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Local Group Profile

Greater Los Angeles Area Mensa

Region 9 - Far West Region
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L.A. Mentary
Greater Los Angeles Area Mensa (GLAAM) is one of the oldest chapters in American Mensa. Records show that the first LocSec of the L.A. chapter was elected in September 1962; since that time, no less than 23 people have served as the head our organization. When the group was first founded, there were no local newsletters, only a publication called Interim, generated in New York, which listed all the Mensa activities scheduled for the entire North American continent. As more members became active on the West Coast, it was felt that a publication tailored to the needs of the local membership was needed.The leadership of the chapter attempted to obtain a subsidy from the National office to produce a local newsletter, but we were told that such a subsidy could not be granted at that time under the budgetary structure.

Undaunted, several local members pooled their personal resources and created the first issue of Lament in December 1964, asking for a subscription fee of one dollar per year; the name of the newsletter combined the abbreviation for the city of Los Angeles with the beginning of the word mental. It also served to express the collective disappointment of the group at that time with the fact that the newsletter had to be produced without a subsidy. Since then, of course, local group support from the National Office has become commonplace, and the chapter officially changed the name of the newsletter to L.A. Mentary in November 1998.

The first issue of Lament also contained a draft of the first set of bylaws for the chapter. These bylaws, which took up less than a full page, established a Los Angeles Mensa Committee that any member of the chapter could join by attending three consecutive meetings. Our bylaws have undergone extensive revision and expansion since then, particularly when Greater Los Angeles Area Mensa became incorporated in 1977.

In July 1965, American Mensa was divided into four regions (Eastern, Mid-Western, Western, and Canadian). In addition, any local group comprising at least 10% of the total American Mensa membership could send a representative to the North American Mensa Committee. At the time, only New York City was large enough to have a separate NAMC representative, but Los Angeles achieved this status in February 1967. The L.A. constituency was expanded in January 1980 to become the Southern California Region, or Region #9 the nine regions that then constituted American Mensa. It was renamed the Far West Region in August 1985, while what was originally called the Western Region became the Pacific Intermountain Region (Region #8) in November of that same year.

By May 1967, the L.A. group had become so large that it was divided into no less than eleven sub-groups (or areas). Over time, two of these sub-groups split off to become independent chapters, being Inland Empire (first separated in 1972, then rejoined GLAAM in 1975, then split again in 1983) and Orange County (split in 1980). In May 1993, GLAAM was re-organized into six sub-groups; of these, the Southeast sub-group split off to become Harbor Area Mensa in 1994, leaving the five sub-groups (Mid-City, Coastal, San Fernando Valley, East Los Angeles County, and Hi-Desert) that exist today. In 1973, GLAAM began holding local conventions in the Southern California area. For five years, this was done as a joint venture (known as Asilomar South, after the popular Labor Day gatherings in Monterey County) with the Santa Barbara chapter, after which time it became known as the Channel Islands RG.

The first actual Los Angeles RG was held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in January 1980 and was chaired by Paul Victor. The second RG, chaired by Bob Abrahams, was held at the Pacifica Hotel in Culver City in October 1981, and was known as LARGO (Los Angeles Regional Gathering in October); the next two RG's were held at the same time of year. It was decided afterwards to conduct the event in the early spring. The next LARG was therefore conducted in March 1985. By 1989, we had settled upon Presidents' Day weekend as the normal time for our RG, and we have conducted one every year since then.

Several GLAAM members have achieved distinction at the national and international levels. These include: Margie Mandelblatt (Editor of the Mensa Bulletin, 1992-98); Henry Miller (Western Regional Vice Chairman, 1969-72, AMC Representative, 1972-73); Herb Selwyn (IGC Counsel, 1968-72); Joan Anne Finan (AMC Representative, 1967, AMC SIGs officer, 1967-68); Byron Cole (national Elections Committee chairman, 1969); Margot Miller Wood (national SIGHT Coordinator, 1979); Peggy Cobb (national Historian, 1976-79); Paul Victor (AMC Representative, 1976-77; AMC Local Groups officer, 1977-79, AMC First Vice-Chairman, 1979-80); and Mary Jane Watson (AMC Representative, 1968-70, Editor of InterLoc, 1970-72, National SIGHT ZONE Coordinator, 1974-77, Editor of the Mensa International Journal, 1987-92). Of particular note is GLAAM member Dave Felt, who has served as Greater Los Angeles Area RVC (1978-79), Southern California RVC 1980-83), AMC Secretary (1983-88), AMC Second Vice-Chairman (1988-91), and AMC Chairman and IBD NatRep (1991-93). Dave is the current International Ombudsman and is the 1998 recipient of the Margot Award for outstanding service to Mensa.
Founding Date:
September 01 1962

Chapter Officers

Name Position
Gregory Williamson Local Secretary
Brian Madsen Assistant Local Secretary
Jonathan Elliott Assistant Local Secretary
Wilbert Woo Local Treasurer
Brian Madsen Recording Secretary (Scribe)
Brian Madsen Member-at-Large
Gregory Williamson Member-at-Large
Madeline Walker Member-at-Large
Roy Ball Member-at-Large
Andrea Nolan Member-at-Large
Jay Friedlander Local Ombudsperson
Joshua Dresser Newsletter Editor
Alan Stillson Local Circulation Manager
Alan Stillson Calendar Editor
Madeline Walker Programs Coordinator
Jonathan Elliott Web Contact
Mary Carney Proctor
David Felt Proctor
Gregory Williamson Proctor-in-Training
Douglas Marriott Proctor-in-Training