Taz Criss of Gulf Coast Mensa for work on the 2021 World Gathering and for being amazeballs as Treasurer
- Carole Lane of San Diego Mensa for service as the Disaster Coodinator, birthday wisher, and bringer of hugs and smiles to all
- Billie Lee of Southeast Michigan Mensa for service as Second Vice Chair and Liaison to the Mensa Foundation
- Lora Mitchell of Columbus Area Mensa for service as Communications Officer
- Jennifer Morris of San Diego Mensa for her work on virtual events and for being an incredible volunteer videographer
- Lori Norris of Mensa of Western Washington for always being there and getting through the hard stuff
- Rich Olcott of Denver Mensa for service as RVC 7
- Jason Seiler of Metropolitan Washington Mensa for service as Secretary and always keeping us in line as Parliamentarian
- Stephanie Thornton of San Francisco Regional Mensa for service as Membership Officer and her amazing reports and graphs
- John Voymas of Southeast Michigan Mensa for service as RVC 3
- Trevor Mitchell, American Mensa’s Executive Director, for getting us through one of the hardest years ever
- American Mensa Staff — We could not have done this without you!
Gifted Youth Program Award
The Gifted Youth Program Award is given for superior service as a Gifted Youth Coordinator and for contributing to the growth of programs that serve gifted youth and/or Young Mensans.
This year’s recipient is Parisa Hamzetash of Palm Beach Area Mensa.
The Innovative Owl is presented to the Local Group with the highest year-over-year membership retention percentage. The Profilic Owl is presented to the Local Group with the highest percentage of yearover-year membership growth.
Innovative Owl awards go to Sangamon Valley Mensa and Mensa Alaska, both with 95.2 percent retention.
The Prolific Owl award goes to South Mississippi Mensa, with 8 percent growth.
The Jewel Awards recognize participation in Mensa activities and accomplishments, including Mind Games®, CultureQuest®, Mensa Testing Day, and Leadership Development Workshops.
Achievement levels are, from highest to lowest: the Ruby, the Sapphire, and the Emerald. Additionally, each of the five Local Groups obtaining the highest points in individual classes are specifically recognized separately as the Diamond Group winner for each level.
Class I (1100+ members)
- Diamond: Metropolitan Washington Mensa
- Ruby: Chicago Area Mensa
- Sapphire: Mensa in Georgia, North Texas Mensa
- Emerald: Greater Los Angeles Area Mensa, Mensa of Western Washington, San Francisco Regional Mensa
Class II (400-1099 members)
- Diamond: Central New Jersey Mensa
- Ruby: Charlotte Blue Ridge Mensa, Southeast Michigan Mensa
- Sapphire: Cincinnati Area Mensa, Mensa 76, Mid-America Mensa
- Emerald: Central Indiana Mensa, Central Texas Mensa, Connecticut & Western Massachusetts Mensa, Delaware Valley Mensa
Class III (200-399 members)
- Diamond: Dayton Area Mensa
- Ruby: East Central Ohio Mensa, New Hampshire Mensa
- Sapphire: Piedmont Area Mensa, Manasota Mensa, Tidewater Mensa, Nebraska/Western Iowa Mensa
- Emerald: Mensa Hawaii, Plains and Peaks Mensa, Southern Connecticut Mensa
Class IV (125-199 members)
- Diamond: Mensa of Northeastern New York
- Ruby: French Broad Mensa, North Alabama Mensa
- Sapphire: Blue Grass Mensa, Northern Nevada Mensa, Smoky Mountain Mensa
- Emerald: Central Alabama Mensa, Central South Carolina Mensa, New Orleans Mensa, Triad Mensa
Class V (fewer than 125 members)
- Diamond: South Coast Mensa
- Ruby: High Mountain Mensa, Northeast Indiana Mensa
- Sapphire: Mid-Michigan Mensa, Tallahassee Area Mensa, Wyoming Mountain Mensa
- Emerald: Chattanooga Mensa, North Dakota Mensa, South Mississippi Mensa, Sunflower Mensa